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A Student Everywhere

February 21, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Megan Frazee plays defense at the USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials in May 2007. (Photo courtesy USA Basketball)

Megan Frazee plays defense at the USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials in May 2007. (Photo courtesy USA Basketball)

Story first appeared in Flames Illustrated, Feb. 2-12 issue

Megan Frazee is one of many academic standouts on the Liberty women's basketball team, an aptitude evidenced by her 3.92 GPA as a kinesiology major. The junior guard/forward is also a student of the game, who received some important lessons during May 2007, when she was invited to participate in the USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials. The knowledge Frazee imparted from the Trials has proven beneficial to her individually and to the Lady Flames collectively, thus far during the 2007-08 season.

Basketball training began at a young age for Frazee and sisters Molly and Moriah. Their father, Jim, who played hoops collegiately at Hanover College, taught and encouraged his three daughters as they developed an interest in roundball. Not only did Jim Frazee begin a process which would eventually land Megan, Molly and Moriah on the Liberty women's basketball team, but he also inspired Megan to continue his legacy.

"I always wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps, as a PE teacher and basketball coach," explained Frazee. "My mom [Tammy] is also a teacher, and I saw the influence she has had on young children. It's a challenging field, but at the same time, it is rewarding."

Before Frazee enters the teaching and coaching profession, she would like to see how far the game of basketball can take her. At 6-3, she possesses uncommon versatility and has excelled on the court for the Lady Flames ever since her 17-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, two-block debut against Virginia Union on Nov. 18, 2005.

Even an ACL injury, which sidelined Frazee for the final 17 games of her freshman season, did not hinder her development. She bounced back with 17.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game a season ago, earning first-team all-Big South and VaSID all-state recognition at season's end. Frazee's sophomore campaign also featured the defining performance of her collegiate career to this point, on Nov. 20, 2006, at Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena.

With the Lady Flames trailing the Cavaliers at halftime, Frazee scored 31 of her 37 points and pulled down nine of her 15 rebounds during the final 20 minutes of play, sparking Liberty to a memorable 75-71 win. The triumph made the Lady Flames the first visiting team ever to come away from John Paul Jones Arena victorious.

Despite Frazee's individual stats, Liberty struggled as a team last season. The Lady Flames lost 12 games and were ousted by Radford in the Big South Championship semifinal round, ending a streak of 10-consecutive conference titles. The team's difficulties were especially perplexing, because the entire Liberty roster and coaching staff had returned from the 2005-06 season, which saw the Lady Flames win 25 contests and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Then, Frazee received a timely phone call from USA Basketball, inviting her to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. There, she would have the opportunity to participate in the USA Basketball Women's National Team Trials, along with 44 other collegiate women's basketball players. At stake were spots on the USA roster for the U21 World Championships and the Pan American Games.

Frazee and Liberty head coach Carey Green flew out to Colorado for the Trials in May and both were able to use the weekend as a learning experience. Frazee did not make either USA squad, but still counts the four-day Trials as valuable.

"It was a neat experience, getting to go out and play against some of the top players in the nation," Frazee stated. "It's not an everyday occurrence. I count it as a privilege.

"I learned a lot of things I can work on in my game. One of the biggest things is that they played me a lot down low and tried to get me to be more physical around the basket."

Despite her size, Frazee was not accustomed to such an assignment, preferring to handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. The Xenia, Ohio, native did shoot a Big South-best 41 percent from behind the three-point arc as a sophomore, but she and Green both realized she would create even more matchup problems for opposing defenses with a refined post game as well. Frazee would also be more likely to get to the foul line, where she is a proficient free throw shooter.

Frazee's education as a post player continued upon her return to Lynchburg. During preseason individual workouts, she spent half of her time doing guard drills and the other half working with the team's post players.

"I battled with [sisters] Molly, Moriah and [redshirt freshman] Avery [Warley] quite a bit under the basket," recalled Frazee. "I gained confidence getting the ball down low, and it gave me more options as a basketball player."

The first major test of Frazee's new-look offensive game came Nov. 25 at Xavier, in the championship contest of the National City Xavier Invitational against the host Musketeers. And she passed with flying colors.

Xavier, the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion, held an 11-point lead just after halftime. Frazee then began to attack the basket with regularity, taking the ball right at 6-5 Amber Harris, one of the nation's top shot blockers.

The Liberty junior made nine of her 13 second-half field goal attempts, most of which came from close range, and knocked down all three of her charity tosses. When all was said and done, she had scored 21 of her 28 points after the break and helped engineer a 61-56 triumph in front of a sizable contingent of fans from her home state.

More of the same has followed for Frazee, who has tallied an increasing percentage of her 17 points per game in the interior and from the free throw stripe. The junior's free throw percentage has hovered around 90 percent all season, and she has separate streaks of 19 and 18-consecutive made foul shots to her credit.

This time around, Frazee's individual success has correlated with team achievement. In addition to Liberty's victory at Xavier, the Lady Flames also recorded their first-ever win over James Madison and are off to their best start in 10 years.

Frazee explained some of the other keys to Liberty's hot start to the 2007-08 season, "Defense is not necessarily something we focused on exclusively during the preseason, but we have played well. It's taken a while, but everyone has come together and realized the importance of our system.

"We're playing with more confidence this season, we are more mentally tough and we are more experienced. There's more of a sense of wanting it out on the court, building off our team motto - ‘Earn it.'"

The Lady Flames' final exam will come at the Big South Championship, to be contested March 14-16 in Asheville, N.C. In the meantime, the education will continue for Frazee and teammates. So far, the interim reports have come back positive.
Paul Carmany is an assistant athletics media relations director for Liberty University who covers women's basketball.