DePaul & Women's Big East Tourney: Lights On

CHICAGO - The spotlight on the DePaul women’s basketball team this past week involved the selection of five of its players to Big East awards. Brittany Hrynko was named the conference’s Player of the Year; Chanise Jenkins and Megan Podkowa were Second Team honorees; Jessica January garnered Honorable Mention; and Mart’e Grays was named to the All-Freshman team.

But starting this weekend, that spotlight will turn into floodlights as BigEast schools converge on the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., on March 7-10 for the conference tournament.

“Just because we won [the conference tournament] last year does not mean it’s going to be easy this year,” said Hrynko. “There are still a lot of good teams that are willing to give us a run.”

No. 2 seed DePaul (23-7, 15-3) begins the tournament versus the winner of the No. 7 Xavier/No. 10 Georgetown game this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. CST. DePaul beat Xavier 84-61 and 87-63, and Georgetown 105-85 and 93-52 during the regular season.

“It’s always harder playing a team the third time because they get used to what you do and they find ways to perfect what they are doing,” said Jenkins.

The winner of the DePaul game faces No. 3 Villanova or No. 6 Butler Monday night at 8:00 p.m.

And while the limelight of this tournament is on a No. 1 Seton Hall/DePaul match up, trap doors await on the Allstate Arena stage.

Bruno said after his team’s regular season finale win against Marquette that he feels that the Golden Eagles are playing as well right now as some of the teams that will qualify for the NCAA tournament.

And then there is Villanova. The Wildcats beat DePaul 79-76 in overtime the first time they played and missed a five-footer with seconds to play with a chance to tie in the second game. Villanova lost to Seton Hall twice by a combined total of five points.

The Blue Demons, winners of 10 of their last 11 games, lost to Seton Hall 107-87 and 81-80, the second game on a last-second drive.

“I think we are getting better in all areas, but I think we have to continue to get better in our transitioning from full court pressure to half court defense,” said Bruno. “We are still in a place of recovery from Megan Rogowski’s [ACL tear]. We are trying to find little ways to put our chemistry together that she gave us when she was [healthy].”

“Defense and rebounding are areas we have to improve on,” said Hrynko. The offense (88.0 ppg) will come to us, but we just have to defend better and more consistently.”

It’s always defense and rebounding that are going to win close games in the end,” said Jenkins. “With such great teams in the Big East, you are always going to need defense and rebounding.”

Jenkins said on Media Day that playing at Allstate Arena will be similar to playing at McGrath-Phillips Arena, and that she feels that the team has Chicago on its back. If DePaul can maintain it scoring pace, its pressure, play good transition defense, and rebound strong, the Blue Demons might well turn Chicago into the City of Lights come post-title game on Tuesday evening.

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