COLUMN: Don't confuse DPU's title destiny with Team of Destiny
As the No. 1 DePauw women continue to demolish their opponents, winning NCAA Tournament games by scores of 30, 27, 17 and 21 points, its becoming increasingly clear that they'll be the odds-on favorite to win the championship on Saturday.
Nobody has been close and, if the team plays even remotely close to its potential, nobody will be close.
Here's what opposing players and coaches have had to say after games thus far:
"They showed exactly why they are the No. 1 team in the country today. They outrebounded us and they gave all-out effort 100 percent of the time, which is what a team like that should do. ... They're kind of unscoutable because they have a lot of different weapons." -- La Roche coach Kam Gissendanner.
"That is an unbelievable team. They're absolutely relentless on the boards, they're so well coached, they execute their stuff and they have such an understanding of who they are. It's an impressive team. ... I've never seen a better rebounding team than that right there. Their pursuit of the basketball is absolutely unbelievable." -- Maryville head coach Darrin Travillian.
"I think they've got a great mix of older players and younger players. I think they've got experience. I think they're battle-tested. They've been there, they know what it takes and they play hard. ... They're definitely -- clearly -- the best team that we've played this year." -- Christopher Newport coach Bill Broderick.
"DePauw I think just played at a caliber that we haven't seen. They just play so hard and they're so smart." -- CNU junior Nicole Mitchell.
"Clearly DePauw established why they're No. 1 in the country and why I consider them the best defensive team in the country. ... You can tell that DePauw is in a rhythm right now. If you try to stop something, someone else is going to shoot it. They're firing on all cylinders. ... You have to give them credit because I know that Gasaway is kind of (injured). That's a true sign of a team that's got a destiny right now. They're still playing strong when she's got limited minutes." -- Washington University head coach Nancy Fahey.
To sum up, the Tigers have the most talent and the best athletes, but they also work harder than everyone else, which is exactly what every team wishes they were known for.
Oh, and they've got a destiny.
These aren't normal characteristics of a Team of Destiny. Most of the time when words like that get thrown around it's connected to luck. Either the team gets lucky with its matchups, or it starts to eek out close games.
DePauw hasn't had any of that. The Tigers just won what was clearly the toughest section in tournament, and blew everyone out.
A couple teams DPU has played were a little unhealthy, but the Tigers have had their leading scorer (Alex Gasaway) playing with a minutes cap due to a knee injury.
There haven't been close games or lucky breaks or beneficial officiating. On Friday the Tigers won by 17 and only attempted five free throws.
While they haven't been lucky, they haven't really been unlucky either.
Aside from Gasaway, DPU has been extremely -- improbably -- healthy this year. None of the other rotation players has missed a game with injury or illness.
Maybe some of that is luck, but most of it is probably that they're great athletes and they're well coached and they know how to take care of themselves.
DePauw is the best team and it does everything right. Now the Tigers have two games left to prove that hard work beats talent, and the most talented, hardest-workers beat everyone.