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Preview: DePaul women’s basketball gearing up for Big East tournament in Rosemont

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Head coach Doug Bruno didn’t tell his team, but DePaul women’s basketball’s mindset has been prepared as if it were an NCAA tournament game for the last two months.

“We’ve been playing like that since we were 2-2 in the Big East,” Bruno said, referencing DePaul’s slow start in the conference. “Once you’re 2-2 in the Big East, it’s a one-and-out season at that point. We’ve had the pressure on us a long time so that should really have helped us.”

The preparation translated into results. DePaul (24-6, 15-3) rattled off 13 of its last 14 games and clinched the team’s first regular season title in the Big East. Bruno and his team have enjoyed those moments, but DePaul’s real preparation starts now.

It’s time, finally, for the Big East tournament.

DePaul has the potential challenge of playing three games in three days, starting Sunday.   To complete that task, the Blue Demons have to continue to win. The first match they will play is on Sunday at 6 p.m. against the winner of Georgetown and Xavier.

Since completing the regular season on Tuesday, DePaul completed three days of practice in a row to get ready for the possibility of that burst of games.

“We try to live by the mantra that it’s not when the bright lights go on, but when it’s the dark lights,” Bruno said. “When you’re working without the bright lights – and this team has done the work – then the bright lights are just the exclamation point.”

In each of the last four seasons, DePaul has won at least one conference tournament game. It’s the struggle of getting past that moment that has plagued the team in recent history.

The landscape, however, has changed. The tournament is no longer in the backyard of the dominant UConn Huskies and giants like UConn and Notre Dame are no longer in the conference. The Blue Demons will be playing at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

“I think this team is very capable of moving through the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament,” Bruno said. “This has been a great group of young women to coach. We’re rebounding better and defending better. We’re making some really wise decisions.

“I think we have to continue to defend and rebound well, and also continue to play with an offensive intelligence,” he said.

Behind those decisions are guards Brittany Hrynko and Chanise Jenkins. The two guards have found players like Megan Rogowski and Jasmine Penny, putting them in prime position to score. The Blue Demons led the Big East averaging 84 points a game and 20.9 assists per game.

Jenkins said the best basketball is yet to come.

“I don’t want to say we’re hitting our peak because we’re so far away with what we want to accomplish,” Jenkins said. “Hitting our peak means we have to come back down.”

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NOTES

The Big East tournament starts Saturday with two games slated at McGrath-Phillips Arena before it switches to Rosemont. On the prospects of playing at Rosemont, both Bruno and his players said that playing on a court they are unfamiliar with makes no difference.

“As Norman Dale says in Hoosiers ‘the rims are 10 feet high and floor is 94×50’ and it’s the Ray Meyer court,” Bruno said.

DePaul’s first opponent could very well be Georgetown, who they just recently beat 91-74 on Tuesday. Asked if it gives them an advantage, forward Megan Rogowski believes it will help them.

“We know what they do and how we can beat them,” Rogowski said. Bruno also added in a separate interview that all Big East teams are now familiar with each other and it’s a matter of execution.

If there’s a team coming into the tournament that is hot as the Blue Demons, it’s Marquette. The Golden Eagles beat DePaul in February at home on February 18, came back to win from 24 points against St. John’s and upset Creighton in the final minute to ride a three game win streak into the tournament.

DePaul students can reserve free tickets to the games in Chicago or Rosemont. The tournament runs Sunday through Tuesday, March 8-11.

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Here’s the link to the schedule: http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/bige/sports/w-baskbl/auto_pdf/2013-14/misc_non_event/2014bracketwteams.pdf

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The DePaulia will be providing constant coverage of the Big East tournament. Follow @DePauliaSports for live game updates and check depauliaonline.com for detailed reports. 

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Preview: DePaul women’s basketball gearing up for Big East tournament in Rosemont