What plans Geno Auriemma may have had to see his friend, DePaul coach Doug Bruno, prior to Sunday’s game was one the causalities of the historic snowstorm that fell this weekend.
The Blue Demons plan to arrive Saturday were scuttled by the storm. Their charter from Chicago didn’t land at Bradley International early Sunday afternoon and their bus to Gampel didn’t leave until shortly after 1 p.m because the bus scheduled to pick them up was 30 minutes late.
Then again, Auriemma and Bruno spent a lot of time in each other’s company during the last four years coaching together on Auriemma’s USA Basketball staff during the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Summer Olympic games in London.
Auriemma thinks the world of Bruno, both as a coach and a friend.
“It was a simple as can be for me [to work for Auriemma],” Bruno said Sunday. “You do your best to fit into the role as best as you can. … I just didn’t want to do anything to upstage him. I wanted to be quiet, let coach just coach.”
Auriemma said there really could have been no other choice but Bruno.
“We didn’t hire him out the blue [USA Basketball],” Auriemma said. “We’ve had a long, great relationship the preceded that. It was important to have him with me because you are not sure how a long-time head coach [like Bruno] will respond to being an assistant. Some head coach were never assistants and don’t know how to be one.
“I knew Doug could fill any of the roles I need him to take [during the four years]. From the professional standpoint, it was very enjoyable for me. Doug has a great offensive mind. He’s incredibly positive. He understands how to get the most out of people. We are similar in many ways.
“And off the court, it was everything I imagined it would be. We enjoy each other’s company, as do our families. We spent a lot of time together, before, during and after, and there is a large range of things we both enjoy that go beyond basketball. It was easy and really important to have someone like him with me.”
Auriemma was an assistant on Nell Fortner’s 2000 Olympic staff, but if some some strange reason he was asked again to serve in that capacity he said he likely wouldn’t.
“Could I do? Sure,” Auriemma said. “Would I do it? No. Do I have the ability to do it? Sure. But would I do it again? No.”