Former DePaul WBB Greats Now Ride the Pine

CHICAGO - Doug Bruno has won 587 games and has coached approximately 377 players, including 16 All-America selections, during his 29 years as the women’s head basketball coach at DePaul. The vocations of these players, as expected, varies, but it should not be surprising that some have chosen his vocation.

Jenna Rubino McCormick, Caprice Smith, Missy Mitidiero, Samantha Quigley, and Katherine Harry, among others, have made that career choice. This group knows at a high level of what they coach, with each having had a superlative career at DePaul.

Bruno believes that three characteristics about this group made them great players: “They were passionate about people, passionate about the game of basketball, and they were ultracompetitive.”

This quintet was responsible for 5,421 points, 2,717 rebounds, and 1,259 assists at DePaul. They have a combined record of 232-96, went to the NCAA Tournament each year at DePaul, and are responsible for two of the program’s three visits to the Sweet 16. Each was a member of the Big East All-Academic team.

Jenna Rubino McCormick (played at DePaul from 2003-06). She scored 1,314 points at DePaul. She is No. 9 at DePaul with 175 career 3-pointers. She is tied for No. 3 at DePaul for 3-pointers made in an NCAA Tournament game with five. Rubino-McCormick was selected by the Chicago Sky in the third round of the 2007 WNBA draft. She currently works as an assistant girl’s basketball coach at her high school alma mater, Lincoln-Way East. The Griffins reached the Class 4A regional finals this past year, losing to eventual state runner-up, Homewood-Flossmoor.

Caprice Smith (2004-07). Smith scored 1,199 points at DePaul. She is No. 9 at the school in career rebounds with 712. Smith is currently in her sixth year as an assistant girl’s basketball coach at Montini High School . She specializes in the development of the Broncos’ post players. Montini has garnered four Class 3A state titles and two third place finishes in the past six years. Montini has produced 14 girls who played Division I basketball.

Missy Mitidiero (2005-08). She is No. 9 at DePaul for career 3-point percentage at 36.0%. She is tied for fourth all-time for 3-pointers made in a game with seven. Mitidiero was the head coach for girl’s basketball at Plainfield East High School for three years. She is currently the head coach for the Lyons Township High School freshman girl’s basketball “A” team and the assistant coach for the “B” team. The “A” team finished this past year 23-1 , and the “B” team finished 22-5. She also coaches lacrosse there at the freshman and sophomore levels.

Samantha Quigley (2006-10). Scored 1,273 points at DePaul. She is No. 3 all-time in assists with 484 and No. 5 all-time in career 3-pointers made with 187. She was selected an honorable mention All-America by the WBCA in 2010. Quigley just completed her third year as head women’s basketball coach at the University of St. Francis. She was recently named an assistant coach to the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team.

Katherine Harry (2009-12). Scored 1,100 points at DePaul. She is No. 4 in career blocks with 143, No. 6 in single season blocks with 61, and No. 3 in career boards with 1,158. She holds the McGrath-Phillips Arena single-game rebounding record with 20. She is the only player in DePaul women’s basketball history to have more than 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 150 blocked shots. Harry assisted this past year at her alma mater, Rock Bridge High School in Missouri, with the varsity and junior varsity girl’s basketball teams. The Bruins won their fourth straight Class 5A state title this past year, and their fifth state title in the past eight years. Harry recently accepted the position of video coordinator with the DePaul women’s basketball program.

The group recently answered questions about their respective coaching experiences.

Scout: What did you take away from playing under Coach Bruno that has influenced how you run your current programs?

Rubino McCormick: Most of what I do has been taken away from coach Bruno in some capacity. The main takeaway has been my attention to detail in teaching the fundamentals.

Smith: Working hard and educating yourself about basketball. Every time I went in to [Bruno’s] office he would be watching film or reading. Basketball is always evolving and changing, and if you don’t continue to learn [about the game], you can’t expect to become a better coach or remain successful for an extended period of time.

Mitidiero: I found myself mimicking sayings and phrases Coach Bruno said to us at DePaul. Playing for him allows you to feel more prepared, confident, and equipped with all of the skills to run a program. He teaches so much about the game, and life through the game, that you do not realize you are even being taught until you coach your own team and find yourself being another version of him.

Quigley: Many of the things we learned and did at DePaul, I now do with my current program. Every year I feel I am “stealing” or “using” other coaches’ tactics and molding them into our own unique program at St. Francis.

Harry: I took away [Bruno’s] passion and enthusiasm for the game. I also took away his demand for perfection. I want to make sure that the players know how [to properly perform a drill] and know that they are doing it correctly before moving on. I will not let a player walk away from a drill after not completing it correctly or not doing what the coaches ask the player to do.

Scout: Do you find it is harder to coach or to have played, and why?

Rubino McCormick: I find it more challenging to coach because there are so many different variables to consider. When I was playing, I merely reacted on my own talent, preparation, and instinct. As a coach, I need to make decisions that will put all of my players in a position to be successful.

