Sokoloski: A new level of excitement for Prociak, King’s women’s basketball team


			
				                                Prociak

Prociak

The coolest thing about watching a King’s College women’s basketball game is you never know what Rebecca Prociak might do.

One game, she’ll pull down the most rebounds she’s ever had in a college game, the way she did when she collected 20 boards against Stevens a couple weeks ago. The next, Prociak will put up the most points she’s scored all season, like when she went off for 31 against FDU-Florham.

The former Holy Redeemer star could block a shot with nine seconds left to save a game, which is how King’s opened its MAC Freedom Conference schedule with a win over Eastern.

Or Prociak may just pull out a new move, which is what happened Saturday.

It came in the second quarter of a game King’s won handily against Delaware Valley, 70-50, while the Monarchs moved to 6-0 in conference play and set up Wednesday’s major showdown with fellow unbeaten and area rival Misericordia.

It turned out to be a small part of the win.

But it proved one of the day’s biggest thrills.

Boxed in down low, with her back to the basket, Prociak simply raised the ball above her head and banked it in.

A no-look bucket.

“That’s something,” Prociak, a senior, smiled, “ever since my junior year of high school I’ve worked on that with my father.”

Really, it has become whatever works for Prociak to help her team win a game.

“First time she brought it out,” King’s head coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis said of that overhead, behind-the-back shot. “In practice she does it. Now we’re trying to get her to make them in games. It was the right time, right move.”

It seems Prociak has been making a lot of moves, and her timing is pretty much perfect for a King’s team that’s on a six-game winning streak.

She was named to the D3Hoops.com Team of the Week twice in both of the last two weeks. She was the MAC Freedom Player of the Week three times already this season, twice for her offensive performances and once for defense.

Prociak is averaging 19.4 points, has 183 rebounds after her six on Saturday and has nine double-doubles through 18 games.

But it’s not just her statistics that are special to King’s.

“Mainly,” Hadzimichalis said, “everybody sees all the numbers and physical stuff she does. But we get to see the mental part of it.

“I love everything that kid’s doing.”

The coach pointed straight to Prociak’s film study and mental preparation for lifting her relentless center to a level few in the MAC Freedom can match.

Prociak seconds the notion.

“I think it’s just constantly working on every part of my game,” said Prociak, whose brothers Nick, Mike and Matt were all star scorers at Holy Redeemer and whose father, Mike, is the grade school boys coach at Wyoming Area Catholic. “Every single game this year, I’ve gotten doubled. A lot of it’s mental. It’s just staying positive. It’s never come naturally for me. My brothers, they’re natural shooters. I have to work on it.

“A lot.”

Sam Rajza’s seen this first-hand.

She’s a sophomore guard at King’s and was also on the floor for Holy Redeemer, when Prociak was leading the Royals to a District 2 championship and state playoff victories.

“That girl works so hard,” Rajza said, “Her defensive presence has been so good lately. She’s always been a dominant player. Obviously, she’s gotten better (since high school). She makes it easy to pass to her, she gets open so well. She’s one of our leaders.One game, she has five less points than her average, but she’s going to get five more blocks.

“I knew it was coming for her,” Rajza continued, referring to Prociak’s season of high honor. “She deserves it.”.

It doesn’t always take a career night for Prociak to make a major impact.

She finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s domination of Delaware Valley — some solid stats for a team leader, if not eye-popping.

“She’s doing a great job for us,” said King’s assistant coach Alan Yendrzeiwski, the former Nanticoke Area girls head coach whose teams battled Prociak and Holy Redeemer a few times in high school. “She’s grown her game. She’s a great rebounder. She can score. She’s one of the best players in our conference, if not the best.”

So Prociak is no longer the best-kept secret at King’s, or in the league.

And she doesn’t always need her best performance to prove it.

“When we needed a basket,” Hadzimichalis said, “Becca got a basket. When we needed a rebound, Becca got a rebound.”

Prociak does more than show up at critical times.

She provides some of the most entertaining times.

Like when she scored five points in the first two minutes to get King’s off to a strong start Saturday. And when she hit a jumper from the foul line, which made Rajza marvel, “She’s gained a mid-range jump shot.” And when Prociak floated a pretty lob pass to teammate Emily Morano underneath for one basket in the second half, then less than a minute later, used a wrap-around layup to convert another.

The accounting major isn’t just working big numbers that keep generating player of the week awards. She’s putting on shows that add up to the most entertaining performances of the year.

Paul Sokoloski covers area sports for the Times Leader. You may reach him at 570-991-6392, at [email protected] or on Twitter @SokoloskiSports