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March 9, 2020

Doug Bruno

Chante Stonewall

Lexi Held

Kelly Campbell

Chicago, Illinois

DePaul - 88, Marquette - 74

DOUG BRUNO: Marquette is really good. Coach Duffy did a magnificent job with this team this year. She truly earned her Coach of the Year award this season, and her team was just really, really special all year. We wouldn't be sitting up here today as champions if they didn't take us to school the way they took us to school eight, nine days ago. We went to Milwaukee, we went to the Al, and Marquette just did a job of taking it to us, and that's what competition is all about. That's why you compete, why you play against one another. I think the fact they took us to school the way they did eight, nine years ago is why our players were ready to play tonight against a really, really excellent Marquette basketball team.

I'm proud of our players. They learned well, so I'm just really proud of the way they came out, their energy was probably the best defensive energy not just in the full court but in the half court all year long at moments during that game.

Q. Chante and Kelly, what do you think about the win?
CHANTE STONEWALL: This feels amazing. Definitely a huge goal of ours after we earned our Big East title last year. I was just so hungry to get back here and be able to do it again at home against Marquette. But I'm super excited and can't wait for what comes next.

KELLY CAMPBELL: Yeah, it definitely feels great. This is what we work for all year, to come out here and defend our home court feels really great.

Q. Chante, you seem to have a little bit of an edge on the court tonight. Was there some revenge on your mind? What brought about that edge?
CHANTE STONEWALL: I think our team, they just got me so excited. Like I said, this is a date that I marked down on my calendar, like I can't wait. Circled it a bunch of times, circled it in red. Definitely had an edge, and I feel like my energy kind of rubs off on my underclassmen a lot, even sometimes Kelly. So I just felt like I needed that edge, needed that energy, starting with the defensive side, so I thought that helped tonight.

Q. Just talk about the three-point shooting. You guys broke the tournament record for most threes in the tournament. You all contributed to that. Talk about how that feels as a team and the offense.
LEXI HELD: I mean, that's just how we play. Every shot we shoot we practice, and just having the freedom that we have just really helps, and nobody thinks about the shots that we're going to take, we don't have to second-guess. We know that our shots are going to fall or not, and then we just have to focus on rebounding.

So I think the freedom of having the greenest green light in America really allows us to shoot as well as we do.

KELLY CAMPBELL: I think a lot of it came from how well we defended and rebounded as well. So we were able to push the ball, get the ball inside. Once we got the ball inside, we were able to find shooters outside. And we really moved the ball well and found the open person well today.

CHANTE STONEWALL: And I just also thought we just have so much confidence in each other, and even if we didn't make a three, our rebounders were there, offensively rebounding and kick it out and try it again.

Q. (Indiscernible).
KELLY CAMPBELL: I think today we really came out focused and played how we should play ever game on defense. We all learned our lesson last week and they really dominated us on the glass, dominated us in the block. So I think we really came out focused today and executed well on defense.

Q. Kelly and Chante, just in general playing Marquette for the fourth time in a row, what's it mean to you?
CHANTE STONEWALL: I feel like Marquette does a great job against us, definitely brings the best out of us, like I said, one of those games you really look forward to. Every single time I see a DePaul player (sic), you definitely get the most competitive game up and down, and I definitely think they bring the best out of us.

KELLY CAMPBELL: Wouldn't really be a Big East final if we weren't playing Marquette, so glad it ended up that way, and they really played a great game today. And I'm glad we were able to execute and get the win.

Q. You kind of went over and gave thanks to the fans. You got a standing O. Take me through the emotions that you were feeling at that time.
LEXI HELD: It felt really good. We were obviously very serious and very locked in throughout the whole game, so when we heard that buzzer and there was a minute left and we knew it was finally over, it just felt really good, especially just having so much support here was just really a good time.

KELLY CAMPBELL: Yeah, I think it didn't really hit me until about that one-minute mark that we sealed the deal, so it was great to get a standing O and just really get a great team win with my team.

CHANTE STONEWALL: It just shows how much the DePaul community is wrapping their arms around us at this time. When we needed them the most, coming off two losses, they never lost hope in us. And they definitely backed us up tonight, and I appreciate them so much.

