2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship First Round · No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 DePaul Cameron Indoor Stadium · Durham, N.C. Friday, March 21
First Round Quotes – DePaul
DePaul Head Coach Doug Bruno Opening Statement: "We are really excited to be competing in the NCAA tournament. We look at Oklahoma as a 10th-ranked team in the country as they were earlier in the year and not as a 10-seed; they’re a very good basketball team. I’m very proud of what our players have achieved to get to this point, and yet we still have a lot to prove as a group."
On the Big East and whether it’s struggling for respect: We love the conference that we’re in and it’s a really, really strong conference top to bottom. The rest of the country hasn’t had to compete against UConn either, and the ACC found out this year what it’s like to compete against Notre Dame … It’s the way the world is working in collegiate athletics- our only choice is to move forward and be the best that we can be."
On their momentum going into the tournament: "I think that our group has done a good job this year. We got off to a slow start, 4-3, and I thought we were really playing poorly … we won 6 in a row, we won the Duel in the Desert, we beat a talented Washington team that beat Stanford… then the league started and we came out 2-2, so we took five steps forward and a couple steps back. We got on another little bit of a roll and then we regressed a little bit in mid-February and then we finished strong, so I think as a team that we’re really similar to Oklahoma in the sense that when we’re good, we’re really good, but we can also be really average if we’re not playing well."
On the Big East’s identity of Catholic basketball schools: "I think it makes more sense because football’s football, and not football’s not football. That makes more sense- the religious thing being what it may, Butler’s still not a Catholic school. So it’s really about football. I guess football is a religion so I guess it is a religious thing."
On the three-point shooters among the four teams: "I think it’s not only that we have three-point shooters, it’s that we have coaches that understand why the three-point shot works- that is to spread the floor and utilize players who can get to the basket and people that play at the basket. So I think the three-point shot is going to be very important but I think it’s also going to be very important because it demonstrates the rest of the balance of each team. I think that’s really where it’s going to have its best, most positive effect."
On style changes from last year to this year: "We’re playing the style that I love to coach; I’ve been coaching 41 years and decided to try to play this way. I think it’s the way women’s’ basketball needs to be played to be watched. We started this way back a number of years ago, we’ve been pretty injured the last five or six years. It’s really tough to play the way we play with seven players, you really need nine or ten players to be able to play the way that we do play, and this year we’ve been for the most part healthy, and that’s just something we haven’t had the last couple of years. It feels a lot better this year to play the style of basketball that I love to coach and the style that I feel is the trademark of DePaul basketball."
DePaul Guard Brittany Hrynko On playing in a familiar arena: "I feel the same way as Jasmine [Penny]. Just like she said we still need to get used to the floor. We still have freshmen that are on the team that have to get used to the floor as well."
On preparing for upcoming games: "Just taking it one game at a time. We’ve been doing that all season, so just us being in the tournament and taking it one game at a time will help us get to the next level."
On difference in conference and strength of Big East: "It’s just a tough conference for us without UConn and Notre Dame. It’s still tough for us… just take it one game at a time and that’s what we’ve been doing."
On refocusing on the next level: "Last year we didn’t defend or rebound so this year just come in to this game ready to defend and make sure we play smart and intelligent with each other."
On what DePaul does when playing their best: "Playing smart and intelligent … just making sure we get our teammates involved, just staying together and playing together."
DePaul Forward Jasmine Penny On playing in a familiar arena: "I guess since we have experience from playing here last year that will help us out, but we still need to get shots up and get used to the floor."
On preparing for upcoming games: "I agree. Coach has really been on us all year about focusing on the task at hand so I think just preparing for Oklahoma and being ready for this game is very key."
On difference in conference and strength of Big East: "Even with the two teams gone, I still feel like it’s still a strong conference. We’ve had tough games night in and night out in the Big East so every game we need to go out and compete as hard as we can against any team because any team can win on any given night."
On refocusing on the next level: "We’ve really been focusing on being a better defensive team, as well as rebounding and playing with the smarts that our guards do have. Also just getting off to a quick and efficient start which is something we didn’t do last year, which will be very helpful for us this year."
On what DePaul does when playing their best: "Our coach really works on us running in practice, running in between half court drills … so I think just getting out there running and playing smart, guards getting passes down low, shooting on the outside."
