Hrynko on the rise

Brittany Hrynko is about as unassuming a basketball player as you can hope to find. She’s quiet, humble and always willing to deflect praise in favor of her teammates. Her career at DePaul has gotten off to a great start, but she remains grounded and down to earth.

There’s nothing modest about her game, though, a fact that has become more evident as the 2012-2013 season has progressed. The sophomore from Philadelphia has stepped up in her second season under head coach Doug Bruno and taken on a leadership role a year after making the Big East All-Freshman team.

“I just think Britt has been getting better ever since she got here,” said Bruno. It was a necessity for Hrynko to improve quickly, especially after a Jan. 19 game against Providence when senior and leading scorer Anna Martin left with an injury. DePaul never managed to truly pull away from the Friars until late in the fourth quarter, and it was because Hrynko took it upon herself to close the game out.

“I thought Britt had a really good game against Providence after Anna went out, and I think Britt’s had some good games subsequent to that,” said Bruno. “She had the great scoring game against Marquette where she really kept us in the game with her scoring. I thought her Seton Hall game was really one of the best games she’s played since she’s been at DePaul.”

In that game against Marquette, Hrynko was hitting on all cylinders. While the Blue Demons lost by four, it was no fault of Hrynko, who hit seven three-pointers en route to a season high 35 points.

“It was just a day that I was making shots. I was taking good shots. I took a lot of shots,” said Hrynko. “I just thought I stepped up a lot in that game to put us in a position to win, even though we didn’t pull it out.”

DePaul runs what Bruno calls an “equal opportunity offense,” in which each of the guards have ample opportunity to score. It’s meant for the Blue Demons to score at every position, therefore lessening the blow when a scorer like Martin gets injured.

The game plan has worked to perfection, especially for Hrynko. Her scoring average has gone up and her chemistry with freshman point guard Chanise Jenkins is off the charts. But when it comes to the end of the game, equal opportunity gets thrown out the window – Hrynko has proven the ball needs to be in her hands.

She closed out a 57-55 win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 29 with a jumper with four seconds left, and then denied Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th career win with a cold-blooded three-pointer with 10.2 seconds on the clock to seal a 60-57 victory.

Her heroics in crunch time are impressive, but Hrynko prefers to look at things differently. “It feels good that I hit both of those shots,” she said, “and it feels good [my teammates] know they have someone to trust. But at the same time, it’s a team game. If we had done what we were supposed to have done earlier in the game, we wouldn’t have been in that position.”

It’s this mentality that has made Hrynko such a successful player. No matter what happens in the game, she knows that there are always improvements to be made. Good or bad, nothing is perfect and practice is always important.

In big games against Connecticut and Louisville, Hrynko went a combined 2-of- 29 for 11 points. Instead of feeling down, she looked at it as an opportunity to improve as a player and a leader.

“Just try to let it go. Just try to get better in practice,” said Hrynko. “Just not think about it too much.”

“She has a baseball player’s mentality,” said Bruno. “The best players in baseball are successful three out of 10 times. It’s all about how you deal with disappointment. Britt came back 48 hours later [after the Connecticut game] and hit the winning shot against Rutgers. She had that ice in her veins… we needed that game against Rutgers.”

DePaul is still in the picture for an NCAA tournament berth thanks to Hrynko’s heroics. But in typical fashion, she’d rather not take the credit.

“Everyone’s stepping up and playing a bigger role than they were usually playing, not just me,” said Hrynko. “We need to get better, not just myself but everyone as a team.”