Women's Basketball Season-in-Review
Armed with a 22-6 record, the Blue Demons entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Region. DePaul rolled past eighth-seeded George Washington, 83-46, in the first round game to set up a rematch with the top-seeded Tennessee Lady Vols. In December, the Blue Demons gave the Lady Vols everything they wanted, but fell in overtime. The March matchup was a different story as
The Blue Demons put together an eight-game winning streak to open the season. Following a pair of easy wins over UW-Milwaukee and Northwestern State in the Moran Realty Classic, DePaul posted wins over Northwestern, Illinois, Holy Cross, Manhattan, Illinois-Chicago and Southern Illinois.
On Dec. 17, DePaul put their 18-game home court winning streak on the line, but lost to
DePaul bounced back from the overtime loss to reel off one of the longest winning streaks in school history. The club put up 10 consecutive wins for just the fifth winning streak in program history of at least 10 games. During the run, the Blue Demons knocked off
All good things come to end and it did on Jan. 31 at
Once again, DePaul came back and won four straight over
With three games left in the regular season, DePaul faced a difficult road schedule. The Blue Demons traveled to Houston, TCU and Marquette to close the regular-season schedule. At
DePaul’s 10-4 Conference
The Blue Demons were one of four C-
DePaul led the nation in scoring for the entire season and finished in the nation’s top 30 in seven different categories. The team finished the season at No. 25 in the Coaches poll with the third-highest winning percentage in school history. Khara Smith, Charlene Smith and Jenni Dant picked up All-Conference USA honors while Khara was a top 16 finalist for the inaugural Women’s Wooden Award. Khara and Charlene Smith also earned WBCA All-District honors and head coach Doug Bruno was the region’s Coach of the Year.
Tourney Time: The DePaul Blue Demons returned to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and ninth time in school history. The No. 9-seeded Blue Demons advanced to the second round for just the fourth time in school history with an 83-46 win over No. 8 George Washington in
Yes and No: Prior to last season’s NCAA appearance in Raleigh, N.C., the Blue Demons last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 1997. However, two players for the Blue Demons made their second and third NCAA Tourney appearances in 2004. Senior Ashley Luke played in four games over her freshman and sophomore seasons at
Double the Fun: For just the third time in school history both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at
The seventh-seeded DePaul men’s team knocked off No. 10 Dayton in
DePaul was one of 16 athletic programs with the men’s and women’s teams playing in March. The Blue Demons were the lone Conference
Fun With Numbers: Over the last two seasons, the Blue Demons are 45-17... the 45 victories are tied for the second-highest two-year total in program history... DePaul entered the NCAA Tourney with a four-game losing streak, the longest of the 64 teams... Texas Tech was the only other school with a multiple-game losing streak with two in-a-row... the Blue Demons have won a game on every day of the week this season... Doug Bruno used the same starting line-up in all 28 games... the Blue Demons were one of eight teams in the country with the same starting five all season (Florida, Nebraska, Niagara, Purdue, Utah, Villanova and West Virginia)... DePaul is one of 21 programs to play in the postseason in at least 13 of the last 16 seasons... the Blue Demons were 19-1 this season when scoring at least 80 points... over the last four seasons, the team have scored at least 80 on 40 occasions with a 37-3 record... as a team, the Blue Demons have made at least 200 three-pointers in five straight seasons.