Q. For the seniors, was there a time during this game (indiscernible) pressure became a factor?
CHANTE STONEWALL: I just believe once we started getting turnovers and speeding them up faster than what they were used to playing, I felt like that's really when I finally noticed that it was working.

Q. Was there a quarter that it happened?
CHANTE STONEWALL: I think second half because we were really focused on having good, strong third quarters because we struggle sometimes coming out of the locker room. So I thought we were super focused to finish the game, close it out strong.

Q. Lexi, just give us your thoughts on winning Most Valuable Player.
LEXI HELD: It means a lot, but I really couldn't have done it without any teammates. We work really hard for this, so it feels good to win, and it feels good that I got to award, but I couldn't have done it without my team or my coaches.

KELLY CAMPBELL: She didn't even know she dropped 30 when I told her.

LEXI HELD: I had no idea.

CHANTE STONEWALL: How do you not know that? She deserves it. So proud of you, Lex.

LEXI HELD: Thanks, Chante.

Q. Without giving away too much, what was the game plan heading into tonight's game?
DOUG BRUNO: Like I said in the opening statement, Marquette just did a great job of taking us to school on the 1st of March. We played hard up in Milwaukee. I don't think, though, we had an applied focus, and that was basically the terms we used today, is you can play hard, you can work hard, but you still have to apply your focus, and Marquette just -- they just killed us on the backboard up there. They really just took it to us and did a great job of taking it to us, and did a great job of showing why Coach Duffy and their program and their team had such a great year and deserves to be not just in the NCAA Tournament but to have a really strong seed in the NCAA Tournament.

So I mean, their non-conference schedule, losing to Mississippi State very close, losing an overtime game to Northwestern without Lott, people forget that that game -- they played that game without Selena Lott. They really, really schooled us. So when you talk about the game plan, the game plan is really pretty simple. It didn't change a whole lot, but the application of the game plan -- when you hear me say it's always the players, we coaches can come up with a game plan, and the players have to apply it. And I thought they did a great job of that.

The pressure was the best -- Chante commented about the third quarter, but it was obviously the second quarter when it kicked in. Basketball just doesn't -- there's just not one simple moment. I think they started to feel that the energy defensively was working, and they made plays in the quarter court in the second quarter, not just the full court, and I think that's what some of those little plays by little people on big people, I think those were some of the plays that really juiced us.

Q. Just talk about the adrenaline rush, as you guys had a really tough match with Seton Hall last night. Talk about how the team was able to come out and they played the textbook way you want. Talk about how this tournament helped you guys, those games leading up to tonight to get you through tonight.
DOUG BRUNO: For sure, Seton Hall gave us a really good, tough ball game, and we preach winning every possession, possession by possession, and when it comes down to the last possession or two, it really educates you as players. It educates you as coaches. Seton Hall and Coach Bozzella did I great job.

I really believe this league is a great league, and I can't -- the prognosticators are the prognosticators, but St. John's, Seton Hall belong in the NCAA Tournament along with Creighton, along with Marquette, along with DePaul. This is a really, really great league, and I think just it's really, really a great league, and we welcome UConn next year, it's going to make it even a better league, but at the same time you've got to live in the present and the moment, so it's a great league, so it prepared us.

One thing I said to the young women when we were getting ready, you women are all 18 to 23 years old, okay, so take yourself back 10 years, when you were eight or when you were 11, 9, 10, 8, and it's summertime and went out and played on Monday and you played all day, and you went out and played on Tuesday and played all day, and then you went out and played -- no, wait, the third day you were tired. You asked for a day off because you were tired.

So basically the point is, you've got to go out and play, and three in a row is hard, but at the same time, you go out and play when you're kids, you've got to go out and play when you're 18 to 22-year-olds, that's why these conference tournaments are really cool, because it's the only time you do this.

Now we get back to the Big East format, which is Friday-Sunday, which prepares you for the NCAA Tournament. That's what's happening now all. It's all going to be Friday-Sunday, so just all of this comes together at this moment and you're really proud for the players. It's always the players that make the plays.

