Hrynko Gives It Her Best Shot at World University Games Trials
May 24, 2013
CHICAGO - Brittany Hrynko got her first taste of the USA Basketball experience, and now the DePaul sophomore guard is ready for more.
Hrynko was one of 31 top college basketball players invited to the World University Games team trials last week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
And even though the talented playmaker did not make the 12-member USA Basketball team that will compete July 8-15 at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, she returned to Lincoln Park with a broader perspective of the game.
"As they were announcing who made the team last Sunday, I was nervous," Hrynko said. "I didn't get picked. But I hope to get invited again for the next trials.
"This was a great opportunity for me to play with the best players. It helped me to see the game in a different way. If I get invited back in two years, I'll know what the selection committee is expecting."
The games and training sessions May 16-18 reinforced a belief that Hrynko belongs in the upper tier of women's college basketball players.
"The experience at Colorado Springs shows people that I can play with the best and that I am up there with the top players," Hrynko said. "There will be some high expectations next season because I was invited to the trials.
"Some people will think this makes me DePaul's best player, but I'm not the best player here. My teammates are just as good as me---they just didn't get the recognition that I received."
Hrynko gave the selection committee something to remember at the conclusion of the trials last Saturday night.
"I was at my best during the final session of the last day," Hrynko said. "My team had a couple of good shooters and two big, inside players. A lot of us were not rebounding, and that was the big thing stressed at the trials. Coach Bruno (DePaul coach Doug Bruno) always talks about the same thing.
"That last session, everyone on my team rebounded the ball well. That allowed us to come together and run the floor. We got a lot of easy baskets in transition."
It was "the best of Brittany" as her team won the first game 18-3 with one point per basket. Hrynko & Co. lost the second game by two baskets and came back to win the third game by five baskets.
"We were all looking for the open player, hitting her with passes and also hitting our shots," Hrynko said. "I'd drive past my defender and set up my teammates for open shots. It was all the things coach Bruno had taught me here.
"Were there times when I could hear Doug's voice in my head? Well, yes---sometimes. Before I left, he told me to play my game and try not to do too much. Even if I'm making my shots, continue to be a facilitator. Don't always look to shoot, and do the little things."
With his extensive involvement coaching USA Basketball teams highlighted by his stint as an assistant coach on the gold-medal USA Women's Basketball Team at the 2012 London Olympics, Bruno is familiar with the USA Basketball program. Former Blue Demon Keisha Hampton played on USA Basketball's 2011 World University Games team that won the gold medal in Shenzhen, China.
It was an apprehensive Hrynko who arrived at the Olympic Training Center on May 16.
"I was pretty nervous until I saw some players that I knew like Betnijah Laney of Rutgers, Ariel Massengale from Tennessee, Shoni Schimmel of Louisville and Odyssey Sims from Baylor," Hrynko said. "Ariel and I were on the same flight.
"My thinking going in was to try and make the team and make the most of this opportunity. The players arrived on Thursday for orientation and we ran through some drills.
"On Friday, we were in the gym for two hours. There was about 90 minutes of five-on-five and the rest of the time was for shooting drills. They called your number for the games. The teams had two post players and three guards. Some teams had two point guards."
The trials were designed to reveal skill sets, decision-making ability, basketball acumen and a willingness to learn and accept roles. The committee chose players who fit together best.
"It was a great experience," Hrynko said. "All the best college players had been invited, but you didn't know what they could do. I knew everyone could score or they wouldn't be here. I tried to play my game and get my teammates involved.
"After a while, I got to know their games and what they liked to do. If I was open, I'd take my shot. Otherwise, I looked to pass the ball and keep my teammates involved.
"Overall, I didn't shoot as well as usual, and that happened to a lot of players. We were using a FIBA international basketball, and there wasn't a lot of grip on it. That reminded me of how I played with a hard rubber ball when I was younger. You just keep practicing with it until everything becomes more natural and you start making your shots."
When she wasn't being a distributor on the court, Hrynko developed some new friendships.
"Ariel, Odyssey, Shoni and I hung out a lot together at the trials," Hrynko said. "I always watched how Odyssey played whenever I saw a Baylor game. We exchanged phone numbers and have kept in touch.
"It was cool that Ariel, Odyssey and Shoni all made the World University Games team."
And that's exactly what Hyrnko will be shooting for in 2015.