Sandora Irvin, Jr., F, TCU
Chandi Jones, Sr., F, Houston
Sara Nord, Sr., G,
Khara Smith, So., F, DePaul
Courtney Willis, Sr., F/C,
Jessica Dickson, Fr., F, USF
Valerie King, Jr., G,
Sancho Lyttle, Jr., F/C,
Charlene Smith, Jr., G/F, DePaul
Victoria Crawford, Jr., F,
Jenni Dant, Jr., G, DePaul
Jennifer Jackson, Jr., G/F,
Angie Lewis, Sr., F,
Natasha Thomas, Sr., F, UAB
Jessica Dickson, Fr., F, USF
Natasha Lacy, Fr., G, TCU
Nalini Miller, Fr., F, USF
Deondra Carter, Fr., G/F, Southern Miss
Coach of the Year – Joe Curl, Houston
Player of the Year – Chandi Jones, F, Houston
Freshman of the Year – Jessica Dickson, F, USF
Defensive Player of the Year – Sandora Irvin, F, TCU
Sixth Player of the Year – Victoria Crawford, F,
Noting the Blue Demons: The 2003-04 campaign was the 30th season of women’s basketball at DePaul University... the team averaged an NCAA-high 84.4 points per game... the Blue Demons scored at least 90 points in 11 games and 100 points five times... the five 100-point games were a single-season school record... DePaul scored at least 50 points in a half on 15 occasions... since scoring 90 at
Khara Smith Named Wooden Award Finalist: DePaul sophomore forward Khara Smith was selected as one of 16 finalists for the inaugural John R. Wooden Women’s Award. She went on the official voting ballot for the 2004 Wooden Women’s Award All-American Team and Player of the Year. Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. This season will be the first Women’s Wooden Award presentation. Smith and LSU’s Seimone Augustus were the lone sophomores among the 16 finalists. Duke’s Alana Beard won the first-year award and was joined on the All-American team by Kelly Mazzante of Penn State, Nicole Powell from Stanford, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut and Purdue’s Shereka Wright. Smith, a four-time C-USA Player of the Week, had 20 double-doubles to go with 20.4 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
WBCA Recognition: DePaul head coach Doug Bruno and the Smith cousins garnered recognition from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Bruno was named the Russell Athletic/WBCA Region 4 Coach of the Year. He moved on to the national ballot with: Ferne Labati (Miami, Region 1), Gail Goestenkors, (Duke, Region 2), Joe Ciampi (Auburn, Region 3), Jody Conradt (Texas, Region 5), Rene Portland (Penn State, Region 6), Kurt Budke (Louisiana Tech, Region 7), Julie Wilhoit (Loyola Marymount, Region 8).
Cousins Khara and Charlene Smith were selected as two of six players from Region 4 that were named finalists for the 2004 NCAA Division I Kodak/WBCA All-America team. Joining them from the region were: Sandora Irvin (TCU), Chandi Jones (
Eyeing 1,000: On two occasions this season, a player moved into the 1,000-point club at DePaul. Jenni Dant became the 18th player in DePaul basketball history to surpass the 1,000-point mark in her career with a three-pointer at USF on Jan. 18. Through 91 career games, the junior has 1,177 points. She averaged 14.1 points per game this season after leading the club in scoring at 14.4 (460 points) points per game a year ago. As a freshman, Dant tallied 293 points while averaging 10.1 points per contest.
Khara Smith joined Dant on Feb. 22 at TCU with a jumper in the first half. The sophomore is the 19th player with at least 1,000 career points in program history. Smith’s average of 16.1 points per game over her first 66 career games give her 1,061 career points. She led the club this season with 20.4 points per game after averaging 13.8 last season.
Outstanding On and Off the Court: Sarah Kustok and Ashley Luke were honored for their efforts both on and off the court by being named to the Academic All-District V second team. The two were of 10 players selected to the district first and second teams covering
Both players played in all 30 games this season while being the top two three-point shooters for the Blue Demons. Kustok averaged 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting .359 from behind the arc. Luke was one of four averaging double-figures with 12.5 points per game. She led the club with 134 assists and 86 three’s. Kustok is set to graduate from DePaul with a Communications degree while Luke is majoring in Physical Education.
For the second straight year, Kustok was one of 10 student-athletes named to the Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete team by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association.
20-20 Vision: With all of the points being scored this season, a player scored at least 20 points on 32 occasions. Khara Smith led the way with 15 games of at least 20 while Charlene Smith checked in with 10, Jenni Dant had six and Ashley Luke totaled a pair of 20-point outings. Nine times this season two players tallied at least 20 in a game and twice there were three with 20 or more. On the flip side, there were 10 games where no player reached 20. Ironically, in four of those games the Blue Demons totaled 94, 109, 106 and 99 points. The club set a
Home Cookin’: In four seasons, the
In the Rankings: In the final edition of the NCAA statistics, the Blue Demons rank among the nation’s leaders in a variety of categories. DePaul led the nation in scoring offense all season and finished the year in the top 30 in steals per game (2nd), scoring margin (7th), three-point field goals per game (12th), assists per game (14th), field goal percentage (23rd) and winning percentage (26th). Khara Smith was one of two players nationally in the nation’s top 14 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. The sophomore was fifth in field goal percentage and rebounding, 14th in scoring and 30th in steals per game. Ashley Luke was 13th in three-point field goals per game, Jenni Dant ranked 30th in steals per game and Charlene Smith was 59th in scoring.
