Doug Bruno will coach Olympics

By Nader Ihmoud

Blue Demons fans cheered while they could. Doug Bruno, DePaul University’s women’s basketball head coach, was named one of three assistant coaches of the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team Jan. 21.

Bruno was made aware of his position in front of a sold–out crowd at McGrath-Phillips Arena, 2323 N. Sheffield Ave., before his team tipped-off against the third-ranked University of Connecticut Huskies.

“It means a ton,” Bruno said. “I’m honored by [the] USA basketball selection committee [and] Geno [Auriemma, head coach of the Huskies and the USWNBT] having trust and wanting me on the staff.”

Auriemma said choosing Bruno was one of the first things he did after getting the job.

“[Bruno is] a real smart guy,” he said. “He knows a lot about the game that helps me and helps our players.”

This is not Bruno’s first stint at being an assistant coach of a national team. He helped Auriemma lead the 2010 U.S. National Team to the International Basketball Federation World Championships.

Bruno has worked with players on all levels, from completing a two–year term as president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in 2007 to coaching his girls’ basketball camp, which allows all ages of players to work on their fundamental skills. He also serves as a consultant to the WNBA’s newest team, the Chicago Sky.

Bruno said he will be excited and juiced up once training camp for the USWNBT starts, but coaches are trained to stay in the moment. He said he is focused on the rest of DePaul’s season and getting his team back into the NCAA tournament.

On the night Bruno was given the honor, his team lost to the Huskies, 88-44.

“It’s a little bit of a paradox that you’re named to join the staff of the person who you have to coach against that night,” Bruno said. “There’s only one thing worse than beating your friend, [and] it’s losing to your friend.”

The loss ended a 28-game winning streak at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Demons benched four players because of injury, including star forward Keisha Hampton.

“We got to get this team right,” Bruno said. “There’s no excuse as a team about injuries. We got to get through this stretch.”

With Hampton out, guard Anna Martin became the Demons’ go–to player on offense, but the Huskies defense honed in and held her scoreless for the second time in her career. The Huskies previously shut Martin out during her freshman season.

The Demons played a better game Jan. 24 against the 12th-ranked Rutgers University Scarlet Knights but fell short in the closing seconds, losing 65-64 on the road. Bruno believes the Jan. 28 game against the Seton Hall Pirates will be a “make or break” match after losing to both the Huskies and the Knights.

“We got to get ourselves to 22-23 wins and still crawl our way into the NCAA tournament,” Bruno said. As of press time, DePaul has dropped three in row and its ranking dropped from 20th to 23rd in the nation.

The 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament begins June 21.