22/23 Women’s preview: New talent hopes to fill vacancies alongside A. Morrow and company


Maddy Maes/The DePaulia

Forward Aneesah Morrow dribbles around a Georgetown player on Jan. 16.

With the start of the women’s basketball season just two days away, there are numerous unknowns for the Blue Demons to start the season. Injuries have caused head coach Doug Bruno to help his players adjust to certain roles. 

DePaul enters the season having lost a load of scoring from its seniors and graduate students last year. Deja Church, Lexi Held and Sonya Morris all averaged double figures last season for Bruno. The three players started in all 33 games last season, besides Morris who missed two games. 

While this season’s team has multiple returning players, the formation of the roster and lineup combinations have yet to play out. DePaul needs to find out who those go-to players will be this season. 

“I think we have the component parts to have a really quality season,” Bruno said. “At the same time, because of injuries, because of circumstances beyond our control, we haven’t been able to see the players on the floor together enough. I think if we can get the top eight players on the floor, we have a chance to be a really good ball club.” 

#1 Keke Rimmer comes out the tunnel for her introduction during DePaul’s Blue Madness event on Friday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena. (Donald Crocker)

The Blue Demons have already wrapped up two exhibition games in the preseason. They hosted the No. 4 ranked team in the country, the University of Iowa in a closed-door scrimmage where they lost 90-94. More recently, they went down to Austin, Texas to play the No. 3 ranked Longhorns where they lost by 43 points. 

DePaul committed 29 turnovers and shot 2-24 from three against Texas. Building chemistry will take time as the season begins, but finding a reliable scorer other than Morrow will take time as players find their roles on the team. 

Following the loss in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament last season to Dayton, Bruno recruited heavily. Anaya Peoples and Jade Edwards are the two experienced forwards that will make an impact right away. 

Edwards, a graduate student, started all 32 games last season for American University out of the Patriot League after graduating high school at Latin School of Chicago. In her senior season, the Chicago native averaged 12.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Anaya Peoples in her last year at Notre Dame played in 31 games and started in 17. Peoples, a 5-foot-10 guard will bring rebounding capabilities for a Blue Demons team that is smaller this season. 

Peoples’ career high in points at Notre Dame, is 22 against DePaul. Peoples is also from Illinois, attending Schlarman Academy in Danville. She was also the No. 21 overall ranked player of her 2019 class and the No. 4 in the country at her position. 

They are in the starting lineup, and they are both very quality players,” Bruno said. “We are still very much a work-in-progress from beginning to understanding each other. It is a coach’s job to help the team create complementary roles and for each player to understand their roles. The roles of the team are still emerging.” 

One player’s emergence that the Blue Demons do not have to worry about is sophomore Aneesah Morrow. The 6’-1” center was the most accomplished freshman in DePaul’s history. From Simeon High School, Morrow came in last season with nearly every accolade a player could be listed to. 

Starting all 33 games, she led the team in scoring at 21.9 ppg and rebounding at 13.8. Those 13.8 rebounds per game were the most in the country. 

She had the nation’s longest streak of 23 straight games recording a double-double, and second in the nation with 27 throughout the season. Morrow, at the end of the season finished No. 3 in the nation in field goals while also placing No. 6 in total points scored at 722. 

A 41-point career high, Morrow came against Creighton last season. Against UConn, she is only the fourth player to score 30 points and 10 rebounds against Geno Auriemma’s team. 

Head coach Doug Bruno yelling out to his players during the game against Marquette in 2020. (Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia)

Morrow has many accomplishments, including being named 2021-2022 All-American Second Team and Big-East Freshman of the Week a record 13 times. She was a John Wooden Player of the Year finalist, Naismith Trophy Player of the Year finalist, Naismith Defensive PLayer of the Year top 10 finalist, Big East Freshman of the Year, All-Big East First Team and DePaul Female Athlete of the Year. 

Morrow spoke about what it means to accomplish so much at DePaul and why it’s special that she is doing this in her hometown. 

“I chose DePaul because a lot of star athletes considering I was the No. 1 player in the state leave the state or their city,” Morrow said. “So I wanted to stay here. I didn’t want to go far away from home. This is a great choice for me.” 

With new additions to the team, Bruno said that what Morrow did last year might change this season. She might be called upon for a new role because of the surrounding pieces on this season’s team. 

The Blue Demons were projected to finish fourth in the Big East preseason coaches poll, tied with Seton Hall for the upcoming season. 

Bruno will look to take his team to his 26th NCAA Tournament appearance. The end goal is to play the National Championship in April and the players have bought into those expectations. 

“I definitely feel that we can,” Morrow said. “It is a goal every year to win the national championship or to win your conference. Of course it is going to take hard work and dedication.”

DePaul will also be getting back a key veteran piece to their team that will expend the depth they already have. Senior Keke Rimmer, who was sidelined last season with an injury, is finally feeling ready to make an impact. 

Rimmer has been a vocal leader on the bench, but is finally ready to show it out on the court and help her team push for a deep tournament run. 

“Now I’m able to take my leadership and years of knowledge that I’ve gained from coach Bruno and upperclassmen on the court,” Rimmer said. “The confidence from my team is big for me because I am a team player, so knowing my team has that confidence in me, gives me that extra confidence to perform well, whether that’s rebounding, steals or you know scoring a bucket when we need it.” 

The Blue Demons season home opener with Bruno’s new court will be against American University on Wednesday, Nov. 9. 

As the season gets underway and the Blue Demons get healthy, they will continue to rely on Morrow to guide them throughout the season. The supporting cast will form around her as each player finds their role on the team. 

“We run a program here that expects to be playing in March,” Bruno said. “We expect to earn our way into the NCAA tournament. We also know just because you’ve done that many times in the past, it’s no guarantee.”