Paradise Would Be a Tournament Title
Nov. 20, 2012
CHICAGO – Talk about getting an early start, the DePaul women’s basketball team left at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday for the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands that begins Thanksgiving Day.
They headed to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas with a collective mindset to first and foremost play winning basketball.
Certainly they will enjoy all the comforts of the tournament’s headquarters hotel, the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort which offers a catamaran sail to Turtle Cove where passengers can swim with sea turtles and tropical fish.
They could visit the capital city of Charlotte Amalie and go for a sky ride 700 feet above the city or check out Coral World Ocean Park where visitors can pet a sting ray, hug a sea lion or enter the Shark Shallows pool and watch the juvenile sharks that inhabit the waters of the Virgin Islands swim around you.
This vacation paradise of secluded coves, pristine coral reefs, tropical forests, white-sand beaches and magnificent sunsets is the same setting where the DePaul men’s basketball team finished third at the Paradise Jam in 2009.
“We’re going to the Virgin Islands to win,” said sophomore guard Megan Rogowski. “Of course we’ll enjoy the great weather, but this trip is all about winning three games and the Paradise Jam tournament.
“We’re facing three very good teams who all made it to the NCAA tournament last season with South Carolina advancing to the Sweet 16. We’ll also play Florida Gulf Coast and Hampton. After playing another NCAA tournament team recently in Dayton, we know what to expect and we’ll be more ready.
“Other teams have incentive to beat DePaul. We have to be more mentally prepared and play our game despite what other teams think of us.”
Since the Nov. 10 loss to Dayton, the Blue Demons have beaten Howard 68-51 and Yale 95-80.
“Winning all three games and the tournament will mean a lot to us,” said freshman point guard Chanise Jenkins who had 11 points, nine assists and six rebounds in Monday night’s win over Yale. “Then, we can finally chill at the end.
“If you lose, you can’t do this or can’t do that and people don’t want to talk about it. Everyone is more fun to be around when we win.”
The Blue Demons are off to a 3-1 start this season, winning those three games by an average of 21 points. They will attack Florida Gulf Coast on Thanksgiving Day with a dual playmaker set of Jenkins (8.3 points, six assists, five rebounds a game) and Brittany Hrynko (15.5 points, five assists).
All-American Anna Martin is averaging 15.3 points and seven assists, and there’s the versatile inside tandem of 6-foot, 3-inch Katherine Harry (14 points, 12 rebounds) and 6-1 Jasmine Penny (team-leading 16.3 points).
This Thanksgiving trip should be much more enjoyable for Jenkins.
“I got hurt in practice the day before our tournament in Hawaii last year,” said Jenkins, who starred at Whitney Young. “I wasn’t able to play in any of the games. I’m hoping it’s going to be different this year. I’m looking forward to helping our team win the tournament. We’re going to practice on our days off and maybe do something educational.”
Rogowski added: “Last year we went on a special tour of Pearl Harbor that was very meaningful. In Hawaii, our coach (Doug Bruno) let us go to the beach for one hour. Maybe we’ll do that again this year.
“Last year, we came in second at the Hawaii tournament. We all felt we should have beaten San Diego State and won the tournament. For the most part, we had a good time.
“There are distractions in the Virgin Islands, but the coaches and team captains do a good job of keeping us focused. We want to win all three games. Long as we take care of business, hopefully it will be more fun at the end.”
It will be a new experience sitting down to Thanksgiving Dinner in the Caribbean.
“This will be my first Thanksgiving away from home,” Rogowski said. “I think of the team as my other family, and we’ll have a nice Thanksgiving dinner together.”
Jenkins nodded her head.
“It will be fun,” she said. “Everyone gets along and it’s going to be a fun environment to be around. I’ll miss my family, but this team is like my family away from home.”
Who’s going to carve the turkey at the Blue Demon Thanksgiving dinner?
“Probably Daddy Bruno,” Jenkins said.