Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
With Connecticut and Louisville gone, this was supposed to be DePaul's time to finally conquer the Big East. The Blue Demons were the overwhelming preseason choice to win the newly configured conference.
However, as recently as two weeks ago, DePaul's chances of winning the conference title didn't look particularly good. St. John's was on an 11-game winning streak, was a game up on the Blue Demons in the standings and had already beaten DePaul once.
The odds seemed to shrink smaller on Feb. 18 at Marquette. DePaul lost by six points and junior point guard Brittany Hrynko played adequately, but not spectacularly. Essentially two games behind in the standings, DePaul needed some help.
It arrived the same night as Georgetown upset the Red Storm. St. John's has continued to lose since and DePaul, with a huge week from Hrynko, took full advantage and hasn't stopped winning.
DePaul's renewed hope hit its peak on Saturday. The Blue Demons had already caught St. John's atop the standings. Now they blew past St. John's with a 80-65 win on the Red Storm's home floor in Queens to nail down that allusive Big East championship that seemed lost just two weeks earlier.
And Hrynko -- the final espnW national player of the week for the 2013-14 season -- led the way. She controlled the afternoon for the Blue Demons with 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
But Hrynko couldn't have won the honor without an even better performance just three days earlier in a game nearly as important. Playing in her hometown of Philadelphia against Villanova, the junior scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range, and grabbed nine rebounds in the 71-56 win.
DePaul needed that boost in scoring in its two biggest games of the season, but Hrynko's primary job is to help others score and she has done that well, leading the Big East in assists at 5.5 per game. That has helped senior teammate Jasmine Penny lead the league in field goal percentage (57 percent) and junior Megan Rogowski pace the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage (46.2 percent, 90 of 195).
Having now lived up to those preseason expectations, those three Blue Demons will try to deliver on another goal -- the Big East tournament championship. And this time, Hrynko won't have to do her best work on the road. The tournament is at the McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago, DePaul's home floor.
Also nominated: Reshanda Gray, Cal; Ny Hammonds, Charlotte; Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford.