Meghan McCullough can’t help other people’s first impressions of her.

Standing at barely 5-foot-6, the second shortest player on the Penn women’s basketball team, she seems harmless.

“I thought that she was cute as a button,” senior Jordan Banks said, laughing.

And she appears that way on the stat sheet as well. Through 42 career games, McCullough has averaged 4.5 points per contest. But seemingly, she has endured a sophomore slump this season, averaging just 2.8 points per game thus far.

But those are simply first impressions.

McCullough has started all but two games through her first season and a half. Last year, she was second on the team in steals and third in assists. While those numbers speak for themselves, McCullough’s impact on the team is incalculable.

“She brings such intensity on the defensive side of the ball,” coach Mike McLaughlin said.

And her hustle does not go overlooked.

“Meghan will give it her all on every possession that she’s on the floor,” Banks said.

Even in high school, McCullough had a detailed understanding of defensive strategy. For McLaughlin, a coach who instills a strong defensive mentality in his players, McCullough was the perfect fit.

“We knew what we were getting,” McLaughlin said. “She does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score.”

In McLaughlin’s eyes, McCullough doesn’t need to be responsible for high scoring totals. Nevertheless, though she’s primarily a defensive-minded player, her coach still believes the point guard could improve on offense.

“I think at times, she’s a little too hesitant,” McLaughlin said. “She thinks twice before taking the shot herself.”

While McCullough is a prime example of how first impressions can be proven false, her size, impossible to ignore, still proves to be a problem moving forward.

“She definitely could use a little more upper body strength,” Banks said. “When she goes up against some of the larger guards, it’s tough for her to keep up.”

So far this year, it has even been difficult for McCullough to keep up with her own teammates.

The freshman class, which has helped to elevate the program overall, has given McCullough fewer opportunities on the court. Last year, she ranked second on the team with 28 minutes per game. This year, with freshmen Jackie Kates and Renee Busch sharing playing time with McCullough, she’s averaged just 16 minutes on the floor.

That statistic, at first glance, could be seen as an indictment of McCullough’s play.

Or, it can be attributed to the team’s new found depth.

Proving, once again, not to judge McCullough on just a first glance.

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