DePaul Travels to Northwestern
CHICAGO - After storming out of the gate and winning the Moran Realty Classic in convincing fashion, the DePaul Blue Demons travel to Evanston for their annual matchup with the Northwestern Wildcats. The Blue Demons and Wildcats tip off at 7 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Northwestern’s campus.
DePaul enters the game averaging 101.5 points per game following wins over UW-Milwaukee and Northwestern State in the Moran Realty Classic.
The Northwestern game can be heard live on Monday night at www.depaulbluedemons.com. Jeff Friedman is in his third season on the headset for the DePaul and will describe at least 21 games live on the internet this season on DePaul’s official athletics website. A 20-minute pre-game show will precede each broadcast and a post-game show will wrap things up after every game.
Noting the Blue Demons: The 2003-04 campaign is the 30th season of women’s basketball at DePaul University... Monday’s game will be the 500th on the sideline for head coach Doug Bruno and the 817th in program history... a win would give the club just the eighth 3-0 start in the program’s history... a DePaul team started 3-0 in 1985-86, ‘87-88, ‘89-90, ‘90-91, ‘92-93, ‘94-95, ‘96-97... the ‘85-86 squad produced the best start in school history at 9-0... the Blue Demons are 22-8 all-time in the first game of the season.... Bruno is 13-5 in openers at DePaul... the Blue Demons have won three straight season-openers after dropping three consecutive from 1998-00.
Checking in on the Wildcats: Northwestern enters the game with a 2-1 record following their 49-47 win at Dayton on Nov. 26. The Wildcats also knocked off Creighton, 59-41, in the opener on Nov. 21 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Their lone loss was a 60-67 defeat at Kentucky on Nov. 23. Samantha McComb leads three players in double-figures with 13.3 points per game while Ifeoma Okonkwo chips in 12.3 points per contest. Head coach June Olkowski is in her fourth season in Evanston and holds a 25-89 record. All-time against DePaul, she is 0-4.
The Northwestern Series: Monday is the 21st all-time meeting between the two programs. Northwestern leads the series, 13-7, but the Blue Demons have posted victories in four straight and seven of the last 11 meetings. A year ago, Jenni Dant led four players in double-figures with 22 points in 24th-ranked DePaul’s 70-51 win at the DePaul Athletic Center. All-time in Evanston, the Wildcats have won six of nine meetings while Doug Bruno holds a 6-5 record against Northwestern.
Puttin’ It On the Board: The Blue Demons have kept the scoreboard operators busy as they have registered 94 and 109 points in their first two games this season. The 203 combined points are the most in back-to-back games since scoring 205 in consecutive games during the 1995-96 season. DePaul posted a 109-88 win at Memphis before turning around and knocking off Marquette, 96-53, at Alumni Hall.
Despite all of the scoring, no Blue Demon has scored 20 points in a game this season. Four players average between 15.5 and 17.0 points per contest.
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 301-196. Along with being the winningest coach in DePaul women’s basketball history, Bruno has also tallied the most victories among Conference USA coaches at their respective schools. Jeannie Milling is next with 257 wins at UAB while Laurie Pirtle has tallied 259 victories at Cincinnati. Milling leads all C-USA coaches with 418 overall victories.
Milestone Wins at DePaul
Recapping the Moran Realty Classic: The Blue Demons captured their third straight Moran Realty Classic title with wins over UW-Milwaukee and Northwestern State. DePaul opened the tournament with a 94-62 win over the Panthers and a 109-73 victory over Northwestern State in the championship game.
On Friday against UW-Milwaukee, DePaul opened the game with a 14-2 run in the second half. The lead grew to as many as 32 points as 10 players scored and 12 grabbed at least one rebound. Ashley Luke led five players in double-figures with 18 points while Khara Smith added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Against the Lady Demons, records fell as the Blue Demons set a new DePaul Athletic Center record with 109 points. The club also tied the program’s single-game record with 15 three-pointers and set a new program mark with 39 three-point attempts. DePaul led by 27 points with 15 minutes left and held a game-high 42-point advantage with 6:06 left in the game. Jenni Dant led five players in double-figures with 19 points and was named co-MVP of the tournament with Charlene Smith. Khara Smith and Luke also earned All-Tournament honors.
All in the Family: Cousins Charlene and Khara Smith have been an offensive force since joining the club a year ago. Khara, a sophomore, has four double-doubles in the last five games (dating back to last season) and averages 16.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Charlene, a junior, is third on the club with 15.5 points per game and leads the Blue Demons with eight assists. The two have combined for 31 percent of the scoring in two game this season.
Swarming: Despite all of the offensive numbers, the DePaul defense has been devastating to their two opponents. Through two games in 2003-04, the Blue Demons have made 41 steals while forcing 66 turnovers. DePaul has converted the 66 mishaps into 39 points. On the flip side, the opposition is shooting a combined .460 (57-124) from the field.
Exhibition Recap: The Blue Demons put up impressive offensive numbers in the two exhibition games last week. On Nov. 12, DePaul posted a 109-74 win over the National Team of Holland and then followed that with a 92-68 win on Saturday against the Chicago Challengers. In the two games, the club averaged 100.5 points per game while shooting a combined .470 from the field. Defensively, the Blue Demons forced 63 turnovers and while making 40 steals. Khara Smith led all scorers with 22.5 points per game and was followed by cousin, Charlene, with 21.5 points per contest. Jenni Dant added 17.0 points per game while Ashley Luke chipped in an average of 16.0 points.
