Like Son, Like Father: Bradley Bruno considers following in father's coaching footsteps
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Before practice, a DePaul University student ties his white and blue shoes while he sits on a gray rolled up mat, tucked against the wall in the gym of McGrath-Phillips Arena. After he is finished, he jogs to the other end. The back of his long brown hair is still molded by the hat he just removed. Once he arrives at the other end, he picks up a little girl—his niece, Nora—and spins her around before placing her safely on the ground. With a smile he takes his first warm-up shot.
Throughout the winter, Bradley Bruno gets to be coached by his father almost every day, but it would be hard for anyone watching practice to realize they were related.
“They very rarely communicate and when they do, Bradley is almost always joking with his dad,” said Danny Mueller, who practices with Bradley regularly. “Or the reverse is when Doug is yelling at him for playing bad defense.”
Bradley is the son of legendary women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno, who just completed his 26th year as DePaul’s head women’s basketball coach and has compiled over 500 wins at the Division 1 level. Bradley hopes to follow in his dad’s footsteps after college and become a coach himself, which would make him the only one out of Doug’s five sons to choose this career path. But for now, he is one of the male players who practices against his dad’s team.
There are usually five male practice players that show up to each practice and Bradley is almost always one of them. Typically, Bradley is treated the same as all of the other players, except when one of them makes a mistake. No matter who it is that erred, Bradley said that his father will yell at him.
“I see my dad as a teacher for me because he is a good coach,” said Bradley, 22, a junior at DePaul studying sociology, “and you have to learn from the best.”
Mueller, who has been friends with him for over a year, said that Bradley will make a good coach. When Mueller watches any type of basketball game with him, he notices that Bradley has a high basketball IQ because he always understands what is going on.
After shooting, Bradley walks over to one of the assistant basketball coaches to learn Syracuse University’s plays with the other male practice players. Next, Bradley is on the baseline with a ball learning an inbounds play.
Like his father, Bradley wants to coach women’s basketball.
“They listen and their egos are not as big [as men’s],” said Bradley.
After college, Bradley said he wouldn’t mind taking almost any basketball coaching job in Chicago. Getting a position with his dad, though ideal, is not realistic.
“He is a very fair person,” said Bradley. “I know I am his son, but I think he would want me to go out and get experience at a lower level, just like every other job.”
His father’s fairness is one of the reasons Bradley didn’t take the class Doug teaches at DePaul in the spring called Theories, Teachings and Philosophies of Coaching. Since they share the same last name, he said that other students would likely realize that they are related during attendance.
“What if I get an A and they get a B,” said Bradley with a worried look on his face. “I don’t want to put either of us in an awkward position.”
Next, it is time for Bradley and the other men to scrimmage. He is given a practice jersey to wear even though his blue shirt matches the other men’s. His shirt was too short to tuck in, a rule Doug makes everyone follow. By the second play of the scrimmage, Bradley easily passes the girl guarding him by crossing over from left to right. He continues to drive forward towards the lane, but before he can get to the basket his dad stops practice to yell at the player Bradley drove past.
Despite Bradley’s passion for DePaul and its women’s basketball team, he started his college career playing basketball at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Towards the end of his first year, he quit. Bradley said he was “sick” of early morning practices, going to a small school “in the middle of nowhere.”
So Bradley transferred to DePaul, a big school where he can always find something to do. However, this does not include playing basketball at DePaul’s Ray Meyer Fitness Center. Bradley said this is because people at the fitness center often don’t play as a team, and it frustrates him when he gets stuck with people like this because he hates to lose.
He lives with his parents in Rogers Park and drives to school, but he hardly sees his dad outside of practice. Bradley spends most of the time he is home sleeping and doing homework.
“There is no reason for me to move out,” said Bradley. “I save money and get home-cooked meals.”
Bradley continues to run Syracuse’s offense for a while before switching to their 2-3 zone defense. Soon Doug says “guys, get a drink,” and Bradley and the other men walk out of the gym winded.
“Practice takes a lot out of me,” said Bradley, who is normally in bed by 11 p.m.; though he typically has class around 11 a.m. the following day, his father is already at work. Doug works long hours, which was somewhat hard on Bradley as a kid. Doug was gone before Bradley woke up for school each morning and did not return home until after he was in bed. Then, once Bradley was a little older and began playing sports, it was tough for his dad to make it to his games.
“He never was at anything,” said Bradley.
To spend more time with each other, Bradley was allowed to pick one road trip to go on every year for his birthday. Usually he picked warm schools such as the University of South Florida, University of Houston and Tulane University.
Now, because he is in college, the only road trips Bradley gets to go on are NCAA tournament games, since they are usually during his spring break.
In addition to the trips, Bradley attended many practices when he was younger. Afterward, his dad would leave him with the women on the team while he worked with the other coaches. Bradley’s favorite player growing up was Sarah Kustok, now a sports reporter for Comcast SportsNet. However, this had nothing to do with that fact that she dated his older brother or because she was fun to hang out with.