DePaul Invitational Women's Hoops Preview

Blue Demons host Alabama State, Harvard & UNLV in DePaul Invitational this weekend.

2005 DePaul Invitational

Nov. 18-19 - DePaul Athletic Center - Chicago, Ill.

Friday, Nov. 18

Alabama State (0-0) vs. UNLV (0-0) - 5:30 p.m.

#18/18 DePaul (0-0) vs. Harvard (0-0) - 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 19

Consolation Game - 5:30 p.m.

Championship Game - 7:30 p.m.


CHICAGO - DePaul opens the 32nd season of women's basketball with the DePaul Invitational. The Blue Demons host Alabama State, Harvard and UNLV in the two-day tourney at the DePaul Athletic Center. UNLV and Alabama State start the action at 5:30 p.m. on Friday before the Blue Demons and Crimson tipoff at 7:30 p.m. The two winners clash on Saturday for the championship at 7:30 p.m. preceded by the consolation game at 5:30 p.m.

DePaul enters the regular season after a pair of exhibition game victories over Saint Xavier (Ill.) and the Chicago Challengers. The Blue Demons knocked off NAIA member Saint Xavier, 110-65, on Nov. 5, before a 105-79 win over the Challengers. The 10-member Challenger roster featured six former DePaul women's basketball student-athletes.

DePaul enters the season at No. 18 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches' Top 25.

Both games this weekend can be heard live at www.depaulbluedemons.com. Jason Benetti is in his first year on the headset for the Blue Demons and will describe all the action this season.

Season-Opening Notes: Beginning the 32nd season of women's basketball at DePaul University, the Blue Demons are 23-8 all-time in the first game. A year ago, they cruised by Murray State, 96-58, in the first game of the Moran Realty Classic at the DePaul Athletic Center. The 38-point margin of victory was the third-highest season-opening advantage in school history. In DePaul's first game in 1974, the Blue Demons posted a 62-17 win over Mundelein. Head coach Doug Bruno is 14-5 in the season-opener at DePaul. The Blue Demons have won four straight first games after dropping three in-a-row from 1998-00.

What's Back: DePaul returns nine players from last season's 26-5 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second round. The returners include four starters in Erin Carney, Allie Quigley, Jenna Rubino and Khara Smith. The nine returners accounted for 85 percent of the offense a year ago while the four starters were responsible for 62 percent of the points. DePaul also returns 91 percent of the rebounding with the nine players combining for a .477 field goal percentage.

New Faces, New Places: DePaul begins play in the BIG EAST Conference this season. Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida join the Blue Demons from Conference USA to form the largest conference in NCAA Division I with 16 programs. The 2005-06 BIG EAST line-up includes Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.

DePaul enters the season with an 85-55 all-time record against the 2005-06 group of BIG EAST members. Of the 140 games against BIG EAST opponents, the Blue Demons have played Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame and USF a total of 130 times. The program is a combined 5-5 all-time against Connecticut, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova and West Virginia. DePaul plays Rutgers, St. John's and Syracuse for the first time this season.

Conference History: The BIG EAST Conference is the fourth conference for DePaul's women's basketball program. The Blue Demons were members of the North Star Conference from 1983-91, the Great Midwest Conference from 1991-95 and Conference USA from 1995-2005.

Smith Named to Wooden and Wade Lists: Khara Smith was named to both the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award preseason lists for National Player of the Year honors. In each of the last two seasons, she has been one of 16 finalists for the Wooden Award.

The State Farm Wade Trophy preseason list is made up of 25 student-athletes that are selected by a national awards committee of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball administrators. The selections are based on the criteria of game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 29th year and named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade, debuted in 1978 as the first women's national player of the year award in college basketball. This most prestigious award, regarded as "The Heisman of Women's Basketball", is organized by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), in conjunction with the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Smith is one of three players on this season's preseason Wooden Award list that is a two-time finalist. Joining Smith on the short list is LSU's Seimone Augustus and Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his/her university the he/she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, Seimone Augustus ('05).

These Top 30 candidates (all returning players) were selected by a national poll conducted by the National Advisory Board. Transfers and freshmen as well as other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 List and the final national ballot.