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 by winning the C-USA Tournament in Memphis after starting as the fifth seed. Charlotte, who won the league regular season title a year ago, was picked fourth just behind Cincinnati. DePaul posted a 10-4 record to earn the third seed in the 2003 conference tourney.
2003-04 C-USA Preseason Poll
Junior Jenni Dant was named to the league’s preseason All-Conference team after earning second team All-CUSA honors after last season. Houston’s Chandi Jones was named the preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the league’s preseason team by Dant, Sandora Irvin of TCU and Cincinnati’s Valerie King and Debbie Merrill.
Preseason Picks, Part II: In the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25, the magazine slotted DePaul at No. 18. The Blue Demons are one of two Conference USA programs in the Top 25 as TCU was picked 22nd. The No. 18 ranking is DePaul highest preseason ranking by any magazine as the Blue Demons are coming off their 22-10 record and NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago.
Two-time defending National Champion Connecticut is Athlon’s preseason favorite. The Huskies are followed by Duke, Kansas State, Stanford and Texas. Tennessee, who the Blue Demons play at the DePaul Athletic Center in December, is ranked ninth.
Home Cookin’: In three seasons, the DePaul Athletic Center has proven itself as one of the toughest venues in the Midwest. The Blue Demons have posted a 36-7 (.837) home record over 43 games. In their 30th season, the Blue Demons have an all-time home court record of 279-87 (.762). Over 26 seasons at Alumni Hall, the women’s basketball program won over 75 percent of their games with a 242-80 all-time record. At the Allstate Arena, the women’s program has posted an all-time record of 19-4. DePaul returns to Rosemont this season for a game against Southern Illinois on Dec. 14.
Entering the 2003-04 season, the Blue Demons hold one of the longest home-court winning streaks in the country. DePaul is tied for seventh with Western Illinois and Washington with their 16 consecutive home court victories. Connecticut leads the country with a 66-game home court winning streak and is followed by UC Santa Barbara with 27 straight home victories.
Current NCAA Home Court Winning Streaks
Nothing but the Best: The 2003-04 schedule features 13 opponents that played in the postseason a year ago. Among the 13 are 10 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last March. The Blue Demons take on Alabama State, Illinois, Tennessee and Valparaiso in non-conference action at the DePaul Athletic Center while traveling to Holy Cross and Manhattan. A year ago, Conference USA sent seven teams to postseason action. Charlotte, Cincinnati, TCU and Tulane joined the Blue Demons in the NCAA Tournament while Marquette and Saint Louis played in the WNIT.
Eyeing 1,000: Preseason All-Conference USA honoree Jenni Dant could become the 18th player in DePaul basketball history to surpass the 1,000-point mark in her career. Through 63 career games, the junior has 786 points. Last season, Dant led the club in scoring at 14.4 points per game on her way to finishing the season with 460 points. As a freshman, Dant tallied 293 points while averaging 10.1 points per contest. The most recent DePaul player to enter the 1,000-point club was Lenae Williams. She finished her four-year DePaul career ranked second all-time with 2,046 points.
Taking Advantage From Beyond the Arc: The DePaul women’s basketball program has turned the three-point field into a potent offensive weapon. This season will be no different as the Blue Demons return their top two sharpshooters from last season in Sarah Kustok and Ashley Luke. Kustok led Conference USA with a .445 three-point field goal percentage while Luke tied DePaul’s single-season record with 94 three’s last season.
As a team, DePaul has made at least one three-pointer in 209 consecutive games. Over the last four seasons the club has knocked down 688 trifectas compared to just 340 for the opposition. In the last two seasons the Blue Demons have set new single-season records with 230 in 2001-02 and 233 in 2002-03.
In 32 games in 2002-03, the Blue Demons outscored their opponents by 336 points from three-point range. DePaul was 233-646 (.361) from behind the arc while opponents were 121-356 (.340). The squad averaged 7.3 three’s per game while the opposition made 3.8 treys per contest. The .361 team three-point percentage is ranked third on the single-season chart.
Giving to Charity: Along with the accuracy from behind the arc, the Blue Demons also rank among the best in Conference USA from the free throw line. Over the last three seasons, DePaul has finished either first or second in the league in free throw percentage. The squad finished the 2002-03 campaign ranked second with a .718 (425-592) season percentage. Against Charlotte, the Blue Demons posted a season-best .947 (18-19) from the charity strip. Earlier in the season, they shot .850 (17-20) at Illinois and against Northern Illinois went 25-for-30 (.833).
Prior to finishing second, DePaul was a combined 384-520 (.738) from the free throw line in 2001-02 to rank first among Conference USA schools for the second straight season. In 2000-01, the Blue Demons led Conference USA with a .716 overall mark from the free throw line.
DePaul was no stranger to the cameras last season as 10 games were televised. The Blue Demons posted a 6-4 record in televised games last year and have won 11 of the last 16 televised games. Over the last two seasons, DePaul has won five of six games on C-USA TV including wins over Tulane, TCU, Marquette and Louisville.
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, leads the St. Francis Gladiators into the state tournament. Michigan and Montana are the nation’s only states that play girls high school basketball in the fall. Through 19 games, Carney averaged 19.8 points and 17.3 rebounds per game. This season, she has put together game highs of 29 points and 25 rebounds in a game. Carney played her first three seasons at Flint Power Catholic High School where she averaged 10.8 points and 7.7 boards per game.
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.
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 Start Girls Report.