DePaul looks to upset Notre Dame after near-miss
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame star Jewell Loyd wants to send Uncle Doug packing.
That's the nickname the preseason All-American guard uses for DePaul coach Doug Bruno, who she's known since she was a girl. Her father, Calvin, gave tennis lessons to Bruno's son, Patrick, in Chicago.
''That's when we first got to know this little kid running around Loyola Park,'' Bruno said. ''She started attending my basketball camps when she was in fifth or sixth grade, and you knew she was special right away.''
Bruno said he's offered three players scholarships before they entered high school: Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker and Loyd. However, Loyd decided to attend Notre Dame instead of DePaul. She scored a career-high 41 points as the Irish rallied from a 78-72 deficit with 2:40 left in December to force overtime and beat the Blue Demons 94-93 in overtime.
She'd like another strong performance when the top-seeded Irish (32-2) face ninth-seeded DePaul (27-7).
''We're expecting another intense game because they do a great job of pressuring you,'' said Loyd, who averages a team-high 20.4 points.
The Irish hold a slight 21-19 edge in victories over their Catholic rivals 100s miles to the west and seven of the past 12 games have been decided by single digits. The Blue Demons held the advantage until Notre Dame won nine of the past 10 games. Before that stretch, the Blue Demons had won four of the previous five, including beating the seventh-ranked Irish in the first round of the Big East Tournament in 2007.
The Blue Demons could have upset the then-No. 5 Irish back in December if they made their free throws in the 94-93 overtime loss. DePaul went 12 of 29 from the free-throw line, including guard Brittany Hrynko (5 of 16) to finish with 32 points.
Bruno said the Blue Demons shouldn't have allowed the Irish make it close.
''If we rebound and defend it, doesn't come down to free throws,'' he said.
The challenge for the Blue Demons now is to play even better despite losing third-leading scorer Megan Rogowski, the team's best 3-point shooter, to a season-ending knee injury in January. The Irish will have second-leading scorer Brianna Turner back in the lineup. She missed the first game with a dislocated shoulder.
DePaul guard Megan Podkowa believes the Blue Demons are a better team than three months ago.
''I think our chemistry has gotten a lot better since that first game, and I think we understand the offense a lot more,'' she said.
Other things to know about the DePaul-Notre Dame rivalry:
DIFFERENT BELIEFS: ''When you live in Chicago, all the people that went to Notre Dame say there's two kinds of people: Those that went to Notre Dame and those that wish they could have,'' Bruno said. ''When you go to DePaul there are three kinds of people: Those that went to Notre Dame, those that wish they could have and those who wake up and thank God every day they got to go to DePaul.''
AGONY OF DEFEAT: Bruno on the pain of squandering the lead to Notre Dame in December: ''If purgatory really exists, I think I got five years worked off for that game.''
HOME-CORT ADVANTAGE: The Irish are 80-5 at home over the past five seasons.
LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP: Bruno recalled coaching the Chicago Hustle of the Women's Basketball League 35 years ago and seeing Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw play point guard for the California Dream. ''I don't remember it being quite the same as guarding Jewell,'' he said, joking. ''Watching her on the bench, she was very similar. She was matter of fact, businesslike and get the job done.''
BAD TIME: McGraw used her opening statement Saturday to criticize the 9 p.m. start time for the DePaul-Notre game.
''I think we went to the weekend format so we could accommodate our fans. Playing at 9 o'clock on a school night, work night does not accommodate our fans,'' she said