DePaul Duo Expect the Expected

Katherine Harry grabbing a rebound, pivoting, and igniting the fast break. Anna Martin driving, falling back and hitting a baseline floater. Harry swatting a shot out of bounds. Martin loading up and draining a backbreaking three-pointer. All done with little emotion from either of them.

But, what doesn't show on the face shows up inside: the expectation from each other and from themselves to make those plays every night.

Harry and Martin, juniors and roommates, come from a long line of expectations at DePaul. Last year's 29-7 team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and extended the Blue Demons' streak of NCAA tournament appearances to nine.

And like any well-run organization, the expectations start at the top. At DePaul, that is 26th year head coach Doug Bruno.

"These two have been starters since their freshman year and it is very important that they provide leadership this year, and they have been doing a great job of it. Katherine has been a great leader off the floor and now she has to take that leadership on to the floor. Anna has been awesome with her leadership and I have been very impressed with her competitiveness and toughness."

These characteristics can be traced back to last year's season and seniors Sam Quigley, Deirdre Naughton and Felicia Chester.

"Felicia was such a great leader and such a quiet leader," Harry said. "She was the type of person who worked hard on every possession and who always had your back defensively."

"[How vocal Sam was] is something I have tried to help with our team because I knew that was going to be a huge missing component," Martin said. "Coach [Bruno] is big on talking during every possession, so I really took that from Sam. She was always talking and always telling us what to do."

Both Harry and Martin relate to expectations as just one more step up the ladder of success. And they realize that the ladder is a moving target from year to year.

Harry, sixth all-time at DePaul in blocked shots and ninth in rebounding average, was a unanimous Big East All-Freshman Team selection. And now, entering her third year at DePaul, she must again take aim.

"Coach Bruno is going to teach us all the offensive and defensive sets we will ever need, but you can't coach competitiveness, effort or will," Harry said. "Those are things that have to come from inside. Igniting that internal fire that gets you going is something that I need to do to be more successful this year."

Martin was the first freshman at DePaul in over 30 years to score 30 points or more when she poured in 31 against Syracuse. But that, along with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.6:1 last year, fourth best in the Big East, has only upped what she hopes to accomplish this year.

"I worked probably harder this season than I have ever worked. I worked on my jumpers and finishing better with my left hand. I want this year to reflect that. I also want to be a leader to the team and I want to show them that hard work does pay off and that it takes working hard on every possession and every game to be a really good player."

And as good as both of them were their freshman year, it did not come easy. But they were not alone.

"The thing that made it the easiest was the support we had from our upperclassmen," Harry said. "It was really hard to get through that first year, being so far away from home and the style of play. The [upperclassmen] let us know that we might mess up, but they were going to be there for us and there were times when we would be there for them."

"My freshman year I thought I was doing good," Martin said. "That experience is something that coach Bruno has used with other freshman as an example. I thought I was playing fine and I thought I had it figured out and then I hit the Big East and had a really tough time. The Big East was harder than any basketball I had ever played. But the upperclassmen and the coaches helped me with my confidence."

And though Harry and Martin probably took little solace their freshman year after an NCAA tournament first round 83-76 overtime loss to Vanderbilt, with Martin scoring a team-high 24 points, expectations were increased, and met, last year.

Wins over Navy and Penn State advanced DePaul to its second-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance, a match up with No. 2 seeded Duke. Behind 41-28 at the break, a furious rally in the final minutes left the Blue Demons short, losing 70-63, and going back to Chicago.

For both players it took some time for them to reflect back on just what the team had accomplished from start to finish that year, one where DePaul upset No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 Notre Dame along the way.

"It took me a lot longer to realize how good of a season we had because I was not really pleased with how I played during the season," Harry said. "It took a while for me to step back and say maybe I did not play that well this season, but my team did, and this is something we will never forget."

The process lasted even longer for Martin.

"After the game I had an empty feeling, like any athlete would have. I wanted to go farther and I thought we could have gone farther. I probably did not realize it until our first spring practice of this year when I looked around and saw that this was a whole new team."

And that whole new team this year consists of four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen.

If DePaul is selected to the NCAA tournament for the 10th straight year, it will be one based on the culmination of the hard work the team put in since that Sweet Sixteen loss, over the summer, during spring practice and over the course of Big East play.

A selection that will be earned, yes, but at least for two players, expected all the same.

We Are DePaul Top Stories