ROSEMONT, Ill. — The BYU women thought they were probably going to West Lafayette, Indiana or College Station, Texas for the NCAA tournament, but were pleasantly surprised to be headed to Chicago, one of the great cities of the world, when their name came up Monday night.
Since they flew in on Thursday, they must have been out sightseeing — riding to the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower, walking around Navy Pier, touring the Art Institute or taking an Architecture River Cruise, right?
Nope, the only fun the Cougars hope to have on this trip is on the basketball floor.
"We actually came to Chicago last year and did a lot of fun things," said BYU guard Haley Steed of a tournament the Cougars played in over Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. "This trip is more about winning basketball. I'm sure we will eat at nice places and do fun things as a team, but we aren't worried about seeing too much."
So the Cougars didn't go downtown Friday morning before their mid-afternoon press conference and practice.
"We come and enjoy the cities we visit, but these ladies are focused," said coach Jeff Judkins.
And don't count on the Cougars going downtown Saturday to check out the Chicago River, which is dyed green every year for St. Patrick's Day.
WEATHER REPORT: There were no real garden spots among the various women's NCAA sites, with the aforementioned West Lafayette and College Station, not to mention Ames, Iowa, and Norfolk, Va.
But the Cougars may have gotten the best venue of all. The weather in the Chicago area has been outstanding with the temperature hitting 81 degrees Friday for the third day in a row. That broke a record for the most days in March with temperatures over 80 and nearly half of the month to come.
COACHSPEAK: When asked about BYU, DePaul coach Doug Bruno said, "I really don't think they are a team that has weaknesses" and then went on to talk about what a great point guard Haley Steed is and the inside presence of Kristen Riley.
When told what Bruno said, BYU's Judkins just laughed and said, "That sounds like a coach, doesn't it."
Judkins had his own praise for DePaul and Bruno, saying, "DePaul is a very good team and very well-coached. (Bruno) has done a marvelous job for 26 years."
HOME EDGE: Unlike the men's NCAA tournament, women are allowed to play games in their home arenas and hometowns for NCAA tournament games.
While DePaul is not playing in its home gym, which is in downtown Chicago, the Blue Demons will have a home crowd advantage Saturday evening.
"It's nice to get to play in Chicago," said DePaul forward Jasmine Perry. "We're not playing at home, but we're in Chicago, so we'll get to have all of our home fans here, which will be fun and exciting."
However, coach Bruno downplayed any edge his team might have, saying the only one is that it didn't have to fly to Chicago.
"We haven't played in this gym or shot in this gym more than anybody else," he said. "This is as neutral for us as it is for Tennessee, Tennessee-Martin and Brigham Young. That's just the way it works. If we were playing at McGrath-Phillips Arena, I would tell you that it's a home-court advantage but since our players haven't played here, it's hard to call it home-court advantage."
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