Juniors Hrynko, Rogowski, McGee Form Tight Connection
Feb. 20, 2014
CHICAGO – You’ve probably heard the expressions “Boston Strong” or “Army Strong.”
When it comes to the DePaul women’s basketball junior class, you could say it is “Backcourt Strong.”
Megan Rogowski is the shooter extraordinaire with 81 three-point baskets and a sizzling conversion rate of 44.3 percent behind the arc.
Rogowski gets teased at times about missing from closer in, but more on that later.
Brittany Hrynko is the composite point guard who leads the team in assists and steals, can score at any time and is the Blue Demons’ defensive stopper.
You might describe Centrese “Tee-Tee” McGee as a blue-collar power guard whose scrappy and aggressive play brings in rebounds, loose balls and a healthy respect from her teammates for the hard-nosed sacrifices she routinely makes.
This talented trio is a big reason why DePaul is 20-6 and second in the BIG EAST Conference at 11-3.
Rogowski was at her best with a career-high 30 points and a career-best eight 3-pointers against Providence, a feat that set a McGrath-Phillips Arena record and tied the school record.
She drilled seven from beyond the arc against Seton Hall in scoring 27 points. The 5-foot, 9-inch guard scored 23 points against Northwestern and 19 against both Marquette and nationally ranked Kentucky.
Hrynko is at her best filling up a box score as in 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds against Villanova and 20 points, five rebounds and four assists against Marquette. She had 21 points and eight rebounds versus Duquesne and two nights ago came away with 14 points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds at Marquette.
McGee turns in productive minutes off the bench and had 11 rebounds in 20 minutes against Providence and eight rebounds in 24 minutes against Butler. She grabbed seven rebounds in 15 minutes against Washington and in 17 minutes against Loyola Chicago.
“It’s my job to make shots,” said Rogowski, who is Hersey’s all-time leading scorer. “But you can’t just do one thing. I also have to pass the ball, defend and rebound. Those are just as important as making shots.
“I do notice that I’m better making 3-pointers than mid-range shots. I mean, I should also be making the 17-footers. We do shoot a lot of threes both in games and in practice. I seem to be better at judging long-distance shots.
Hrynko always keeps an eye out for the long-range specialist.
“Megan is a great player,” Hrynko said. “I know if I get her the ball, she is going to hit her shot. When she’s not hitting, she’s good at attacking the basket. When she’s a little off, I tell her: ‘Keep shooting---you’ll get it. Let the last one go.’ I’ll keep encouraging her to make shots.
“When I have the ball in transition, if I’m not finding Jasmine Penny on the block, I’ll look for Megan to knock down the three. Chanise and I do a good job getting her the ball. The key to setting up Megan is penetrating inside, and when the defense collapses, kick it out to her for 3-point shots.”
Each time Rogowski loads up, McGee gets fired up.
“She creates such momentum when she knocks down the three,” McGee said. “Brooke Schulte, Kelsey Reynolds and I stand up and scream every time she hits a three.”
When McGee is in the game, the three juniors can resemble a football field-goal unit of long snapper, placeholder and kicker.
“Tee-Tee is such a good rebounder, she’ll get it and outlet to me,” Hrynko said. “I’ll find Megan and she’ll hit the three. Rebound-pass-score---we’re connected like that.”
Hrynko’s biggest contribution this season comes from expanding her game.
“I try to provide my teammates with good looks, play defense, score the ball and do some rebounding---although not as well as Tee-Tee,” Hrynko said with a smile. “Defensively, I’ve been assigned to the other team’s best guard. Slowing down their big scorer gives momentum to our defense, instills confidence in my teammates and encourages them to play defense even harder.
“Playing tough defense can mean sacrificing some on the offensive end, and of course I’m ready to do that. Tee-Tee specializes in sacrificing herself for rebounding and defense.”
In a Feb. 9 game against Creighton, Hrynko dogged every move that BIG EAST leading scorer Marissa Janning made, holding her scoreless in the first half of an 80-66 Blue Demon victory.
“She’s a good player, and I didn’t let her catch the ball,” Hrynko said. “I made her work even harder to try and get open. If taking her out of her game means I’m not able to score as much, I don’t mind it.”
Her fellow Blue Demons certainly appreciate the sacrifice.
“Brit is effective in so many other areas like moving the ball, getting assists, steals and rebounding,” McGee said.
Rogowski added: “Actually, her defense can create offense. She gets a steal or forces a turnover and we turn that into points. That’s a big contribution when she is holding down the other team’s big scorer. At the same time, Brit is able to lead the offense with her ballhandling and passing.”
Despite her 5-7 stature, McGee has snatched her share of rebounds against the likes of Marquette’s 6-3 Katherine Plouffe, St. John’s 6-2 Amber Thompson, Seton Hall’s 6-2 Sidney Cook and Creighton’s 6-0 Sarah Nelson.
“Even though I’m just 5-7, there are times when I feel like I can dominate on the boards,” McGee said. “Just because someone is bigger than me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get a rebound over her.
“When I go against 6-4 Brandi Harvey-Carr in practice, it’s a battle. I don’t expect her to get a rebound over me. That’s just the mentality I have.”
Hrynko knows how hard McGee battles down low.
“She always brings it in practice and knocks everybody around,” Hrynko said. “People in the media, fans---nobody notices what she does for us. But it stands out to us. She does our dirty work.
“There was this shootaround before a game when Tee-Tee was doing well getting rebounds against Brandi. Coach (Doug) Bruno said: ‘Is she the only one who can go against Brandi?’ I kind of mumbled: ‘Well, she’s the only one as strong as Brandi.’”
Rogowski realizes how important McGee is to the team.
“Tee-Tee goes after every loose ball for us and outrebounds bigger players by using her body to push them out of the way,” Rogowski said. “She is pretty powerful under there.
“Her physical defense, forcing turnovers and securing loose balls lead to open shots for us. Tee-Tee gives us energy and momentum and does all the things you don’t notice.”
If you’ve been to McGrath-Phillips Arena, you’ve seen how well these juniors mesh together on the court.
“We have multiple talents and can all play together so well,” Hrynko said. “We have each other’s backs and that brings us closer on and off the court."
McGee added: “It’s like we’re all connected. I’ll fight hard for a rebound and outlet the ball to Brit. She’ll drive up the court and find Megan for an open three. Megan knocks it down and off we go.”
Knowing how to enhance each other’s game has almost become second nature.
“It’s like all three of us know how to play to each other’s strengths and can tell what the others are going to do,” Rogowski said. “You won’t find any selfish players on this team. We share the ball knowing that any one of us can knock down a shot when it counts.”
Your next chance to check out this “Junior Connection” is at 7 p.m. on Saturday when DePaul faces Butler in a BIG EAST game at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Blue Demon Day.