After winning the Patriot League Championship as a freshman and making the trip to San Antonio, Texas, for the NCAA Tournament, Lehigh women’s basketball junior guard Mackenzie Kramer spent the entire off-season working to improve her jumpshot.
As a freshman, the Minnesota native started in just two of the team’s 16 games. She averaged 8.7 points per game on 36% shooting during a first-year campaign tarnished by the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of the season was delayed more than two months, and fans were not allowed to attend.
That year, first-year student-athletes were also simultaneously settling into a mostly hybrid-style college experience and adjusting to their new team’s system, which made routines hard to maintain, Kramer said.
“I’d start to get into a flow with the team and then, boom: two weeks of quarantine,” Kramer said.
Kramer said she and her teammates experienced five different quarantines, totaling more than 70 days in isolation.
She believes these challenges helped build the team’s resilience.
“You start to ask yourself, ‘Is it really worth it, not being with your family during Christmas and all?’” Kramer said. “When we won the championship, and I saw the joy on Coach (Sue) Troyan’s face as she cut down the net, it became clear that it was.”
The following season, with the schedule back to normal and fans in the seats, Kramer added more than seven points to her per-game scoring average, leading the Mountain Hawks with 15.9 — the third-highest total in the Patriot League.
“She wasn’t happy with her role as a freshman, and she put the time in to fix it,” Troyan said.
Kramer’s scoring increase is largely attributed to her shooting. After going just 36% from the field and 34% from the 3-point line as a first-year, Kramer improved to a league-high 45% from the field and 40% from long-range. She scored 20 points or more seven times and had a career-high 31 points in Lehigh’s 70-57 win over Georgetown on Dec. 21, 2021.
“She’s a great off-ball reader,” Clair Steele, ‘22, said. “She’s able to navigate the defense really well to create her own open looks off the ball.”
Kramer holds Lehigh’s single-season record for 3-pointers made with 95, and she knocked down five or more 3s on six different occasions. She finished the 2021-22 season ranked sixth in the nation with 3.2 made 3-pointers per game. Kramer was later named to the All-Patriot League Second Team.
Off the court, Kramer has excelled in the classroom. The three-time Dean’s List member was awarded Patriot League Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was placed on the Patriot League All-Academic Team.
Kramer acknowledged Troyan for instilling leadership qualities into her and the rest of the team.
“She made me believe in myself, which is something you definitely want from a coach,” Kramer said. “She’s been such a great role model.”
Troyan, who completed her 27th straight season as the women’s head coach, will be transitioning into a senior leadership role within the Lehigh Athletics Department this year.
Addie Micir, who has served as the associate head coach since 2019, will be taking on the head coaching position this season. In addition to Troyan, the team also graduated three seniors: Steele, Emma Grothaus and Megan Walker.
In the offseason, the team recruited two freshman Minnesota natives: forward Lily Fandre and wing Katie Hurt.
“There’s so much talent on our bench that didn’t get as many opportunities,” Kramer said. “Don’t be surprised if you see a similar team out there this year.”
After announcing its 2022-2023 schedule on Sept. 29, the team will kick off the season on Nov. 7, taking on Stonehill at Stabler Arena.