An interview with:
DEPAUL COACH DOUG BRUNO
THE MODERATOR: Let's welcome our
representatives from DePaul University. Our
student athletes are Allie Quigley, Missy Mitidiero,
and Caprice Smith. And the head coach for Marist,
welcome to Baton Rouge and to the NCAA
tournament, Doug Bruno.
Coach, would you like to open up and we'll
go from there?
COACH BRUNO: Somebody asked me
the other day where's Marist? In Chicago,
somebody told me that. And I said, "115th and
Pulaski." And I said -- That's where Marist High
I knew it was in New York, but I wasn't
sure where Poughkeepsie was. But I am very sure
that Marist is a great basketball team. The players
that return -- very rarely when you prepare for a
NCAA tournament can you prepare by starting with
last year's tournament games. And, yet, the
experience in which this Marist team didn't just
beat Ohio State but they really kick's Ohio State's
butt pretty good last year and they kicked Middle
Tennessee's butt pretty good last year and all
those players are back with that experience.
This is just an excellent Marist basketball
team. We are excited to be in the NCAA. We are
fired up to have the opportunity to play. But, boy,
we really understand just how good this Marist
Q. Rachele Fitz has given MAAC teams
literally fits all season long. What have you
seen on her on tape and what are your
thoughts on what you've seen?
COACH BRUNO: She is an excellent
basketball player, well-deserving of her MAAC
player of the year status. She is a classic example
of don't be deceived by the looks because she's
got those long arms. She's just got an uncanny
ability to get the ball to the basket and into the
basket and just an excellent player.
We coached a player that was a three-time
All-American a couple years ago named Khara
Smith. Khara didn't exactly look great in an airport,
but she just did it on the floor. And that's exactly
what Rachele Fitz does. She is an unbelievably
productive, inside basketball player. She is not the
only inside one they got either. Dahlman and
Smrdel are also excellent inside players.
Q. Allie, when you were a freshman,
DePaul was in its last season in Conference
USA. How much of an upgrade in the
competition level have you seen being in the
ALLIE QUIGLEY: It was definitely, like you
said, an upgrade in competition. Every single
game is you got to bring your game no matter
what. From the bottom to the top, you never know
what's going to happen in the Big East. If
anything, it made us better and I think it made all
the teams in the Big East better just to have the
better competition. So ...
Q. Coach, your team coming in here --
the great game y'all had against UConn at
home towards the end of the year where you
came up just a little bit short playing a team
like UConn, number one in the country, the
No. 1 overall seed, what have you taken from
that game that maybe has helped you build,
even though you are in the Big East conference
with them but a close call against them in that
type of game towards the end of the year?
How does your team build on that coming into
COACH BRUNO: I believe that game did
give our team confidence. I think our very tough
end-of-season conference schedule was -- we
looked at it coming down the stretch. We had six
games to play regular season, and those six
games included at No. 11 West Virginia, at
Georgetown -- and Georgetown would be in the
NIT if they had made our tournament. That's how
good Georgetown is playing right now.
At Rutgers -- Notre Dame was No. 14 at
home. At Rutgers in the game in which Coach
Stringer was playing for Number 800; UConn at
home; and at Seton Hall. And we approached the
team and said we can look at this as a death
march or an opportunity march. There aren't going
to be six games in the NCAA tournament that are
going to be a lot tougher than that.
So I think the West Virginia win at West
Virginia kicked it off, and I think all six of those
games have given us confidence. One of the big
criteria about the NCAA which you see people
write -- and I think the committee says they look
at -- is how you finish at the end of the year.
If you look at our record at the end of the
year, we didn't finish with a glowing record from a
numbers point of view. But just to the point of your
question, I think we did play our best ball down the
stretch of the season and the beast that is the Big
East didn't let that exactly be a great record. But I
think the confidence gained by the UConn game in
that stretch should have us prepared.
