When attending a Duquesne women’s basketball game, one will come across a number of McConnells in attendance. The strong family presence helped draw Megan McConnell to play for her hometown team.
While the family sits together to watch her play for the Dukes, her grandfather finds different perches around the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse to take in the action.
His revolving vantage point is emblematic of Megan’s defensive prowess.
“She’s an irritant,” Duquesne head coach Dan Burt said. “She ticks [opponents] off with her smile because she looks up at you and she’s smiling. And those hands are moving. It’s not going to be a fun night for you if you’re playing against Meg McConnell.”
The guard ranked fourth in the Atlantic 10 with 2.3 steals per game last season, second in the conference in rebounding at 9.8 per game and she set the program record for most rebounds in a season with 303.
At 5-feet, 7-inches, she has a unique ability to read the basketball off the rim and beat out taller players for the board.
“She’s 5-foot-7,” Burt said. “That’s not what makes for such a good rebounder. That makes you appreciate it even more. She’s legitimately 5-foot-7. What makes Meg a great rebounder, and she is a great rebounder, is that she possesses the ability to know where the ball is going and track it and make decisions in a shorter amount of time than other human beings. And then, as she sees the flight of the ball and the path of the ball and all that is going on in her brain, her feet never stop moving. And she is going in the direction of the ball’s path before others are. She is incredible at it. I’ve never had a player do that. She makes us very multifaceted.”
McConnell attributes her success on the glass to her dedication in the weight room. Last summer she added muscle to bulk up as well as changed her diet to enhance her gains from lifting.
And the results followed. As a freshman, she pulled down 3.2 boards a contest. The following year, she doubled that output to 6.4. She saw another jump of more than three rebounds a night her junior year and was a hair under 10 boards per game.
The Pittsburgh native has a well-rounded game. She averaged career highs with 11.2 points and 5.5 assists per game last season as well. Her assist mark led the Atlantic 10.
McConnell was one of two players in the country to tally multiple triple-doubles. She registered two while Iowa standout Caitlin Clark recorded five.
“To be even in the same category [with Caitlin Clark] is crazy to me,” McConnell said. “Those were two games I was able to find my teammates, they were able to hit shots, and I was just doing whatever it took to win.”
The Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team selection posted a 10-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist performance in a win against Brown on Veterans Day. Three weeks later, she accumulated 12 points, 15 boards and 10 helpers while playing all 40 minutes in a victory at Delaware.
Sophomore Guard @megg_mcconnell4 is currently the only player in the #NCAA - men’s or women’s - with ✌️ triple-doubles. She’s also the second player in @A10WBB history with multiple T-Ds in the same season #NCAAWBB x @DuqWBB pic.twitter.com/zwQS1fWOg7— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) December 9, 2022
On top of these statistics, McConnell has stepped into a leadership role for the Dukes, which has increased this summer as the guard enters her fourth year with the program.
“This past year, it really became her team,” Burt said. “She grew into that role as a team leader. This summer, she has made a very big jump in terms of running the team and being the coach on the floor. … She’s respected by all of her teammates because of the work and the talent and the skill that she has. She has a very high level of respect from her teammates, and so she’s able to be an authentic leader on the court.”
McConnell comes by her basketball prowess from her family.
Her older brother, T.J., is currently in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers. He played his first two years of college at Duquesne before transferring to Arizona. He began his pro career with the Philadelphia 76ers and has played for the Pacers the past four years. Their other brother, Matty, played four years at Robert Morris and score more than 1,000 points in his career.
She played with both of them growing up. While she was much younger and smaller than they were, those hoop sessions instilled a tough-nosed style of play in her.
“Playing with them outside and, even though I couldn’t score, they did not take it easy on me,” McConnell said. “They enriched in me — just being gritty. I carried that along through my career, and it’s helped me become successful.”
She played for her father, Tim, for her final two years Chartiers Valley High School. They won all 57 games together and won a state championship Megan’s junior year. Her senior campaign was cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season.
Tim coached T.J. and Matty in high school before switching to the girl’s side and coaching Megan. She attributed who she is as a player to Tim.
But the family basketball connections don’t stop there.
McConnell’s aunt is Suzie McConnell-Serio, who was one of the best basketball players in the country in the 1980s and 1990s. After starring at Penn State, she had to wait a decade before the WNBA came around, where she played three seasons. A Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, she won two Olympic medals. McConnell-Serio has put together an impressive coaching career as well with stops at Duquesne, Pittsburgh and the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA.
One of Megan’s other aunts is Kathy McConnell-Miller, who played at Virginia alongside Dawn Staley. She has made head coaching stops at Tulsa and Colorado.
“I’ve been around [basketball] my whole life, so I feel like I was destined to play basketball,” Megan McConnell said. “Coming from a family that’s all basketball, it’s definitely really cool to see all of our different stories. All of them have set such a good role model status for me to follow, and I’m just trying to carry that on.”