DePaul slots in at No. 19 in Preseason AP Top-25 poll, Sonya Morris chosen for shooting guard watch list


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

DePaul sophomore guard Sonya Morris dribbles past a defender on Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.

The DePaul women’s basketball program has established itself as one of the most premier and consistent teams in the country for nearly two decades now. 

So it’s no wonder that the Blue Demons came in at No. 19 in the preseason Associated Press Top-25 poll on Tuesday. 

“We’re always excited to receive a Top 25 ranking, and it’s a tribute to the players on our team,” Head Coach Doug Bruno said in a statement. “You never want to take that for granted. No one is entitled to a Top 25 ranking, and earning one is never easy. 

“That being said, our program has always put more emphasis on the reviews than the previews. The preseason is all about speculation and projections. We’ll have an opportunity to affirm our ranking once we start playing high-quality basketball against premium competition and attaining success.”

DePaul has also been included in three other preseason top-25 polls: No. 19 by ESPN, No. 21 by Lindy’s Magazine and No. 24 by CBS Sports. The Blue Demons finished last season with a 28-5 overall record while winning both the Big East regular season and tournament titles, which clinched a berth to their 18th straight NCAA Tournament title. 

But DePaul’s season was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which did not give the team a chance to possibly host the first two rounds of the tournament at Wintrust Arena. Another result of the season being cut short was seniors Kelly Campbell and Chante Stonewall unable to finish their DePaul careers with one last run in the tournament.

Going into the 2020-21 season, however, the Blue Demons will be without those two players and will need another duo to step up. The likelihood of that happening is strong because juniors Lexi Held and Sonya Morris have already shown the ability to step up in big games.

Held’s and Morris’ past performances haven’t gone unnoticed the last couple of weeks. During Big East Media Day, both were selected to the Preseason All-Big East Team. And on Tuesday, Morris was selected to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List — which includes the 20 best shooting guards in the nation. 

The award is named after the first female or male players selected to an All-American Team in four consecutive college seasons. The winner of the award will be announced on April 9, 2021. 

Before the end of the season the awards are given out, DePaul is going to have another strong season in order to win team and individual awards. This upcoming season, however, will look different than previous ones, mainly because of the ongoing pandemic. 

The NCAA has already pushed back the start of the season to Nov. 25 and teams are only able to play a maximum of 27 games. DePaul’s full schedule isn’t out as of yet, but they do know that they will begin Big East play on Dec. 4 at Villanova, with three more conference games taking place in December. 

“I think this year is going to be a lot about focus,” Held said on Oct. 29. “There are a lot of factors that we can’t control, so just coming in every day, taking it day-by-day, getting better, pushing each other, competing in practice I think that we will end up where we want to be.”

This season will also force teams to take extra precaution in dealing with the pandemic. When the season does start, the NCAA wants each program to test tier-one individuals three times a week. Multiple programs have already had to shut down for two weeks due to positive tests, which has raised serious questions if it’s possible to play a full season with these rules. 

Seton Hall’s head coach Tony Bozzella has already said that he doesn’t think it’s possible to get through a full season if teams will need to quarantine for two weeks. 

“There is no way we are going to be able to play with this 14-day quarantine,” Bozzella said during Big East Media Day. “It’s just not going to happen. Someone is going to get sick at some point and then to shut your program down. It’s not 14 days, it’s closer to 20 days because 14 days of non-activity and you need four to six days of activity before you can really physically play in a basketball game.”