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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Challenges on court not stopping Karlen from having notable first year

Liza Karlen shoots a jumper in Marquette’s game against Belmont Dec. 16. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Every year a new group of first-year players enter campus, ready to enhance their athletic career at the college level. Many might have been dreaming about the moment for years. Others are exploring their new chapter of life with all the amenities of the college environment, along with their sports team. 

“I feel for my freshmen every day and freshmen around the country,” women’s basketball head coach Megan Duffy said. “This is not how college is supposed to look, this is not how college basketball is supposed to look.”

Those first-years may have pictured they would be entering a time where they are able to roam freely around, meet new people and enjoy the campus. However, it is safe to say that the Marquette women’s basketball program has not had the most usual start to their basketball season. With adjustments that first-year players have had to accommodate to on top of extra safety precautions due COVID-19, their time on campus has been anything but usual.

“I am just really proud of how tough they are,” Duffy said. “They have kept a positive attitude whether it’s been the quarantines or changes in schedule. You are trying to get your own life together as a freshman (student) and a routine, but then throwing this and the pressures of college basketball in can be stressful.”

The Marquette women’s basketball team added four first-year players to their roster this season. Among those four players is 6-foot-2 forward Liza Karlen. 

With the season now in full swing, the Golden Eagles are standing at second in the BIG EAST Conference as of Feb. 1, only trailing UConn by two games in BIG EAST play. Karlen and the other first-year players have found their place on the team despite the challenges that they have faced.

“It has been tough, especially because we got that preseason stolen from us a little bit,” Karlen said. “During the fall (we were) in and out of situations with COVID. So it has been kind of tricky, but I think it has definitely helped us, as freshmen, mature and to be ready all the time no matter what situation we are in.”

Karlen entered Marquette as a nationally ranked prospect. While attending Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota she raked up 2,098 career points and 1,248 rebounds. Since she has been in a Marquette uniform, she has not backed down from her aggressive gameplay.

The first-year forward has been a key asset coming off the bench for Marquette. She is averaging 5.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.6 assists through eight games of play. 

“Liza works extremely hard,” Duffy said. “A big thing she works on everyday is her confidence, and the more confident she becomes and the more game reps she gets you are going to start seeing more numbers off the bench.”

In a matchup against St. John’s Dec. 16, Karlen helped her team to a comeback win. She scored nine points during a game that all came in the second half to compliment her five rebounds and two assists. 

“The St. John’s game was a close game,” Karlen said. “We didn’t really play the best we could in the first half, so just seeing our team have the ability to switch in the second half shows huge potential for our team as a whole.”

Coach Duffy said that Karlen has shown that she can come in clutch to help the team in big-game situations, which the rest of the team can then feed off of.

“One thing she has proven for us is making big timely shots in her young career, end of shot clock or when we are struggling to score at times. She is starting to show us that, which is pretty cool looking ahead to what she can accomplish in her career.” 

Karlen has been gradually and comfortably improving her play every time she steps onto the court. In a Dec. 22 game against Xavier, she posted a career-high 10 points with five rebounds.

She most recently had one point and three rebounds against Georgetown Jan. 20 after roughly a month-long break for competition play due to winter break and COVID-19 protocol canceling early January games. 

“A big part of that (success on the court) is (from) the upperclassmen and coach Duffy,” Karlen said. “The confidence that they have for me is huge for me to keep my composure on the court, so just the fact that coach Duffy trusts me in putting me out there and the upperclassmen trust me in any situation … it is huge for me mentally because it gives me the confidence to step up whenever I can.”

This story was written by Molly Gretzlock. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @mollygretzlock.

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