Sophomore Grace Fishbein admits it's been a "big jump" form high school basketball to university-level play, but she's learning to adapt and her confidence is growing.
Although she struggled at times in her rookie campaign, she seems to have come through that period of adjustment just fine, thank you very much.
Fishbein, whose last-second layup gave Memorial an 88-86 overtime win over Acadia Axewomen in Atlantic universities women's basketball Monday, leads the Sea-Hawks in field goal (.528) and free throw percentage (.837).
The math and physics major from Waterloo, Ont., admitted, "Everyone is faster, stronger and bigger (at the university level) and that was a tough adjustment for me last year.
"But," adds the five-foot-11 forward, "I began to understand the work that I would have to put in to become an impact player at this level and then it was a matter of developing the confidence to do so."
She concedes he ball handling shooting still need work.
"Those are probably the most important things at the moment. But, overall, I want to become a more consistent player who can be relied on in all situations," said Fishbein, who has a 9.4 points-per-game average.
Fishbein had lots of incentive to improve her game after her first Lady Hawks season.
"I came out of last year's season disappointed with both our team performance at playoffs and my personal results from the season," she said.
"Even towards the end of the season I knew that I could - and needed - to play better," Fishbein admitted. "I went into the summer knowing this and put the work in to get there. I was extremely motivated especially knowing that in the fall we would be traveling to play in my hometown in front of friends and family."
Memorial Sea-Hawks coach Doug Partridge said Fishbein put the work in during the off season and it's paying off.
"Grace had a great summer and really worked hard on her ball handling, defense and overall fitness," said Partridge,
"The result has been a very strong second season for her. As the season has gone along, she has worked very hard on her shot to improve that area of her game and we are beginning to see some benefits."
That includes her ability to get in passing lanes and create turnovers for the Sea-Hawks defense, said Partridge.
Despite her improved play, there's still plenty to work on, according to the MUN mentor.
"She needs to continue to grow her confidence and her concentration," said Partridge, "so that she becomes a lock-down defender and catches the ball and handles the ball consistently.
"She needs to get physically stronger this summer so she doesn't wear down in games," Partridge added.
In other areas, Fishbein has been exactly what a coach looks for in a recruit.
"She has always been a very coachable and dedicated player who fits in well with her teammates. She has been a joy to coach and to have in the program," said Partridge.
Her potential is "very high," according to Partridge ,who adds that, "It will be interesting to see what her next step as a player is. I'm as interested as everyone else to see what she can add and become (during her MUN career) between now and the time it's all over."
In the meantime, Fishbein is enjoying her time in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference and living in St. John's.
"I love living here (in St. John's) and playing with MUN. We all get along and enjoy each other's company." said Fishbein.
"I like the intensity of the league and the size of it. It allows for everyone to have at least two games with every team and forces a team to prove their dominance over another team two days in a row... well for us at least, with our schedule.
"I want to excel here, both in the game and in my studies," added Fishbein, "so I've learned to focus my attention on the things that I want and work really hard to achieve them.
Described as "serious minded," by Partridge, Fishbein admits, "I want to excel here, both in the game and in my studies, so I've learned to focus my attention on the things that I want and work really hard to achieve them.
"I think my focus has improved a lot and will continue to improve as I become closer to achieving personal goals and as our team becomes closer to reaching a common goal."
Fishbein and her teammates take on the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds six o'clock tonight and 11 a.m. Sunday at the Field House in the Lady Hawks final home games of the season.
Date of birth: Oct. 27, 1990
Height: Five-foot 11
Weight: 160 pounds
Favourite Quote: "If you want to improve be content to be thought foolish and stupid." (from the movie Serendipity)
On your iPod: "Lots of country."
Favourite movies: The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Person you most admire: "My Mom, Debbie Fishbein."
A country you'd like to visit for the first time: New Zealand
Other than your parents, a person who has had the most influence on you: "Kat and Ema Ilic, my best friends."