Doug Bruno To Lead 2006 USA Women's U-18 Team

Colorado Springs, Colorado: DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno has been selected to lead USA Basketball's 2006 Women's FIBA Americas U18 Championship Team and will be assisted by Northern Illinois University's Carol Owens and the University of Hartford's Jennifer Rizzotti. The coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee, which is chaired by Sue Donohue, the NCAA's vice president of Division I women's basketball.

"It's an honor to be coaching for USA Basketball," Bruno said. "I'm looking forward to coaching the talented athletes that we should see in Colorado Springs and to working with two great young coaches in Carol Owens and Jennifer Rizzotti."

USA Basketball has been named host for the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Women that will be held at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., from June 28-July 2. The top four finishing teams will earn qualifying berths for the 2007 FIBA Women's U19 World Championship. The trio will coach the nation's elite 18-and-unders (born on or after Jan. 1, 1988) in hopes of wining a gold medal and qualifying the U.S. for the 2007 FIBA U19 Worlds.

The U.S. squad has been placed in preliminary Group A, along with Brazil, Dominican Republic and Paraguay; while Group B consists of Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Preliminary round play for the United States gets underway on June 28 with the U.S. facing Paraguay at 6:15 p.m. (all times MDT), and June 29 action will see a 6:15 p.m. clash between the USA and the Dominican Republic. The final day of preliminary action is June 30 as the USA faces rival Brazil, a 6:15 p.m. start.

The top two finishing teams from each group will advance to the July 1 medal semifinals, while the bottom two finishing teams will play in the classification semis earlier that day. The finals will begin on July 2 with the 7th/8th place game, followed by the 5th/6th place contest. The bronze medal game will tip-off at 4:00 p.m., and the champion will be crowned at the conclusion of the 6:15 p.m. gold medal game.

Doug Bruno

This selection marks Bruno's first as a USA Basketball coach. After 20 seasons (1976-77 through 1977-78 and 1988-89 to present) as head coach at DePaul and two (1978-79 through 1979-80) in the Women's Basketball League (WBL), Bruno has compiled an overall career record of 415-247 (.627 winning percentage) and 375-217 (.633 winning percentage) coaching collegiate squads. He finished the 2005-06 season at 27-7, falling in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal to Louisiana State University.

Following the 2004-05 conference championship, Bruno was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year. He was also selected as Conference USA's Coach of the Decade by a vote of the league's 14 head coaches. In 2004 and 2005, he was named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 4 Coach of the Year, placing him among seven others on the national coach of the year ballot. Bruno has been honored as the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's Coach of the Year on seven occasions (1991, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005).

An advocate for women's basketball, Bruno was selected by his peers at the 2005 Final Four to serve as the 19th president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Bruno is just the second male coach in the WBCA's history to lead the organization following Jim Foster in 1993. Prior to his role as president, he was the Male Coaches of Women's Basketball representative on the board of directors.

In the past four years, Bruno has led DePaul to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. After posting a 15-14 record in 2001-02, he led one of the top turnarounds in the program's history with a 22-10 record in 2002-03 and made the school's first NCAA appearance since 1997. After advancing to the 2004 and 2005 NCAA second round, he piloted the Blue Demons to the 2006 Sweet Sixteen. In all, Bruno has led the DePaul women to 15 postseason appearances in the past 18 years.

Prior to returning to DePaul in 1988, Bruno spent eight seasons as the associate men's head coach at Loyola of Chicago under Gene Sullivan. During his stay, the Ramblers won 138 games and posted 17 or more wins in four campaigns, including a pair of 20-win seasons.

Bruno also spent two seasons as the head coach and director of player personnel for the Chicago Hustle of the WBL. His first team won the 1979 Midwest Division and led the WBL in 11 offensive categories as well as attendance.

Carol Owens

Owens has compiled a career record of 12-17 (.414 winning percentage) after her first season as a head coach at Northern Illinois.

She co-captained the North squad that captured the silver medal at the 1986 U. S. Olympic Sports Festival and was a 1989 USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials participant. She played professionally for three seasons in Japan, Spain, and Italy from 1990 to 1993.

"It's an awesome feeling," Owens said. "I've grown up as a player and now as a coach having a lot of pride in my country. I've played overseas professionally and have always had a great appreciation for the U.S. and, in particular, USA Basketball."

Northern Illinois finished the 2005-06 regular season at 11-16 and 7-9 for league play, both of which were improvements over last year's 7-21 and 4-12 records. She then advanced the Huskies to the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals, collecting the program's first MAC Tourney win since 2002 along the way.

Prior to arriving at NIU, Owens spent 10 seasons (1995-96 through 2004-05) as an assistant at the University of Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame as an assistant under Muffet McGraw, Owens coached five players who went on to gain USA Basketball experience, including 2004 Olympic gold medalist Ruth Riley and USA Basketball Team Trials participants Jacqueline Batteast (2002 and 2003), Teresa Borton (2002), Megan Duffy (2005) and Courtney LaVere (2003).

