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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Talya Brugler’s fantastic first season bodes
well for St. Joe’s future

Brugler has posted double digit scoring in all but three conference games this season. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

When first-year player Talya Brugler first set foot on the hardwood at Hawk Hill, she immediately felt at home. The family atmosphere on the team, a promising business school program, and ideal location were important for the Nazareth, Pa., native, but most of all, she knew that she would be joining a squad on which she felt needed.

In an up-and-down season for the Hawks (10-15 overall, 6-7 in Atlantic10 (A-10) conference) Brugler’s presence has made a notable difference, one recognized not only by her coaches and teammates but by the conference as well.

Brugler has now won the A-10 Rookie of the Week Award five times this season while leading the Hawks with 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

“It’s exciting for me,” Brugler said of the A-10 honors. “But I said to my teammates and my coaches, it means nothing to me if we’re not going to be winning. So if we’re winning games and I’m getting that, cool, but if we’re losing, it’s not as big of a deal for me.”

The 6-foot-1 forward is a member of an impressive group of first-year Hawks, as this season’s Rookie of the Week Award has gone to St. Joe’s players eight times so far.

“I didn’t know how big of an impact I would make this year,” Brugler said. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be. But I didn’t expect to get [the award] as many times as I have.”

Coach Cindy Griffin had a sense of Brugler’s potential and saw her possibilities when she first recruited her.

“We knew that she was going to find her way,” Griffin said. “I think the only way you get better is by playing, and so whether it be in practice [or] in the games and as a freshman, she’s getting a lot of game experience. I think her ceiling is very, very high.”

Perhaps the best example of Brugler’s capability for growth has been her rebounding, in which she has been prolific ever since high school. So far this season, she’s had three games when she has recorded
a double-double, including an impressive 18-point, 16-rebound win against Davidson College at home. Her rebounding skills didn’t immediately translate into the college game, however.

“[My coaches] talked to me about it, and it was more of, I need to get better position and get the ball,” Brugler said. “So I’ve been doing that and it’s been working out and even sometimes, if I’m not getting the rebound, I’m blocking out someone so that someone else can come in and get the rebound.”

Griffin noted that the forward is a student of the game and has great floor awareness when it comes to ball hawking.

“She reads over the scouting report,” Griffin said. “She watches film on our opponent, and she just has an incredible basketball IQ in addition to a high motor and great hands. So with those three factors, you know that you’re going to get a lot of hustle plays. She’s going to get a lot of stats just through hustle and unscripted plays.”

Both Brugler and Griffin want to see continued improvement in all facets of the first-year’s game, particularly on the offensive end. There’s likely no better way to do so other than to model one’s game after a favorite player. For Brugler, that would be Breanna Stewart, forward for the Seattle Storm and two-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) MVP. Brugler watched Stewart growing up and began to replicate her own moves while playing, specifically with post and face-up moves.

“When I was in middle school [and] elementary school, I was primarily just a back-to-the-basket post player,” Brugler said. “And then, after watching her play, I realized that I could expand my horizons and started playing around the perimeter and shooting threes.”

Griffin noticed some similarities between the two players so far this season as well. She did clarify that Brugler has ways to go in emulating the two-time WNBA champion and Wooden Award winner out of the University of Connecticut.

“There’s still room for improvement in situations with footwork and what have you,” Griffin said. “But if [Brugler’s] feet are set, and she has a good look at the basket, those shots are going to go in. And so I think from a shooting and skill standpoint, I see a lot of similarities.”

This article was first published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Feb. 21, 2022 as part of the Inquirer’s college correspondent program.

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