Babcock McGraw: DePaul-Marquette rivalry gets a feminine touch

Updated 1/28/2018 7:01 PM
  • DePaul head coach Doug Bruno

    DePaul head coach Doug Bruno

The legendary Interstate-94 Catholic school rivalry between DePaul and Marquette is getting an update, a feminine touch.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the DePaul and Marquette men's programs were in their glory days, with legendary coaches Ray Meyer and Al McGuire leading the way, respectively.

Both DePaul and Marquette, who have played each other more than 100 times over more than 100 years, were regularly two of top teams in the country, competing for national championships. And in 1977, Marquette actually won the national championship.

Of course, the last couple of decades have been relatively quiet for both programs, so perhaps a torch-passing is in order. It seems both school's women's teams seem to be up for the job.

On Monday, the DePaul women will host Marquette at McGrath-Phillips Arena off of Sheffield and Fullerton on DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus. Tip-off is at 8 p.m., and the game will also be nationally televised on FoxSports1.

Marquette (14-6) sits atop the Big East with an 8-1 record while DePaul (15-6) is in second place at 7-2.

DePaul has dominated the series over the last decade, but Marquette swept DePaul in three games last year and has also already beaten DePaul in Milwaukee this season.

"This is definitely the biggest rivalry for us," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said of the DePaul-Marquette women's series. "We haven't played anyone more.

"And I really like what (Marquette head coach) Carolyn (Kieger) is doing at Marquette right now. I'm a big believer in it. She has been fearless with preparing her team, and even as a young coach with a young team, she went out and played tough teams right away to get her team better and it worked."

Bruno, one of the deans of coaching in women's college basketball, has made a habit of putting together brutal schedules for his teams over his 32 seasons. He was impressed to see Kieger do the same when she took over at Marquette four years ago, even though the roster there experienced almost complete turnover with the coaching change. Kieger wound up starting and playing mostly freshmen in her second season and was taking on some traditional heavyweights.

This year, Marquette's schedule ranks as one of the toughest in the country, as does DePaul's.

Kieger says that she used Bruno's program at DePaul as a model, not just in scheduling, but in style. A former point guard herself at Marquette, Kieger appreciates a fast, uptempo style with a lot of scoring in transition and from 3-point land.

That type of basketball is exactly what Bruno likes to do at DePaul. Marquette has become somewhat of a mirror image. DePaul leads the Big East in scoring at 84 points per game while Marquette ranks second at 81.7 points per game. DePaul also tops the Big East with nearly 13 3-pointers per game.

"DePaul is my favorite game of the year," Kieger said. "And it's my favorite game to coach, to go against Doug. I just have a lot of respect for him. He's someone you look to as a young coach (for ideas to emulate).

"I also just think our game has become really good for women's basketball. It's fast-paced and high-energy and it's always a good environment because of the rivalry."

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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