Unsung hero reflects on time at DePaul

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Unsung hero reflects on time at DePaul

Lauren Prochaska has started four games this season, including senior day against Villanova.  (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

Lauren Prochaska has started four games this season, including senior day against Villanova. (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

Lauren Prochaska has started four games this season, including senior day against Villanova. (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

Lauren Prochaska has started four games this season, including senior day against Villanova. (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

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Throughout the year, DePaul head coach Doug Bruno has consistently acknowledged senior guard Lauren Prochaska as the “unsung hero” of this year’s team. Although Prochaska may not lead the team in scoring, her presence is felt by her skill in setting up her teammates. This year she is joint second on the team with 94 assists and is also averaging almost two and a half assists for every turnover, among the best on the team.

Prochaska has been a team player throughout her time at DePaul, crediting her coaches for putting her in a position to be successful and her teammates for encouraging her to make a stop on the defensive or knock down a shot if she is open.

“I think a lot of it just starts with the confidence in my teammates, confidence in my coaches, putting me in positions where I can succeed and do what I do well, and doing the little things (…),” Prochaska said. “Just having teammates in my corner and having my back, it really helps you when know you have a lot of support behind you, it makes your job a lot easier.”

Bruno said Prochaska’s willingness to do whatever the coaches needed has set a great example for her teammates on how to maintain a consistent day-to-day approach.

“I really think staying the course and mentally managing the roller coaster of some games playing 30 minutes, some games playing eight,” Bruno said. “I think she’s really been a stable player, an emotionally stable player and a great role model for her teammates by staying the course and not taking her own self to extremes and get too high with her highs, or too low with her lows. I think that’s all part of what makes Lauren who she is.”

Her contributions have not gone unnoticed across the rest of the conference. Prochaska was honored with the Big East sportsmanship award, joining Mart’e Grays and Kelly Campbell who were named to the All-Big East First Team. The senior guard knows she doesn’t score a lot of points that would otherwise get her recognition and press conference requests, but said she it’s nice to know the rest of the conference has taken notice of her.

“I know I’m not going to score a ton of points that will get me to press conferences and stuff like that, but it’s nice to be recognized sometimes and the coaches around the Big East recognizing it and giving me the honor —it was really nice.”

Through her time with the program, Prochaska has been a model of consistency and a valuable piece helping DePaul win a regular season title in each of her four seasons.

“She is just one of those stabilizing players,” Bruno said. “Whereas she’s probably not our most valuable player, she’s in many ways the player we can least afford to lose. One might say ‘well isn’t that your most valuable player?’ Yes and no.”

Bruno added Prochaska brings a chemistry and stability element that analytics simply can’t prove.

“She can get the ball up the floor against anybody, she gets the ball into play, she creates an offensive synergy that’s impossible to analytically prove,” Bruno said. “As much as I am an analytics guy, I love analytics and numbers and creating how the numbers work, but there is just something about our sport that you just can’t put the chemistry of the basketball team into a model, if you could we would redo it every year, she brings this chemistry balance to us that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet.”

As the season has progressed, Bruno has also seen Prochaska’s offensive game grow to compliment what she does defensively.

“She’s been defending well,” Bruno said. “Now most importantly she’s been growing into her own offensive game. She’s starting to score 10,11,12 points per game. She’s always had a great assist to turnover ratio and that’s continued, so that is the place we are really seeing Lauren grow.”

Prochaska’s defense was on display on senior day when she held Villanova guard Alex Louin to just 4-of-15 shooting. Bruno told Prochaska before the game that Louin was going to be her responsibility, and felt she did a great job handling the matchup. Prochaska said defense is a big emphasis in practice, but during games a lot of defense comes down to motivation.

“Every game one of the goals is ‘keep them in front of you, keep them in front of you,’” Prochaska said. “So (Bruno) is constantly trying to emphasize it during drills and practice, reinforce it. So much of it is your will or desire to stop someone and what you need to do internally to get  yourself motivated to stop the person in front of you.”

When Prochaska joined the program, she joined former Trinity High School teammate Megan Podkowa, but she also joined former rival Ashton Millender who she went against many times during when Millender was at Marian Catholic High School. Both Millender and Prochaska joked they had to prepare themselves to be teammates, but since entering school they have become close on and off the court.

“Me and Lauren were rivals in high school,” Millender said. “Not going to lie: We didn’t like each other. It was like ‘okay I got to go to school with Lauren,’ but she’s wonderful — you couldn’t ask for a better point guard than Lauren. My achievements are because of Lauren — she gets me the ball and she assisted to me, so I wouldn’t be who I am without Lauren.”

As Prochaska gets ready for the stretch run of her time at DePaul, the senior said she’s thankful for the support her family, close family friends and teammates have given her to help her reach where she is today.

“You remember big games, big events, but just seeing your family in the stands is something you are always going to remember,” Prochaska said. “(And then) teammates, if you’re having a bad day or bad practice, or in a case where you can’t practice because of injury, they’re always the first ones there to say ‘hey, you’re, okay you’re going to be fine,’ today is going to be a good day, and that helps more than people would think.”