Freshman Payton Brotzki missed a contested layup in the paint on one end of the floor, surrendered a 3-pointer on the other end and then got an earful from her coach about those miscues during the ensuing timeout.
It could have been the end of her night.
That’s the way it often goes for rookies, whose transition to the college game is sometimes stunted because their confidence starts to plummet as they dwell on errors that are actually quite inevitable in this sport.
But Brotzki’s a little different.
And that’s one of the things Creighton coach Jim Flanery appreciates about the Platteview High School product.
After subbing out his first-year forward following those third-quarter mistakes Friday, Flanery went back to Brotzki with the game on the line. She delivered. Her 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds proved vital in Creighton’s 66-62 comeback win over Xavier.
“A lot of freshmen have a hard time hitting reset,” Flanery said. “Once they make some mistakes, you’re leery to put them back in the game. But I think she does a good job of saying, ‘OK, he’s yelled at me. What do I need to do?’ And I trust her.”
That was evident Friday.
The Bluejays were down 54-49 when Brotzki stepped back out on the floor. She immediately nailed that 3. And in overtime, her passing set up buckets for Audrey Faber and Jaylyn Agnew. She grabbed a couple of rebounds in the extra period, too.
“She competes really hard,” Faber said. “I think that gives her an edge.”
The Jays (10-8, 4-3) have certainly benefited from Brotzki’s resiliency. She’s averaging 4.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14.1 minutes off the bench during Big East play.
She’ll surely play a key role Sunday when Creighton hosts Butler (15-2, 5-1) at 2 p.m. Sunday.
But like any freshman, she won’t be perfect. The adjustment’s still ongoing, she said.
She’s still getting used to the speed of Division I ball. Opponents are more skilled, more talented and more athletically gifted. Scoring windows aren’t the same as they used to be — the All-Nebraska performer led the state at 23.3 points per game last year.
Brotzki’s not deterred, though. She was in the gym firing extra 3-pointers before practice Thursday. She hopes to soon make an impact like she did Friday.
“I’ve just got to be more efficient than I was in high school,” Brotzki said. “It’s a huge adjustment — the pace of the game, just everything about the game.”
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