Before DePaul set off for Dallas, Texas, DePaul coach Doug Bruno addressed the crowd in the lobby of McGrath-Phillips Arena. He explained the four keys to the team’s success throughout the season and into the NCAA tournament.
“A great administrative support led by Father Dennis (Holtschneider) and Jean (Lenti Ponsetto),” Bruno said. “To tell you how supportive Father Dennis is, he’s planned Easter Mass for six o’clock Sunday in the hotel.”
“I must add we have the best assistant coaches in the country, so I really want to acknowledge them and thank them for all that they do,” Bruno said.
Bruno’s coaching staff has been vital in the NCAA tournament helping him scout the upcoming opponent on such short notice and tailoring practices accordingly.
“We’re standing here going on our quest to win one-in-a-row two more times (because of) the very great and talented players standing here behind me,” Bruno said. “These are three mini-tournaments, one-in-a-row two times, then we’ll be standing here next week talking about one-in-a-row two more times.”
This reason was met with a boisterous roar and applause from the packed arena lobby.
“We’ve got a great spirit squad here, we’ve got the Screamin’ Demons band here and we’ve got the best fans of women’s basketball in the country,” Bruno said.
Bruno then led the crowd to a ‘We are! De-Paul!’ chant before the team exited the lobby and boarded the bus to the airport.
Most of the players had family members travel to Louisville for the first two games since it wasn’t too far from Chicago. With the Sweet Sixteen in Texas, it’s a bit harder for crowds of family and fans to make the trip.
That doesn’t stop Chanise Jenkins’ family, though.
“My immediate family is coming to the game, then I have family out in Texas and some friends, so I think I have a total of about 15 people coming to the game,” Jenkins said.
One of which is her grandmother, Deborah Minniefield, who is really excited to go because she’s never been to Dallas before. She says her naturally calm demeanor had rubbed off on her granddaughter.
“One thing that she does get from me is that I seem to exude a calm exterior in times of chaos, but on the inside you really feel the excitement,” Minniefield said. “I think that’s what really makes her such a great player because she can remain calm and focused and get the ball distributed to her team players.”
Minniefield has her fingers crossed for an extended stay in Dallas.
“We’re going to fly down tomorrow night from Midway and we plan on staying there til Tuesday,” Minniefield said.
Military Matchup in Dallas?
As the team prepares for a tricky game against Oregon State in the Sweet Sixteen, Bruno has received phone calls from friends on the west coast warning him about how dangerous PAC-12 Player of the Year Jamie Weisner is.
“Some people from the west coast have called me up and said, ‘Boy oh boy, wait until you play against Jamie Weisner…she’s a Navy Seal in everything she does’,” Bruno said. “I think Jessica January, Chanise Jenkins and Megan Podkowa are Green Berets.”
Jacqui Grant’s High Hopes
Bruno emphasizes the mindset of one game at a time, but being one of the final 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, it’s hard not to peek ahead to the potential future.
“We can’t be content with the Sweet Sixteen. This is something that I’ve never been to before, so it’s exciting, every step is just new and exciting,” Grant said. “We really need to push it and make history for DePaul to make it to the Elite Eight, Final Four, National Championship.”