Then we went to the Big East tournament
and had to play a very good Marquette team and
beat them to get into the tournament and another
UConn again a week later. So you talk about
those eight games, and I just really think they
should have us prepared. Every game has a life of
its own, however. Just because we did that,
played that, Marist is -- the Marist game is going to
have its own life here tomorrow night.
Q. Coach, there seems to be certainly
more parity in the men's game, the men's
tournament, than the women's tournament. Do
you think for the women's game to grow, as I'm
sure people like you who have been it in a long
time would like to see in grow in terms of
popularity, you have to get away from it being
Tennessee or UConn all the time? Or maybe
those people get more attention than they
should? What are your thoughts on that?
COACH BRUNO: I believe we are
reaching parity; and at the same time, this season,
you know, it really didn't -- UConn just did have a
great year and that's after losing two players.
But I think the game is reaching -- is
becoming a much more equal game. It is -- there
are more players and all the players can't go to just
a couple schools. The game itself is improving
from top to bottom. So I just really do think that
they're -- the parity is coming into the game, and I
think it will continue to just get better as the game
continues to grow. As the young women start
playing, it grows exponentially every single year.
I can't deny the fact that there is a couple
dominant teams here this year, but at the same
time I think everybody -- look at this opponent of
ours, this Marist team. I mean, it is just an
unbelievably great job they're doing at Marist.
They're just an example of a team that's put
themselves in the top 16 just one year ago. These
three players here went to the Sweet 16 two years
ago; and, you know, I think that speaks to the
parity right there.
Q. Caprice, Coach kidded a little bit
about not knowing where Marist is. When you
do play in a major conference like that and your
opponent here in the tournament is one school
that you don't know much about, how long
does it take you to familiarize -- put it the other
way, do you forget about all that once you get
into the preparation and so forth for the team
and respect what they're doing out on the court
and what they can do?
CAPRICE SMITH: The first thing that
popped into my head when I heard we were
playing Marist was watching the game they play
last year in the NCAA tournament. They were a
Cinderella team. I think they took their momentum
from last season and stepped it up this year and
went on a great 22-game winning streak.
So we can't take for granted anybody's
conference. We just know that they're a great
basketball team and they're ranked and we're not.
We just got to go into the game with a chip on our
shoulder because we're the lower seed.
COACH BRUNO: If they can dominate
Jessica Davenport the way -- Marist dominated
Jessica Davenport a year ago. That's a State
Farm All-American -- still getting used to Kodak not
being here -- a State Farm All-American top ten
player in the country and Marist dominated her. It
wasn't a lucky game plan. They dominated her.
Q. Coach, do you allow your team to
visualize or talk about making it to the Final
Four or is this something you try to stay away
from? Having that dream of making that run
that everybody wants to make?
COACH BRUNO: You can't achieve what
you don't see. But once you get here, it's a
one-in-a-row, six-time tournament. You can't get
there without the focus of one in a row. I mean,
there's no way we can be sitting -- we have not
even looked at, none of us, no coach, has even
looked at an LSU tape.
Again, please forgive me, Denise Taylor,
Jackson State, all right? I don't want to assume
But, again, none of us have even looked at
one tape. That's how important the one-in-a-row
factor is here in this tournament. All's we've looked
at is this great team. Marist is a great -- it is a
quintessential basketball team. They play
basketball the way basketball is supposed to be
played; the way they share, the way they -- they
just make the extra pass; the way they have
And the other aspect of Marist is they
don't -- when you don't have a player as dominant
as Sylvia Fowles or Candace Parker, at first
glance -- or Maya Moore or some of the great
players in our league, at first glance, they might
appear not to look at that level. But when you
study and continue to study, this is an excellent
basketball team and they're just -- they just play so
I want to thank everybody, thank the
committee members who are here, for all the hard
work you do to put this tournament together and
just thank the media for covering women's
basketball. The question about parity and getting
more people -- getting the game covered is great.
Ted, it is great to see you again even
though we don't come down here to play Tulane
every year. It is still nice to see you down here.
DePaul Team Meets the Media Before NCAA Game
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