With only three players returning on the Wildcats roster for the 2017-2018 season, sophomore point guard Lucia Alonso is ready to take the helm of a developing women’s basketball team.
“This year I have to be a leader,” Alonso said. “As a point guard I know I have to run the plays, tell people to move, and do this and that, and last year I didn’t do that as well.”
Last season, Lucia was the lone freshman in the starting lineup, she averaged 27 minutes a game and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc, the second highest shooting percentage in school history. However, being from a completely different country presented its challenges for her both on and off the court.
“It’s different in Europe,” said Alonso, who is from a León, Spain. “It’s a lot more technical because we don’t run as fast or jump as high, so if there’s an open shot, you have to take it.”
Lucia is familiar with European basketball, she started playing for the Spanish national team when she was 12 years old, and has been on every roster since.
“It’s special for me,” Alonso said. “No matter how long I have played, there is always so much pride when I play for the team.”
Last summer she played as captain for the U19 squad at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Italy, adding to a seven-year career in where she’s won two silver medals and one bronze in international play.
“The teams I play for in the world championships are all my real close friends, so every time we play it’s a super fun experience,” Alonso said.
Besides 5-on-5, Lucia has also represented Spain in events including 3-on-3 World Championships in 2016, where she won bronze, and the 2015 international three-point shooting competition, where she took home silver.
“I love playing three on three, you only have ten minutes to play so you need to run. It’s really fast paced and energetic, and communication for me is always easier for me” Alonso said.
Lucia is alluding to the tough language barrier she faced when coming to Arizona her freshman year.
“I remember a play in the first game last year. Dezja (James) had the ball in the corner of the court and Malena (Washington) was wide open, but she didn’t see her. I didn’t know what to say, so I just screamed, ‘Dezja! Mira! Mira!’ in Spanish,” Alonso said, referencing the opening game against Alcorn State.
Learning a new language and playing a different style wasn’t the most difficult thing for Alonso last year. Like most freshman adjusting to college, and being away from home for the first time was difficult.
“The worst part for me last year was being homesick,” Alonso said. “When my parents left me after Christmas in January, the next two months were really tough. We started playing conference then played on Fridays and Sundays, and started traveling and everything. It was really hard. I always missed my family.”
Besides the people, Alonso misses the food from home the most.
“My mom always cooks the best paella,” Alonso said. “She used to cook me food before games, and I miss that so much.”
Alonso’s passion for food extends way beyond her mother’s cooking. She currently is majoring in nutritional science, and is curious on how food factors into biochemistry.
“I think it’s really interesting studying how food affects my body,” Alonso said. “Being an athlete it’s incredibly important that you eat well because you play better, and are more in shape, and the concept connects with my life so I want to see why that is.”
The upcoming season will be big for Alonso, transitioning from a foreign true freshman to taking a leadership role on a Division I Pac-12 team poses as a challenge, but Alonso over the last year has proven that she is no stranger to change.
“Moving here to Arizona, it’s not only about basketball, it’s about life. I’m living here in a new country, everything is new, everything different, so every day for me is just a new challenge,” Alonso said.
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