Former DePaul star Sam Quigley Smith looking to build Lewis into hoops power

  • Lewis women's basketball coach Sam Quigley Smith patrols the sidelines in a 76-66 loss to Truman State in late November in Romeoville.

    Lewis women's basketball coach Sam Quigley Smith patrols the sidelines in a 76-66 loss to Truman State in late November in Romeoville. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann

 
 
Updated 12/25/2020 6:21 PM

Probably one of the most popular girls basketball camps in the Chicago area is the Doug Bruno Camp.

Bruno, the women's basketball coach at DePaul for 35 years, has enthusiastically shared his love and knowledge of the game with thousands of young girls for decades.

 

But, of all people, Sam Quigley Smith and sister Allie somehow slipped through the cracks.

Quigley Smith admits to it, but with almost a whisper.

"Yeah, we didn't go to Doug Bruno camps when we were growing up," Quigley Smith said sheepishly.

Quigley Smith and Allie Quigley, highly decorated high school players out of Joliet Catholic, did go to DePaul, however, and had stellar careers playing for Bruno in the 2000s. Allie Quigley has even gone on to become one of the best 3-point shooters in WNBA history, playing the last eight years with the Chicago Sky.

The Quigley sisters knew about the Bruno camps when they were kids, but there was a good reason they didn't go.

"My dad (Pat) died when we were really young and my mom (Chris) was a teacher with four kids and she said, 'You know what, we need to go to the free camps,'" Quigley Smith said with a laugh. "With kids to drive everywhere, she wanted us to go somewhere closer, too. So we didn't go to the Bruno camps, we went to the Lewis camps."

Nearby Lewis University, a Division II college in Romeoville, was already like a second home to the Quigley girls. Their dad was the head women's tennis coach at Lewis. And their uncle, Brian Michalak, used to be the women's basketball coach.

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"The funny thing is, the Bruno camps ended up getting moved to Lewis for awhile, and when I was older, I'd work those camps and be a dorm mom at Lewis," Quigley Smith said. "Now, my own players are in those same dorms."

Quigley Smith is now the head women's basketball coach at Lewis, which is off to a 3-3 start with a roster full of Chicago area players.

With her background, her ties to Bruno and her sister, and a resume that already includes 54 wins in just two seasons at Lewis, Quigley Smith is a hot commodity in the collegiate coaching pool.

But in her third year at Lewis, Quigley is firmly committed to her hometown school.

"Our connections as a family to the Joliet area and to Lewis are special, so I feel good here, like this is a really good place for me," Quigley Smith said as she tries to navigate basketball during a pandemic while keeping four children under 7 years old (sons Cooper, Jackson and Flynn and daughter Logan) in tow. "My husband (Greg) and I are both from here. We just bought a house here. I want to stay here for while.

"And the job here isn't done. I am really competitive. I want to win something here. I think we can win conference and even a national championship here at Lewis. We're getting talented players, and if we continue to put in the work, we can go places."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Quigley Smith could see herself at a bigger school, perhaps a Division I school, someday. She could also see herself in collegiate athletic administration, too.

But for this moment in her life, Lewis, and NAIA St. Francis before that, has been perfect.

"I knew I wanted to have a family, and coach at the same time," Quigley Smith said. "It's hard to do, but I knew that at the lower levels, you really have the capability to do that. There's really a good balance between basketball and family at the Division II level."

Somehow, Quigley Smith is also able to find time to lace up her old high-tops once in awhile, which she has had to do out of necessity in the COVID era as groups of players at one time have had to miss practices due to quarantines.

"It's probably a little ugly, and maybe I'm a little out of shape, but I love getting in the gym for a few days, it's fun," Quigley Smith said with a laugh. "And I'll tell you one thing, I shoot free throws better than anyone else out there."

Doug Bruno would be proud.

• Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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