In the C-USA rankings, DePaul ranked first in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, three-point field goals made, assists, steals, turnover margin and assist/turnover ratio. Khara Smith led the league in field goal percentage and ranked second in double-doubles, scoring, rebounding and steals. Dant was second in the league in steals and third in free throw percentage. Luke ranked second in three’s per game and seventh in assists per contest. The team sported four of the top 20 C-USA scorers with Khara Smith second, Charlene Smith at sixth, Dant at 16th and Luke ranked 20th.
Player of the Week Times Four: Sophomore forward Khara Smith was named the Conference USA Player of the Week four times this season. Following a pair of huge games against
Following the opening weekend of league play, she earned Player of the Week honors for the third time this season. Smith started the weekend by matching her then-career high with 26 points against
On Dec. 8, she earned the league honor after leading the Blue Demons to wins over Northwestern,
On Dec. 22, she picked up her second honor of the year after shooting .735 (25-34) from the field in games against
Smith was the only DePaul player to earn the weekly honor this season and one of two league players to be recognized four times this season. As a freshman, she was named player of the week on two occasions.
C-USA Players of the Week
N24 – Chandi Jones, F, Houston
D1 – Valerie King, G,
D8 – Khara Smith, F, DePaul
D15 – Sarah Nord, G,
D22 – Khara Smith, F, DePaul
D29 – Sara Nord, G,
J5 – Nalini Miller, F, USF
J12 – Khara Smith, F, DePaul
J19 – Chandi Jones, F, Houston
J26 – Courtney Willis, F,
F3 – Jessica Dickson, F, USF
F9 – Chandi Jones, F, Houston & Sarah Nord, G,
F16 – Khara Smith, F, DePaul & Chandi Jones, F, Houston
F23 – Sandora Irvin, F, TCU & Sancho Lyttle, F, Houston
M1 – Jazz
Program-Best Ranking: Prior to back-to-back losses at Houston and TCU, the Blue Demons achieved their highest ranking in both the Associated Press (No. 12) and ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches (No. 11) poll.
DePaul finished the season with a No. 25 ranking in the final Coaches poll after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Demons made their coaches poll debut on Dec. 23 at No. 21 and remained there for three weeks. A year ago, the club was ranked as high as 20th in the coaches poll.
Following the C-USA Tournament defeat against
All in the Family: Cousins Charlene and Khara Smith have been an offensive force since joining the club a year ago. The two were among team, C-USA and national leaders in scoring, rebounding and steals. Khara, a sophomore, had 21 double-doubles this season and averaged team-high’s of 20.4 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Charlene, a junior, was second on the club with 17.5 points per game and led the team with 133 free throws. The cousins ranked first and third in steals with Khara swiping 88 and Charlene totaling 69 steals. The two combined for just under 45 percent of the scoring this season (1,137 points).
In the C-USA opener against
Speaking of Family: Siblings and coaches Maggie and Jamie Dixon were a combined 54-12 this season. Jamie, the men’s head coach at
Puttin’ It On the Board: The Blue Demons kept the scoreboard operators busy as they averaged 84.4 points per game this season. DePaul topped the century mark five times and scored at least 90 points in 11 games. In school history, a DePaul team has scored at least 100 points in a game 29 times without a loss. The five 100-point games this season were a single-season record surpassing the four occasions in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
Swarming: Despite all of the offensive numbers, the DePaul defense was devastating to their opponents. Through 30 games, the Blue Demons made 419 steals while forcing 681 turnovers. DePaul converted the 681 mishaps into 738 points (24.6 ppg). At Northwestern, DePaul took advantage of 30 Wildcat turnovers for 39 points and used 27 Holy Cross mistakes to generate 39 points. Against Tulane, DePaul took advantage of 26 Green Wave miscues to score 36 points. In back-to-back games, the Blue Demons outscored Illinois-Chicago, 43-6, and
Taking Advantage From Beyond the Arc: The DePaul women’s basketball program has turned the three-point field goal into a potent offensive weapon. This season was no different as the Blue Demons returned their top two sharpshooters from last season in Sarah Kustok and Ashley Luke. Kustok led Conference
As a team, DePaul has made at least one three-pointer in 237 consecutive games. Over the last four seasons the club has knocked down 900 trifectas compared to just 452 for the opposition. The Blue Demons set new single-season records with 230 in 2001-02 and 233 in 2002-03. Over the last five years, the team has totaled at least 200 three-pointers in each season.
