Bruno Gives His Players The Green Light

Jasmine Penny, the BIG EAST's leading scorer in conference play.

Jasmine Penny, the BIG EAST's leading scorer in conference play.

Jan. 10, 2014

By: Alicia Pope, DePaul Assistant Director of Athletics Communications

Just how much fun is it to play women’s basketball at DePaul?

Blue Demon coach Doug Bruno puts it succinctly when he tells his players: “You have the greenest green light in America.”

If you’re open and it’s your kind of shot, don’t give it a second thought.

Let it fly.

“We teach our players they have the potential to shoot it every time they catch the ball if it’s their shot,” Bruno said. “They have to be smart enough to know what their shot is.

“Players can’t be looking over their shoulders every time they have the ball to shoot and questioning whether it’s a good shot or not. It reduces the chances of making the shot. Let it rip. That mentality will help them make shots.

“Coaches don’t always define a good shot. To me, a good shot is different with every player. Taking a shot you can make is a good shot. If a teammate is more open, it’s automatic that you pass her the ball.”

Bruno’s free-wheeling, let-it-fly philosophy resulted in Megan Rogowski setting an arena record and tying a team record with eight 3-pointers in Wednesday night’s 91-71 BIG EAST Conference victory over Providence.

“This is a fun style to play,” Rogowski said 24 hours after putting up a career-high 30 points. “Everyone loves to score. The way we play---scoring the ball, making threes, running the floor---it helps attract more fans.

“Coach Bruno is a huge advocate of women’s basketball. He wants the game to expand and be more visible on TV and in the media. He feels we deserve more attention.”

Rogowski is more than willing to do her part. The junior guard from Hersey is averaging 15.1 points a game and converting 41.5 percent of her three-point shots.

While Rogowski launches many of her shots from long distance, leading scorer Jasmine Penny is proficient from close range. The 6-foot, 1-inch forward leads the team with nearly 17 points per game and has scored 105 points in her last four games.

“The way we play is amazing,” said Penny who is shooting nearly 63 percent from the field. “The guards we have are trying to get you the ball at all times. Running the floor and receiving great passes from them is a lot of fun.

“The coaches are on me about my play around the basket. They know my ability and what I can do. The last four games, I’ve been looking to score almost every time. I’ve been getting layups off our fast break or from cutting inside in our half-court offense.”

DePaul leads the BIG EAST and is 13th in the nation scoring 84.4 points per game. The Blue Demons are No. 4 in the country in assists and No. 6 in steals.

“Coaches get maligned for the truthful axiom that offense sells tickets, defense wins games and defense and rebounding win championships,” Bruno said. “It’s an oversimplification, but if you defend and rebound, it should turn into offense.

“Don’t be condescending to the idea that offense sells tickets. I get into arguments all the time with coaches who believe that the entertainment value of basketball comes from the competitiveness of a tight score. Some coaches argue that a 20-18 halftime score is still entertaining and that all you need is the drama of a close game.

“I just disagree with that. Guess what America? We’re trying to sell tickets to watch women play basketball. The way we play is a more entertaining game to watch.”

Bruno came up with another way of describing his lifetime passion.

“Basketball is like a symphony,” he said. “There is a time and a place to go really fast. There’s also a time and place to go at a medium speed and at times, be deliberate.

“There is a time and a place to be totally holistic with equal opportunity. There’s a time and place for featuring the hot-shooting individual.

“I was blessed to have been coached by the legendary Ray Meyer who taught me all the basics from A to Z. I was also blessed to be coached by Gene Sullivan who believed players who are free to shoot are going to make shots.”

Rogowski enjoys getting the green light.

“Coach gives us the freedom to shoot when we’re open and it’s in your shot selection,” Rogowski said. “Other coaches don’t let you shoot when you’re open and would rather let the shot clock wind down.

“It’s great playing at DePaul where we run the floor, open the game up and score quickly. It all starts with defense, where a turnover can lead to an easy layup. We’re always trying to create easy ways to score.”

Each season, the Blue Demons set a goal of leading the nation in assists. Every assist is two or three more points on the scoreboard. Bruno advocates hitting the open teammate with precision, timing and touch.

“We work on defense and rebounding a lot,” Bruno said. “At the same time, I believe our style of offense is a more enjoyable way to play. The goal of defense and rebounding is to get you more touches on offense.

“That better lead to more offensive production---and selling more tickets.”