Mehryn Kraker Named espnW Mid-Major Player of the Year
Release provided by espnW.com
By Graham Hays
When she first took the court to play in the Green Bay women's basketball summer pick-up games, Mehryn Kraker thought she had made a mistake. She thought maybe she wasn't cut out for this.
These people were out of their minds.
Five years later, the espnW mid-major player of the year is the embodiment of a particular brand of obsession that has produced at least a share of 19 consecutive conference titles.
The summer games in Green Bay are the stuff of legend, at least in that part of the women's basketball world that covers the northeast corner of Wisconsin. It's not just that games end only after the player who scored the winning basket must confirm it by then hitting free throws. Miss and the game continues. You see that here and there. It's the way games come to sudden halts. With no coaches in the gym, players take it on themselves to stop and correct mistakes. Older players coach newcomers, and they spare no feelings. You do things the Green Bay way.
There are tangible reasons Kraker is the player of the year. She ranks just outside the top 50 in scoring at 17.4 points per game despite playing for a program that doesn't build offenses around individuals. Either by points or assists, the team leader in both, she played a direct role in 39 percent of Green Bay's field goals. That is equal to Oregon State's Sydney Wiese and greater than the likes of Duke's Lexie Brown or Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.
Green Bay's most prolific 3-point shooter, Kraker also has what is best described as a crafty game that allows her to convert 2-point attempts at the same rate as Alaina Coates or Napheesa Collier.
All of that for a team that beat Belmont, Chattanooga, Drake, Elon, Little Rock, Marquette and South Dakota State (combined record 167-47) and pushed Notre Dame to the final whistle in South Bend.
But tangible doesn't fully explain how a program wins 19 consecutive conference titles or how a team for which almost half the minutes come from freshmen and sophomores continues that streak. That happens because Kraker didn't make a mistake. She was exactly the right person to make sure a culture lives on.
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