Smith: Coaching is harder for me than playing ever was. As a player all of the preparation for games and versus certain opponents was done for you, so all you had to do was remember the game plan and go out and play. As a coach, there is so much work that you have to do to not only prepare for a team, but do it in a way to make it easy for your [team] so that they will be successful in executing the plan.

Mitidiero: I find it much more difficult to coach that it is to play. While playing, you struggle through points of the season, when your body is wearing on you, and when the coach is paying too much attention to you on the sprints in practice, but nothing beats being on the court competing with and against some of the top athletes in the nation. Coaching means you need to find ways to motivate different athletes, to find ways to ignite competitiveness, to resolve different parent/coaching styles, and most of all, being able to help solve problems on the court, as their teammate/leader, in times of need or struggle.

Quigley: It is harder to coach. The game is not in your control as much. However, it is fun to teach and to get your players to understand concepts that you have learned.

Harry: It is harder to coach than to have played. As a coach, you have to be thinking about game strategies, substitutions, and calling plays. It is also hard because you cannot go out on the court and do it for the players; you have to teach them .

Scout: Coach Bruno was quoted this past off-season as saying that the job of women basketball coaches is to make great future female leaders. How are you working towards that goal with your own players?

Rubino McCormick: I communicate with my players that basketball is a game, but it is preparing them for life skills to be successful in any environment. Coach Bruno used to discuss navigating around challenges to be successful rather than using adversity as an excuse to give up.

Smith: By making [my players] aware and accountable, and teaching them that for every action there is a reaction and, whether it is on the court or off the court, that there are penalties for bad decisions and rewards for good decisions. When you start seeing kids holding themselves accountable for their actions, you know that you have gotten through to them. When they take it one step further and start holding each other accountable, those are the ones that tend to be great leaders on and off the court.

Mitidiero: Coach Bruno lives by this model. With my players, it is important for me that they see me as a positive example and leader in my department, around the school community, and throughout the year in basketball.

Quigley: I am preparing them for the real world and helping them relate the game of basketball to everyday life. Also, understanding how important their education is to their overall future. They are students first, then athletes, and we urge our players to compete as hard as they can [in both areas].

Harry: For me in an assistant’s role, I want to instill a lot of confidence in the players. I had a few conversations with [Rock Bridge] players this past season and they were talking about wanting to play basketball at the collegiate level. I asked them how a college coach could believe in their abilities as a ball player if you don’t believe in your own abilities as a player?

Scout: To follow up on the prior question, what are some of the things you hope your players take away from having been coached by you, not just basketball-wise, but human being-wise as well?

Rubino McCormick: I hope they take away my inner desire to compete at a high level every day in order to reach my potential. I also hope they see how passionate I am about helping others achieve their goals.

Smith: As a young female coach, I have noticed that the girls respond better to me because they feel like they can relate to me because I have been in their shoes, so I try to be a good role model for them. I want them to take away from me, aside from being prepared, confident, respectful, and hardworking, to be there for people because you never know how much of an impact you can make on someone and their life just by being an ear to listen to or a shoulder to lean on.

Mitidiero: I hope they live with passion, a positive outlook, and a demeanor in all they do. I hope they accept responsibility and ownership in their journey through life.

Quigley: The No. 1 thing I want them to take away is the ability to enjoy what you are doing with your life while being successful at the same time.

Harry: I want them, first, to be good people. I want them to be respectful, helpful, and thoughtful. Getting a proper education is important. I also want them to always follow their dreams and set goals for themselves, and to never let somebody tell them that they cannot do something.

Scout: With all of you having been great players at DePaul, do you think that makes it harder or easier to coach players of different skill levels?

Rubino McCormick: It is difficult because the skill level is so different. However, it is an opportunity to improve those skill levels. It is beyond satisfying to witness the growth they achieve as a result of the effort they put in.

Smith: I think it makes it easier because the kids trust that you might actually know what you are talking about a little more. So if you have their trust, they are more willing to take what you say to heart instead of it going in one ear and out the other.

Mitidiero: I enjoy coaching all the different levels and abilities of athletes, which is one of the reasons I love working camps. To see raw talent as it progresses through work keeps my passion for coaching alive. The hardest part for me, in coaching any sport, is not the difference in skill level, it is the drive- or lack of it- to compete. With my teammates at DePaul, I felt that being competitive was something we did not have to think about; there was no question that we were going to compete.

Quigley: It is not easier. As a coach, you want to connect with every player and want them to understand your expectations, regardless of their skill set.

Harry: I enjoy coaching players of different skill levels. It is a challenge to manage coaching the different ability levels, but there is a feeling of accomplishment. One of the most satisfying moments in coaching for me is when you are teaching a drill and they struggle with it, but finally one day [they get it] and you can see the excitement on their faces.

Scout: What one word best describes your coaching experience to date?

Rubino McCormick: Rewarding.

Smith: Amazing.

Mitidiero: Passionate.

Quigley: Fun.

Harry: Eye-opening.


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