Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cooler than the other side of the pillow: DePaul's seniors reflect on the last four seasons

                                Photo Credit: Geno Green

On a snowy Sunday afternoon in Chicago, DePaul's Chanise Jenkins warmed up the crowd at McGrath-Phillips arena with a 17-point, 10-assist performance for her second double-double of the season.

The performance took on a significant meaning for Jenkins as she was honored with Megan Podkowa on Senior Day moments after No. 23 DePaul's 102-63 win over Butler.

With glowing smiles at center court, both players addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for supporting the Blue Demons in their last four seasons.

Despite the win and an opportunity to play at least one more home game at the BIG EAST Tournament on March 6, Jenkins and Podkowa are taking things one opponent at a time.

"I know that we have a lot more to accomplish and I think that is why I am happy," Jenkins said.

"I am happy knowing there is more to go, but more important, we get to play another game here," Podkowa said.

Blue Demons coach Doug Bruno has seen a lot of great players over the last five decades in coaching and puts Podkowa and Jenkins on a high platform.

"Megan and Chanise are two of the most special people I have ever coached in 42 years," Bruno said. "It sounds weird because you have players that have gone to the WNBA, but when it comes to college basketball players, they are as pure as they come and are what DePaul Ball is all about."

With a share of the regular season conference title clinched at minimum for the third straight season, Bruno kept a grounded stance on the importance of treating each opponent the same in terms of preparation.

"This group has shown they can be very good, but average at the same time," Bruno said. "I think it is important when we bring it, we have the edge necessary to play against the best teams in the country come March."

After a nip and tuck first quarter, DePaul used a 28-3 run, spanning the second and third quarters to go ahead 51-25 on Butler and would not look back.

"It took us awhile to get going," Bruno said. "Our defense did a better job in the second quarter of and the offense fed off of the effort on the other side."

"We got off to a slow start on defense and started using a combination of the offensive scores and defensive stops to execute the run," Podkowa said. 

"We are doing what coach [Bruno] wanted us to do the entire season in that span," Jenkins said. "One possession, we had six offensive rebounds and were not afraid to hit the open woman. We trusted each other to make plays and shots on offense."

After Butler coach Kurt Godlevske's two technical fouls and subsequent ejection with 7:01 left in the fourth quarter, Jenkins and Podkowa combined to convert 3-of-4 free throws and were substituted out of the game to a standing ovation from the crowd.

For Podkowa and Jenkins, DePaul Ball is not only a saying, but a way of life and gave credit to their teammates for being on the same page at all times.

"It is crazy because every single game, you never know who will step up," Podkowa said. It is awesome to know if we have an off-game, then we know other girls will step up and never have to worry about support."

Jenkins echoed some of Podkowa's sentiments about DePaul Ball.

"Yea, pretty much the same thing as they didn't rely on the seniors to bring the game in," Jenkins said. "They took control and stepped up to the occasion."

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