Doug Bruno (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

DePaul Women and Mississippi State: So Close   

STARKVILLE, Miss. - It will be a game between two teams with a combined record this season of 57-11; between two teams that are wary of the other’s weapons; between two coaches who respect what the other has done for their respective program and how they have done it; and it will be a game at the stage of the season where both teams know how to be successful.  

No. 7 seed DePaul (27-7) and No. 2 seed Mississippi State (30-4) tip off tomorrow, Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. CT at the Humphrey Coliseum for the opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16, an advancement both teams accomplished last season.    

DePaul coach Doug Bruno on Mississippi State: 

“We are now looking forward to a very talented Mississippi State team, a Mississippi State team that comes out of a great conference, the Southeastern Conference, a Mississippi State team that was one of the last undefeated teams in the country. They are really talented, top to bottom. Vic Schaefer has done a great job here. He has built one of the best programs in the country. That means not just playing ball for one year; it is playing great ball in successive years and building a great fan base in Starkville. I know we are going to have a very, very difficult challenge against a very, very talented team.”

Bruno on DePaul’s tough non-conference schedule: 

“One of the things that puts our girls in this position to play in this environment is our non-conference schedule. Our non-conference schedule was ranked 11th in the nation this year. Having been to UConn and not playing well, we were playing in a similar environment. Having played against Baylor, having played against Notre Dame, Syracuse, a very good Marquette team, and a very hostile environment in the Big East Tournament has helped prepare us. All these experiences are the reason we play the difficult schedule we play. It seems so long ago, but these girls have tasted the 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-5 that is part of what makes Mississippi State good. It is only part of it. It is not just about their size. [Victoria] Vivians and [Morgan] William are very talented guards also. They are really, really good team. It’s not just about your size.”

Bruno on balancing MSU’s offensive weapons:  

“That is what makes them a good team, they have so many offensive weapons. That is what this tournament is about. The players have to rely on what they learned from the great teams they played this year. We have had to face this kind of toughness. There are players here that we have to come up with game plans to play against. We have played against similar players this season. We have lost some, but I don’t look at that as a negative. Even though I would have rather won all those games, I’m referencing games in which we got great experience.”

DePaul senior guard Jessica January on DePaul’s success against higher seeds in those higher seeds’ arenas:  

“I don’t think there is really a secret. It is just about playing consistent and doing all the little things that you have done over the entire year. I think it is a really fun environment. We are really excited to be able to play in front of so many fans, even if they aren’t cheering for us. It is just really fun and we take advantage of the opportunity.”

DePaul senior forward Jacqui Grant on balancing aggressiveness and staying out of foul trouble:

“We have to balance being aggressive and being smart. My teammates have my back; I have their back. That is going to be a big thing. It is going to be a challenge, but I think we are up for it.”

DePaul senior guard Brooke Schulte on MSU:

“Our team got to watch some of the game yesterday. They are big. They are a phenomenal team. They have a deep bench. They are going to be quite a challenge, but we are up for it.”

Schulte on the game’s pace:

“We just play DePaulBall, go in fearless. We will have an edge and go in ready to play.”

MSU coach Vic Schaefer on why DePaul is good:

“I think DePaul is comfortable in this environment, they’re comfortable being the underdog, and they are comfortable being the No. 7 seed. But realistically speaking, even if we kept the numbers by the names, and we were playing in Chicago, I don’t think they would be the underdog. They are a really good basketball team. I think Doug [Bruno] is a tremendous basketball coach, their staff knows how to prepare kids for ball games, and [Bruno] recruits winners, kids who know how to function in this environment. Tomorrow is not going to be any different for them, and they have had success in that setting. We have got our work cut out for us.”  

Schaefer on the challenges that DePaul presents to MSU: 

“They have five players who can stretch you. They have five players averaging double-figure scoring. Sometimes you can go back in a season and maybe pick a game that may have happened a month ago and find something in there, but DePaul is now not the same team because [Jessica January] had been hurt. And [January] is a big part of what they do. The thing about DePaul from [the Northern Iowa game] yesterday that impressed me was how hard [DePaul] played defensively. I was really impressed with their defensive intensity and defensive pressure. And I think that their basketball IQ is really good, they have great chemistry, and they have a great feel for one another. We will have our hands full with every position on the floor.”     

Schaefer on DePaul’s fast pace of play:

“Everything DePaul does has my attention and respect. I think DePaul is opportunistic, and that is a real dangerous quality to have to deal with. You relax and they take advantage of you, and if you don’t run the floor they are laying it in on you. And [being opportunistic] is probably  one of the best things somebody can say about your team. They take advantage of you in every aspect of the game, offensively and defensively. DePaul is very comfortable getting up and down the floor. Their pace concerns me, but there is a lot about them that concerns me.”     


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