Monday, March 14, 2011

Dunne Discovers Opponent, Goes To Work

This is how serious Saint Peter's is about its first-round game with Purdue Friday in the NCAA tournament.

Peacock players and coaches were part of Selection Show festivities Sunday night in a large room on the Jersey City, N.J., campus joined by hundreds of school professors, administrators and fans of the program.

"Every time a No. 14, a No. 15 or No. 16 seeded team was announced and it wasn't us a groan went up from the crowd," said Saint Peter's coach John Dunne. "When we were finally announced (as a No. 14 seed in a 16-team bracket), everyone was up yelling and screaming. It was a nice celebration.

Dunne and his staff, though, didn't stick around for more of the celebration.

"As soon as the seeding and our opponent (Purdue) was announced, we (the St. Peter's coaching staff) got out of there. We went right to work."

By Monday morning Dunne had already watched close to two game films of Purdue games. His staff had watched several others and would continue to watch throughout Monday before compiling the scouting report it would share with players prior to Friday's game at the United Center in Chicago.

The Boilermakers are the No. 3 seed in the Southwest Region. Saint Peter's is seeded No. 14.

"We're happy with the seeding," said Dunne. "Wherever we were seeded, we were going to embrace it and go out and compete hard. We know we could have been seeded 15th or 16th. I think it's a little measure of respect for us and our team that we're seeded 14th."

Purdue is the same team that played another MAAC team, Siena, in the first round of last season's NCAA tournament. On Monday, Saints' coach Mitch Buonaguro said he would reach out to Dunne to share last season's scouting report and whatever else he could to help the Peacocks.

A year ago Siena, more of a finesse and up-tempo team than Saint Peter's, was bothered by Purdue's physical style of play for much of the game.

Dunne, though, said his team won't be surprised by that.

"We know Purdue plays that physical style of the Big Ten, but tht's no stranger to the way we play," he said. "We play physically, too. We try to defend and we go from there. We'll be comfortable with the style of the game."

On Monday, Dunne was watching tape of Purdue's last regular-season game, ironically enough a 67-65 setback at the hands of Iowa which is coached by Fran McCaffery, who was Siena's head coach last season.

Purdue came into the cotest rated No. 6 nationally.

"Iowa was really scraping," said Dunne. "That's what we'll have to do against Purdue. They try to stay between you and the basket. They put a lot of good ball pressure on your players."

Sounds like what Saint Peter's does to opponents, too. The Peacocks inflicted their physical style of defensive pressure throughout the MAAC tournament, causing opponents difficulty to find good shots. All three teams Saint Peter's beat in the conference event shot 33.3% or less from the floor.

"The one match-up that could be a problem is their athletic big man 6-10 senior JuJuan Johnson," said Dunne. "He just takes some indefensible shots with a nice jump hook from up to 12 feet out, to a nice perimeter jumper. He's so tall and quick, it's tough to defend him. We have to get him out of his comfort zone a little and even hope that he misses a couple."

The trip to the NCAA's is the first for Saint Peter's since the 1994-95 season.

"It's great for our school," said Dunne. "It's a real big deal."

But, Dunne isn't reveling in the celebration of just getting there.

He'd prefer to enjoy a victory over Purdue first.

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