Jubilant Supporters Send DePaul Surging into NCAA Tournament
March 20, 2014
CHICAGO – The Blue Demons headed for Durham, N.C. Thursday morning riding a seven-game winning streak and surging into the NCAA tournament after a festive send-off at the Sullivan Athletic Center from fellow student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.
It was a scene full of smiles as the players walked through a human tunnel of cheering supporters waving signs. Three television stations sent camera crews and sportscasters to record the moment.
DePaul (27-6) is making its 12th consecutive appearance at the “Big Dance,” opening as the No. 7 seed against No. 10 Oklahoma (18-4) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium will be televised by ESPN2.
“Oklahoma is a lot better than a 10 seed,” said DePaul coach Doug Bruno. “The Sooners were picked to win the Big 12 Conference and had four players on the all-conference team.
“They have a talented guard named Aaryn Ellenberg (18.8 points per game) who can pick and pop. They have a good point guard named Morgan Hook and a 6-foot, 6-inch player inside (Nicole Griffin).
“You always have to play your own game at this time of the season. You can’t try to re-invent yourself.”
The Blue Demons are the only team in the state of Illinois---men or women---competing in the NCAA tournament.
“It feels great knowing we’re the only team from Illinois going to the tournament,” said point guard Chanise Jenkins. “Representing the city and the state of Illinois is something we take pride in.
“You’re always a little nervous playing in a big game on a big stage. You just have to stick to the game plan and execute.
“We want to make a deep run in the tournament.”
Bruno and his players were grateful for the enthusiastic turnout that included the Screamin’ Demons Band and the DePaul spirit squad.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out,” said senior forward Jasmine Penny. “We really appreciate all the great support you have given us all year long.”
Teammate Kelsey Smith added: “We will try to make you proud out there because it means a lot having all your support.”
Jenkins realized this send-off came during a critical juncture in the academic calendar.
“I know it’s finals week, and we appreciate having everyone take the time to come out here,” Jenkins said. “Thank goodness, finals are over for me.”
All she has to do now is cram for Oklahoma.