Podkowa readies for bigger role on women’s squad

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With injuries depleting the DePaul women’s basketball team, forward Megan Podkowa is embracing an increased role that freshmen do not normally tend to have.

Podkowa, a 6-2 freshman from Glenview, Ill., is the only active freshman on the team not dealing with injuries. On Jan. 3, freshmen Brandi Harvey-Carr (neck) and Brooke Schulte (ACL) suffered season-ending injuries that pushed Podkowa into the spotlight. The team’s other freshman, Alexa Gallagher, has yet to play this season while rehabbing a knee injury.

“This is a great opportunity for me to play more,” Podwoka said. “It’s opening up my role on the team. I feel like I can make a bigger impact.”

Podkowa, who described her role on the team as doing the “little things” and shooting the ball, came to DePaul after a very successful high school career. At Trinity High School, she earned a spot on Illinois’ First Team All-State in 2012 by outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. During her senior year, Podkowa averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and two assists per game.

Despite her success in high school, Podkowa said she is quickly finding out how different the game of basketball is at the college level.

“It’s been a big change because it was a lot different from being one of the best ones on the team to now having to find my way,” Podkowa said. “I definitely think the leadership that I was able to show [at Trinity] has helped me ease into the role here and that confidence is spilling over to try and get better.

“The first (Big East) game it was intimidating, especially playing against the 10th-ranked team (Louisville),” Podkowa said. “I think I’ve gotten a little more used to [the competition] now. It’s definitely a lot more physical and aggressive. The speed of the game has definitely changed, but I’m adjusting.”

Although she is just a freshman, Podkowa said her teammates relieve the pressure off of ‘feeling’ like a freshman.

“My teammates are all supportive of me,” Podkowa said. “They’ve really helped me learn the offense and help me get into the role.”

So far this season, Podkowa has seen action in 11 games, averaging 15.4 minutes a game. The first-year forward has averaged 4.5 points per game coming off the bench.

As the season continues, Podkowa said she is focusing on the “little things” to improve as a player. She credits head coach Doug Bruno as a major factor for getting better.

“There’s been a huge difference in my game from high school to now,” Podkowa said. “Even the speed of the game, I can feel myself getting faster. I definitely feel like Coach Bruno has helped me a lot with upping my game.”

On coaching Podkowa, Bruno said that “she’s a very versatile player. She can make threes and score around the basket. She can pass the ball very, very well. She still needs to work on her physicality.”

“Megan’s a really smart, great basketball player,” Bruno said. “Most importantly, in addition to her talents, she is a competitive basketball player. She wants to get this right and I can tell she wants to get this right.”

She may just be a first-year player, but Podkowa is thriving in an increased role and assisting a squad banged up from recent injuries. In a young Big East season, Podkowa still has plenty of opportunities to prove her merit on the hardwood.