Naming court for Bruno puts DePaul ahead of game
More than 40 years ago, Doug Bruno and Harry Shields met at Ray Meyer's basketball camp in northern Wisconsin after their junior year of high school.
Bruno, the city kid from Quigley North, and Shields, the pride of Crystal Lake, didn't take long to become pals. When Meyer decided at the following summer camp to offer both of them scholarships to play at DePaul, they soon became roommates, teammates and life-long friends.
They'll be together again Saturday at McGrath Arena in Lincoln Park when more than 250 people gather for dinner, drinks and The Doug Bruno Court Dedication.
DePaul's 25th-year head coach, who boasts 458 wins and 15 NCAA Tournament berths on his resume, joins Tennessee's Pat Summitt and the late Kay Yow as the only Division I women's basketball coaches to have courts named in their honor.
Shields got the ball rolling by suggesting the idea to athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto.
"I wanted to do something for Doug," Shields said. "He's absolutely honest and he's loyal to a fault. If you're his friend, you're his friend for life and he'll do anything for you."
Once Ponsetto discovered how much DePaul needed in donations to make Doug Bruno Court a reality, Shields started the fund with a hefty sum.
"Harry put out a challenge and said he would make the first gift of $50,000," Ponsetto said. "Then it was up to us, and other folks connected to women's basketball and men's basketball to come up with the rest.
"Once we put it out there, maybe over a two- or three-week period of time, it was done."
Now there's more than $300,000 in donations going to DePaul's endowment for women's basketball scholarships.
Bruno learned of the honor last November and DePaul repainted the floor over the summer with his name on the hardwood so it's not like there'll be a dramatic unveiling on Saturday.
Those facts don't make the dedication ceremony and the honor in general any less exciting to Bruno.
"I had never thought about having a floor named after me in my life," he said. "It's humbling and it's an honor. At the same time, you still have to live in the present."
Bruno doesn't want anyone to think he's entering the ceremonial portion of his coaching career. He boasts a powerhouse, senior-laden squad that ranks 30th in the Associated Press' preseason poll. He owns a contract that stretches through the 2016-17 season.
"I'm not going to allow it to be a pasturization putting the coach out to pasture," Bruno said. "It's really something that I'm humbled and honored by, but it doesn't happen without great players.
"That name out there is for all the players that have put their blood and guts on that floor from the time we started women's basketball in the Seventies."