Doug Bruno headed across pond to Olympics

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Basketball is basketball.

In his 38 years of coaching experience, DePaul women’s basketball head coach Doug Bruno has found out that the game of basketball can be as simple as that. Ignoring the lights, crowd and atmosphere that come with certain situations is easy when just focusing on the fundamentals, according to Bruno.

Starting in August, Bruno will put that philosophy to the test when he and the rest of USA’s best women’s basketball squad travels to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Bruno was selected as an assistant coach to serve under head coach Geno Auriemma as the U.S. looks to gain another gold medal.

“With the Olympics, what’s so unbelievably overwhelming is that the fact all the athletes from every sport are present. That’s what makes it so different and so huge,” said Bruno.

“When you get to those tournaments, as big as they are, with all the people there, it’s only just basketball.”

Coaching on a world level is familiar territory to Bruno. In 2006 and 2007, he led the U-18 and U-19 teams to gold medal victories in the FIBA U-19 World Championship. He also was an assistant coach for the USA National team in the 2010 World Championships, where the team took gold as well.

Part of what has made those experiences successful is the talent level that comes with them. For the Olympics, Bruno will be adjusting to experienced WNBA professionals such as Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker compared to the less experienced 18-22 year-olds still learning the game.

Even with the increase in talent, Bruno says that there are hurdles to overcome.

“In a technical aspect of basketball, it’s not that different at all,” he said. “The fact we don’t get to coach our players and train our players because of their commitments to the WNBA and their commitments to their European teams negate making [winning] easier because of the talent level. There’s still very much a challenge.”

To get the team to the top, Bruno will be working with Connecticut’s women’s head coach Auriemma to come up with an effective strategy to make up for the lack of practice time.

According to Bruno, their coaching philosophies mesh well.

“We both extremely put a high value on sharing the basketball, teamwork and chemistry. These are my highest priorities coaching at DePaul and they are his while coaching at UConn,” said Bruno.

“We also are similar in valuing a speedy open court tempo, an entertaining open court tempo that is also an equal opportunity game in the half court. Sharing is our utmost value for the both of us,” he said.

Since 1996, the U.S. has achieved gold in women’s basketball at every Olympics. Bruno understands there is a pressure there to keep winning and retain the long success the country has had in the sport.

“The pressure to win gold is always present in the highest degree,” said Bruno. “Because basketball was invented in the United States and because basketball is America’s game, we go into every international event with the absolute expectation of winning gold and nothing else is considered good enough.

“We take an attitude of embracing that pressure and staring it straight in the face to be fearless about understanding that we expect to win to win, do everything in our power to win gold, and we will win gold.”