BIG EAST Preseason Picks: The league's 16 coaches slated the Blue Demons at No. 4 in the BIG EAST preseason poll. Rutgers was selected as the favorite with 11 first-place votes followed by Connecticut and Notre Dame. Senior forward Khara Smith was one of 12 players named to the league's All-BIG EAST preseason team. Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter was named the Preseason Player of the Year.

National Preseason Picks: The DePaul women's basketball team is picked among the nation's top 25 and senior forward Khara Smith has been named a preseason All-American in various preseason publications.

Smith was named a first team All-American by the cbssportsline.com College Basketball Preview and a second-teamer by Lindy's. She also picked up High Honorable Mention honors in Street and Smith's.

She is joined on the cbssportsline.com first team by Seimone Augustus of LSU, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, Sophia Young of Baylor and Ohio State's Jessica Davenport.

The Blue Demons are ranked 11th in the preseason top 25 by cbssportsline.com and 20th in Street and Smith's.

ESPN.com Notice: In the women's basketball preview on ESPN.com, the DePaul program was cited on a number of occasions. Khara Smith was slotted as the nation's top rebounder by three of the four ESPN.com women's basketball experts and the DePaul-Connecticut game was selected as one of the top 10 games to watch this season. The Blue Demons and Huskies tangle at the DePaul Athletic Center on Jan. 28. Smith was also named one of the top five forwards in the country joining Baylor's Sophia Young, Candice Dupree of Temple, Tiffany Jackson of Texas and Michigan State's Liz Shimek.

Exhibition Recap: DePaul posted a 2-0 record with a pair of decisive wins over Saint Xavier (Ill.) and the Chicago Challengers. On Nov. 5, the Blue Demons topped NAIA member Saint Xavier, 110-65, before a 105-79 victory of the Challengers on Nov. 12.

Allie Quigley led six players in double-figures with 17 points against Saint Xavier as DePaul used a 30-5 first-half run for a 57-33 lead at halftime. The Blue Demons built the lead to 47 points on two occasions in the second half as they outscored the Cougars, 53-32, in the second period. Caprice Smith added 10 points and nine rebounds for DePaul while freshman Erin Cattell totaled 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Chicago Challengers featured six former Blue Demons, but the current roster wearing the DePaul jersey proved to be too much. Jenna Rubino dropped in game-high's of 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead four in double-figures. DePaul trailed by a point at the half, 37-36, before outscoring the Challengers, 69-42, in the second stanza. Quigley added 20 points while Charlene Smith scored 21 and Jenni Dant added 17 points for the Challengers.

Family Time: Siblings and teammates Erin and Rachael Carney are just one of 16 sets of sisters playing on the same NCAA Division I team this season. The only other BIG EAST sister duo is in Cincinnati where Anne and Jill Stephens play for the Bearcats. Among the 16 sets of sisters playing on the same team, there are five sets of twins. Fairleigh Dickinson and Liberty go one step further as each features a set of triplets.

One of Two: Already ranked in the top 12 in 11 of 17 career statistical categories, senior forward Khara Smith could become just the second player in DePaul history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Diana Vines was first Blue Demon to accomplish the feat as she totaled 2,504 points and 1,269 career rebounds - both school records. Smith enters her final season with 1,637 points and 984 career rebounds. She is ranked fifth all-time in scoring and tied for fourth in career rebounds as she looks to become DePaul's first three-time All-American.

Streaking: Dating back to last season and in some cases, the last couple of seasons, the Blue Demons have put together various streaks. Listed below are some current active streaks heading into the 2005-06 season:

- 23 consecutive wins at home

- 39 straight victories at home against unranked opponents

- 21 consecutive home wins against conference programs

- 13 straight wins against opponents from Illinois and 27 of the last 28

- 13 victories in-a-row against conference opponents

Home Cookin': In five seasons, the DePaul Athletic Center has proven itself as one of the toughest venues in the nation. The Blue Demons have posted a 60-8 record in the arena's first 68 games. In their 32nd season, the Blue Demons have an all-time home court record of 304-88 (.776). Over 26 seasons at Alumni Hall, the women's basketball program won over 75 percent of their games with a 242-80 all-time record. At the Allstate Arena, the women's program has posted an all-time record of 20-4.

In 30-plus seasons of women's basketball at DePaul University there have been 13 streaks of at least 10 straight home victories. The longest streak is the current 23-game run that started on Dec. 19, 2003 with a 99-63 win over Alabama State. The victory over Houston on Feb. 11 broke the former record of 20 games from Feb. 4, 1978-Feb. 19, 1979.

