Doug Bruno Writes from Colorado Springs 6/26

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.

June 26, 2006

After beating Puerto Rico by 70-plus our talented 18-year-olds came out to practice Sunday morning not really believing that they needed to get better. Instead of a quick, snappy practice, we had to pound and pound just to get the team to understand that this process is not just about winning, but about getting better as individuals and getting better as a team......every day!!!!

One player had to be thrown out of practice. After a couple of hours of the team's will to "not practice" vs. the coach's will that "you will practice" our separate peace was made and we got our 2 1/2 hour practice done in 4 hours. I guess Rick Majerus ran 4-hour practices all of the time when he coached USA Basketball so a single 4-hour practice did not seem to faze our USA Basketball bosses.

We came back Sunday evening and had a great practice followed by a very good practice this morning. The team is starting to realize just how good they can be but that they are going to have to constantly work to get better. Many people think that when you coach talent you just roll out the balls and let them play gym class basketball. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more talented the basketball player, the greater the desire to improve. At least this is the way our coaching staff believe it should work.

Jen Rizzotti-Sullivan and Carol Owens have been awesome in their roles as "Assistant" Coaches. I really look at them as fellow head coaches. They are both smart, hard working and staunchly determined in their desire to see our elite 18-year-olds get better. The amount of time this process forces us to spend together is every bit as much time as my DePaul Assistant Coaches and I spend together. In this scenario, this time spent is in a much more condensed amount of time.

Jen's husband, Bill Sullivan and 16-month-old son, Holden, are here with her. Sully is Jen's assistant at Hartford and an excellent basketball brain. NCAA rules, though, keep Sully from watching any of the practices or games as this is a quiet period and not an evaluation period. The team is blessed to learn from Jen's National Championship experience at UConn and her seven-year professional career.

Blue Demon fans should remember the rivalry between DePaul and Northern Illinois in the early 90's. DePaul/NIU games typically housed 5,000 fans in Alumni Hall and 6,500 fans at NIU in Chick Evans Field House. Those games set Illinois State Collegiate attendance records. Northern's power forward was none other than Carol Owens. Who would have thought back then that we would be coaching together a couple 15 years later. Like Jen, Carol has been great in her ability to learn from her many experiences in hoops. Carol has played professionally in Japan, Italy and Spain. She has also been an Assistant on Notre Dame's 2001 National Championship Team and now is putting Northern Illinois in position to again be a factor in the MAC and the NCAA tournament.

A bonus for our coaching staff has happened by coincidence. Former DePaul point guard, Molly Watson and her husband Brian have just relocated to Colorado Springs. Brian has recently been named the Assistant Ticket Manager at the Air Force Acadamy located here in Colorado Springs. Molly called and asked if she could volunteer her time. Carol Callan agreed to let Molly be our team manager. FIBA and USA Basketball have restrictions on how many coaches can be on a staff. USA Basketball also requires their coaches to come from either the collegiate or professional ranks. As manager, Molly has been able to help us in practice. She has also proved very valuable as a scout, advance scouting our opponents in their different exhibition games.

More to come!

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