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March 20, 2011
University Park, Pa.; -
DEPAUL BLUE DEMONS
Doug Bruno, DePaul Head Coach
Q: What are you impressions of Penn State after watching them yesterday and seeing them on film?
A: They are a very talented basketball team and very capable. Alex Bentley is a great guard. Maggie Lucas is having one of the best freshman years in the history of college women's basketball. That's just the beginning. Zhaque Gray can really go off. Both Nickson and Nikki Greene are formidable players. This is a team that finished second in the Big Ten in the regular season and second in the Big Ten in the tournament. I think they're pretty good.
Q: How differently do you prepare this team for Penn State, playing essentially a road game tomorrow as opposed to playing Navy yesterday on a neutral court?
A: You have to be ready to prepare programmatically when you get to this point. What I mean by programmatically is there are certain functions that you have to execute to transcend your opponent. Now obviously the opponent does have errors and I'm not saying that the opponent doesn't error. But programmatically, you have to be ready to defend and get ready to rebound in this tournament. I think we had a very good lesson in that the last few years and I think we have worked really hard this year to prepare our team to be ready to defend and rebound.
Q: Does that transcend the way you play the game where you play the game whether it's neutral court or Penn State on the road?
A: I think what we're learning after a lot of years of coaching is; how does your team travel? Basketball is a very, very different game on the road for many reasons. One simple reason is when you go on the road for football you play from the ground up, you're skilled guys at football don't have to throw the ball into a little bitty ring¬- that's the essence of basketball. You have to put a little ball into a little ring and it's easier to do that at home than on the road. You have to learn how to travel well, not just in tournament, but you have to learn how to travel well in your league. All leagues are essentially won by how well you play on the road and taking care of home business, of course. I think it's just huge that you teach your team how to play on the road. We've been really good on the road and we've been really spotty on the road so it's hard for me to sit there and say we've got the road thing locked because sometimes we do, but sometimes we don't.
Q: Two high-paced, up-tempo teams playing tomorrow, what do you think the key to the game will be?
A: We both love to score. I don't think that's any secret, they average 78 and we average 74. We both love to push the ball. We both love to push tempo. We both love to shoot threes. In a lot of ways we are mirrors. I said to one of my coaches last night, this looks like us. We play very similar styles of basketball. I really do think who is going to be able to make stops and defend and rebound, I still think it's going to come back down to that. I wish we didn't have much experience of learning that, but we've been in this tournament shooting the ball for a few years.
Q: What do you see the key to defending against Maggie Lucas is?
A: She's a very special basketball player. When you recruit like we do and you watch these kids in the recruiting venues- we watched Maggie, in fact we just signed one of her teammates from Germantown Academy, so we've watched Maggie a long time- you know she's a very good player and you know she's going to be a very, very good college player, but then you start watching the tape and you watch her go through the Big Ten the first time and then you watch her go through the Big Ten a second time and you start realizing that this is a lot better player than you ever even thought she was when she was playing in high school. She's just very, very special. You can't produce the numbers she produced without being a very, very special basketball player. She just doesn't need time to get her shot off; she's got great range on the three. It's a very difficult matchup for anybody that plays Penn State. It's one of the reasons that they're good. They've got a great guard combination here. We're not even talking about one of the starters. Maggie is coming off the bench. Zhaque (Gray) is capable of having a great game, too, and let's not forget that they're quiet little dirty secret is (Julie) Trogele. She's a good, good basketball player. Everybody gets so focused on the other three and you forget about the lone senior in this pack and she's a really, really good player. She's much more than an X-factor. She's a player that can hurt you on the floor and she can hurt you in the post position. It's why Penn State is a very, very good basketball team. They're young as well, but they're not baby young, they have been seasoned. Zhaque is a junior, Alex (Bentley) is a sophomore and Nikki Greene is a sophomore and (Mia) Nickson is a transfer from Boston College. It's not like they're wet behind the ears young. They're young, but they've got some 60's-game experience behind them, which is why they're a good team. I told my staff and my team that this is going to be a team that is ranked in the top 20 easy next year, probably the top 10 next year. Coquese is just getting this thing really, really off the ground and I don't think she is ever going to look back.
Q: In terms of what you were saying you had to do to win the first game, is a lot of stuff what you've been doing right from the get go this year?
A: They're definitely related. The earning of a three seed is again a testament to what these young women have done for our program. It's the highest seed we ever had and we're proud of being one of only 12 teams in the country that have been to nine straight. We're going into these tournaments in the last nine years, we're going in as a 9, a 12, an 11, a 10, so it changes things for sure. Yes, you're absolutely right that what we achieved during the year helped put us in this position to be playing on that level.
#32 DePaul Deirdre Naughton, Sr., Guard
Q: Do you like it better when you're playing a team that plays a similar pace to you instead of one like yesterday?
A: I think that yesterday, it was not the type of game we wanted to play. They got us out until halfway through the second half, when we really started to hit our shots and get some easy baskets. If we can stop their running game and continue ours, that's the type of game we want to play.
Q: Getting over the first game hump, is that like a weight has been lifted off your shoulder?
A: I would say that we were definitely really excited, especially at the end of the game. We have a game coming on their home court that we have to look forward to so I think we quickly put the game behind us and realized what we had ahead of us.
