2009-10 DePaul Women's Basketball Preview

CHICAGO- Architecture is a craft that requires, among other things, the ability to put the correct pieces in the correct places. And if that is done consistently, and done well, the finished product is something that should stand for some time. And so, too, with basketball.

As the 2009-10 basketball season begins, the DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball team has, as its task, the architectural equivalent of a craft well done: qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight year.

DePaul head coach Doug Bruno, who was recently named an assistant coach for the 2010 USA Women's World Championship Team, recognizes the difficulties of getting the correct pieces in the correct places.

"First of all, we have to stay healthy," said Bruno. "We have been banged up since last year, and we are still banged up. We have got some good experience with Deirdre [Naughton] and Felicia [Chester]. We are also going to have to have Keisha Hampton improve her game. Our freshmen, Anna Martin and Katherine Harry, together with Jen Juergens, are going to have to contribute. It is one of those years where I think we can be good, we just don't have a lot of room for error."

Hampton is currently battling turf toe. The 6'2" sophomore from Philadelphia averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.6 rpg her freshman year and is the first player in DePaul women's basketball history to be named Big East Freshman of the Week, an honor she attained twice last year. She is well aware of what she needs to do to better her outstanding freshman campaign.

"The number one thing I have to change is consistency, put myself on the court more," said Keisha. "Last year I did well as a freshman, but I was in foul trouble for a lot of games. If I come in this year and am more consistent, I can do a lot better."

Senior forward Rachel Pierson remains out with a back injury. Sophomore forward Taylor Pikes remains out recovering from a torn ACL, but is expected back on the court in December.

But the players that are healthy should give DePaul fans a good sight line towards bid #8.

Naughton, who averaged 15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 4.4 apg last year as a junior on her way to being named 2nd team All-Big East, has been named to the pre-season Wade Watch list and is one of only four Big East players nominated for the John R. Wooden Award. She sees the recognition for those awards as more motivation than pressure. "I don't really look at it as pressure because it makes all of the hard work worth it, so that is the motivation I use for it," the 5'10" guard said.

Assisting Naughton in the backcourt again this year is junior Sam Quigley. And Quigley's take on the team's motivation? DePaul's recent first round exits in the NCAA tournament. "I think we are probably a little more motivated," Sam said. "The past three years we have lost in the first round of the [NCAA] tournament, so we are using that as motivation for this season."

Martin should provide added depth to the backcourt. A graduate of Lexington Christian Academy in Nicholasville, Kentucky, the 5'9" guard averaged 19.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 3.7 apg her senior year. As a four-year starter, she led her team to three state titles and a 105-22 record.

DePaul loses forward Natasha Williams to graduation. Williams, who averaged 14.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg last year, was a powerful post presence offensively and defensively for the Demons in 2008-09.

Chester, a 6'3" junior forward, proved to be a strong compliment to Williams in the post last year averaging 7.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg. And while Pierson proved to be a solid post player last year, averaging 6.4 ppg in the 10 games she played before injuring her back, the post play to back up Chester this year could come from a freshman.

Harry, a 6'3" product from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri, averaged 14.7 ppg and 8.4 rpg her senior year on her way to being named the Gatorade Missouri Girls Player of the Year. "The freshmen look very good," Bruno said. "Both Harry and Martin look like they are ready to have an impact in the DePaul program as freshmen. I will be shocked if they both don't play a ton and really contribute."

The road for the Demons (23-10, 10-6 Big East last season, #16 pre-season) to an eighth straight bid will be a winding one, with away games versus pre-season #2 Stanford and its All-American, Jayne Appel, #5 Notre Dame, and #15 Rutgers. DePaul also entertains pre-season #1 Connecticut and its 2008 Player of the Year, Maya Moore, at McGrath Arena on February 10th.

"[The schedule] is really challenging in the sense that the last three or four games before the Big East starts where we go out to Stanford, come back and play Arkansas, Florida State, maybe Kansas State, and then go on the road to Illinois State, not to mention early road games at Northwestern and Northern Illinois and at UW-Green Bay, so it is a very difficult schedule for sure," Bruno said.

The Demons open this season with an exhibition game at McGrath Arena against St. Xavier on November 3rd at 7:00 p.m. CST.

Let construction commence.

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