Owens helped Notre Dame reach 10 NCAA tournaments, six Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and the program's first national championship in 2001. During her tenure, Notre Dame compiled a record of 252-75 (.771 winning percentage). In 2001, Women's Basketball Journal named Owens as one of the top five assistant coaches in the country.

As a player at Northern Illinois, Owens was a member of the team that gained the school's first NCAA Tournament berth in 1990. As the first male or female in school history to reach the 2,000 career point / 1,000 career rebound mark, Owens was the MVP on a team that won the North Star Conference regular season championship and advanced to the second round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament.

Owens was a two-time Kodak District Four All-America (1989 and 1990), a United States Basketball Writers Association District Four All-America (1990), the North Star Player of the Year (1990), a three-year All-NSC first-team pick (1988-90) and a three-time Huskie captain.

She graduated with 13 school records, including career points (2,102), career field goals (818), career field-goal percentage (.537), career free throws (466), career free throw attempts (662), career blocked shots (244), single-season free throw attempts (222), single-season steals (86), single-game points (41), single-game field goals (16), single-game field-goal percentage (.917), single-game steals (11) and single-game blocked shots (7).

Owens has been enshrined into the Northern Illinois University Athletics Hall Of Fame (1995) and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall Of Fame (2001).

Jennifer Rizzotti

Rizzotti has compiled a career record of 119-89 (.572 winning percentage) in seven seasons (1999-00 to present) as the women's basketball head coach of the Hawks.

While Rizzotti is a first-time USA Basketball coach, she was a gold medalist with the 1996 USA R. William Jones Cup team and a 1995 USA Women's National Team Trials participant.

"I think it's just a great opportunity," Rizzotti said. "I had the chance to play for USA Basketball when I was in college, and I know how tremendous an experience it can be to play at that level while representing your country. Now I'm excited about helping younger players have that same experience."

This past season Rizzotti and her Hawks captured their second consecutive America East Conference championship and advanced into the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Georgia, finishing the season at 27-4.

In the 2004-05 season, Rizzotti won her second America East title and made her second NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. In that same season she led the Hawks to a school record 22 wins and captured the team's 13th conference title for another school record.

Rizzotti was appointed Hartford's head coach just 12 days after defeating the New York Liberty for the WNBA championship as a member of the Houston Comets. At the time of her appointment, she was the youngest Division I women's basketball coach in the country.

Rizzotti played eight seasons of professional basketball after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1996. In addition to five seasons in the WNBA, two with the Houston Comets and three with the Cleveland Rockers, she spent three seasons with the New England Blizzard in the American Basketball League (ABL). She was a two-time ABL All-Star.

As a point guard at the University of Connecticut Rizzotti was the 1996 Associated Press National Player of the Year and the ‘96 Wade Trophy winner as college basketball's outstanding senior player. She was also a two-time Kodak All-American first team selection, a GTE/CoSIDA Women's Basketball Academic All-American, the Big East Player of the Year and the Big East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. During the Huskies' run to the national championship in 1995, Rizzotti was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The 1993 Big East Rookie of the Year, Rizzotti started in every game UConn played while she was a Husky, 135 total. She graduated with a record of 117-18 (.867 winning percentage) as an athlete. Rizzotti helped her team win the Big East Tournament in 1994, 1995 and 1996. In addition to the school's 1995 national championship, Rizzotti reached the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 1993, the Elite Eight in 1994 and the Final Four in 1996.

In September 2003, Rizzotti was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

This past summer she joined an initiative by The Hartford insurance company called Playbook for Life. The program travels throughout the country to educate student-athletes on how to prepare for their financial future outside of athletics.

2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship

The 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature teams from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Puerto Rico. Only athletes born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, are eligible.

Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament has been held every four years since 1988. FIBA recently changed its calendar, and the event will now be conducted every other year. Some of the top players who have represented the United States in the past U18 tournaments include Alana Beard (2000); Tamika Catchings (1996); Marissa Coleman (2004); Stacey Ford (1998); Sonja Henning (1988); Niesa Johnson (1992); Rebecca Lobo (1992); Candace Parker (2004); Courtney Paris (2004); Cappie Pondexter (2000); Nicole Powell (2000); Lynn Pride (1996); Diana Taurasi (2000); Candice Wiggins (2004), and Tiffany Woosley (1992).

USA women's teams boast of a remarkable 24-2 overall record at this event and have won gold in 1988, 2000 and 2004, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.

USA Basketball will conduct trials for the USA U18 Women's Team June 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, with approximately 30 U.S. hopefuls participating. Finalists for the eventual 12-member team will remain in Colorado Springs until the official squad is named prior to the start of the tournament.

Selection of the USA U18 Team will be made by the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee.

2006 Women's FIBA Americas U18 Championship Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Doug Bruno, DePaul University (Ill.)

Assistant Coach: Carol Owens, Northern Illinois University

Assistant Coach: Jennifer Rizzotti, University of Hartford (Conn.)

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