#41 DePaul Felicia Chester, Sr., Forward
Q: Getting over the first game hump, is that like a weight has been lifted off your shoulder?
A: After the game, I would say we were really excited just to get that first round win that we wanted for so long. We very happy at the end of the game, not short after we had to start focusing on Penn State and playing the game tomorrow.
#24 DePaul Keisha Hampton, Jr., Forward
Q: You and kind of the team as a whole had a rough shooting day yesterday; did you guys do anything in practice today to try to remedy that?
A: Well we didn't have practice yet. We are practicing after this. We got a lot of shots yesterday; we just didn't knock any down. We missed tons of layups and open shots we usually make. We're not worried about the missed shots and layups because we know we are going to make them next game.
Coach Bruno: We didn't make shots yesterday because we're human. These young women have done so much at DePaul. Psychologically, you can't go into a tournament, having lost the previous four first rounds and not be tight. We can't hide from it, that's just the way it is. These kids were tight yesterday and I expected them to be tight. Now, thank God, we got through that and I don't expect us to be tight any longer. I expect the old DePaul free flow to come back into play. That's the way I look at it. I'm really proud of these guys for the way they got shots yesterday. They got good looks and we also defended when we had to. We held a team yesterday that averages 58 points, to 43 points and I don't think anybody talks about that. We held a team yesterday who averages 13 turnovers, to force 23 turnovers. It's not like we played some dog game. We also shut a team out for the fourth quarter. Those are some things that show that this group is ready to play basketball and obviously we would love the ball to drop and the score would have been a lot different and the game is a lot different. I really believe the fact that we're able to move on now and these guys, who have done so much, can move on, I think is going to be really helpful.
Sam Quigley, Sr., Guard
Q: How do you feel playing against tough Penn State players such as Julia Trogele and Mia Nickson?
A: The whole Penn State team is really tough. Those two girls in particular are great rebounders, so at any point if I get matched up with them I have to focus on keeping them off the boards.
Q: Do you feel added pressure being a third seed, as this is the highest NCAA ranking you have received in the tournament?
A: A little bit. I feel like any time you are in an NCAA tournament there is going to be pressure. It is going to end your season if you don't win. In the past two years, we haven't done as well as we wanted to. I think it's more of an excitement. We are excited to be a three-seed and excited to be playing in such a great environment like Penn State.
Q: Will you have the same approach in tomorrow's game following your first NCAA Tournament First Round win? Will you feed off that momentum?
A: A little bit. We didn't do some things that we wanted to do right yesterday. So, we will try and fix those for the next game and just try and play excited I guess. We are in the second game, finally.
Katherine Harry, So., Forward
Q: You had a strong performance from your bench players yesterday. How do you feel you will contribute tomorrow?
A: We rely a lot on our bench players. We go eight, nine, 10 deep. I think everybody has done a great job this year. We have the Sixth Woman of the Year in the Big East, Taylor Pikes, coming off the bench. We also have Deirdre Naughton coming off the bench. China Threatt, Deanna Ortiz, Maureen Mulchrone, Jasmine Penny are just all ready to help us out in any way they can. We are lucky to have them. They work hard every single day in practice. They push us to get better every single day. They've just been contributing great all year long and I hope they continue to do the same tomorrow.
Q: Yesterday, as a team, you guys had a lot of rebounds and a strong defensive performance. How will you approach a tougher offensive team like Penn State?
A: Penn State likes to score a lot. I think they average 77 points or something like that. So, we have been working hard this year in trying to up our defense. I think that tomorrow we are really going to try and lock down and get that stop when we really need to get in. We had some practice yesterday. I don't think we let them score for about ten minutes in the second half, which really helped us prepare for tomorrow. Everybody on this team is really able to make a stop. We are really just trying to team together and trying to get that one stop when we really need it.
Q: How will you target strong offensive players, specifically Maggie Lucas who shoots a lot of threes?
A: She's a great player. I think she got Sixth Woman of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten. We respect her. She's a great player. She averages a great number of points for them. We have to get into her early, try and make her miss early in trying to get into the rhythm of her shot. Trying to force her off the three-point line because she shoots a great percentage from the three. A three is worth more than a two, so we are going to try and get out and guard her off the three point line. But, they have other great players, too. We can't just focus on Maggie. We have to guard the other players, too.
#24 Keisha Hampton, Jr., Forward
Q: Yesterday you were not able to score your usual amount of points. How will you approach tomorrow's game in hopes of scoring more points?
A: I'm going to put yesterday's game behind me. I'm human and we all struggle. I'm going to focus on the great team tomorrow and play my game.
Q: How will you approach Penn State's strong offense defensively?
A: Play them hard and try not to let them get off too early. Maggie Lucas, Zhaque Gray and Alex Bentley are all great players. We can't let them get off in the beginning.
Q: Height-wise, you match up with Julia Trogele and Nikki Greene. How do you plan to out-match them?
A: I'm going to approach them the same as we approach every game. We can't let them establish post position. We'll play them hard and get defensive with them in the beginning and don't let them get any easy buckets.
Q: Do you feel added pressure being a number three seed, as this is the highest you have been ranked in the NCAA Tournament?
A: No, I think we worked very hard this season for this ranking. We deserve it. We had a great season and we deserved it.