In 30 games this season, the Blue Demons outscored their opponents by 294 points from three-point range (9.8 ppg). DePaul was 215-654 (.329) from behind the arc while opponents were 117-386 (.303). The squad averaged 7.2 three’s per game while the opposition made 3.9 treys per contest.
Giving to Charity: Along with the accuracy from behind the arc, the Blue Demons also ranked among the best in Conference
Through the first three games this season, the club struggled from the charity stripe with a combined .623 (43-69) percentage. Over the next 18 games, the Blue Demons combined to go 329-for-428 (.769) from the line. DePaul struggled against
TV Time: As always, the DePaul women’s basketball program was featured multiple times on national television. During the regular season, the Blue Demons made five televised appearances. They were on the C-USA Network twice with games at TCU on Feb. 22 and Marquette on Feb. 29. The 88-61 win over
DePaul was no stranger to the cameras in 2002-03 as 10 games were televised. The Blue Demons posted a 6-4 record in televised games last year and have won 15 of the last 23 televised games.
Against the State: DePaul has seen recent success against opponents from the state of
A year ago in
Eyeing 300: With DePaul’s first win this season, DePaul head coach Doug Bruno earned his 300th victory with the Blue Demons. In his 18th season with the Blue Demons, he stands at 322-205. Along with being the winningest coach in DePaul women’s basketball history, Bruno has also tallied the most victories among Conference
Recapping the Moran Realty Classic: The Blue Demons captured their third straight Moran Realty Classic title with wins over UW-Milwaukee and
In the final against
Moran Realty Classic All-Tournament Team
Jenni Dant, DePaul (co-MVP)
Charlene Smith, DePaul (co-MVP)
Ashley Luke, DePaul
Khara Smith, DePaul
Diamond Cosby, Northwestern State
Maria Viall, UW-Milwaukee
Preseason Picks: Prior to the start of the season, the Conference USA coaches picked the Blue Demons to finish second behind preseason favorite TCU. The Horned Frogs earned the league’s automatic bid in 2003 by winning the C-USA Tournament in
Junior Jenni Dant was named to the league’s preseason All-Conference team after earning second team All-CUSA honors after last season.
2003-04 C-USA Preseason Poll
12. Southern Miss
Preseason Picks, Part II: In the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25, the magazine slotted DePaul at No. 18. The Blue Demons were one of two Conference
Two-time defending National Champion Connecticut was Athlon’s preseason favorite. The Huskies were followed by Duke,
Looking Ahead: The DePaul coaching staff signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country as Erin Carney, Allie Quigley and Caprice Smith signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Blue Demons starting next season. The trio makes up one of DePaul’s top recruiting classes in the program’s 30 years. Overall, Carney, Quigley and Smith are ranked as the nation’s 10th-best recruiting class by the Women’s Basketball News Service and No. 15 by the Blue Star Index.
Carney, a 6-1 forward, led the St. Francis Gladiators to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Quigley, a three-sport standout, was an honorable mention All-American by Street and Smith in 2003 and is ranked No. 78 on Blue Star’s top 100 seniors. In addition to her honorable mention All-American honors, she also earned All-State mention by the Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune last season after averaging 28 points per game. She earned fourth team Parade All-American honors following her senior year and played in the WBCA High School All-American game at the Final Four.
Smith, a 6-2 forward, led Trinity to the first Elite Eight appearance in school history last season while averaging 21.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. She also shot .450 (54-120) from three-point range. Following her junior season, she received first team All-State honors from the Chicago Sun-Times, Champaign News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. She is ranked No. 29 in the Blue Star Index Top 100 seniors and No. 50 by the All Star Girls Report. Smith was a third team Parade All-American following her senior season at Trinity.