2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Practice Day Quotes, DePaul

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March 18, 2011

University Park, Pa.; - Tickets , University Park Tournament Central , NCAA Gear

DEPAUL BLUE DEMONS

Interview Room

Doug Bruno, DePaul Head Coach<.br> Q: Can you tell us your thoughts on reviewing film of Navy?
A: Through 38 years of coaching and every year you coach, every game you coach, there is a national anthem. My personal national anthem prayer is that all the fighting men and women that fight and died to keep this country free. I always pray for them and all the men and women presently in harm's way. Never would I imagine that I would be praying for our opponent through all of these anthems this year. I say that because I am really impressed with the toughness and intelligence of the Navy players. We know this country is in good hands. This is a very good basketball team. Their coach is just getting going in Annapolis, which is going to be a long run for the Navy in the Patriot League. You can just see it and feel it. [Angela] Myers is the senior leader. [Cassie] Consedine and [Erin] Edwards are both veterans. [Jade] Geif is just getting better and better with every single game they play. She is a monster already and she's really going to be a monster by the time she is a junior or senior. These are very good basketball players. Coach does a good job; they are a very efficient offensive team. They assist on 67% of their baskets, which is huge. We are proud of our assists and how well we assist on baskets. We might make more baskets because of the speed at which we play. They assist on even more baskets than we do and we are one of the leading assist teams in the country. Three-point shooting is obviously a very important aspect on playing against Navy.

 

 

Q: How much do you use the experience of the last four seasons to get over the first round hump?
A: If we could rewrite our script over the last four years, we would write the script differently in each of the tournament games that we went home. However, since we can't rewrite our script, that's the beauty of this sport and the beauty of this tournament. It's a crash and burn tournament for everybody but one team. We must turn that into an opportunity and a positive. These players have all experienced the NCAA for three of the four, for Keisha two, occasions. I think that's huge that the players have been able to gain this valuable experience. It's a tough experience because there have been defeats. Still, it's experience that you just can't buy or pour into your players. They have been in this environment before. I might add we have not shied away from this either. You can put your head in the sand and pretend that it didn't happen. We talk about it. We look at each other and we talk about it. We aren't just going to pretend it didn't happen. We are going to look at it and face it and say `what can we do to change it.' These players are a really dedicated group to wanting to change it.

Q: Coach, being in the BIG EAST the last several years, how do you think that has helped you over being in Conference USA?
A: With respect for Conference USA and how great a league it was when we were in it, because some great teams were in it when we were in it, the move to the BIG EAST has been fantastic for our school and for our program. It is the best league in the country. You are forced by competing in the BIG EAST to compete and raise your level of competitiveness. You can shy away from that or you can embrace it. I think these players have done a very good job of embracing the competitiveness of the BIG EAST and using that competitiveness to make them better in everything that they do from their offseason preparations for what they have to do the next season. The BIG EAST is also the reason probably why there are young Philadelphians sitting next to us, too. I don't know that we were really able to get into the east. DePaul has a really big reputation, tradition, and name in the east, and yet when we were in Conference USA, the East Coast was not a place. Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, these are places that were not that open for allowing us to recruit. Now, it is a much more fertile place for us to get players, along with Chicago.

Q: How do you get across to your players that while Navy is a lower seed and in a weaker conference, that they can beat you? I think the stat is that only one 14, 15, or 16 seed has beaten a number three. But Stefanie Pemper, the Navy Coach, was on the staff when they beat Stanford.
A: This has been a great team for me to coach. We know that we have been able to show that we are able to be good but our margin for error is not extensive. I think the fact that we built a very good team in our league, and Marquette, a very good team in our league, defeated us late in the season is a very recent reminder that if we don't bring our A-game, that if we don't play these games, that anybody in this country can beat anybody else. And I think they have been on the other side of that, too, with the defeat of Stanford.

Q: Coach you put a tremendous emphasis on academics in addition to athletic success, can you talk about how your student athletes are able to balance that, especially this time of year?
A: We are very proud of what our players have done academically. We are eighth in the nation academically. We challenge our players to be competitive in the classroom and the players sitting up here embrace that challenge. Jill Hollembeak, our academic advisor, and Nicci Hays-Fort, our associate head coach, have been very responsible in helping that happen. At the same time our players have to step up and embrace it. Usually we are in finals right now. The stars aligned this year. Usually right now, we are taking exams and finishing papers while we are at the tournament. The stars just aligned so all of our finals were finished except one before we got on the plane to come out here. That's never happened to us for the NCAA Tournament ever. That's a thrill but also regarding academics, I think my players are already tired of hearing it, but they think they have it tough. But the Navy kids are up at five o'clock every morning. The Navy kids are busting their humps every day and they've done a conditioning workout before they have even lined up for marching before they even get to breakfast. These are special women that get into the academies. They are playing against a special group of human beings when they are playing against Army, Navy or Air Force.

Q: Coach, the obvious advantage you have across the front line is that they are not as big. They basically have a three guard line-up. Consedine is a fairly big girl, but Geif, even though she's tough, she is only about 6-0. Do you feel like that's something you have to take advantage of with your size down low? Do you think that they have a matchup for Keisha Hampton?
A: Every game that we play that we are good, we have inside outside balance. We shoot 20 threes. We shoot as many threes as Navy does. We both make about the same amount of threes. Our percentages are similar from three. But our three is designed to set up our inside-outside balance. We want inside-outside balance whether we have a height advantage or whether we are going against a strong inside game like UConn or Notre Dame. We feel that we always have to have inside-outside balance. It's going to be a key to our game regardless of whether Jade Geif is 6-0 or 6-6. Her innards far exceed her physical size. She is just a really competitive and combative post player. We have been undersized and on the other side of that as well. So, we understand what that means. Regarding Keisha, this is a special player from Philadelphia, and Keisha has been very accepting of letting games come to her and taking what is there within the game. We also do try to go to Keisha but we do want to balance the attack. It's is very important to us to have a balanced attack. We needed a stronger inside-outside game in our last game against Notre Dame. Keisha had the 31 but our team only had nine assists in that basketball game. We needed to have the balance. Felicia Chester stepped up big time in our biggest games and our biggest games this year.

