Martin and Harry Cherish Special Moments as Blue Demons
Feb. 25, 2013
CHICAGO - All of a sudden, Anna Martin and Katherine Harry are entering the stretch run of their brilliant college basketball careers and will be honored at Senior Night on Tuesday when DePaul takes on BIG EAST Conference opponent Georgetown at 8 p.m. in McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Neither imagined they would reach such heights when they first set foot on DePaul's campus four years ago.
Harry said she remembers being grateful that coach Doug Bruno and the Blue Demon program "would take a chance on a player like me."
Martin recalls being a little stunned at the demanding and exhausting nature of a Bruno practice.
"It's gone by so fast," said Martin, who leads the team at 16.2 points per game but has been sidelined since injuring her left knee against Providence on Jan. 19. "When I came for my first practice, I remember thinking: `This is a lot of work.' Don't even think about doing it for the next four years. What about just one more day?!'"
Neither of the Blue Demon standouts had much time to adjust that rookie season. Injuries to a number of players resulted in the freshman duo being called to immediate action.
As with most teams depleted by injury, DePaul had its problems in that 2009-10 season. After a loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 14, Bruno realized only a strong finish would lift his program into the NCAA tournament.
"Coach Bruno said we had to win one game in a row five times," Martin said. "That's exactly what we did, including wins at Marquette and at USF."
Bruno is fond of recalling that his team was dead in the water on Valentine's Day and resurrected on St. Patrick's Day.
"For me, that whole freshman year was insane," Martin said. "Early in the season we lost by more than 30 at Stanford and then came back to beat nationally ranked Florida State. There were four overtime games that season, including the loss to Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament opener.
"DePaul has been to the NCAA tournament 17 times, so you think it's practically automatic that we're going every year. My freshman year, I began to realize that you've really got to work very hard to get into tournament.
"I remember that 11-day road trip we took to Stanford and Las Vegas my first year. As freshmen, that was when Kat and I noticed that we all started getting really close as a team. It was the beginning of some strong friendships. We visited the Redwood Forest, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge, walked by the casinos in Vegas and rode the roller coaster at New York, New York.
"Last year we went to Hawaii and got some beach time. That was the season Kat and I were upperclassmen and began taking some ownership of the team. We've played in some great arenas like Madison Square Garden, the Carrier Dome, at Notre Dame and Connecticut and at Rupp Arena."
The 6-foot, 3-inch Harry has been a steady, consistent inside force and is the only player in DePaul history to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds along with 150 blocked shots in a career. She is averaging 9.3 points and 10.7 rebounds this season.
"I remember going 29-7 our sophomore year and making it to the NCAA Sweet 16," Harry said. "We beat a lot of teams we weren't supposed to beat. There wasn't one person who was the big star of that team. We all just came together at the right time.
"I'll never forget beating No. 2 Stanford by 20 points on our home court. We beat Georgetown, West Virginia and had a big win over Notre Dame on Senior Day.
"We defeated Navy in the first round, and it was our first NCAA tournament win in a while. Then, we beat Penn State on their home court. Keisha Hampton hit two huge free throws at the end to send us into the Sweet 16. That was such a happy time. I learned a lot that year, stuff that I could use off the court as well.
"A lot of big wins have come in our gym. That says a lot about the atmosphere created by everyone in the athletic department along with the band, cheerleaders, spirit squad. DePaul does a great job packing the place and making it harder for teams to win here."
Martin won't forget how seniors Samantha Quigley and Felicia Chester kept the entire 2010-11 team focused. The Blue Demons went undefeated at McGrath-Phillips Arena that season. Martin spoke about a special moment when Quigley and Chester won the first NCAA tournament game of their careers.
The 5-9 Martin has been a superb all-around player throughout her career, earning Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American recognition after her junior year. She had scored 1,674 points in her illustrious career with three games remaining in the BIG EAST Conference season.
She can still feel the impact of the team's trip to France and learning about St. Vincent de Paul in August of 2010.
"It was awesome," Martin said. "We explored all different parts of the country---Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, Normandy. We had extra days of practice, played games, and for a lot of players, this was their first time overseas. Visiting the site of D-Day was an emotional experience, and we had to play a game right after that. But it was a pretty special day.
"We didn't watch any TV and cell phones didn't work over there. That brought us closer together. We played lots of card games and spent time learning about one another instead of on our phones."
Harry nodded her head in agreement.
"It was a neat experience to visit France, walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul, tour the country, eat their food and play basketball---all with my friends," Harry said. "I bought a lot of souvenirs. That trip helped us be so good that year (29-7, Sweet 16).
"This team spends a lot of time together. Over winter break, we're one of the few left on campus, so we shop together, eat together, have movie nights in our rooms and cook dinner for each other. Brittany Hrynko, Chanise Jenkins and Anna are the best cooks. I'm good with salads and side dishes. It's always a lot of fun."
Each player will pitch in $5 for the team dinner. Hrynko will whip up a batch of spaghetti or some kind of pasta with chicken. There's also salad and dessert.
"We're used to working together on the basketball court," Harry said. "It's a little different working together in the kitchen. But we find a way to get stuff done."
Martin was asked about life lessons in Lincoln Park.
"Being pushed to my potential," she said. "Just when I think I'm getting better, there's more. I'll always think of DePaul as a place where the athletic director knows your name, cares about you and gets to know you as a person.
"Going to DePaul, I know I will have a support system for the rest of my life. There are some players who say they have 15,000 people coming out to watch them play. Well, I have 150,000 alumni in Chicago looking out for me after I graduate college."
Harry had a similar perspective.
"DePaul has meant being pushed beyond your limits, and I'm not going to settle for less," Harry said. "There's also this wonderful sense of family and community. Right in the heart of a big city like Chicago is a special place in Lincoln Park where everybody knows your name. There's always people looking out for you, and they are never going to let you fail."
When asked about a lasting memory, Harry responded: "Spending all my time with my best friends that include student-athletes from other teams and other students at DePaul. I got to wake up every day and do something that I really love while also getting a great education. That's going to be my great memory."
Martin glanced over at Harry and smiled.
"I'll always remember the time spent with the team, and these young ladies are all my best friends," Martin said. "I've always said that I'm never getting married. But if I do, most of my teammates are going to be in the wedding party.
"My fiancé better have a lot of tall friends."