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March 6, 2018
DePaul - 98, Marquette - 63.
DOUG BRUNO: Marquette is a really good basketball team. They're a really special basketball team. Coach Kieger is an excellent coach and the program's an excellent program.
This league, the Big East is one of the best leagues in the country, and sometimes when our team has not really put it all together all year. Tonight we put it together for about 30 minutes. When your team comes together and comes together at the right moment, it's special. But we beat a really, really good Marquette team. That Marquette team is going to really create some -- I know there's a lot of people in the country that are not going to want to play this Marquette team in the NCAA Tournament. This is a team that took Tennessee to overtime, a 2 seed. They took Notre Dame to overtime, a 1 seed.
So the fact that our players really did a great job tonight, I'm really proud of that fact. But I want to compliment Marquette on what they've brought to the Big East here over these last couple years and what they're going to continue to bring.
Their entire team's back next year. We've got an awful lot coming back next year, we're going to miss Amarah, and Lauren Prochaska, but we have a lot coming back as well. So this league will only get better and better.
I also want to thank the Big East administration for all the hard work they do to put this together. I want to thank our DePaul administration for all the hard work, Jean Lenti Ponsetto and her staff, all the hard work they do to put this together. It doesn't just happen. I want to thank everybody for making this happen.
I think Wintrust Arena is a great place. We know Chicago is a great place, but at the same time it's the people that make these tournaments work. I'd like to thank Tracy Ellis-Ward here and Jeanie, thank you for what you've done to make this tournament go. Jill Hollembeak, senior associate, and Peter Tombasco, thank you for your help.
Regarding the game, you know, our team has been getting better down the stretch here since it was just referenced, we were ranked today for the first time since February 13th. We got ranked on February 13th, and we came out of it a week later because we didn't play very effective basketball late in February or late, mid-February against a couple really good teams.
We got waxed by a really good Georgetown team at home, and then I think our team got it together, and they've been getting it together since that Georgetown defeat.
We probably should thank Coach James Howard whose Georgetown team for beating us in Chicago, because I think that might have been a turning point for our basketball team. We played some of the solid defensive basketball I've seen our team play.
We've had some of our better rebounding games. Yes, we made shots, all right. And it's always -- the game always becomes easier when you make shots. But still the defense is what I'm most proud of in these three games here in the tournament against Seton Hall, against a really good Georgetown team, and again, against a really good Marquette team.
So I'm proud of the players. It's always the players that win. The players and this group can now claim a regular season championship and a Big East Tournament Championship. That's something pretty special.
They're going to get a couple days off, and I hope they understand there is another tournament that starts with one-in-a-row basketball just around the corner. So thanks for covering women's hoops.
Q. Mart'e, it just seemed like you were having a blast on the floor tonight. I saw a lot throughout the first half, smiling, Clapping hands, having a good time. What was the energy like coming into this game for you guys because you looked really relaxed in warm-ups?
MART'E GRAYS: Oh, I thought we were really focused and just ready to play. When we focus and energize like that, the team chemistry just builds and builds, and that's what we feed off of. Just somebody to get hype a little here and there is just, you know, something -- I don't know. You guys like to see it. We like to do it. It's just fun. Just having fun.
We always say like together we all have fun. That's what it's about, having fun and being the best we can be.
Q. Amarah, to be this league's MVP player and also leaving as a senior with a Big East championship, how does it feel as a senior to get this award?
AMARAH COLEMAN: It feels great. I wouldn't be able to have this award without my teammates or just this whole opportunity playing with them. Today we had fun out there, like she said. We were really relaxed. Before the game we really emphasized just have fun before the game because it's really tense in the locker room, so before the game starts, we just tell each other have fun no matter what.
Q. Mart'e, you guys won this year. Last year you weren't able to play because you were injured. What is the feeling to be able to contribute to beat Marquette as opposed to last year when you weren't able to help on the court?
MART'E GRAYS: It feels great. But this is all about the team. Last year is over. We talked about it, talked about it, but I was so excited to play in this tournament and just be on the floor, period. So just being here right now with my team, celebrating this win, it's just everything.
Q. Amarah, you really had it going from long distance. Was that something you were given open looks or something you were working for? How exactly did that come about?
AMARAH COLEMAN: I was just running the offense and shooting balls depending on how the defense was playing me. Like Coach said, the shot was going in today. I've had some rough games with the shot, so I just made sure I shot with confidence today.
