CHICAGO – For nearly four decades, he’s been the driving force behind one of the most consistent programs in all of women’s college basketball.
It figured to only be a matter of time before he’d add the term “Hall of Famer” to his resume, but that officially happened for Chicago native Doug Bruno on Monday evening.
“On television,” is how the DePaul coach heard that he was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022. “It’s an honor, it’s a thrill. I can’t be more appreciative to all my bosses – Coach Ray Meyer, Gene Sullivan, Jean Lenti Ponsetto, DeWayne Peevy.
“I’ve had great bosses, I’ve had great assistants.”
But Bruno has remained a fixture at his Alma Mater of DePaul, helping the school to consistent success during his 36 years as the head coach of the women’s basketball program. A three-time letter winner for Meyer’s men’s program, he’s had two stints as the head coach of the women’s team, doing so from 1976 through 1978 before leaving to coach the Chicago Hustle of the WPBL for two years.
After serving as an assistant coach for Loyola under Sullivan for seven seasons in Rogers Park, Bruno returned to Lincoln Park to coach DePaul’s women’s basketball program again in 1988. He’s been there ever since, and in that time the Blue Demons have made 24 NCAA Tournaments including consecutive appearances from 2003-2019.
In that time, DePaul has won a Great Midwest Conference and tournament title, two Conference USA regular season championships, six Big East regular season championships and five in the conference tournament.
A tireless advocate of women’s basketball, Bruno has three times been named Big East Coach of the Year WBCA Regional Coach of the Year. In his time with Team USA women’s basketball’s coaching staff, Bruno has six gold medals in a few competitions.
Yet when asked about what the honor means to him, and whether it’s validation for the years of work for women’s game, Bruno said he’s taken joy in being able to continue in his role over the course of six different decades.
“I don’t think in terms of what I’ve given. I thank god every day that I can wake up and put on gym shoes and go to a gym and still have an office and interact with young people and help young people help themselves be the best they can be. I don’t think that’s a job,” said Bruno. “When you frame the question with the amount of time and years, I don’t think of it that way. I think ‘Who else gets to go to work with gym shoes on and help young people become great.
“That’s kind of a cool way to spend a day.”
Don’t expect Bruno to celebrate the honor too much, either.
DePaul is winding down their Big East regular season and remains a game out of first place with a contest against Marquette set for Wednesday night at Wintrust Arena. At 20-7 on the season, the Blue Demons remain in a position to qualify for their 25 NCAA Tournament under Bruno.
“I hear athletes all the time say when I’m retired, they’ll think about this. I don’t ever want to be retired, but I know I’m going to get whacked, every coach gets whacked. So the time’s going to come when I get whacked and I’ll have time to maybe think about it,” said Bruno. “Right now, we’ve got Marquette on Wednesday and we’ve got a very good Villanova team on Sunday. So there’s not time to really think about this – and I really don’t.
But many will have time to reflect on the impact of the Chicago native on the women’s game, which became Hall of Fame worthy on Monday.
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