DePaul Sophomores Full of Character and Personality
Feb. 12, 2014
You might wonder---how could the 5-foot, 5-inch Jenkins wind up guarding the 6-2 Podkowa and giving away nine inches?
That’s exactly what Jenkins thought when her Young basketball team confronted Podkowa and Trinity in a showdown of highly ranked high school girls’ basketball teams several years ago.
“My coach told me I had to guard Megan,” said Jenkins, DePaul’s sophomore point guard nicknamed ‘Trixie’ by AAU coaches for her tricky ballhandling. “I always thought she was a post player. That’s when I found out I had to guard a 6-2 point guard because our bigger post players weren’t fast enough.
“Sometimes she posted me up. Other times, she was shooting threes way over my head and I couldn’t get up there. She was a beast in high school.”
Podkowa remembers losing that game to the speedier Dolphins.
“When I saw how Trixie played defense, I was afraid she was going to steal the ball from me every time,” said Podkowa, DePaul’s sophomore forward. “None of our players were as fast as Young’s guards and wings.
“I remember Trixie hitting 3-pointers from way out. It was a challenge going against her. There was a photo in the newspaper of Trixie guarding me.”
That memory brought a smile to Jenkins’ face.
“We both wore No. 13 and we both had blonde hair,” Jenkins said. “I was going through a phase back then.”
DePaul’s two-person sophomore class has made quite an impact when it comes to rebounding---a facet of the game coach Doug Bruno has focused on since the beginning of preseason training.
Podkowa leads the Blue Demons with 6.6 rebounds per game while also averaging nine points. Jenkins is third on the team with nearly five boards a game and is also averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 assists.
“When it comes to rebounding, I really value it and have always been a very fundamental player,” Jenkins said. “I love boxing and rebounding on the defensive glass.
“For some reason when we’re on offense, people don’t look to box out a point guard. Even though I’ve been getting rebounds, no one has changed their strategy towards me. I’m not very big and don’t look as intimidating as post players, but little people can get the job done, too.
“I get the defensive rebound and I’m ready to go. I’m always looking for Jasmine Penny and Megan to get out and run. It seems like Jas is always looking for my passes on the break.”
Podkowa is adjusting to life on the blocks.
“Coach Bruno expects a lot more out of me on the defensive glass and with offensive rebounding," Podkowa said. "Last year I was not as good at rebounding. I didn’t like the contact and tried to avoid it.
“I’ve accepted the challenge of using my body more to get the ball by boxing out. I’m working against someone like 6-4 Brandi Harvey-Carr, and the physicality of it is helping me. I’m learning to get lower than other people and moving them out with my feet and legs.
“I didn’t have to worry about any of that in high school. Lots of times, I’d just tip the ball to myself and get the rebound.”
Podkowa’s improvement inside resulted in 17 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six steals against Notre Dame. She had a career-high 20 points with eight rebounds against Northwestern and 13 points and 10 boards against Pittsburgh.
“Our guards are stepping up with rebounding,” Podkowa said. “Coach wants our guards to get five or six rebounds a game and the post players to get nine or 10.
“There have been times when Trixie and I have banged into each other going for the rebound. She is super-aggressive to the ball. I have to take her approach and not be afraid that someone is going to bang into me.”
When it comes to rebounding, Jenkins takes her cue from teammate Centrese McGee.
“I talk to Centrese about rebounding all the time,” Jenkins said. “She is a great rebounder and always so physical. There was this one time before a road game when she was really fired up and told us: ‘These (players) are not going take my rebounds away from me. I’m the beast. I’m going to get every rebound.’
“It’s all about being mean out there. You can’t be soft. You have to go out there and own it.
“I love the progress we’ve made. Our coaches make it challenging in practice with a lot of rebounding drills. We go against everyone on the team and you have to figure out how to get around the big people like Megan and Jas. Then you have to be sure and box out Jessica January who can jump out of the gym.
“I’ve gone against Brandi a bunch of times, and been knocked to the floor hard. I just get back up and try to box her out further away from the basket.”
Jenkins is known for filling out a box score including 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists against Washington and a career-high 21 points along with eight assists and five boards against St. John’s. She had 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against Northwestern and 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists versus Georgetown.
“I’ve always been a team player since I was real young,” Jenkins said. “I would do whatever my team needed. If I scored a lot of points and my team lost, then I didn’t want to score. I’d rather score no points, get a bunch of rebounds, assists and steals and have my team win.
“All my life, the focus has always been on winning.”
DePaul’s sophomore class may be few in numbers, but it is certainly quite dynamic.
“What I like about Megan and I is that we both stayed close to home,” Jenkins said. “We stayed here to represent the city, and that says a lot about character and staying true to coach Bruno’s vision. We both came from strong basketball powers in high school.
“I think it’s very important for city kids to go to college in the city. It’s all about loyalty. When you leave and go away, it’s like you’re turning your back on the city and not giving back to a community that gave you so many opportunities.”