O'Hara, Mui Honored for Unsung Contributions

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Women's basketball ranking

Matt O'Hara Their journeys may have been different, but both Matt O’Hara and Kimberly Mui have developed into leaders for the Muhlenberg men’s and women’s basketball teams.

And both were honored for their contributions when they were named to the Lehigh Valley Small College Basketball “Unsung Hero” Team at the monthly media luncheon this afternoon.

O’Hara, who Coach Scott McClary called, “the easiest player I’ve ever coached,” has never wavered despite seeing his role change.

He became a starter early in his freshman season and led the team in assists. But despite his solid play, he reverted back to his sixth man role as a sophomore. After contributing solid minutes off the bench, he worked his way back into the starting lineup and led the team in assists for the second straight year.

This season, with an influx of youthful talent, O’Hara was once again asked to come off the bench. And just like he had all along, he just continued to do whatever he could to help the team, including taking more of a leadership role now that he’s an upperclassman.

“I don’t care whether I’m starting or playing five or 10 minutes off the bench, whatever it takes to win,” he said. “We have so many talented guys on our team, so my role is to find them and set them up so they’re in position to excel with the talent that they have.

“I’ve worked on trying to become a more vocal leader, and most importantly, I’ve been focusing on being the best teammate I can be more so than being the best player I can be.”

Mui, meanwhile, would have given anything to just come off the bench for a few minutes last year when a preseason injury sidelined her for the entire year. But rather than let it get her down, Mui did whatever she could to help the team, cheering louder than anyone on the bench and helping out in practice. Kimberly Mui

She played such an integral role in last year’s “Sweet 16” run that she earned the Player’s Player Award from her teammates for her leadership, loyalty and support.

Now that she is back on the floor playing the game she loves, Mui said she has even more appreciation for going all out on every single play.

“Watching the game from the bench knowing you can’t play is such a frustrating feeling. All I wanted to do last year was get out there,” Mui said. “Now I know what it feels like to have something you love taken from you.

“This award is such a great honor and helps me know that all my hard work is paying off. It’s been such a great feeling to get back on the court with my friends, and hopefully this year I can contribute to another run.”

Both players have already made solid contributions that have definitely had a positive impact on the floor.

Known for her aggressive defense, Mui ranks second on the team with 14 steals and has helped the Mules start 8-0 for the second year in a row and move up to No. 12 in the D3hoops.com national poll.

O’Hara, who averages almost 20 minutes per game, boasts a team-best 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio as Muhlenberg (7-2) is off to its best start since the 1988-89 season.

But to these two unsung heroes, the only stats that matter are the ones in the win and loss columns. And while they may have taken different paths to this point, both Mui and O’Hara hope their wind up in the same place: the postseason.

“It’s a great honor,” O’Hara said. “I may not be one of the guys that scores all the points and gets all the glory, but it means I’m an important part of the team. This is nice recognition, but I would rather get to the playoffs than win an award. This is great, but there is so much more we hope to accomplish this season.”