Chicago, IL -- It's 7 P.M. CT.
It's 37 degrees outside with nothing but clear skies.
DePaul got their first taste of defeat this season falling short to the number four Baylor, 86-72. Now I thought last week's game vs. Indiana was a slow start for the Blue Demons, but last night started off colder than the outside of these arena walls.
Bruno explains how hard it is to come off of a loss to a fourth-ranked team, to have to match the same energy level for last night's game: "I think we had great energy tonight. No, we aren't perfect, but we ended the night with great energy." The Blue Demons won its 11th straight series win with Chicago State. The Cougars fell to 0-5.
DePaul had 13 turnovers in the first half; at least five of them were from the players taking a few extra steps when handling the ball. The Blue Demons took 52 shots, but only made 21 of them.
DePaul only showed snippets of DePaul Ball and never really got into a rhythm. However, many Blue Demons used last night as a stat game and a confidence booster. The bench scored 29 points for the Blue Demons.
DePaul's leading scorer, Megan Podkowa, tied her season-high with 19 points. Junior Jessica January had her first double-double of the season with 14 points (6 shy from her season-high) and ten assists.
During the introductions before the game, Coach Bruno says, "Make it happen Chanise, make it happen."
Jenkins was trying to make it happen in the first quarter, but nothing was actually working for the senior. She ended the first quarter shooting 0-2 from the field and 0-2 behind the arc.
So I posed this question to the point guard after the game:
"Jenkins, you had three turnovers in the third quarter. Coach yells to you from the other side of the court, ‘PLAY WITH YOUR EYES!' You answered with an aggressive drive to the basket forcing a foul, getting two easy free throws, you throw your body on the ground to force a jump ball- DePaul's ball again, and then you hit back-to-back threes. What did Coach's comment spark in you?"
"I internalized those three turnovers and with coach reinstating it, it meant I had to get it together, and I started seeing the open woman there, forward."
Chanise forced many turnovers, thanks to her pressure on the full court press, while controlling every minute she had out there on the court.
With six minutes left in the third quarter, Jenkins dribbled right through Chicago State's Caitlin Nix, found Jessica January under the basket. January stretches the lead to 31 over the Cougars.
Describe your vision of the court as a point guard who is leading the Big East in assists?
"Coach recruits on our eyes, it's not hard to hit the open woman. You just have to pass the ball and trust that your teammates are going to hit that shot."
Just about a minute after that play, Jenkins forces an over and back violation with January. Once again, proving her position as a leader on her team.
With over a 30 point lead, Coach Bruno sat his starters for the entire fourth quarter to let his bench get more playing time and increase their confidence. With only 20 minutes in the game, Jenkins put 13 points on the board. Capturing three more assists and two rebounds.
Senior Chanise Jenkins is being compared to Brittany Hrynko, a free agent in the WNBA, many times this season because virtually Jenkins is taking over her role that she left behind at DePaul. Hrynko ended her career with 680 assists. Jenkins is right behind her with 518.
Jenkins also has made an impressive debut on the USA Basketball team serving as a captain and received a old medal over the summer.
The Blue Demons were able to shut out the Cougars last night. They have a hard practice tomorrow, but Bruno gave them off Thanksgiving. One reporter asked, "Do you get to eat on Thanksgiving?" The girls laughed, January said with a smile, "I'm eating." Bruno responded, "I am one of those coaches that believes my athletes understand their bodies, I'm not going to tell them what to eat and what not to eat on Thanksgiving."
So we will see if the Blue Demons hold off on round two of stuffing and cranberries coming around the table on Thursday. With a day off, hopefully, they can start the game efficiently and quickly on Friday against Colgate.