Monday, March 14, 2016

DePaul locks down its 14th straight bid to the Women's NCAA Tournament

                              Photo Credit: Geno Green

College athletic programs are no different to the reality of constant change, but brings a different dynamic from other scenarios with yearly turnover due to graduation.

For coach Doug Bruno and the DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball team, consistency has been the name of the game as they made the 64-team NCAA Tournament field for the 14th straight season Monday night.

"Even though we have done this for 13, going on 14 straight years, there's no guarantee that any team will do this every single year," Bruno said in front of DePaul fans in Monday's selection show party at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

"Every year is unique because there are different players each season and I pulled out video from last year's practices and it was interesting to see how much this team has changed in one year."

First Round draw:

The Blue Demons (25-8) drew the No. 6 seed in the Dallas region and will play the No. 11 seed James Madison Dukes (27-5) in Louisville, on Friday at 11 a.m. CT (ESPN2/WatchESPN).

The Dukes won its third straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on March 12, in a 60-46 win over the Drexel Dragons.

CAA Player of the Year and the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player Jazmon Gwathmey leads the James Madison attack with 20.7 points per game on the season. 

At 6'2'', Gwathmey could be a potential WNBA Draft Pick and is considered to be the CAA's best player since Elena Delle Donne (Delaware 2008-13).

Gameplay, not numbers:

Despite not getting to a top 4 seed and home court for the first round in Chicago, Bruno believes more in showing up to play for 40 minutes, rather than the number next to a team in the tournament.

"In this tournament, everyone talks, speculates and moans, but you have to strap it on and play," Bruno said. "The women's tournament is so much harder than the men's, because you have home court to deal with [as a lower seed]."

DePaul's quest for the BIG EAST Tournament title came up short in a 75-66 loss to St. John's in the semifinal round on March 7. 

Seniors Chanise Jenkins and Megan Podkowa talked about the loss and relishing the opportunity of getting back on the court for one more chance to make a run in the postseason.

"This year, we are really confident and have the pieces to put together a run," Jenkins said. "We learned from the loss against St. John's in our last game and will use that to fuel us for the [NCAA Tournament]."

"I think the [St. John's] loss helped us because of the mistakes we made and has forced us to put more time into focusing on each game from this point forward," Podkowa said.

Looking Ahead:

If DePaul can win the first two rounds of the Louisville mini-pod and the regional semifinal in Dallas, Texas, potential rematches with top-seeded Baylor, fourth-seeded Texas A&M and eighth-seeded St. John's are possibilities in the regional final in Dallas, Texas on March 27-28.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.