DePaul Women are the team to beat for Big East Title

DePaul Women are the team to beat for Big East Title
Coach Doug Bruno has led the Lady Blue Demons to 13 straight NCAA tournaments. In 2014. the Big East champs had an automatic bid

The NCAA Women’s Basketball season is right around the corner…. Time to head back to McGrath-Phillips Arena for DePaul women’s basketball. They’re opening the season against southwest suburban St. Xavier University on Tuesday, October 28.

DePaul’s Lady Blue Demons are coming off their most successful year ever:

  • DePaul (29-7) tied the school record for most wins in a season
  • Set program records for games played (36), points (3,006), three-point baskets (314) and assists (705)
  • Earned their 13th straight NCAA tournament berth
  • The Lady Blues earned their first-ever  Big East regular-season and tournament titles.
  • Their 104-100 triumph over Oklahoma in the 2014 NCAA tournament opener was the highest scoring regulation game in the history of the NCAA women’s tournament
  • Could this just be bad manners? They upset No. 2 seed (and tournament host) Duke on their own floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium
  • Coach Doug Bruno earned his 600th win as coach with the upset of Duke

DePaul junior guard Brittany Hrynko was one of four unanimous picks to the Preseason All-Big East Team. Hrynko’s 5.6 assists per game last year led the BIG EAST, while her 2.39 steals listed second. The All-America Honorable Mention selection helped orchestrate the high-scoring DePaul offense, whose 83.5 points per game ranked fifth in Division I last season.

Megan Rogowski was also a unanimous selection. Rogowski was the top three-point shooter in the league last season, making over 45 percent of her attempts from deep and over three triples per game. Rogowski is the Blue Demons’ top returning scorer (15.7 PPG).

Here’s highlights from a release written by former Daily Herald reporter and DePaul University athletics writer Bob Sakamoto:

DePaul was unanimously selected to repeat as BIG EAST champion based on the 2014-15 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The reigning tournament and regular-season league champs, who return four starters from that squad, collected all nine available first-place votes for a total of 81 points.

Head coach Doug Bruno led the Blue Demons to their third trip to the Sweet 16 and finished the season ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll.

DePaul lost  just one significant contributor from last season’s squad and welcomes back 11 letter-winners, including All-American Honorable Mention senior guard Brittany Hrynko, a BIG EAST Player of the Year contender, and Megan Rogowski, the conference’s most accurate three-point shooter.

Bruno spent his summer vacation as an assistant coach with Team USA, which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships earlier this month, welcomes a talented group of newcomers headlined by McDonald’s All-American forward Mart’e Grays.

Pretty impressive, yes? But I know Doug better. He’d say that there’s a long season to play, and that the season is played one game at a time.

2014-15 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. DePaul – 81 (9)
2. St. John’s – 73 (1)
3. Villanova – 60
4. Creighton – 55
5. Seton Hall – 51
6. Providence – 36
7. Marquette – 34
8. Georgetown – 26
9. Xavier – 24
10. Butler – 10

Here are DePaul Athletics’ writer Bob Sakomoto’s Thoughts on the Big East:

St. John’s, which finished runner-up in the BIG EAST a season ago, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after earning an at-large bid. The Red Storm earned 73 points in the preseason coaches’ poll and the remaining first-place vote to come in second. Head coach Joe Tartamella will aim for a sixth consecutive trip the NCAAs this year when he welcomes back a pair of starters from the team that went 23-11 last year, including 13-5 in conference play. Junior guard Aliyyah Handford highlights the group of seven returning letter-winners after claiming All-America Honorable Mention accolades in ’13-14.

Villanova claimed third place in the coaches’ poll with 60 points. The Wildcats secured their second consecutive 20-win season with a 23-9 mark along with a third-place finish in BIG EAST play with a 12-6 record in ’13-14. VU earned a WNIT berth and claimed a pair of in-season tournaments with the help of BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year Caroline Coyer, who returns to the lineup this season. Head coach Harry Perretta’s methodical offense led the nation in fewest turnovers per game (8.8) as well as assist-turnover ratio (1.89) a season ago.

