Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore Rebekkah Brunson will be called upon to lead the Hoyas this year.

The frontcourt of the Georgetown women’s basketball team looked soft at the beginning of last season. With a season-ending injury to junior forward Nok Duany and various injuries plaguing junior center Suzy Bendegue, the Hoyas were very inexperienced at the forward position, having only one healthy starter from the previous year, graduating senior Nathalie Bourdereau. Georgetown needed someone to step up and needed them badly. The lone rookie from last year, Rebekkah Brunson, did.

Brunson won the 2000-01 Big East Conference’s Rookie of the Year award after averaging an impressive 14.8 points, good for second on the team, in starting all 32 games for the Hoyas. She led the team with a .509 field goal percentage.

The 6-foot-2 versatile forward was a menace in the post as well as on the glass. Her 9.2 boards per game led the conference, and her 176 total rebounds broke the Big East’s single season rookie record. Defensively, Brunson made it tough for opponents to take the ball inside, swatting a team-leading 28 shots and making 59 steals.

“She’s always around the ball whether it be rebounding, blocked shots, or steals,” Head Coach Pat Knapp said.

Brunson also had a Big East-leading 13 double-doubles throughout the year including a six game streak. During the season, she was named Big East Rookie of the Week six times.

Now in her sophomore year, Brunson is no longer being overlooked. She is a Preseason First Team All-Big East selection in one of the toughest conferences that features last year’s national champions, Notre Dame as well as Connecticut, Rutgers and Boston College.

Brunson was one of 14 players selected to the Big East Women’s Basketball All-Star Team, which toured Germany this past June. She averaged 9.2 points and an All-Star Team-leading 6.2 rebounds in helping the team to a 6-0 record against German club teams.

Most importantly, she will head a deep Hoya frontcourt that is arguably the team’s biggest strength. In order to play effectively, she plans to go into each game just like she did last year.

“I just want to go out in every game and play just as hard as last year,” Brunson said. “I need to focus on every game and every team.”

With Duany and Bendegue coming back from injuries and the emergence of junior forwards Zsuzanna Horvath and Santia Jackson, Brunson should be able to display her versatility not only as an inside threat but on the outside as well.

“With the post being stronger, our guards are going to get freed up,” Brunson said. “Hopefully I’ll contribute outside and inside this season.”

While Brunson mainly played the center position last year, she can also play both forward positions.

“I would really love to become a three,” Brunson admitted. “However, my outside shot really needs improvement.”

In addition, Brunson will need to improve from the foul line, where she shot just .562.

While her story since her arrival on campus is relatively well known, her past career is certainly less so.

Brunson, a Maryland native, became acquainted with basketball in middle school. She was pushed to continue playing because she was taller than everyone else.

“Everyone said I should get into basketball because of my height,” Brunson said.

After middle school, Brunson carried on her career into high school at Maryland’s Oxon Hill along with current Georgetown men’s basketball team member, sophomore forward Mike Sweetney. Brunson’s ties with Sweetney actually go back past high school.

“I’ve been going to the same school with Mike since elementary,” Brunson said. “We’re cool enough that I would call him a friend.”

While Sweetney guided the men’s team at Oxon Hill, Brunson directed the women’s team to the regional championship game, in which she hit the game-winning shot. In her impressive senior campaign, Brunson earned Third Team All-Metropolitan honors by averaging a double-double in every game. Brunson dominated the competition with 20.5 points and 15.2 rebounds that year.

Coming into the 2000-01 season as the only freshman on the team, Brunson’s learning curve was surprisingly low as she made an immediate impact in her first game. Starting at center in Georgetown’s first exhibition game against the Swedish League team, EOS Malvas, Brunson contributed a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

However, Brunson soon got a much better taste of competition once the Hoyas began regular season play.

“I really had to adjust in college,” Brunson said. “The post players in the Big East were much bigger.”

These bigger college players made Brunson realize that she had to focus on every single play.

“I learned that basketball is a lot more mental than I thought,” Brunson said. “In high school, I didn’t have to focus all the time because there wasn’t much competition.”

After struggling initially, Brunson hit her stride when Georgetown won the Moran Realty Classic in late tournament. Against DePaul in the championship game, Brunson obtained her first regular season double-double as well as her first of six Big East Rookie of the Week award. She had a solid 11 points and 10 boards in the outing.

Brunson also proved that she could raise her game to another level against tough opponents. In Georgetown’s first Big East game last season, Brunson’s team-leading 15 points and seven rebounds highlighted an otherwise forgettable loss to Connecticut, which was No. 1 in the nation at the time. In a Jan. 19 loss at home against Rutgers, Brunson poured in 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Brunson’s season-high in points was 28 in a win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 24 while she had a season-high of 17 boards in a victory at home against Providence on Jan. 27.

While she may carry the torch left by graduating senior Katie Smrcka-Duffy, she knows that for the Hoyas to succeed, there will need to be a team effort.

“Katie couldn’t do it on her own and everyone has to contribute,” Brunson said.

That will happen because she believes that the players know each other better.

“We weren’t as close last year as we are this year,” Brunson said. “We’re a lot more comfortable with each other.”

Georgetown should also be comfortable, knowing that Rebekkah Brunson’s hustle and desire for the game will be around for the next three years.

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