DePaul basketball coach Bruno sidelined after spinal surgery

A mainstay on the sidelines of one of the best women's college basketball teams in the country might be forced to be sidelined himself in the coming weeks.

Doug Bruno, DePaul's coach of 33 years and the creator of a popular and long-running youth summer basketball camp that has drawn thousands of girls in the suburbs over the years, has been having some mobility issues over the last month.

He noticed while coaching his 20th-ranked Blue Demons against then-No. 1 Notre Dame on Nov. 17 that his left leg seemed weak. It became hard for him to walk around and do everyday tasks around the house such as get in and out of the shower.

The 68-year-old Bruno eventually got an MRI and doctors determined that he had a back issue that was causing compression and that he needed a spinal fusion immediately.

Ever the coach, Bruno ran his best delay offense.

He got a crutch and has been steadying himself on that for the last month as he coached per usual on the sidelines. Meanwhile, he negotiated with his doctors to postpone surgery until DePaul had a break in the action, which came after Sunday's win at Oklahoma.

The Blue Demons are in the midst of a seven-day break until they pick up again with Tennessee State on Monday.

On Tuesday, Bruno had his surgery.

A time line for his return is uncertain right now.

“I should know (more) as the days move along,” Bruno said.

In the meantime, Bruno might miss his first game in years if he's not ready to return for Tennessee State.

If that's the case, associate head coach Jill Pizzotti will be at the controls.

Best wishes to Bruno for a speedy recovery. DePaul women's basketball won't be the same without him on the sidelines.

Huskie makes 50-point club:

It's a club of one, but Mikayla Voigt is probably just fine with that.

The Northern Illinois senior guard became the first player in NIU and Mid-American Conference history to score 50 points in a game in Northern's 86-61 win over Western Illinois on Dec. 8.

Voigt finished with 52 points, including 11 3-pointers, which is also an NIU and MAC record.

Meanwhile, Voigt is putting up eye-popping numbers in the classroom as well, carrying a 3.924 grade-point average as a nursing major.

For her efforts as both a student and athlete, Voigt on Wednesday was named the Mid-American Conference Female Scholar Athlete of the Week. It's the second time in three weeks that she has earned the honor.

Voigt, who was also named the MAC West Player of the Week, is fourth in the nation in three-pointers made this season with 4 per game. She is also second in the MAC in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.9 percent. Her 52 points and 11 3-pointers against Western Illinois are second-most in a single game in Division I this season.

Another Stewie award

She was already named the most valuable player of the WNBA this season, and she helped the Seattle Storm to the WNBA championship.

Now, some more hardware is coming Breanna Stewart's way.

After helping the USA Basketball Women's World Cup Team to a gold medal and a perfect 6-0 record, the 6-foot-4 Stewart was named on Wednesday the 2018 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

This is the third such USA Basketball distinction for Stewart, who also was the 2011 and 2013 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

“It's really an honor,” Stewart said. “Each time that I've won has had its own special meaning, its own special place.

“This one is special, because I was in a different position than I was with the other ones. I was playing with a lot of younger players and had to perform really well and be at my best at the World Cup.

At the FIBA World Cup in September, Stewart averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds per game and shot 58 percent from the field and was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

“Stewie played each and every game with all her heart,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (also the head coach at South Carolina), who was named the 2018 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. “She probably played more minutes than I should have given her, but she was that good. It was hard to keep her off the floor.

More of Mendoza

ESPN is liking the way former college softball star Jessica Mendoza calls a baseball game.

It was announced this week that Mendoza will have more of a presence on various ESPN platforms starting next baseball season. Mendoza signed a multiyear extension with ESPN to remain part of the “Sunday Night Baseball” announcer's booth and make more studio appearances. In 2015, Mendoza became the first female analyst for a nationally televised MLB game. She did her first Sunday Night game on Aug. 30, 2015.

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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