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March 19, 2014

Blue Demons will be tough to beat

NORMAN — When considering DePaul and Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Sooner fans may initially be unimpressed by their team’s opponent.

They may not recall the Blue Demons ever reaching the Final Four, because they haven’t. 

They may not remember DePaul ever going toe to toe with the heavyweights of the game, like Connecticut, Stanford, Tennessee or Notre Dame the way the Sooners have over the years.

DePaul has played those teams, particularly UConn and Notre Dame in the old Big East, but have long been a rung below their level.

Still, even before OU coach Sherri Coale began boning up on the Blue Demons, she already knew the type of test they would be presenting.

“(I) know the’re extremely well coached, I know they’re fundamental, I know they have a plan,” she said.

Indeed, though coach Doug Bruno and his program may not be a blueblood of  the women’s game, DePaul has still become one of the nation’s most consistent programs.

Anybody thinking OU’s pedigree of three Final Fours and many more Sweet 16s might be worth something when the two teams meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Cameron Indoor Arena at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Durham. N.C., is likely mistaken.

While 2014 marks the 15th straight season OU has reached the Big Dance, it is also DePaul’s 12th straight season to reach the tournament. 

Also, while the Sooners are coming off a one-and-done trip to the Big 12 tournament, the Blue Demons are coming off a victory over also-NCAA-bound St. John’s at the Big East tournament. The day that happened, Bruno still had his eyes on the prize.

“I didn’t even realize that we hadn’t won a tournament championship since ’93 until today,” he said. “This is not what we really play for. The NCAA tournament means so much more … Winning the regular season means so much more.”

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