Junior guard Brooke Schulte the ‘key to the season’

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Redshirt junior guard Brooke Schulte will likely be a starter for the 2015-16 season, giving her the potential to have a career-high season in DePaul’s high-powered offense. (Geoff Stellfox / The DePaulia)

Redshirt junior guard Brooke Schulte will likely be a starter for the 2015-16 season, giving her the potential to have a career-high season in DePaul’s high-powered offense. (Geoff Stellfox / The DePaulia)

Every great team has an “X Factor.” The Golden State Warriors have Draymond Green, the ‘85 Bears had William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and the DePaul Blue Demons have Brooke Schulte.

The “X Factor” is never the primary or even secondary star on the team, but is often time the deciding factor in whether or not a team will succeed against competition.

“The whole key to the season is what kind of breakout year Brooke can have,” Doug Bruno, head coach of the women’s basketball team, said. “It’s going to determine our season.”

Schulte is entering her junior year, and is part of a starting line-up that will have to replace one of the all-time Blue Demons in Brittany Hrynko. However, Schulte is used to having to step-up for a lost teammate.

On Jan. 1 this year, then starting guard Megan Rogowski tore her ACL against Villanova. With Rogowski out, in came Senior Centrese McGee. Schulte became the team’s No. 1 option off the bench.

“It wasn’t a blessing at the time,” Bruno said. “But now it becomes a blessing.”

Thrust into the premier bench role, Schulte averaged more than 22 minutes a game for the rest of the season, averaging nearly eight points a game while shooting almost 50 percent.

The team is now in the hands of seniors Megan Podkowa and Chanise Jenkins, and Junior Jessica January. Jenkins played in the backcourt alongside Schulte last year, and praises Schulte for her presence on and off the court.

read more bb preview“Schulte has so much experience and wisdom,” Jenkins said. “She’s just the kind of player you want and need to have on your team.”

Jenkins is the priority on the offensive end for DePaul, a potential candidate to lead the team in scoring and assists. The chemistry formed between Jenkins and Schulte last season in Rogowski’s lost minutes is a key component in Schulte’s integration into the offense this season.

Although the trio is going to be responsible for the backbone of the team, Schulte is going to need to provide critical rebounding and defensive help. Schulte’s focus is complementing the stars.

“If I can lessen the load for the team, I can greatly contribute to the team,” Schulte said.

A natural scorer, Schulte has been working on improving her off-ball defense and rebounding instincts this offseason. Coach Bruno expects her to improve in both aspects of the game, making her a two-way threat. Expect Schulte’s average of nearly five rebounds per game last year to jump to around seven.

Schulte showed well in the team’s recent exhibition match against Saint Xavier. Although the Blue Demons completely overpowered the visiting D2 school, we got to see Schulte work after an offseason assuming the role of a starter.

Schulte did what should always has been able to do, and scored 11 points on nine shots in her 18 minutes of game time. However, she did showcase the skills that Bruno has been looking for her to develop. Schulte grabbed seven rebounds, three steals, and even chipped in a block.

After the game, Bruno admitted to not having a full grasp on how this season will go.

“We’re still putting this all together,” Bruno said. It’s probably true that the coach isn’t certain how his full rotation will work, but Schulte’s minutes and production have proven her to be a breakout candidate this year for the Blue Demons.