Purdue resumes march on NCAAs behind Brouse
PHOTOS: NCAA Women's Championship (Rd. 2)
Browse images from Round 2 of the Women's NCAA Championship in Athens, GA.
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ATHENS, Ga. –- Devon Brouse doesn’t have to say a word. The Purdue coach simply takes his rather powerful-looking stance, crosses his arms in front of his chest and gives a look. That look. The one that says he’s related to Gen. George S. Patton and expects his team to win the battle and the war.
“He gives our players a confidence and intensity with his presence that’s probably more valuable than words,” said Caroline Haase, a former Purdue player and current assistant coach.
Brouse’s looks are especially handy when he decides not to designate himself as one of two coaches during competition. The plan coming into the NCAA Championship was to let his two assistant coaches – Haase and Greg Robertson – coach all four rounds while Brouse watched from the sidelines. His wife, Kathy, was along for the ride, keeping him calm.
It’s an unusual strategy in the coaching world – not coaching, that is – but Brouse thinks senior Paula Reto plays best with someone walking 18 holes alongside her, and Robertson has proved to be an excellent caddie-coach. Haase rotates between the other players. On Wednesday, Brouse said Haase noticed senior Laura Gonzalez-Escallon got a little fast and helped her slow down and find her rhythm.
“Once you get here, the hay’s in the barn, so to speak,” Brouse said. In other words, the preparation comes long before teams make the trek to Athens. Sure Brouse was on the range after lunch, helping his players fine-tune some problem areas he spotted from the treeline. But mostly, Haase said, their job onsite is to “build confidence and build on the right attitude.”
The late Patton, one of America’s great generals of World War II, is Brouse’s grandmother’s first cousin. Brouse’s older brother has “Patton” as his middle name. Brouse isn’t a general, but he’s no slouch on discipline.
His Patton takeaway: “Don’t give up the high ground.”
Reto, a native of South Africa, met Brouse on the range in Florida at her home club where the Purdue men’s team was competing. Brouse, 63, heads the men’s and women’s programs at Purdue as the director of golf operations. Reto toured San Diego State but chose West Lafayette, Ind., because of Brouse. Even the lure of the Pacific Ocean couldn’t outweigh her connection with Brouse.
“I wanted somebody who could teach me,” said Reto, who has won four times this season.
Somebody who would push.
Whether Brouse is a designated coach or not, Reto said, his impact on the team is the same.
Brouse’s record in chilly Indiana speaks for itself. The Boilermakers are one of three NCAA Division I teams to have qualified for the NCAA finals every year since 2000 (joining Southern Cal and Arizona State). Purdue and USC have the longest top-10 streak at the NCAA Championship, dating to 2006.
The Boilermakers won the 2010 championship and finished runner-up in 2011. They’ve made a habit of peaking at the right time.
“Peaking is a function of hard work,” said Brouse, the only coach inducted into the men’s and women’s coaching Halls of Fame.
Purdue has relied heavily on international players to build its program. Their on-campus facilities are among the nation’s best, with a second parkland course being resigned by Pete Dye. The indoor offerings make it easier for players to deal with harsh winters and cool springs.
Reto said the weather never has bothered her at Purdue. She looks at it as a chance to hit the refresh button and get revved up for a February trip to Puerto Rico. It’s not as if the Boilermakers looked all that rusty in March and April, when they finished third, first, first, second, tied for first and second.
Purdue shot matching 289s at the NCAA Championship and was tied for fifth with Stanford. The afternoon wave was halted by storms, but the Boilermakers already had put in their work on the range.
Brouse will carefully position himself around UGA’s Golf Course during the next two rounds. He knows when to drive up onto a peak to look down on his players and when to hide in the shadows.
It’s a general’s job to motivate his troops.
“He’s always ready to go to battle,” Haase said.
Patton would be proud.