Women’s basketball freshman Meghan O’Brien’s early success should not come as a surprise, said women’s basketball associate head coach Addie Micir.
Micir first saw O’Brien play on the recruiting circuit.
Coaching at her alma mater Princeton University, Micir witnessed the freshman forward’s versatility prior to O’Brien joining the Mountain Hawks roster.
O’Brien went to Princeton’s recruiting camps, where she was able to build a relationship with Micir. Though O’Brien never committed to Princeton, Micir said she was happy for Lehigh coach Sue Troyan and the rest of the coaching staff for recruiting a player with an elite skill set and uncanny mobility.
Freshman guard Ella Stemmer said O’Brien’s height and wingspan at the forward position, which she uses to block shots, makes her a “tremendous” player.
“She can shoot the three, which extends her range and allows her to be more versatile overall,” Stemmer said.
O’Brien credits her adaptability to having learned to play multiple positions in high school. She played center for Chantilly High School in Fairfax, Virginia, which allowed her to develop a variety of skills in the paint.
Recent women’s basketball alum Mary Clougherty also came to Lehigh by way of Chantilly. Clougherty has served as a resource and friend to O’Brien ever since high school.
“Mary (Clougherty) is someone I definitely look up to a lot,” O’Brien said. “She was a great leader here and is always easy to reach out to.”
Just like other alumni, the upperclassmen this year have been working on unifying the team and trying to lead it to another Patriot League Championship.
Stemmer and O’Brien both said the energy each upperclassman brings has helped with communication and their transition from high school to college.
Upperclassmen such as senior captain Emma Grothaus have been open to telling O’Brien how to improve, which has impacted the strength of the team.
Grothaus is a former Patriot League Tournament MVP, and someone O’Brien said she looks to emulate.
Confidence is a trait Grothaus and O’Brien share.
“Meghan (O’Brien) is confident in the way she shoots the ball,” Stemmer said. “If the defender over-closes on a three, she has the drive to the basket in her game too.”
Confidence doesn’t come easy. It comes with hard work, focus and dedication, Micir said.
“The way in which you grow in confidence is with repetition and experience, and Meg (O’Brien) has seen that early,” Micir said. “There is so much upside and it has been a heck of a start for someone coming in with a shortened high school season ready to play.”
Besides O’Brien’s focus on improvement, her ultimate goal is to play team basketball.
“We play best when we are working and communicating together,” O’Brien said.
Stemmer said even if some are not getting as many minutes on the court as they would like, there are other ways to stay involved, like bringing energy to the bench.
Stemmer said doing everything at one hundred percent and playing the “Lehigh brand of basketball” will lead to success.
Micir said Lehigh’s fast-paced offense and team defense is what team basketball is about.
“Any given night anyone can go off,” Micir said. “We have to figure out how each piece fits into the puzzle and now I think Meg’s eyes are wide open.”