DePaul Women's Hoops: Past and Present Tour

As they do each July, the cyclists of the Tour De France pedal through the French countryside on the way to their final destination: the Champs-Elysees and le maillot jaune. This summer, a different group of athletes rolled through France, ones that were in France not only to participate in their sport, but firstly to honor a person with whom they share a long lineage.

The DePaul women's basketball team left for France in mid-August to embark on a 10-day trip to play four game exhibitions against French professional teams and club teams, and to see the history of the man who inspired the founding of their university.

And as with any trip, it's always nice to start out with some good news. For the Blue Demons, that good news came in early August with the NCAA granting DePaul's All-Big East guard, Deirdre Naughton, a sixth year of eligibility after tearing her ACL early last season.

And also with any trip, it helps to learn about your destination. For this team, the destination offered all the beauty that France has to offer, but within that country lay a deeper destination: learning about St. Vincent dePaul (1581-1660) and his mission. In that vein, the team participated in a class before leaving for France to learn more about him and his female partner, Saint Louise de Marillac, and their charity work with the poor.

During the team's time in France, each Blue Demon blogged about the trip. Big East All-Freshmen center Katherine Harry wrote in her blog entry about what the team saw concerning St. Vincent dePaul's work.

"Father Ed Udovic took us to the Vincentian Motherhouse where we got to see relics of St. Vincent and his burial remains...we also visited the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity, the organization founded by St. Vincent dePaul and St. Louise de Marillac...we also visited many other churches, one of which St. Louise de Marillac was married in."

It may have been the inspiration the team garnered from seeing the history of St. Vincent dePaul that carried over to the basketball courts in France as the team averaged 83 ppg and went 4-0 during the trip.

And while fans of last year's team enjoyed watching the accomplishments and contributions of such players as Naughton, Felicia Chester, Sam Quigley and Keisha Hampton, DePaul coach Doug Bruno must have been pleased to see some new faces step up prior to this year's regular season.

Game one of the trip versus Reims proved to be a breakout game for forward Maureen Mulchrone as the junior notched her first collegiate double double with 19 points and 12 rebounds to help lead DePaul to a75-70 win. Mulchrone averaged 16.0 ppg in the first two contests.

That game also saw DePaul's lone freshman this year, Jasmine Penny, score 11 points in her first collegiate game, but that may not have been the biggest first for the 6'1" forward from Logansport, Indiana, as the trip to France was her first ever plane ride.

Game two versus Le Havre saw Harry pick up where she left off last year, notching a double double with 13 points and 17 boards as the Blue Demons crushed Le Havre 78-45. Quigley and junior Deanna Ortiz combined for six of the Blue Demons 14 steals in the game.

Once DePaul heated up offensively, it stayed hot, both literally and figuratively as the team blew out Perpignan 93-61 in a gym that had no air conditioning. Junior forward Hampton and sophomore guard Anna Martin were named last year as DePaul's co-Most Improved Player and the duo carried over that award to France with each netting 24 points in the win. Hampton averaged 17.0 ppg in the first three contests.

The Blue Demons finished out their trip with a 86-71 win over Cavigal Nice with Martin continuing to apply the heat with another 24 points while junior forward Taylor Pikes followed in Mulchrone's footsteps, notching her first collegiate double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

In a trip that allowed student athletes to combine both of those attributes in experiences they will remember for a lifetime, it is a portion of Quigley's blog concerning her teammates that perhaps best captures the spirit of St.Vincent dePaul and his love for humanity: "the most important thing is that we are getting to know each other better everyday."

The Blue Demons open the 2010-11 season with the inaugural game on Doug Bruno Court at McGrath Arena on November 12th when they face Valparaiso in the opening round of the WNIT. Note: all of the player blogs can be read at www.depaulbluedemons.com


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