#22 Sam Quigley, Sr., Guard
Q: How much do you use the experience of the last four seasons to get over the first round hump?

A: I think that the experience, with having been here before, we all kind of know how it feels being in this environment.

#41 Felicia Chester, Sr., Forward
Q: Has the team recognized that while Navy is a lower seed and in a weaker conference, that they can beat you? I think the stat is that only one 14, 15, or 16 seed has beaten a number three. But Stefanie Pemper, the Navy Coach, was on the staff when they beat Stanford.

A: I think I can speak for the whole team when I say that we are not underestimating Navy at all. We have never won the first round of the NCAA Tournament so this game is huge to us. We aren't taking Navy lightly.

#24 Keisha Hampton, Jr., Forward
Q: Keisha, the BIG EAST schedule is strong, do you look back to that Stanford win at all? How do you feel coming into the tournament?

A: We feel great coming into the tournament. We still think about the Stanford win because it was a great win for our team. They were the second ranked team in the country and no one can take that away from us. We played a great game that night and came out with a big win. Just going through the conference, everyone knows it's the best conference in America. I just think that prepares us for now. We have a very good BIG EAST conference. We won 13 games. That was the best result we had in the BIG EAST. We just had such a great BIG EAST season and we played some great teams because the competitiveness of every game is going to prepare us for this tournament.

Locker Room

#2 Taylor Pikes, Jr., Guard/Forward
Q: You were named BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year, how does that feel for you?

A: It feels good, but I owe it all to my teammates because they helped me and gave me the confidence this year to play the way I did, so I owe it all to them.

Q: Going into the tournament, does that put a lot of pressure on you, having received that award and knowing that you're going to be first off the bench?
A: It doesn't really put pressure, I just think it gives me more confidence knowing I can play and play well at this level. It just gives me more confidence.

Q: What do you think about playing at the Bryce Jordan Center, any thoughts on the venue?
A: I have no clue about the court, but when we play in an arena it's the same. The rims are the same and the court is the same, so we'll be okay.

Q: This is your team's ninth consecutive time in the NCAA Tournament, does it get to the point where it's old news for you guys or are you just as excited?
A: We're always excited to get to the NCAA Tournament and this being the ninth straight year makes it even more exciting because we've done something that not a lot of teams do, so it's very exciting.

#31 Jasmine Penny, Fr., Forward
Q: You're the only freshman on the team, how does it feel being here?

A: I'm excited, this is my first NCAA tournament, so I'm excited to be in it and get to play.

Q: Did the fact that DePaul made it to the tournament for eight straight years affect your decision when you were deciding where to go originally?
A: No. I knew I wanted to come here after they offered me a spot. I was excited to be able to play with all the girls.

Q: What was your immediate reaction when you found out you were going to be in the tournament?
A: Excited. It's exciting to be able to keep playing in March and keep playing and get as far as you get. I'm excited to be able to play and watch our team play.

Q: How much do you guys know about Navy? Have you done a lot of scouting?
A: Actually, we just watched tape on them yesterday and they seem like a pretty good team so we'll see how everything goes.

#30 Jennifer Juergens, Sr., Guard
Q: As a senior, making it to the NCAA Tournament all of your four years, what's that like for you right now?

A: It's exciting. I think each year it's something we always strive for. We just work hard so that we can make it happen.

Q: This year your team was seeded third, which is your highest seed ever, what does that say about the program and its improvement throughout the years?
A: I think this year with all the seniors we have it's kind of a special thing because we're kind of a veteran group. It's nice to have that experience paying off for us, too.

Q: This is Navy's first time in the NCAA Tournament, do you think you guys have an advantage over them just because you have had much more experience in the tournament?
A: I think our experience helps. We've been here before. We've gone through the whole routine, but at the same time, we still need to show up and play.

#22 Sam Quigley, Sr., Guard
Q: As a senior, this is your fourth time at a NCAA tournament, how does that feel for you right now?

A: I'm really excited for the opportunity. Our last four results haven't been the greatest, so I guess this is just something we're looking forward to. We're really excited.

Q: You're seeded third this year, which is you highest ever, what do you have to say about that?
A: I just think that shows our experience in the BIG EAST. We finally came out with being a little more competitive in the BIG EAST and that only helps in the post season tournaments for getting good seeds.

Q: You guys have never played Navy before, so how much have you scouted them?
A: We definitely watched film and things like that. We definitely broke down some of the things they do. We're not taking them lightly. We haven't won the first game in the NCAA Tournament for a few years now so this is a pretty important game for us.

#41 Felicia Chester, Sr., Forward
Q: What's going through your head right now being here?

A: I'm really excited that we're here. We've been talking about this all year and what it takes to win in March so it's exciting to be here now.

Q: What is something you personally are trying to focus on going into this game?
A: I just want to be a presence in the post to give our team inside-outside balance.

Q: Is there anything Navy has in the post that you've really been looking at?
A: They have two starting post players that are really good. They have a 6-3 girl who's tough and can shoot the three and another really tough undersized post player. We just have to compete with them.

Q: This is Navy's first time in the NCAA tournament, you guys have obviously had a lot of experience, do you think you have a little bit of an advantage over them experience-wise?
A: I think experience can help us. I think since we've been here, we know what to expect and maybe we won't have as many jitters. We still haven't won the first game since I've been here, so that is motivation.

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