Old team, new blood

By Nader Ihmoud

The No. 25-ranked DePaul University Blue Demons women’s basketball team begins its season Nov. 9 with the annual Maggie Dixon Classic at McGrath-Phillips Arena, 2335 N. Sheffield Ave.

Head Coach Doug Bruno is in his 27th season at the helm of the fast-paced Blue Demons. Even though six players of last year’s “magnificent seven” have returned, Bruno is not pleased with the team’s development following its blow-out victory at its first exhibition game Oct. 30 against the Saint Xavier

University Cougars.

“I don’t think I’m really satisfied with the [team’s] progress,” Bruno said after the game. “[There has been] a lot of things outside of our control, and we just have not been able to put everything together in a real

cohesive fashion.”

Bruno said the absence of last year’s leading scorer, Anna Martin, is a contributing factor. The senior guard, who averaged 19 points per game last season, has been limited this offseason because of an ankle injury and did not play in her team’s 91-59 victory against the Cougars. Martin said she would be ready for the team’s first game of the season.

Bruno urged the media to wait until after the team’s first tournament for a more accurate assessment of its future.

“The time to assess progress is going be in the Maggie [Dixon] Classic because that’s a real big tournament we have coming at us,” Bruno said.

The Blue Demons will open the classic against the Nicholls State University Colonels, which had the best season in the college’s history last season with

15 victories.

Despite Martin’s absence, Bruno has three other returning starters who are capable of helping the Blue Demons’ prowess this season.

Senior forward Katherine Harry, junior forward Jasmine Penny and sophomore guard Brittany Hrynko showed their strengths during the game against the Cougars, but Bruno was quick to point out they also have room

for improvement.

Harry, who said she was not pleased with her play in the first exhibition game, has a visible display in the paint but was unable to execute scoring opportunities during a few plays against Saint Xavier. The 6-foot-3-inch forward led the team last season

in rebounds.

“She has a dominant presence,” Bruno said. “[But] often what we need from Katherine is the translation of the presence into

actual results.”

Perry, who is the Blue Demons’ most consistent shooter, ended last season shooting 57 percent from the field. She said she is working to improve for her new

leadership role as a second year starter.

“I still need to work on being more vocal,” Penny said. “In practice I try to lead more by example. I don’t talk a lot, but I need to talk a lot more.”

Although the Blue Demons have a lot of returning players, five freshmen will be looking for guidance. According to Bruno, the hardest part for the first-year players will be transitioning to

faster-paced gameplay.

“We play fast on top of the fact that the players that [the freshmen are] playing against are all better players than the ones they played in high school,” he said.

Bruno expects the younger players to excel, but he said cannot predict when their progress will garner results for the team. Three of the five freshmen played their first college game against the Cougars.

Bruno played only eight of his 12 players during the team’s first game but said some of those who have not played will get a chance during

the season.

Freshman guard Chanise Jenkins, who previously played in the Chicago Public League, also suffered an ankle injury and didn’t play Oct. 30. She is one of the players Bruno said will make an impact on the team.

“[There was] a lot of good moments, and then a lot of freshman–esque moments,” Bruno said. “There’s certain things you just can’t learn in practice that you have to learn through games.”

The Blue Demons are looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the 18th time in the college’s history. Last year, the team’s season ended when it was defeated by the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers during the second round of the tournament, which kept DePaul from advancing to its third Sweet Sixteen in the team’s history.