Doug Bruno Writes from Colorado Springs

DePaul women's basketball coach Doug Bruno is currently in Colorado Springs, Colo. as head coach of the USA Basketball Women's U18 team in preparation for the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women. The United States is host of the tournament that starts on June 28 in Colorado Springs. Pool play runs June 28-30 followed by the Medal Rounds, July 1-2.

The United States is in Group A with Brazil, Dominican Republic and Paraguay while Group B consists of Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. The top three teams in the tournament qualify for the 2007 FIBA U19 Women's World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia. When he has a few minutes, Coach Bruno will check in here with his thoughts and experiences.

Friday, June 23

When the phone rang last April and I was asked by USA Basketball's Assistant Director, Carol Callan, if I would coach the USA Basketball 18-year-old team in this year's competition of the America's here in Colorado Springs and next year's World Championship in Slovakia, I was told to take a couple of days and "think about it." My response to Carol was that I have just taken a couple of seconds to think about it and that is all I would need. Any time a coach is asked to coach for the USA National Program, I believe it is a no brainer. To represent the United States in Athletic Competition against the "World" is a total honor.

After accepting, USA Basketball appoints my assistant coaching staff. My assistants are Carol Owens from Northern Illinois and Jen Rizzotti from the University of Hartford. I could not have picked two better coaches to work with if I had been given the opportunity to hand pick my own assistant coaches. They both are doing a great job and it has been a pleasure working and learning with both of them.

We all arrived in Colorado Springs last Thursday. Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the Team Trials. These Trials are a tryout for thirty-plus young and elite athletes invited to try out here in Colorado Springs. Carol, Jen and I ran the trials on the floor but we do not get to select our team. The Team is selected by a committee appointed by USA Basketball. The committee asked our input on one occassion following the last tryout session on Sunday evening, but the committe picked the team. Last Monday morning we were told which athletes made the team about fifteen minutes before the athletes themselves were notified.

Our first practice was last Monday morning with our first "scrimmage" vs. Brazil set for last Wednesday. We had two days to get ready for a competition. As talented as our team is, it is amazing to realize how much that these young athletes still have to learn about the game. We are approaching this teaching process as a "getting you ready for college" program. If Tina Charles thinks I am demanding because I don't allow her to take short cuts, wait until she joins UConn's Geno Auriema this fall.

Wednesday evening we did defeat Brazil by about 25 points, but should have won by fifty. Last evening we defeated Argentina by about 55 points and were much better as a team. Tonight we play Canada at the Fort Carson Army Base in front of 3,000 GI's many of whom are getting ready to deploy to Iraq. Our 18-year-olds must compete in hoops; the young Army men and women must compete in war! Tonight's game vs. Canada at Fort Carson will be dedicated to Maggie Dixon with a moment of silence for Maggie prior to both countries anthems.

Canada is supposed to be very good (no scouting allowed) so tonight we should find out just how good a team we have. All of these games this week are exhibitions. The Tournament of The Americas starts "for real" next Wednesday, June 28th with Pool Play and July 1st and 2nd with Medal Play. We are here to teach our team how to "WORK TO EARN GOLD."

More to come!!

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