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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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Berlin, Gwyn honored as basketball's "unsung heroes"

Sometimes, meeting with your coach one-on-one can be an unnerving experience for a player. But for a pair of Muhlenberg basketball seniors, it was during individual offseason meetings that they learned of their new increased responsibilities.

For Alexandra Berlin, the meeting introduced her to a new role on the Mule women’s basketball team.

Alexandra Berlin David Gwyn, meanwhile, was informed it would be his duty to provide more veteran leadership than playing time for the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team.

Both players embraced their coach’s calling and excelled. And as a result, both Berlin and Gwyn were named to the Lehigh Valley Small College Basketball “Unsung Hero” Team at the monthly media luncheon Tuesday afternoon.

During the offseason, Berlin expected to be playing on the wing for the Mules. But when reigning Centennial Conference player of the year Kelly McKeon suffered an injury during the preseason, head coach Ron Rohn turned to Berlin to take control of the offense as the team’s starting point guard.

But Berlin (left) has done more than simply fill in at the point; she has thrived as the Mules have raced out to a 6-0 start, including a 3-0 conference mark.

The senior captain is currently third on the team in scoring (8.8 ppg) and ranks second in the conference in assists (4.67 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.40).

Aside from the stats, Berlin said she has also learned how to take better care of the ball this season, while also gaining a lot more respect for the position.

“It’s definitely been a challenge playing point guard, but it’s been something that I’ve embraced,” Berlin said. “It’s a lot of pressure bringing the ball up the court every time and it’s made me realize that point guard is the toughest position on the court.

“Even though I may not be scoring 30 points a night, it’s nice to be recognized for working hard and doing everything possible to help the team win.”

David Gwyn Despite only being in her second season at Muhlenberg after transferring before her junior year, Berlin has fit in so well that she was voted a team captain before the season. And according to Rohn, that shows just what kind of teammate she is.

“She brings the same mental and physical toughness to every single practice and every game,” Rohn said. “It’s not easy to transfer into a successful program, like she did last season, and be voted a captain one year later. That says a lot about the kind of person she is and what she means to our team.”

While Berlin has posted very solid numbers this season, Gwyn’s value goes well beyond statistics.

The senior guard goes into each game not knowing if he will even play. He’s been on the floor for as many as 19 minutes one night and then never left the bench the next. But while he admits that adjusting to his varied minutes might be a challenge, it is something he said he knows he has to sacrifice for the greater good of the team.

“This is definitely an honor. It helps you realize that every little thing you do on the court has an effect on the game,” Gwyn said. “I’m ready to play every night. I prepare for every game like I’m going to play.

“Sure, it’s hard not knowing when or even if I’ll get called to play, but it’s a role that I’ve accepted. Being ready to play at any moment is something I strive for. I take pride in working hard every day, and I try to push my teammates to work even harder than I do every day in practice.”

Gwyn (right) is such a strong leader, in fact, that Mule head coach Scott McClary sat him down during the spring and told him he wanted him to be a captain, but could not guarantee him playing time; Gwyn accepted. And while he may not be pouring in the points, McClary said Gwyn is a big part of why the Mules are off to a 5-2 start.

“Dave, for me, is the definition of this award,” McClary said. “It’s incredibly difficult for a player to put in the time and effort we demand as coaches and then not call his name during the game. And it’s even 10 times harder when he’s a senior.

“He has been a great leader. He’s not afraid to tell guys what they need to hear. He does whatever he needs to do and is so committed to the team. He is 100 percent ready for every opportunity he gets.”

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