January 28, 2022
Lauren Park-Lane brings ultra-competitive edge to Pirates
The BIG EAST's 2021 Most Improved Player 'comes to play every day'
It’s a Sunday matinee game and Lauren Park-Lane’s Seton Hall Pirates are visiting Providence College. The junior guard has been finding her shot all afternoon, drawing the ire of the Friars’ pep band. Band members try to distract the 5’6 point guard by yelling and taunting each time Park-Lane attempts a shot.
She calmly steps to the charity stripe and sinks free throws in front of a less-than-adoring pep band audience. In response to their shouts Park-Lane draws her index finger to her lips signaling for the band to keep silent.
Park-Lane would finish the game with a then-career-high 30 points on 46% shooting from the field. She eclipsed that career high the following game, scoring 31 points in Seton Hall’s 84-79 win over St. John’s.`
“There’s competitive, and then there’s ultra-competitive. And she’s ultra-competitive. [She] plays with a lot of heart, a lot of passion. Doesn’t want to lose in anything we do– any little game, any little thing. So she really is a tremendous competitor, as competitive a kid as I’ve ever coached,” Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella told The Next.
Park-Lane has been a fierce competitor since her standout high school career in Delaware. She was a four-time All-State selection and a five-time All-Conference pick in her five-year playing career at Sanford School in Hockessin, Del. As a senior she led Sanford to a 2019 state title, hitting the game-winning shot to clinch the game.
As a freshman at Seton Hall, Park-Lane was the only player on the roster to start all 31 games. She averaged 6.7 points per game and reached double-figures in scoring seven times. The point guard also led the team in assists 20 times.
When Park-Lane’s family moved from Delaware to Fort Worth, TX after her freshman season, it was a blessing in disguise. On the Pirates Talk podcast with Matt Loughlin, Park-Lane recalled entering a training facility in Fort Worth and seeing WNBA players Satou Sabally and Lauren Cox.
“I walk in — and these are like famous people to me because I’m a basketball fanatic,” Park-Lane said. “From there I was like, ‘I need to train with this guy because he’s training with pros.’ I pray, dream, all that stuff to be a pro and I feel like he can take me there.”
While away from school during the pandemic in a new city, Park-Lane put in the work with the trainer that she credits for helping her game reach the next level.
It was her sophomore year, after a summer of working with a new trainer, that Park-Lane put the BIG EAST on notice. The conference’s 2021 Most Improved Player averaged 17.4 points per game while double-figure scoring in 16 of 20 games. She also averaged 5.8 assists per game during the regular season, good for second in the league. Her free-throw percentage of .835 ranked fifth-best in the BIG EAST.
Park-Lane’s sophomore resume catapulted her towards a higher set of expectations. She was named to the 2022 Nancy Lieberman Award watch list for the nation’s best point guard and was a member of the pre-season All-BIG EAST team.
Student of the game
As an upperclassman Park-Lane helps set the tone for the Pirates.
“I try to be more of a lead by example type now by, like, coming in extra, coming in early, you know, getting extra shots up,” she told The Next. “So all the younger players see [that’s] something they should come in and do, you know, so everyone gets better at the same time.”
“I watched a lot of film all this summer on Aari McDonald,” Park-Lane told The Next. “I watched like all of [Trae Young]’s highlights. Like literally everything he did. I watched and I tried to mimic it like in my workouts and everything. And even like with my trainer, I used to tell him like, ‘I want to play like him.’ And so that’s what I tried to come out here and do and like workout and do that kind of stuff.”
“I think the thing I love about her is she has no problem being criticized or being taught or being coached. And I think that’s a good leader by example, as well. Because she’s always, you know, doing that. She comes to play every day in practice. I think those are really important factors in becoming a leader,” head coach Tony Bozzella said.
Park-Lane is clear about her ultimate goal for the Seton Hall program.
“Definitely [trying] our best to win a BIG EAST championship.,” she told The Next.
The Pirates continue their quest for the BIG EAST when they return to action Friday, February 4 at 1 PM ET against Xavier at historic Walsh Gymnasium.
Written by Tee Baker
Tee is a women's basketball reporter and historian. At "The Next" Tee covers the BIG EAST conference and contributes articles and media featuring the WBL, the first professional women's basketball league in the United States.