First Round Quotes – Oklahoma State
Oklahoma Head Coach Sherri Coale Opening Statement: “Well we are thrilled to be here. Anytime that bracket is introduced and your name is on it, you have to understand that it is an honor and a privilege to be invited to the NCAA National Tournament. We are super excited to be here. I can tell you already we have not been here 24 hours and Duke is very prepared. It’s been one of the most organized, hospitable first rounds we’ve ever been to. So hats off to Duke University and the job they’ve done in preparation for this event. We can’t wait to play.”
On how they are approaching the tournament: “Well I’ve always believed that optimism is always an intelligent decision. We’ve had games this season where we’ve played extremely well, we’ve had halves where we play extremely well; consistency has been an issue for us. We all felt that as the season’s gone along that if we can just string together…sometimes it’s minutes, sometimes it’s halves, sometimes it’s games, but if we can just string some good stuff together, then there’s no telling what could happen. We were never able, during the course of Big 12 play, to get momentum, and I think that’s so huge in major college basketball. We were never able to establish it, for whatever reason; crazy schedule glitches, obviously we have some fantastic teams in our league, we lost some games in overtime, there were just all kinds of little things that when you add them up together we were unable to get momentum. I think this break has been really good and that we could shake off some of those shackles and get back to those things we know we can do, those things we know we’re good at. I think the approach is wholesale. To specifically answer your question I think it’s definitely from the coaching staff and I think it’s owned by the players as well. I think it’s the right approach because they’ve chosen to own it.”
On matchup against DePaul: "They’re really good. There were three things that I knew before the bracket came up and we got DePaul and watched film on them. Number one, they will understand how to play. Doug Bruno is a teacher, he is a teacher first, and his teams always understand how to play. Their offensive spacing is exquisite, their movement off penetration … you can tell they know exactly where to go and what to do. Secondly I knew that they would have a great skill set. They always have guys who can dribble, pass, catch and shoot. It sounds ridiculous, but there are a lot of really talented teams in this tournament that can’t do that; these guys can do that. They can all dribble, pass, catch and shoot. The third thing I knew about the Doug Bruno team is that they would play hard, and they do play very hard for an entire 40 minutes. So when I watched the film I wasn’t surprised and yet at the same time I was a little bit annoyed because, man, they’re good, they’re really good. They know who they are, they play towards their strengths, they play together and they’re just a really talented team."
On intensity of calls being made or not made during the tournament: “You know, that’s a great question. I think all of us as coaches are anticipating what it’s going to be like because of the big philosophical shift this year in officiating as we’ve really tried and I think officials by and large have done a good job of trying to allow movement to call fouls when movement is impeded. More on the perimeter probably than they have on the post but I think they get that and they’ll come along in that regard too. But I think there is a feeling that every year when you move into the NCAA Tournament, now anything goes. I think the message that the coaches send the officials in the offseason was that we don’t want that to happen anymore. We want basketball to be basketball. In order for it to be solid basketball, they have to have the freedom to move and it will be interesting to see if that focus continues and I believe that it will. In every official that we’ve had all year, in the comments before the game, they’re really, really cognizant of trying to clean the game up and make it a more free flowing game, a prettier game, a more aesthetic game for fans. I expect that they will continue to be diligent about that in the NCAA Tournament.”
Oklahoma Guard Morgan Hook On having a 14 day break before the tournament: “I think we’re all just really eager to get back out on the court. We have taken this as a different season, and a new approach. It’s just one of those times you are ready to get back out on the court again.”
On what to expect from the tournament in comparison to the rest of the season: “Yeah like she [Aaryn Ellenberg] said, it’s a clean slate. The year hasn’t gone how we’ve wanted it to go, and now it’s just that new shot, and a completely clean slate.”
Oklahoma Guard Aaryn Ellenberg On having a 14 day break before the tournament: “I mean, it is a break from Big 12 and getting beat up a lot. So, I mean just to get back to focusing on us and what we do best has been really good for us so far.”
On what to expect from the tournament in comparison to the rest of the season: “I think right now it is really just a clean slate, and whatever happened in the past, happened. We’re looking to turn around everything in the past and really take a step forward to bring these younger guys along. A lot of us have experience being here, so for them it’s just about that whole molding experience, and getting them prepared for that.”