Q. Before every single game you guys are saying together "We Will." What does that mean individually for all three of you?
AMARAH COLEMAN: It just means together we will. It means a lot. It means we will have each other's back. We will take care of the little things. We will have fun. We will play DePaul ball. We will, just a lot. It's just a reminder to always have each other's back out there and to focus on the main task.
MART'E GRAYS: Just to feed off what she said. Everything she said was correct, but we will execute. We will follow the game plan. You know, like she said, we would have each other's back. Just we will. Like do whatever it takes to win the game.
KELLY CAMPBELL: Yeah, like we're in it together all of us, so we're doing it for each other. We just make sure we all have each other's backs and feed off what they said.
Q. Amarah, obviously another hot shooting night. Is each shot random whether or not it will go in or do they start to build off one another and you start to get more confidence?
AMARAH COLEMAN: I mean, like I said before, today I was just shooting with a lot of confidence today. I struggled a little bit in the tournament with my shot. So today it meant a lot to me to come out, shoot with confidence, and trust that my teammates were going to give me the ball.
Q. Kelly, Coach talked about defense and rebounding being two of the things he was most proud of. Tonight you certainly aided a lot in that effort with 11 boards. Was that something that was rally a focus for you guys coming in? From a player perspective, what was the mood in terms of defense and rebounding?
KELLY CAMPBELL: Yeah, rebounding was definitly a huge key. In the first game we lost the boards and in the second game we won. So it was big for us to come out and win the battle of the boards. I think we won it by 18, so that was huge for us.
Then really just digging in and guarding, because that's been a problem for us in the beginning, and we executed that well tonight. So I was proud of my team.
Q. Kelly, you folks had 23 fastbreak points. Are you able to talk about your play as a point guard and running that?
KELLY CAMPBELL: Yeah, I mean, we're always taught to hit the Open woman. So my teammates are around the wings and -- I'm just hitting them when they're open. I think we did a good job of finding our teammates on the fast break today and getting good assists there.
Q. Coach, obviously you guys are a really good shooting team, and tonight that was on display. Everybody on the floor at all times could step back and hit the three. And multiple times you had players like Ashton Millender taking it from three feet beyond the NBA line without hesitation. And in some of your shootarounds I realized nobody really takes a three with their foot right behind the line, it's always three feet behind. Is there a reason behind that?
DOUG BRUNO: Well, we recruit people that can make shots, first of all. Once they get here, all that we do for them is we have a system of drilling. But at the same time, what we do with them is never tell them if they're open, they're free to shoot. That's my contribution. You're free to shoot an open shot.
If a teammate's more open than you, they have to get the ball. But if you're open -- it's hard enough to coach this game of basketball and get open looks. Regarding the distance, there is a game that Major League Baseball pitchers use between starts called long toss. They go out in the outfield and throw the ball 120 feet to prepare for 60 feet.
We work part of our shooting system, we take shots and we practice shots. Only 2 minutes a day from about a good 35 feet from the basket. So we are constantly trying to extend our players range. So they do have a confidence to let the ball rip from deep water.
We are not taking threes just to shoot threes. We are taking threes to open up the floor and get to the rim.
I thought before we started knocking our threes down, in the game we started with us, we were pretty tight. I think we left four laps on the table by halftime. Yet we were getting to the rim.
I was pretty impressed with the way our players were reading what Marquette was giving us and some of the slips on their switching screens. I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to the rim early. Then once you start making them it becomes your much better team and make making your shots. You have to be good when you're not making shots. That's where the defensive rebounding comes in, and that's why it's so important for us to be a good defending and rebounding team at tournament time.
Q. Coach, these past three days defensively you guys have held two opponents in the 50s and Marquette today to 61. Where do you think this team has grown the most defensively?
DOUG BRUNO: First of all, I think they've been working hard all year and people don't think of DePaul as a defensive team because we shoot so quickly, we shoot so often. That means our opponents are going to score a lot of points. Yet I think we've done some things technically too. We've adopted more of the backline defense and extended defense. I think that's been very, very helpful for us to stop dribble penetration of our opponent and also to keep our opponent off the free-throw line.
I think early in the year our two tough losses early to Northern Colorado and to Florida Gulf Coast, we put those teams on the line 37 and 38 times respectively. First time we play Marquette in Milwaukee, they got lay-up after lay-up after lay-up. We couldn't keep them from getting to the rim. So I think we've adjusted a little bit as to how we're defending, but it's still always the players that do the job.
