The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Newfound depth and young talent: Women’s basketball preview

Donald Crocker
DePaul women’s basketball staff and players yell from the sidelines at an exhibition game against Iowa on Oct. 15, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa.

Doug Bruno enters his 38th year at DePaul in uncharted territory. His Blue Demons were eighth in the Big East last season for the first time since the 2011-12 season, but even then, that team made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This is the first time in over 20 years Bruno enters a campaign fresh off a losing season.

DePaul’s 2022-23 offseason was headlined by the departure of their superstar: third-team AP All-American Aneesah Morrow. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 25.7 points per game in just her sophomore year. Though fans will miss her scoring and rebounding ability after her transfer to LSU this summer, the door is open for a new identity, one of faster pace and increased depth.

Bruno is historically known for a transition-oriented approach aimed at pushing the pace and getting quick points. By scoring at a high rate, the opposing team is more prone to make mistakes trying to catch up, which Bruno exposes with his full-court press defense aimed at forcing errors and creating turnovers.

“We want to put pressure on our opponent defensively, and I think you put pressure on your opponent by scoring the ball,” Bruno said after DePaul’s first exhibition game against the University of Iowa Oct. 15.

To keep that level of energy present, the nature of DePaul’s roster needed a revamp this summer. DePaul ranked 344th out of 350 in all of D1 women’s basketball in bench scoring at only 8.4 points per game last season. One of the main goals for this offseason was to round out the roster with players who could guard more positions and be placed anywhere on the floor.

Only five players are still on the team from last season: redshirt freshman guard Haley Walker, graduate guard Jade Edwards, sophomore guard Maeve McErlane, graduate guard Anaya Peoples, and graduate forward Jorie Allen. 

The team chemistry needs to be built from the ground up, but Bruno likes the signs.

“You’re either a chemistry builder or a chemistry buster,” Bruno said after DePaul’s second exhibition against Lewis Oct. 29. “I don’t see a lot of chemistry busters. … They’ve worked very hard to get better, so it’s a great group to coach.”

Peoples, who has taken a leadership role as one of the few returning members of the team, says her new teammates have fueled her.

“They believe in me, the coaches believe in me, and I believe in these players and coaches,” Peoples said. “It’s just good to be surrounded by a bunch of girls and coaches that you know truly have your best interest.”

DePaul has many new additions to the team that fit the mold and are well-balanced in terms of age. Some new players include graduate transfers Brynn Masikewich, Katlyn Gilbert and Michelle Sidor, sophomore transfer Kate Clarke and four freshmen: Grace Carstensen, Charlece Ohiaeri, Sumer Lee and Shakara McCline. In total, there are seven underclassmen and six upperclassmen, balancing experience and longevity to the roster.

“I’m getting to learn them better and learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of them,” Bruno said. “And a little bit of who’s for real and who’s not, because I haven’t coached them.”

Though he has not finalized lineups and fits, Bruno believes they have great opportunities to learn more through their upcoming challenges, culminating in a matchup with a Louisville team that is ranked 17th in the preseason poll.

“There’s just a lot still to be figured out, and I don’t know if that’s going to be happening instantly the night of the Western Michigan and Stone Hill games,” he said. “I think those will be two really good tests for us to get started and then we go down to Louisville and play a big time program.”

The aggressive rebounding, pressing and trapping from the DePaul defense in the Lewis exhibition was encouraging despite the poor shot-making, including just four made three-pointers out of 30 attempts. Peoples and Allen combined for 10 offensive rebounds alone.

“It’s the aggressiveness and the intention that you bring to the game,” Allen said. “Putting in that extra effort and having your teammate’s back. Keeping that throughout the season is just making a promise to each other and then putting forth our best effort in all areas of the game.”


More to Discover