- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - With a senior-laden roster, DePaul coach Doug Bruno knew that this could be a special season for his team.

Boy was he right, as the Blue Demons had the best year in school history, finishing tied for second in the Big East Conference regular season. They won 29 games _ the most at the school.

Led by the five seniors, the third seed in the NCAA tournament beat Navy and Penn State to get to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2005-06.

It all came to an end with a 70-63 loss to Duke in the round of 16 on Sunday.

Coach Bruno allowed The Associated Press exclusive access to the team and coaches during its time at the regional.

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SEND-OFF: While making the regional semifinals is commonplace at schools such as UConn and Tennessee, the Blue Demons were excited to make it there for the first time in five years.

The whole school and community has rallied around the team.

“It’s all one big family at DePaul,” senior guard Sam Quigley said. “Where else do you call the athletic director by her first name? She’s been where we are and understands us well.”

Jean Lenti Ponsetto was a four-sport athlete at the school, graduating in 1978. She was also Coach Bruno’s first captain.

The team was serenaded by the school’s pep band and the few hundred fans in attendance.

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ARRIVAL: The NCAA goes out of its way to make teams feel comfortable at their hotels when they arrive at the regionals.

A middle school basketball team eagerly waited for the Blue Demons to show up, holding homemade signs with each DePaul player’s name and number on them.

The DePaul team bus was a bit delayed as Bruno decided to take a quick detour and drive by Philadelphia native Keisha Hampton’s high school which was a stone’s throw away from Temple.

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