They've been buying in all year. But I think the last four, five games post since the Georgetown game, we've tried to play more of a help defense than an extended defense.
Q. What does this tournament championship just say about the resiliency of your team to be able to bounce back after a tough defeat in last year's tournament game? What's that say about your team as a whole?
DOUG BRUNO: First of all, every season you hear me repeat myself. Every game has a life of its own. Every season has a life of its own. Every possession is a life of its own.
So this season belongs to these players. This team has one chance to win a regular season championship. One chance to win a Big East Tournament Championship. That's something that they strove to do and something they achieved and accomplished.
But in relationship to last year, you know, you have to credit what Marquette has done as a program. What Coach Kieger and Marquette have done as a program. Those players did a great job last year earning their Big East championship. That's theirs. It's been theirs for a year. They've helped make this league a lot better.
So I don't play the revenge game. It's not like because they won last year we have to win this year. I don't do that. I'm just trying to get our players better from game to game and year to year. You know, I think the world is seeing when Coach Bruno's talking about not having Mart'e Grays last year, with that team we had last year, that's a pretty special player we had back as is ashton mill ender.
So we have some special players on this basketball team. Kelly Campbell, Amarah who put it together tonight. I mean, there's just a lot of really good players on this team. It's their championship. So I don't really think of it in terms of last year's Marquette championship. That was theirs. They earned it. Nobody's going to take that from Marquette. And nobody's going to take this one from us. I'm glad we're both good teams in a great league.
Q. Are you able to talk at all about your defensive strategy on Allazia Blockton?
DOUG BRUNO: Allazia is one of the most special players to me in this league because of her toughness. We know she wants to get to the rim. Everybody in the gym knows she wants to get to the rim. It's not that easy keeping her from getting to the rim. I just think we did try to pack it in a lot more so that our first priority was to keep them from getting paint touches and -- you have to keep this team from getting paint touches. When this started they were running it at us. We had a tough decision as a coaching staff as to whether to go up the floor or come back and meet them in the half court.
In the game too in Chicago on the 29th, we went up the floor for 40 minutes. It did help us. So, tonight we chose to come back and play more of a contained defense. But -- I'm sorry, you asked about Wilborn or Blockton?
I'm sorry. I've got Wilborn on my mind. So I apologize for that. That's how much I love Wilborn. And I'm not an anti-Allazia coach. I love her as well. So when I made my comments earlier about everyone knows she wants to get to the rim, that was about Wilborn and not Blockton. Blockton is a complete player that can shoot. She's earned the right to be our Player of the Year, and she's just a great player. I think she's got a future as a pro. She's a guard, she's a post player, she can shoot threes. I mean, she's just a fabulous, fabulous player.
This is why Marquette is so good. They've got five people that can score the basketball. And Allazia Blockton is absolutely the best of them.
And in my affection that I got sidetracked about is Wilborn, and her competitiveness and toughness. Allazia is tough too, but Wilborn is better than people give her credit for.
Q. What challenges come with having an offense so dependent on the three-point shot, and have you guys been able to overcome it in this tournament?
DOUG BRUNO: I think the first way to overcome it is understand if you defend and rebound, you have the freedom to shoot comes with the responsibility of defending and rebounding. There are four things that can happen when you shoot quickly. And you shoot quickly and make them and then defend, you can blow a team out.
If you shoot quickly and miss them and defend, you win a close game. You shoot quickly and make them and don't defend, it can go either way in a high-scoring game. You shoot quickly and don't defend, I mean, you can also get and you can get blown out.
So the quick shot thing has the responsibility of rebounding and defense, and couples goes with it. We're not a Marymount program. I love Coach Westhead, he's a friend, but this is not a Marymount system we're running at DePaul. We're not running the Grinnell system. We're trying to score the ball because I think women have to play a game that's entertaining as well as winning. We're trying to get people to come watch women's basketball, and I want it to be entertaining. So we are shooting quickly for a reason. But that's a responsibility that comes with it.
Also, we are spreading the floor. The fact that you have to be guarded out in that long distance areas opens up the floor for drives and for post-ups. So it's not just about shooting threes. I think the game got started with us having some pretty solid interior shots.
Thanks again to everybody at DePaul. Thanks to the Big East.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports