DePaul women's basketball point guard Jessica January didn't really have a choice. But it helped nonetheless that when the calendar flipped to 2016 she played her best basketball in the year's first month.
January has added significance for the Blue Demons' consummate leader for more than just her last name. It's the month in which she was born, and the No. 14 on the back of her uniform is also the day she was born.
In 10 January games, the DePaul floor general averaged 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.6 for the Blue Demons, who went 8-2 and, after three straight wins to begin February, sit atop the Big East standings at 12-2.
"We started the first half of the conference really well," she said. "We've just been playing some really good ball this first half of the Big East.
The junior from Richfield, Minn., leads the Big East in assists per game, is fourth in steals per game and ranks in the top 20 in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding. She's a top 10 finalist for the Nancy Lieberman award, given to the nation's top point guard.
The Blue Demons are in good position to make their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament. And as head coach Doug Bruno points out, January's competitiveness is a big reason why.
"Jessica is an ultimate and consummate competitor, and she brings competitiveness with everything she does," he said. "Whether it's in school or whether it's in practice or whether it's in the games."
See more about what makes January such a special player for the Blue Demons in the video above.
One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.
Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.
While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.
“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."
Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.
“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.
"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.
“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”
Loyola is rewarding Porter Moser for his basketball team's success this season.
Loyola and Moser have agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is through the 2025-26 season.
"We are excited to be able to announce a new contract for Porter that will keep him at Loyola a long time," Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. "He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution.
"We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola, that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."
That's a well-deserved extension for a head coach who led the Ramblers to a NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985.
As the 11th seed, Loyola exceeded all expectations, shocking the world with a Final Four appearance. The Ramblers took down No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada, and No. 9 Kansas State before losing to No. 3 Michigan, who would go on to lose to No. 1 Villanova in the championship game.
Loyola finished the regular season with a 28-5 record and a MVC Championship.
In seven seasons, Moser has a 121-111 record with the Ramblers, though three of his last four have been winning seasons.