December 7, 2022
‘We’re really just scrambling right now’: How DePaul is retooling in 2022-23
Morrow: 'I know I need to be a vocal leader'
INDIANAPOLIS — After watching a 13-point lead turn into a one-point deficit against the Butler Bulldogs on Dec. 4, DePaul head coach Doug Bruno called a timeout with a minute to go in the third quarter. He pulled his star player, sophomore Aneesah Morrow, aside and gave her a simple direction.
“He just told me to play to my strengths,” Morrow said following the game.
The ensuing play for the Blue Demons resulted in forcing a turnover and Morrow going strong to the basket to take the lead back before the end of the quarter. In the fourth quarter, Morrow and teammate Darrione Rogers would combine for 21 points on 8-for-9 from the field to pull away from Butler for a 78-72 win. It’s these kinds of games that Bruno hopes to get the most out of his players, especially Morrow. Faced with adversity, how will his team find a way to win?
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After a disappointing end to what was overall an impressive 2021-22 season, the DePaul Blue Demons have already faced plenty of adversity to begin their 2022-23 campaign. At the eight-game mark, the Blue Demons are 5-3. Their current resume holds highs like a 76-67 win over a ranked Maryland squad, and lows like a 64-56 loss to Towson.
Morrow has continued to be the driving force for the team after having the best freshman season in DePaul program history. Morrow is averaging 26.9 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, both of which lead the team. Even though she has been the leader of the team on the court, Morrow expects more from herself.
“I just want to be a better leader,” Morrow said. “I feel like I can lead by example, but leading by example is not enough and I know that I need to be a vocal leader.”
She went on to explain that speaking up, both in the midst of the game and during timeouts, has allowed her to become a more effective leader. This was evident especially in the fourth quarter, as the Blue Demons had to make play after play to hold off a Butler team that did not want to go away. This win also showed that much more than Morrow will be needed for DePaul to have another successful season in a continuously-improving Big East.
When looking at DePaul’s overall roster makeup of this roster, players around Morrow have changed quite a bit. Coming into this season, head coach Doug Bruno knew that he would have to fill some of the holes in his roster, specifically at the guard spot. The team lost guards Sonya Morris, Deja Church and Lexi Held, all of whom were double-digit scorers a season ago.
Up to this point, Bruno feels like the team has done the best they can.
“We’re retooling,” Bruno said. “Darrione [Rogers] and Kendall Holmes have played different roles and so has Anaya Peoples, so we’re just really scrambling right now, patching this thing together.”
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Rogers, who shot 40% from the three-point line last season, has become the starting point guard and leads the team in assists. Throughout the game versus the Bulldogs, Rogers seemed unafraid to take any of her 18 shot attempts. Taking almost 10 more shot attempts per game, confidence is a must if Rogers is going to continue being the second option for DePaul
Holmes did not start a game in her first two seasons and is now averaging 10.4 points per game. Three-point shooting was something that Holmes has added to her game this season. Making a combined 18 three-pointers in her first two seasons, Holmes has already reached that mark just eight games into the season — and is shooting them at a 48.6% clip.
Peoples has become a do-it-all player in the two-spot, averaging 8.5 points, seven rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game. In a role where she is not asked to score a bunch of points, Peoples can focus on being DePaul’s defensive anchor in the backcourt.
While all of these starters have shown their improvement, depth is DePaul’s biggest challenge. With senior Kierra Collier still injured, graduate Jade Edwards out for the season and senior Keke Rimmer playing inconsistent minutes over the last three games, the starters have been forced to play big minutes.
Four of the five starters are averaging over 32 minutes per game. Senior Jorie Allen is the only starter averaging less, but is still averaging 29 minutes a game. The win over Butler proved that DePaul has enough to make runs late in games, but sustaining that over an entire season is not ideal. Getting production out of Rimmer and the return of Collier could help change things for the better.
Until then, this DePaul squad will be reliant on the health and leadership of their starters to once again be competitive in what Bruno describes as “a tough league, top to bottom.”