She was not even supposed to play this season, but now Duquesne women’s basketball freshman guard Megan McConnell is leading her team.
Though the team is on a COVID-19 pause and has a 2-7 overall record, one bright side to the season is that McConnell is one of three freshman playing who otherwise would have sat and support her team on the bench all season.
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“Meg is our point guard, this is her team,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said. “Meg McConnell is going to play 40 minutes a game, I don’t know how she won’t at this point. She is most communicative kid on the floor even when you have upperclassmen on the court. She is an incredibly valuable piece and she’s not going to come out of the game. I can assure you she’ll play unless something crazy were to happen. It will be good when we continue to grow and Meg will have some pieces around her that will be a little more consistent.”
A lot of freshmen would be daunted by such a responsibility, but those who would place McConnell in that same category have not seen her play.
“I knew I had to step up when Amanda (Kalin) got hurt and we were already out Libby (Bazelak),” said McConnell. “I got told that I had to be a leader out there and I know I am a freshmen so it was really different for me. I was just doing anything I could to help my teammates out. If I have to be the one on the floor yelling and screaming what defense we’re in or what plays we’re going to run, I’ll do anything to help us win.”
McConnell has had assistance from Kalin, Libby Bazelak who recently returned to the court and both Halle Bovell and Laia Sole.
Any potential for jealousy or tuning McConnell out for having to lead as a freshmen was immediately cast aside as it has been a team effort helping her.
Having Bazelak and Kalin in particular, both seniors who have been through countless battles helped in terms of gaining both comfort and support.
McConnell stated Bazelak has been key in particular as she can speak from a point guard’s perspective and can add that communication from the sidelines.
On the season, McConnell is averaging 9.2 points a game while shooting 43.3% from the field. The Chartiers Valley High School alum also has a 3:1 assist-turnover ratio and is shooting 86.4% from the free-throw line as she makes a serious bid at earning Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors.
While the season has not gone how anyone associated with Duquesne would expect, there still is a certain level of optimism.
Recently, Duquesne battled A-10 preseason-favorite VCU to overtime before falling short and did so by battling and refusing to hang its head.
McConnell believes there is reason to believe Duquesne will turn the corner.
“It’s definitely been a struggle but I think we’re almost there,” she said. “We’re turning a corner we just have to get around this bend. I think we can do it. it’s all up to us as a team and how we play together… We’re getting closer each game, we just have to finish.”
It is no secret that basketball has been in McConnell’s blood as her family tree is one of if not the most successful in Pittsburgh but she takes pride in being her own player and growing accordingly.
As McConnell continues her basketball journey, she does so with support from her teammates and the feeling is more than mutual.
“It gives me a lot of pride because I will literally go to war with every single one of them,” McConnell said. “I wouldn’t trade this team for the world or the coaching staff. They are all great human beings and I love being out on the floor with them.”