In its second season of BIG EAST play, Creighton was picked to finish fourth with 55 points. Head coach Jim Flanery welcomes back reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year Marissa Janning, whose conference-best 17.6 points per game led CU to a 20-14 record, including 12-6 in league play. The Bluejays, who finished in a tie for third place last season in the conference standings, earned a WNIT invite and return three starters, including Janning, from that squad.

Seton Hall is nipping at Creighton’s heals with 51 points for fifth place. In head coach Tony Bozzella’s first season, the Pirates reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 1995, going 20-14 to include a deep run into the WNIT.

SHU finished seventh in the BIG EAST with an 8-10 mark, advancing in the conference tournament for the second consecutive season. The Pirates welcome back four starters from last season, including the league’s No. 3 and 4 scorers in Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Ka-Deidre Simmons.

Returning their top six scorers from 2013-14, Providence earned 36 points in the coaches’ poll for the No. 6 spot. After winning four of their first five games, the Friars dropped 22 of 25 to finish 7-23 overall and 2-16 in BIG EAST play for the No. 10 spot. Third-year head coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl will have one of the most experienced lineups when PC, including All-BIG EAST performers Alexis Harris (second team) and Sarah Beal (all-freshman).

The Friars narrowly edged out Marquette, which totaled 34 points for seventh place. MU went 22-11 last season, including 11-7 in BIG EAST play to secure fifth place with its second-highest league win total since joining the conference in 2005-06. Earning a WNIT invite, the Golden Eagles made their 12th national postseason appearance in the last 13 seasons. Former Marquette standout Carolyn Kieger took over the head coaching reins at her alma mater during the offseason and welcomes back 1,000-point scorer Arlesia Morse as MU will need to replace three starters.

Georgetown tallied 26 points for the No. 8 spot in head coach Natasha Adair’s first season on the Hilltop. The Hoyas went 11-21 overall last season, which included three consecutive two-point overtime setbacks, and 4-14 in BIG EAST play to finish eighth. GU advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals where it met future champion DePaul. The Hoyas return two starters and eight letter-winners, including all-league honoree Faith Woodard, and boast the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year Dorothy Adomako, the 2014 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year.

The Hoyas narrowly edged out Xavier, which totaled 24 points for ninth place. In their first season of BIG EAST play the Musketeers went 8-23, including 3-15 against conference foes for a ninth-place finish. Head coach Brian Neal took over shortly before the start of the 2013-14 season and earned some notable wins early on, but injuries hampered the squad which ended the year on a 13-game losing skid. XU returns three healthy starters, including Jenna Crittendon, and welcome back eight letter-winners while adding a pair of transfers with instant-impact potential.

First-year head coach Kurt Godlevske will guide Butler, which registered 10 points to round out the poll in 10th place. The Bulldogs went 10-8 to finish sixth in the league standings and earned a postseason bid to the WNIT before finishing the season 15-16 overall, but will have to replace all five starters from that squad. Rising senior Ijeoma Uchendu is the Bulldogs’ top returning scorer and rebounder, while Loryn Goodwin will get her first shot at BIG EAST play after sitting out the 2013-14 campaign after transferring from North Texas, where she was tabbed Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN THE BIG EAST:

BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year

Marissa Janning, Creighton, Jr., G

BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year
Dorothy Adomako, Georgetown, Fr., G

Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Caroline Coyer, Villanova, Jr., G
Danaejah Grant, St. John’s, Jr., G
Aliyyah Handford, St. John’s, Jr.*
Alexis Harris, Providence, Sr., F
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul, Sr., G*
Arlesia Morse, Marquette, Sr., G
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall, Jr., F
Megan Rogowski, DePaul, Sr., G*
Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall, RS-Sr., G*
Faith Woodard, Georgetown, So., F

Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Sarah Beal, Providence, So., G
Amber Thompson, St. John’s, Sr., F
*unanimous pick

 

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