The DePaul women’s basketball team went 8-2 in the month of January and stand alone atop the Big East. The Blue Demons can thank the guard play of Chanise Jenkins and Jessica January for helping them reach that mark.
The fifth-year senior and a junior have been loading the stat-line for DePaul weekly. Only once in the 10-game month of January did both players fail to reach double-digit scoring in the same game. The all-around play by the two guards has been impressive, to say the least.
Jenkins’ per game averages in the month of January were – 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.1 steals.
January’s numbers were similar – 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.0 steals.
The two combined for three double-doubles and one triple-double, while narrowing missing out on a few more by just a couple rebounds or assists. When the duo clicks, they can really produce some impressive numbers.
But, if you look past the statistical numbers and focus on their on-court play, you can understand why the Blue Demons went 8-2 in January. The two thrive when they are able to move the ball fluidly amongst the other players on the court and dish the ball inside to paint players Megan Podkowa and Jacqui Grant.
“With the offense we (run), we have openings in the lane and when we hit the players (they score),” January said.
In the two losses, Villanova and Seton Hall, that fluidity wasn’t present throughout the game, which meant little to no opportunity for openings in the lane.
Against the Wildcats, January and Jenkins were rarely able to get the offense going in the paint and the team had to rely on shooting mid-range to long-range jumpers. While the two combined for 36 points and 12 rebounds, they only managed three assists, which explains the low score of just 60 points for the Blue Demons.
In the game against the Pirates,
DePaul went down big early on and it was largely due to the inability to move the ball in the first quarter. Seton Hall pressured January and Jenkins hard and often, which led to numerous mistakes being made. Once they were able to calm down for the remaining three quarters, the passing game picked up, but the team was never able to overcome the deficit.
The best game the two had together was on the final day of the month against St. John’s. Before the game tipped off, January was award a commemorative ball to celebrate her scoring her 1,000th point for DePaul against Creighton earlier in the month.
She used the motivation to finish the game with a 21 point, 10 rebound, nine assist and three steal performance; while Jenkins followed suit with 10 points, one rebound, 10 assists and two steals. Moving the ball looked so easy for the two guards that day and it led to three other Blue Demons scoring in double digits.
“Trusting the next person and your teammate to be able to get to the next spot really (means) a lot to us and it shows in the stat sheet,” Jenkins said. “It’s all about how my teammates play.”
For her, the next teammate up is often January. Jenkins is the leader on the court having spent five years with the program and head coach Doug Bruno understands the kind of player he’s had for a while now.
“Jenkins is just a special, special senior. She’s given so much to this program and she’s just a special young woman,” Bruno said. “It’s one of those situations where you want everything to work out perfectly for the seniors as they come down this stretch of their season, (but) it doesn’t always happen that way, you have to make it happen, you have to work for it.”
There’s no question Jenkins is working hard to make exactly that happen. Her hard work is mirrored in the play of her soon-to-be successor, January.
“You’re watching and witnessing (January) grow into a real big-time collegiate player. They’re (along with Podkowa) the pillars on which we’ve built this 2016 team (on),” Bruno said. “It’s fun to watch players grow and in college hoops you just don’t get a lot of time; four years is a nanosecond.”
“It’s been a blessing to coach them.”
With senior night on the horizon next weekend, the spotlight will be solely on Jenkins. But, if the Blue Demons can keep this form up into the Big East Conference Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, the duo will have their chance to shine together on the biggest stage.