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Blue Demons Host Conference USA Foe UAB

The Blue Demons return to the DePaul Athletic Center for a 7 p.m. game with the UAB Lady Blazers. DePaul leads the all-time series 10-5 including a 7-1 mark in Chicago.

Looking at the Blue Demons
DePaul enters Monday's game at 7-5 after losing at Memphis last Friday. The Blue Demons are 1-1 in league play and have won six of their last eight games. Three of the Blue Demons' losses have come to opponents ranked in the top 10 in the country. Second-ranked Tennessee defeated DePaul to open the season and the Blue Demons fell to seventh-ranked Iowa State on Dec. 2 and sixth-ranked Purdue on Dec. 21.

Preseason All-Conference USA selection Lenae Williams leads DePaul with 17.3 points per game followed by Candis Blankson (11.4 ppg), Jamie Lewis (8.3 ppg) and Briana Fitzgerald (6.7 ppg).

Lewis and Fitzgerald also lead DePaul with 7.2 and 5.0 rebounds per contest, respectively. Molly Watson has dished out a team-high 38 assists this season.

As a team, the Blue Demons are averaging 71.8 points per game while allowing 67.7 points. They are averaging 17.3 assists per game and just under nine steals per contest.

On the winning side, DePaul is averaging 79.4 points and winning by an average margin of 20.3 points per game. In the five defeats, the Blue Demons are scoring 61.2 points and the margin of defeat is 18.4 points per game.

The Blue Demons need just three wins for the 450th victory in the program's history. With DePaul's victory at Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 23, head coach Doug Bruno reached the 250-win plateau.

The Magic Number
The magic number for a DePaul win or loss this season seems to be 70. In the seven victories this season, the Blue Demons have held opponents to less than 70 points. On the flipside, DePaul is 0-4 when the opposition has scored 70 or more points.

Looking at UAB
Memphis stands at 10-3 overall and 2-0 in Conference USA after defeating to Memphis and Marquette. The Lady Blazers have won five straight games and are one of two undefeated teams in Conference USA play.

Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year forward Deanna Jackson leads the Lady Blazers with 27.8 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. The junior is ranked first in the league in both categories and among national leaders. She is followed by senior Mia Thrash at 13.4 points and freshman Natasha Thomas at 9.9 points per game.

Head coach Jeannie Melling is in her 14th season at UAB and owns a record of 226-169 with the Lady Blazers. She owns a career record of 387-278 in 24 seasons with stops at Spring Hill and Georgia Southern prior to UAB.

The UAB Series
Saturday marks the 16th all-time matchup between DePaul and UAB. The Blue Demons lead the series 10-5, and have won three of the last four matchups. A year ago, the Lady Blazers won, 44-39, in Birmingham.

Series Facts

First Meeting   Nov. 25, 1988
Overall DePaul  leads 10-5
In Chicago      DePaul leads 7-1
In Birmingham   UAB leads 4-3

Eyeing the Recordbook
DePaul junior Lenae Williams surpassed a pair of career milestones at Illinois-Chicago. The junior set the DePaul three-point field goal record with her 185th career three-pointer in the first half. Williams also reached the 1,000-point plateau. The game-high 23 points and five three-pointers pushed her totals to 188 career three's and 1,010 career points.

Conference USA Starts
Looking back at the previous six seasons of Conference USA play, the DePaul Blue Demons have started 2-0 just one time. In the inaugural year of the league, DePaul won their first six conference games. They finished the conference schedule with a 13-1 record and went on to win the tournament championship. Since then, the Blue Demons have split the first two games three times and lost the first two twice.

Conference USA Starts

Year     1st Game        2nd Game
1995-96  Saint Louis-W   Cincinnati-W
1996-97  Marquette-L     Saint Louis-W
1997-98  Marquette-L     Louisville-L
1998-99  Marquette-W     Louisville-L
1999-00  Marquette-L     Cincinnati-L
2000-01  Marquette-W     Memphis-L
Totals   3-3             3-3

Preseason Picks
In the annual Conference USA preseason coach's poll, the Blue Demons were picked as the favorite of the American Division ahead of Marquette. Tulane was selected as the preseason favorite to win the C-USA regular season title. DePaul junior Lenae Williams was one of five players selected to the league's preseason all-conference team.