Over the last two years, the team is 41-1 at home with the lone loss coming in overtime to Tennessee on Dec. 17, 2003. Maybe more impressive is that the Blue Demons average margin of victory during the run is 25.2 points per game.

The current 23-game winning streak is just the fourth home streak in school history of at least 15 games and is second in the nation among current home-floor winning streaks behind Western Illinois' 39-game home winning streak.

The Blue Demons have also posted 39 straight home victories over unranked opponents. During the 39-game streak over unranked opponents, there have been 37 victories at the DePaul Athletic Center and two wins at the Allstate Arena. Tulane handed DePaul their last home loss to an unranked team on Mar. 2, 2002, with a 88-83 decision in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament.

Taking Advantage From Beyond the Arc: Since the start of the 2001-02 season, the club has knocked down 903 trifectas compared to just 449 for the opposition. Over the last six years, the team has totaled at least 200 three-pointers in each season. With a 0-for-8 showing against Houston on Feb. 11, 2005, DePaul's streak of games with a three-pointer ended at 259 games. At the time, it was the nation's seventh-longest active streak.

In 31 games last season, the Blue Demons outscored their opponents by 306 points from three-point range (9.9 ppg). DePaul was 225-606 (.371) from behind the arc while opponents went a combined 123-406 (.303). The squad averaged 7.3 three's per game while the opposition made 4.0 treys per contest.

Giving to Charity: Over the last five seasons, DePaul finished either first or second in the league rankings in free throw percentage. A year ago, the Blue Demons were first with a .735 percentage from the line preceded by a second-place finish in 2003-04 with a .724 team mark. The squad finished the 2002-03 campaign ranked second with a .718 season percentage and claimed the top spot in 2001-02 with a .738 percentage.

TV Time: As always, the DePaul women's basketball program will be featured multiple times on national television. The Blue Demons are scheduled to make a minimum of six appearances this season. DePaul plays twice on the ESPN network in BIG EAST games against Louisville on Jan. 25 and Notre Dame on Feb. 12. The Blue Demons are also scheduled for a pair of games televised by CSTV against Pittsburgh on Jan. 3 and at Notre Dame on Jan. 17.

The BIG EAST TV Network comes to the DePaul Athletic Center on Jan. 14 for the Villanova game. ComcastSportsNet Chicago is scheduled to pick up that game in the Chicagoland area. The BIG EAST Tournament features the quarterfinals on CSTV, semifinals on ESPNU and the championship game on ESPN2.

DePaul is no stranger to the cameras as 25 games in the last three seasons have been televised.

Looking Forward: DePaul signed four players to a National Letter of Intent in November. Felicia Chester, China Threatt, Kayla Guidry and Samantha Quigley join the program next fall as freshmen and hail from Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri.

Chester, nationally ranked among the top players at her position, averaged 12.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 3.0 blocks per game as a junior. She picked up second team All-State honors after leading Incarnate Word Academy to the state finals. The Red Knights finished third in the state with a 28-3 record. The 6'2" forward enters her senior season as the school's all-time shot blocker and picked up second team All-Metro honors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a junior. The All Star Girls Report ranks the forward at No. 107 in the country and the 25th-ranked player at her position.

Guidry averaged 15 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a junior for the Peabody Warhorses. The 5'8" guard earned first team All-District honors and was named the Rapides Parrish Most Valuable Player. She also was named the KLAX Athlete of the Week and played on Junior Olympic state and national teams.

The second Quigley in three years to sign a National Letter of Intent at DePaul, Samantha joins her sister, Allie, next season in Lincoln Park. A three-sport standout in volleyball, basketball and softball, she averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals as a junior at Joliet Catholic Academy. Quigley earned third team All-State honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and first team All-Area honors from the Joliet Herald-News. Entering her senior season, she holds career averages of 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

Threatt (pronounced Threett) is a Michigan Miss Basketball candidate. She is the third Michigan product to join the program in the last three seasons with the Carney sisters, Rachael and Erin, playing currently at DePaul. Prior to an injury this season, the versatile 5'8" guard was averaging 15.0 points per game. Ranked as the state's No. 6 player by the Detroit Free Press, she led Auburn Hills Avondale to the No. 1 ranking in the state.

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