Q. A few weeks ago (indiscernible) take me through that.
DOUG BRUNO: You know, goals are -- ideas are a funny little thing that only works if you do -- goals is a funny little thing if you do. And sometimes you can get your goals too far out ahead of you, and I think our players got too focused -- when we got tight in the middle of the season here, I think they were too focused on hosting, and to just try to get them back and just get the next win, get the next game. It's all going to take care of itself. Just because -- first of all, we don't know that we're going to host, and if we do get to host, that doesn't mean you're going to win. You've still got to go out and play really good basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament. That's why it's a great championship. So you still have to go out and win the game.

If we don't host, so we've got to go on the road and we've still got to go out and throw the ball up and play against a really good team, and you've still got to get the W.

We just kind of tried to take the pressure off of them and just stay focused on the next game, and whatever is going to happen at the end of the year is going to happen at the end of the year, and I think that kind of finally took the heat off of them a little bit. I thought we were getting pretty tight there in some moments of the season.

Q. I'm wondering if you can comment on Sonya's contribution today?
DOUG BRUNO: Sonya has been so special to this team all year, and that's what makes this team special is on any given night, any player -- Lexi's turn to get 30 was tonight. Sonya has had 30 a couple this year. I think she had 30 at Notre Dame, at Oregon State. Those are big places to get 30 or 29. Maybe it wasn't 30, maybe it was 29.

But Sonya has been great all year. Both these sophomores have really been great. We've had great senior leadership with the two seniors - Kelly Campbell and Chante Stonewall. But these two sophomores have been special also.

She brings an energy. She brings a mojo. She brings a fight to the game that is just -- you just love it as a coach.

When the shot is working, everybody is a better player, and tonight she wasn't necessarily shooting as well as she has in other games, but she's still a really impactful player on the floor.

Q. What has Kelly meant to your program?
DOUG BRUNO: Well, it's just always -- when you do this for a living, four years goes so fast. When you're a young freshman looking in at the four years, it seems like it's going to be forever. The next thing you know you are going to graduate. When you do this as a coach, four years -- freshmen are coming in and you're still talking to eighth and ninth graders trying to replace them already. That's how crazy the choice we make to coach college basketball is, but the second freshmen are entering, you're thinking who's going to be their replacement? And they haven't seen played ball yet, but that's what we coaches have to do.

So to see them actually matriculate through the four years, to see them put up -- look, I love what I do and I love my players, and I think my players love me, but it's love-hate, and they have to put up in a lot, and we demand a lot. We demand a lot of accountability. We don't just let them walk in and run the show and do what they want to do, and so I'm just proud of the fact that they were coachable players, and that's what I love about coaching in today's age. I can't stand labels. To me the M word, "Millenial" is a swear word. I will never say it. I can't stand adults talking down at generations. It drives me absolutely crazy.

And so to watch these young people execute the same necessities and the same formula to succeed that exists -- it's a thrill to watch them work that hard, set their goals, go to work to achieve their goals, have broader goals than just basketball, think of people outside themselves. That's been the joy of watching Chante Stonewall and Kelly Campbell, and we're going to miss them and we're going to try to make this last as long as possible.

Q. This program's accomplishments are historic. You added another accomplishment tonight, and yet somehow this all gets left out of the conversation amongst other programs.
DOUG BRUNO: Well, I believe that there are -- we have moved up the food chain of women's college basketball to a place and point where we are a perennial top-25 basketball team. We have not yet won a National Championship. We have not yet taken our program to a Final Four. There's still programs like UConn, and we welcome -- Coach Bruno here wants UConn in this program, in the Big East. I'm excited about it. It's going to make the league better. It's going to make what we have to do exponentially more difficult. But it's going to make the league better.

So there's your UConn program. Oregon right now is in that place. You've got South Carolina in a special place, and Baylor in a certainly place. Coach VanDerveer at Stanford has got her program in a special place. So there's five or six, seven programs that are in a place that -- it's why I still do this. I'm not just doing this to count W's. I'm doing this because Jeannie Lenti Ponsetto back there was my first captain back in the '70s, when we had nothing, when they wore tee shirts and sat in the back of a van, five to a room and all that stuff. We've watched this program go from infancy to where we are, but we still aspire to move into that level of play. And that's why I still coach.

