June 24, 2004
Indiana guard Cyndi Valentin just got back from playing for the Puerto Rican national team. Below is a short Question and Answer with Cyndi on her experiences:
Q: What kind of overall experience was it to play for the Puerto Rican national team?
A: "It was good. When I first got down there, it was kind of difficult with the language barrier. Usually when you go to play for teams, you meet and greet each other, but we couldn't really talk in conversation because they mostly spoke in Spanish. The first few weeks were really hard for me. The practices were all in Spanish. One of the coaches on the team spoke a little English so he would come to me on the sidelines and explain things to me. I started to pick up on the language just because I had to pay really close attention to know what was going on during practices and games."
Q: What was the practice schedule like?
A: "On the weekends, we would practice all weekend long. Sometimes there were two-a-days. During the week, we would practice every other day usually. They were usually at night because a lot of the girls worked."
Q: Had you had any experience speaking Spanish before?
A: "Growing up, my parents spoke fluent Spanish, so I was able to catch on a little bit. I am actually minoring in Spanish, so that helped a little."
Q: Was communication hard on the court?
A: "On the court it wasn't that bad. A lot of times they yelled things out like `pick' or `switch' in English."
Q: Did you play point guard a lot?
A: "In a couple games I played the point, but I usually played the two guard most of the time. We had mostly guards on the team. They were all pretty decent. We played well together. We didn't really have a true post, that kind of hurt us, but we did well. We finished second."
Q: What were the games like?
A: "The first game was a big transition. The rules were a lot different. We played with a men's ball, and the three-point line was moved back. There were halves, but they were kind of quarters because at the 10-minute mark, you would stop. It was different, but I caught on."
Q: Was playing with a men's basketball hard?
A: "It was a little different. After practicing a lot, it was easier for me to shoot it. When I first starting practicing, a lot of my shots would be short. It was something I had to adjust to."
Q: When you played Cuba in the championship game, how was the competition?
A: "Cuba was a really good team. They play really well together. They get down the court really quick and had a good fast break."
Q: Do you feel more prepared to go into your junior year at Indiana after playing for a national team?
A: "Playing international basketball definitely helped me. I am ready to play. I am really excited to play this year."
Q: Would you play for a national team again?
A: "I liked it down there. It was a lot of fun playing with the girls. We became a lot closer. I would love to play down there again. It is definitely something I am looking into and would be interested in doing after college."