Connor Merinder has always been a “whatever it takes” kind of athlete.
He proved that at Andover High as a stalwart hoop player for Dave Fazio, defensively, under the boards and as a scorer from various positions on the court. He was a key member of the Golden Warriors’ journey to the Division 1 North final in 2014.
Now, as a 6-foot-5 senior at Trinity College, he’s proving it again.
Merinder started at forward last year, leading the 15-10 Bantams in rebounds and blocked shots. At the end of the season, Trinity head coach Jamie Cosgrove had a little chat with him.
“He talked to me about taking more 3s and opening things up,” said Merinder. “We have a sophomore (6-6 Donald Jorden) who does a lot of the rebounding and I’m moving more toward being a guard with us using a four-guard offense.”
Following Cosgrove’s vision for his senior year, Merinder knew that he needed to work on his 3-point shooting, and that’s exactly what he did over the summer while back in Andover.
“I worked out a little in Boston, I did shooting drills with Rich Gorman in the North Andover center and my dad helped out,” said Merinder. “I was all over the place. I tried to take at least 200-300 shots a week, probably a lot more.”
All of that work has obviously paid off. Merinder’s scoring average has jumped to 8.3 points a game and much of that jump has been because of 3-pointers. In fact, after six games, he led all of the NESCAC in 3-pointer percentage at 66 percent and, after nine games (7-2), he had dipped only slightly while hitting 12 of 24.
“It’s crazy but I’m enjoying it and I feel pretty good about it,” he said. “The coach was telling me last week that I had already made more 3s than I took all of last year.”
In addition to his 3-point shooting, Merinder is still the team’s second leading rebounder (6.4 per game) and he’s doing everything he can to contribute as a captain.
“It’s a lot different this year and I feel a lot of responsibility — I feel I have to lift the guys through everything,” said Merinder. “When things are going well, it’s great but when things are tough, they’re really tough.
“But I love it, love leading the guys. I’m glad I’m a captain.”
The responsibility seems particularly large, but could be equally rewarding, because Trinity has ambitious goals for the season.
“The first two years I was here we won the NESCAC but we fell short last year,” began Merinder, a neuroscience major who may go to graduate school in the fall. “We want to win it this year to make it three out of four. But we also want to go further in the (NCAA) tournament than any Trinity team has gone, past the final 16 teams.”
With that in mind, Merinder wants to do “whatever it takes,” especially since he realizes that his playing days are drawing to a close.
“Thinking about it (his career ending) is bittersweet,” he said. “You want to cherish it as much as you can.”
Trinity College’s Connor Merinder is the last of four siblings to compete in college.
Meagan Merinder — Played volleyball at Holy Cross
Jennifer Merinder — Played volleyball, ran track at Union College
Bjorn Merinder — Played tennis at Fairfield University
Connor Merinder — Playing basketball at Trinity College