AP Preview - DePaul Faces Duke Sunday Afternoon




PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- DePaul coach Doug Bruno is on quite a run, and he's not ready to have it end in the regional semifinals.

Last October, Bruno helped lead the U.S. women's national basketball team to a gold medal at the world championship as an assistant coach. A month later, he became only the fifth women's coach to have his home court named in his honor.

Bruno topped those celebrations with his latest milestone -- leading the Blue Demons (29-6) to the regional semifinal for the second time in school history.

Why stop now?

In his way on Sunday will be a familiar face -- Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, a summer basketball camp counselor for Bruno during her playing days at Northwestern.

"What I remember about camps are, White Castles, late nights," McCallie said, "and, 'defense, I love it, I love it, I love it.' It's what he makes all the campers say."

They will be reunited in Philadelphia when the Blue Devils (31-3) play the Blue Demons for the right to play the winner of the Georgetown-Connecticut game.

Bruno has led the third-seeded Blue Demons to their highest single-season win total in team history. All he's done is win since he shared the bench with UConn's Geno Auriemma during the U.S. national team's undefeated stomp through the Czech Republic. If Bruno gets past McCallie, he'll face Auriemma with the Final Four at stake.

"It's been a basketball junkie's heaven, basically," Bruno said on Saturday.

One of DePaul's first stops in Philadelphia was a bus ride past junior forward Keisha Hampton's old high school. Hampton leads the Blue Demons with 16.1 points and was a unanimous first-team All Big East selection. Her father, John, played for retired Temple coach John Chaney at Division II Cheyney State when it won the national championship in 1978.

Hampton recalled with a smile playing against the boys on the west Philadelphia playgrounds. She went head-to-head against her brother, cousins, pick-up players of any sex. She expected a strong crowd rooting for her at the Liacouras Center.

"I was excited to show my new DePaul family where I grew up and started playing basketball," Hampton said.

She doesn't expect to finish in Philly, but two wins for any team that doesn't have "UConn" stitched on the front of the jersey will be a formidable task.

The Blue Devils know the pain of falling short in the regional. Duke lost in the regional semifinals in both 2007 and '08, and was beaten by Baylor in its regional final last year.

Duke crashed the Big East mini-tournament this week. DePaul, UConn and Georgetown are part of the nine conference teams to earn a spot in the tournament and three of the five to reach the round of 16.

It's the first time since 2003 that one conference advanced three teams to the semifinals of the same region. That year, UConn, Notre Dame and then-Big East member Boston College each made it.

"It doesn't faze us," Duke guard Karima Christmas said.

McCallie, who has led three programs to the NCAA tournament, brushed off questions about having to grind-out wins against the Big East's best to get to Indianapolis.

"We're not playing a league; we're playing opponents," McCallie said. "We're not interested in leagues. We're interested in the teams in front of us, and there's only one team in front of us -- DePaul."

Duke won the ACC tournament and has eight straight victories since Feb. 17. The Blue Devils advanced this far on a complete team effort. Guard Jasmine Thomas is the only player to average double-digit scoring (14.9).

"Our scoring is the highest it's ever been, our assists are the highest they've ever been and our turnovers are as small as they've ever been, McCallie said. "We need that trend to continue in order to advance."