Return to March within reach for Demons in 2024


Collin Feaster

Sophomore forward Aneesah Morrow prepares to shoot a free throw in DePaul’s win over Butler on Feb. 8.

Doug Bruno and his team finished with an underwhelming 16-17 record, following DePaul’s season finale loss to Villanova on March 4. But as the focus shifts to next season, what is next for the Demons? 

Expectations are always high when it comes to any Bruno-led team. In his 37 seasons of coaching the Blue Demons, DePaul has been to 25 NCAA tournaments. 

Those were the same goals DePaul had in mind this season– to play meaningful games in March during the NCAA tournament. 

Through the multiple obstacles and questions, this season was definitely challenging for DePaul. As the team grew and learned to play with each other, this only pointed to how capable this team could be next season when they can put it all together.

With sophomore Aneesah Morrow’s incredible freshman season, she was yet again the focal point of this Blue Demon team. 

From start to finish, there were plenty of unknowns for DePaul. They introduced four freshmen and two transfers after losing seven impactful players from the 2021-22 season. 

“You have to reestablish yourself every season,” Bruno said. “But we run a program here that expects to be in the NCAA tournament every year.”

The injuries piled on quickly for Bruno at the start of the season. 

With the already-unknown factor of what the roster and lineups would look like and the added issue of injuries presenting themselves, this caused some unusual hiccups.

DePaul started the season 1-2, dropping games against mid-major conference teams like NIU and Cleveland State. 

At the beginning of the season, Bruno said that Morrow would have to play an entirely different role due to the fact that this team was not the same from her freshman season and that teams had more film on her game. 

The All-American, who led the team in scoring last season at 21 points and 13 rebounds, would have to adjust on the fly as the season played out. 

Wrapping up her sophomore season, Morrow adjusted and brought new components to her game. She brought up her scoring from last season to 25 points per game. Morrow averaged another double-double, adding 25 more to her total from last season in her sophomore campaign. 

In her freshman season, she attempted only 531 3-pointers. After the conclusion of this season, she was up to 802. Morrow increased her 3-point percentage to 25% and her field goal percentage to 42%, respectively.

Morrow reached new heights against Northwestern and Cleveland State, scoring 41 and 45 points, both career-highs. 

“It’s a really important part for me,” Morrow said. “I know coach Bruno always talks about playing to my strengths, and I want to make the 3-point shot one of my strengths.” 

The Blue Demons picked things up following the early losses. A big win against Miami on Nov. 20 allowed DePaul to head into its Fort Myers tournament with some momentum. 

After picking up its best win of the season against Maryland to open the Fort Myers tournament, DePaul closed out its nonconference portion of the schedule with a five-game win streak. 

Everything changed when the Big East portion of the schedule began. 

This is when DePaul’s true colors showed. Slowly, the conference divided itself and figured out who could hang around with who. 

Bruno’s squad was projected to rank No. 4 in the preseason coaches poll, tied with Seton Hall.

But DePaul finished seventh in the conference, with just a short window of success in the Big East Tournament with its first round win over Providence and nearly upsetting Villanova in the second round. 

For the first time since 1997-98, Bruno finished with a  losing season as head coach of the Blue Demons. He also had his team on its first ever four-game streak in Big East play. 

As for next season, things look brighter. Morrow and DePaul’s second leading scorer, Darrione Rogers, return for another season. 

Senior Jorie Allen will use an extra season and play her fifth year. 

The new recruiting class features a pair of Illinois natives. A top-50 player in the country, Lisa Thompson from Joliet, Illinois, will bring more depth to the front court — so will Nazareth Academy guard Grace Carstensen, who recently won a state title for La Grange, Illinois High School. 

The Blue Demons will lose a vital member to their scoring and a spark plug this past season. Senior Keke Rimmer, who led DePaul’s scoring off the bench, came into this season with hopes to get time on the court following her injuries in her junior season. 

“Being able to take my leadership and knowledge from Coach Bruno to cheer on my sisters from the bench, and now applying that on the court changed my whole perspective,” Rimmer said. 

As the off-season continues, more and more recruits will finalize their new destination. For Bruno and his squad, getting back to a familiar setting of playing in March will be the primary goal.