C-USA Preseason Coach's Poll

American Division       National Division
1. DePaul               1. Tulane
2. Marquette            2. UAB
3. Cincinnati           3. Memphis
4. Charlotte            4. Southern Miss
5. Louisville           5. Houston
6. Saint Louis          6. South Florida

Preseason All-Conference Team
Deanna Jackson - UAB (Player of the Year)
Janell Burse - Tulane
Lenae Williams - DePaul
Tiffany Adkins - Memphis
Tonya Phifer - Charlotte

In The Classroom
The Blue Demons were honored by Conference USA prior to the season for having the highest team GPA during the 1999-2000 school year. DePaul topped the league with a team GPA of 3.17 and was one of five DePaul teams to receive league academic honors.

Individually, Stacy Krumrei, Jamie Smith and Molly Watson received the Conference USA Academic Medal of Honor for having a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better. Those three were joined on the league's Academic Honor Roll by Sylvia Blakeslee, Candis Blankson, Yolanda Lewis, Jeanene Novick and Laura Sobieszczyk.

New Places, New Faces
The DePaul basketball program, as well as the athletic department, moved across the street into the DePaul Athletic Center last spring. The state-of-the-art facility houses everything the basketball program needs from training facilities to coach's offices.

During the summer, Andre Wakefield and Maggie Dixon joined the DePaul coaching staff. Wakefield, a former Loyola-Chicago and NBA player, returns to collegiate basketball for the first time since coaching at his alma mater from 1980-89. Maggie Dixon, the director of basketball operations, comes to Chicago after playing at the University of San Diego from 1995-99.

Tough Slate
Since 1988-89, DePaul has annually played one of the toughest schedules in the nation and this season will be no different. Eleven of DePaul's 2000-01 games (among nine opponents) will be played against teams that played in the postseason last year.

Three of DePaul's four losses have come to teams ranked in the top 10 all season. They started the schedule in Knoxville with second-ranked Tennessee. The Blue Demons lost to seventh-ranked Iowa State on Dec. 2 and sixth-ranked Purdue on Dec. 21.

Along with the Blue Demons, Cincinnati and Memphis are receiving votes in either the AP or ESPN/USA Today poll.

2000-01 Opponents in the Polls

Opponent        AP      ESPN/USA Today
Tennessee       2       2
Iowa State      7       7
Purdue          6       6

AP Votes: Illinois, Cincinnati
ESPN/USA Today Votes: Cincinnati, Illinois, Memphis

Returning To The Dance
The Blue Demons are looking to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 1996-97 season. From 1989-97, DePaul made seven trips to the "Big Dance" in eight seasons. DePaul leads Conference USA programs with 12 postseason tournament appearances (7 NCAA and 5 WNIT). Since Doug Bruno's return to DePaul in 1988-89, the Blue Demons have played extra basketball nine times.

State Champs?
Through five games with opponents from the state of Illinois, DePaul is 5-0. The final game of the state schedule will be Jan. 16 when the Blue Demons host Loyola-Chicago. DePaul started the state tour at Southern Illinois and played five of six straight games against local teams. Their average margin of victory in the five wins was 16.2 points per game.

Games Against State Opponents

Date     Opponent              Result
Dec. 6   at Southern Illinois  W, 74-57
Dec. 9   Northern Illinois     W, 81-58
Dec. 12  Northwestern          W, 91-66
Dec. 16  vs. Illinois          W, 65-63
Dec. 23  at Illinois-Chicago   W, 72-58

Family Ties

  • Senior guard Candis Blankson has two brothers playing college basketball. Odartey, is a freshman at Marquette and Ryan is a junior at Loyola-Chicago.
  • Sarah Kustok's brother, Zak, was the starting quarterback at Northwestern this past season.
  • Molly Watson's brother, Jordan, signed a Letter of Intent to play at Evansville next year.
  • Head coach Doug Bruno's son, David, plays for Pat Kennedy on DePaul's men's team.
  • Assistant coach Corry Carter's brother, Deryn, is a junior guard at Saint Louis.

Looking Ahead
Head coach Doug Bruno signed five players during the early signing per in November. Of the five newcomers, three are from the Chicago area.

2000-01 Signees

Name              Pos.    Ht.     Hometown
Ola Belau          C      6-5     Gdansk, Poland
Jenni Dant         G      5-10    Lincolnshire, Ill.
Lindsay Forsberg   G      5-6     Tulsa, Okla.
Khara Smith        C      6-2     Hillside, Ill.
Claudette Towers   G      5-9     Maywood, Ill.