Indiana freshman rises to the occasion
By Sarah Trotto Indiana Daily Student
(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jenny DeMuth seemed destined to play
basketball for a Big Ten program in a hoops-crazy state since she came out
of the womb.
The day she was born, her dad's Connersville boys' basketball team
captured the 1983 Indiana state title. Beginning in the second grade,
DeMuth wouldn't leave her family's backyard until she perfected layups.
Her family figuratively bleeds cream and crimson. Her dad, Dave DeMuth,
lettered in football in 1974. Before college, Jenny DeMuth often camped at Brown County State Park
and Lake Monroe and watched Indiana basketball games in her family's crowded living room.
So it only seemed natural that she would accept coach Kathi Bennett's offer to play for the Hoosiers.
But no matter how natural the situation seems, DeMuth said she never expected to play, let alone
start, for a Big Ten program. And she quickly has adjusted to a daunting task for a freshman.
After point guard Kristen Bodine tore her ACL three games into the season, Bennett moved shooting
guard Heather Cassady to the point and made DeMuth a starter. In her first start, DeMuth
contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds against Butler. The Hoosiers have won every game DeMuth has
scored in double figures.
Despite a recent offensive slump, DeMuth has kept a firm hold on her starting position, although
reserves Jill Hartman and Khisha Asubuhi push for time. The freshman forward/guard has shown
strength in rebounding (averaging 5.7, third on the team) and steals (1.8 to lead IU) with hopes of
improving her ball handling skills and shooting, an area she mastered in high school.
"I feel she is a natural guard," Bennett said. "She's not shooting the ball from the perimeter very
well, but she can at practice. I mean, she's got great range. She's a big, rebounding guard, and I
think that really gives us something that we haven't had. As she continues to get better, our team is
going to get better."
Besides filling in for Bodine, DeMuth has been no stranger to excelling with injuries. As a junior at
Highland High School, she sprained an ankle against rival Munster but then carried her team to a win
The same freak injury occurred the next year. She hobbled down the court, playing at 60 percent
against Portage, and could barely concentrate through pain during timeouts, said Chris Huppenthal,
DeMuth's high school coach. But she never complained or called a timeout.
Now, DeMuth must battle natural freshman ordeals, from missing her parents to learning how to
adjust to the college game. The starting role demands exceptional focus, dedication and defense,
which was unnecessary in high school.
"In high school, it's so easy," said DeMuth, who scored 1,829 career points. "Everything's handed to
you, but here you have to work for everything. You have to bust your butt everyday or you're not
going to start. In high school you can go in and have the worst practice ever and still be in the
Although she often was double- or triple-teamed, DeMuth could take her time with the ball because
high school opponents were slower. Now, if "she takes a second off, she's going to pay for it,"
Despite those obstacles, Bennett said she regards DeMuth as a strong rebounder, especially on the
offensive end. It isn't uncommon to see DeMuth with her knees on the floor, collecting bruises along
with loose balls.
"In Jenny's career, she's been beaten up, bruised and battered," Huppenthal said.
While her prep statistics caught college coaches' eyes, her current numbers need a little work -- at
least, that's what her dad said. Dave DeMuth, who coached Jenny DeMuth until high school and
boasts 23 years of coaching everything from youth leagues to Division III Earlham College, said his
daughter needs to improve her offense. She averages 7.8 points on 36 percent shooting. In IU's eight
victories, she's averaged 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. In the six losses, she's averaged 4.2 points
and 4.3 rebounds.
Her parents didn't push her to attend their alma mater. DeMuth said Bennett's intensity and
enthusiasm impressed her. Bennett called DeMuth with a scholarship offer while DeMuth was
vacationing at Disney World the summer before her senior year. DeMuth accepted the offer, turning
down Ball State and Toledo.
DeMuth signed early so she could focus on her senior season. She went on to average 22 points, 11
rebounds and five steals and finished runner-up for the Miss Basketball award.
Things are tougher now. Playing for a Big Ten program has meant games around the country and
starting against top-25 opponents. Based on her family's love for IU and basketball, it seemed she
was destined to be here, but DeMuth said she never expected to play.
"I've grown up with Indiana basketball and Indiana athletics my whole life," she said. "To think I
would come here and play never crossed my mind. I didn't think I could play at the Big Ten level."
© 2002 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE