A freshman who sees significant playing time on a collegiate team is rare, but a freshman who starts on a Division I collegiate team is even rarer.
Kristen McCarthy is one of those oddities at the collegiate level. McCarthy, a starting forward for the women’s basketball team, has played in all 26 of the Owls’ games her first year, starting in 16.
“It is a new experience. The college level is different. I like the fact that my coach lets me play through my mistakes,” McCarthy said. “It’s exciting to be out there playing with my teammates in the Division I level, but I’m still learning a lot.”
In McCarthy’s first game of her college career, she scored four points, had one assist and three rebounds against Bowling Green. In her first career start, she set her then-career-high in points with 14, while grabbing four rebounds against Florida State on Dec. 7.
Since those first accomplishments, McCarthy has set several impressive career highs.
She has scored 19 points twice and recorded 10 rebounds twice. In Saturday’s 65-52 win against Richmond, she set a career-high in assists, with four.
While it seems like McCarthy has transitioned well from high school play to collegiate play, there have been some bumps along the road.
“The biggest [difference] I found is that it is more grueling, and your body takes more pounding. It’s a longer season, so you have to be mentally tough. It’s a real long grind,” McCarthy said. “As far as the pace, I feel that I have done pretty well with that, but I just think that the pounding is harder night in and night out. It’s tougher and hard on your body.”
While there was a physical change from high school play to the college level, there was also a coaching change. When McCarthy was still in high school in La Puente, Calif., she was recruited by former coach Dawn Staley, who left for South Carolina after last season.
However, even after McCarthy learned that Staley was leaving, she decided to join Temple and play under coach Tonya Cardoza.
“I was kind of disappointed when I heard she was leaving, but coach Cardoza and all the other coaches [have] embraced me, and I love it here, and I like it a lot,” McCarthy said. “I am really happy that I stayed, and these coaches have really helped me out a lot. Everything happens for a reason, and I am in a good position right now.”
The first-year coach said McCarthy’s game is composed of many different aspects, not just offense. She has a team-oriented mindset, focusing on rebounds and playing tough defense.
“I try to work hard every game. I’m not always going to be the best shooter, and my shot might not always be falling, but if you hustle and give your all, something good is bound to happen,” McCarthy said. “I just try to give my all and do what I can for my teammates, but you can always hustle, and that is the approach I like to take.”
While some things have changed from high school, one thing has remained the same. That would be her nickname: “Biscuit.”
In her freshman year of high school, McCarthy’s teammates gave her the nickname “Seabiscuit” because she reminded them of a horse when she ran. Over time, the name changed to “Biscuit” because it was too long.
McCarthy is not really too sure how her current teammates discovered the nickname, but she believes her coaches may have told them.
“Everybody calls me ‘Biscuit,’” McCarthy said. “I mean everybody.”
Nick Hollenstein can be reached at email@example.com.