We're proud of what we've achieved. I don't know if the nation understands what we've achieved. We here in Chicago kind of do, but across the nation doesn't really get what we've achieved here. But we're here to fight, to compete with the best of them. We haven't done that yet. You are what your record says you are, and we're a really good college basketball team that does it the right way, does it with ranked academic teams every year, but we still have another level, and that's the highest level to climb.

Q. Do you agree that women's basketball in general should be getting more attention on the national level?
DOUG BRUNO: Yeah, absolutely. When 2 to 8 percent of all sports coverage in the electronic and written media is about women, that's wrong. It's just flat-out wrong. It absolutely deserves -- I'm not saying 50/50, but come on, 2 to 8 percent? How about let's start with 25. Let's start with 30. So absolutely.

You know, when the male editors, mostly male editors want to talk about it, they say there's not any interest, we're short staffed, we don't have enough space. I've fought very hard for this, and yet -- so that's what they say. But I was here and watched the Chicago Bulls have four beat writers for four Chicago dailies with less people at their games than come to watch DePaul women's basketball.

So what comes first? I just heard Tony Kornheiser the other day talk about the XFL and he made a great statement: It won't have a chance to make it unless it gets more coverage. He was bemoaning the fact that they weren't getting much play in the newspaper, therefore they weren't going to succeed. Well, what is he telling you? He's telling you that we've been fighting uphill.

Val Ackerman over here is sitting here, former commissioner of the WNBA, fighting to answer the question. Jeannie is fighting to answer the question. But it's really about a media that doesn't really want to cover women's basketball, and I guess it's hard for women because our game is compared to the greatest players. When you watch the NBA, those guys are great players, and college men's hoops is great ball. So I get it. It's hard to juxtapose your game to that.

But at the same time, no coverage or very little coverage, I just -- I really do think that -- you asked me a question here. I've just gone on and on. Winston Churchill said, "Give me ten sentences on any man and I can have him hung." So right now this media thing is going to go -- the only thing that's going to be talked about is that question, me answering that question, and it's going to sound like I'm a big crier-whiner about women's sports coverage, and I'm answering your question, but you asked the question, I'm answering it, and that's just the God-honest facts. The rivalry I love. I'm honored to have played against Coach McGuire and know Al McGuire, played for Coach Meyer, and Al used to come out and he used to look up into the corners. If you knew Al, he'd tell you that when you got to know him. If the corners were full, he was happy. He filled the Mecca up. It was called the Mecca back then. And we had great battles and great games, so I understand what the DePaul-Marquette rivalry is about because I was able to live it through the great coaches and Coach Ray Meyer and Al McGuire.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
DOUG BRUNO: Well, you love college hoops and you love to work in college hoops, but it's really -- you've got to really focus on this team right now that's still includes Chante and Kelly. I'm excited about this play of our sophomore Sonya Morris and Lexi Held for sure. We have two really special freshmen coming in next year. I don't want to anoint any freshmen anything until they get here, but Darrione Rogers and Kendall Holmes are two of the best state-level players, but Darrione is actually a national-level player. She's really a special player.

And yet some of the people that you're not seeing right now, I think that's one of the things we're proudest of at DePaul is we do develop our players. We try to get the same people Geno does. When they say no to us, we have to develop our players, and some of the people you haven't seen play yet I guarantee you will step up and they'll make themselves names here over the next couple years, but right now we want to live in the moment with the team that we have.

Q. Third quarter you guys came out and led by 12 and didn't let up and just kind of kept the pressure on.
DOUG BRUNO: Yeah, that's all the players, and the players just did a real good job of applying the pressure and making big shots, and anything that happens within -- coaches deserve credit for what happens in practice. Players deserve credit for what happens in the games, and the players were knocking down shots. They were still defending with the strong sense of urgency. So it's just always the players. And I'm just proud of the way the players stepped up and played.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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