Stepping Up: The DePaulia's 2011-2012 basketball preview
Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Both the men's and women's basketball teams have found themselves dealing with their roster as a revolving door that never stops spinning, and in the upcoming 2011-12 season the teams find themselves with a lot of new talent in their freshmen.
For head coach Doug Bruno and the women's basketball team, vacancies have inevitably opened in the roster, losing starting point guard Sam Quigley and starting center Felicia Chester. Deirdre Naughton, another valuable asset to the team, will be missed as an energy scorer off the bench. Though all three players had different contributions on the court, one trait they each had was leadership.
"Sam, Felicia and Deirdre were all great leaders, and they need to be replaced," said Bruno. "Sam was a great lead guard, and right now Brittany Hrynko and Chanise Jenkins are looking like the two freshmen that are going to have to replace her."
Hrynko, a Philadelphia native and former teammate of senior Keisha Hampton's at George Washington Carver High School, understands the impact Quigley had as floor general last season.
"My personal goals this year are to be a leader on the court and I guess fill the spot that Sam left," said Hrynko. Her focus is on offense, but she understands she has to "do well on defense" as well.
At this point in the season, however, nothing is for certain when it comes to who gets to take off their warmups first for tip-off. Jenkins, a Whitney Young product from Chicago, is another confident point guard ready to compete.
"I want to make it to the NCAA tournament and be Big East Freshman of the Year this season," said Jenkins.
Though Hrynko and Jenkins are two self-assured personalities, Bruno acknowledges the learning curve each new player faces when coming from high school to Division I basketball.
"You don't know one freshman's adjustment to Division I basketball to the other. Sometimes there's a confidence that needs to be acquired and you can't inject confidence," said Bruno. "That positive confidence has to evolve, and at the same time you can't let complacency slip in."
Bruno also noted how players must amend their play styles and mentalities to fit into the team dynamic as best as possible.
"There's a lot of adjusting that needs to be done. All of these players were the best on their teams in high school, and high school basketball is relatively a much slower game than the college game," said Bruno. Bruno has a system that he feels works best in preparing his team, marrying it with the rest of the pressures they face off the court.
"By overloading the freshmen, I feel we've had better success at teaching here at DePaul. This lets them know that they have to work to break through the burden, and that's exactly where we are with the freshmen right now."
One would be hard-pressed to find many better head coaches in women's basketball than Doug Bruno, and the players appreciate the work he and the coaching staff have already put in to prepare the young team.
Megan Rogowski, a first-year Hersey product from Prospect Heights, Ill., is thankful for the opportunity she has at DePaul and eager to play at the college level.
"High school and college basketball are really different, but the coaches and team have prepared us very well," said Rogowski. "We've worked a lot over the preseason to learn and adapt to this level, and it's been fine so far."
As for veteran leadership on the team, Rogowski and Jenkins have both benefitted from the time they've spent with the more experienced Blue Demons.
"All the veteran players have given us some mini-talks before practice, telling us what they expect us to do," said Jenkins. "Yesterday they were walking us through the drills that we do before games, and also told us not to be surprised when Coach is yelling at us when we're out there."
Rogowski, like Jenkins and Hrynko, wants to match DePaul's undefeated season at home, going 17-0 last year at McGrath-Phillips Arena. To do so, she knows she and the rest of the freshmen need to listen to the older players' advice and follow their lead this season.
"All of the veteran players have showed great leadership so far and have taken us new players under their wing and really pushed us," said Rogowski. "They've really been great with helping us out."
The men, too, will be relying on new talent heavily this season.
"It's really important that the newcomers do play a role," said Head Coach Oliver Purnell. "They bring us some talent, some athleticism and enthusiasm. They're anxious to play and I think all of those are great traits. With our style of pressure defense and pressure offense, we need a lot of players.
The men's roster has been stretched thin a bit to start the season, due to both injury and student-athlete transfers to other schools. Michael Bizoukas asked for a transfer and was granted it in April, so he will not be returning for his senior season. Junior forward Tony Freeland has been sidelined for this season due to a shoulder injury. Though two transfer students, Donnavan Kirk and Worrel Clahar, will be in the mix, the three freshmen will still be playing key roles for the men's team.
Despite bringing in five, the team is down to three freshmen due to injury and eligibility issues — forward Jamee Crockett, guard Charles McKinney and center Derrell Robertson, Jr.