Inscrit le: 27 Mar 2018
|Posté le: 27/03/2018 01:31:58 Sujet du message: mounting praise and remember the lesson from her first USA
|The hustle started when the twins were grade schoolers.
On Larkey Park s concrete court near their Walnut Creek, California, home, Sabrina and Eddy Ionescu took on unsuspecting marks in games of two on two. Five bucks to the winner.
Swear to God, we never lost, Eddy said.
Cash in hand, they floated to a 7 Eleven nearby. We got Slurpees, Sabrina recalled Sunday, beaming at the memory.
As they grew older, the tactics grew more sophisticated. If Eddy s youth teams were short a player, he d tell his sister to get her sneakers from the car, and the game was on. Within a few years, Sabrina would be bound for stardom with the Oregon Ducks, on the short list for national college player of the year and on track to become perhaps the program s greatest player. Eddy is now a shooting guard at a Bay Area college with 6 foot 5 size and range.
Point being, they were difficult enough to guard as it was. And that was before they began communicating their plays in fluent Romanian, which they d heard in their home all their lives.
If we didn t want somebody else knowing what I wanted to do like a pick and pop, or watch me in the corner, or drive to the left we d say it to each other in Romanian, Eddy said. After all, I ve never met another Romanian basketball player on the floor.
These days, with Oregon set to face Notre Dame in Monday s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in Spokane, many in women s basketball say they ve never met a player quite like Sabrina. On a Ducks team loaded with talent and a school record 33 wins, Ionescu is the engine. An unprecedented playmaker, her arrival two years ago as part of a top ranked recruiting class has overlapped with unprecedented success, with consecutive Elite Eight berths. Monday, she became the first player in program history to earn first team AP All America honors.
Oregon s Sabrina Ionescu named first team AP All America; Hebard, Gulich also honored
Oregon Ducks sophomore Sabrina Ionescu on Monday became the first player in program history to earn first team AP All America honors.
She wants it so bad, said forward Mallory McGwire, who has known Ionescu since they met as club teammates as high school sophomores. I mean, we want it too. But I feel like she s on maybe that next level.
This, Ionescu says, is a product of her family s lineage. Her parents, Dan Ionescu and Liliana Blaj, and a brother, Andrei, who is nine years older, were born in Bucharest and arrived in the United States in 1990 after the Romanian Revolution following the fall of communist rule. Seven years later in the Bay Area, the twins were born. Like many first generation kids, Ionescu grew up creating a new path while upholding old country traditions. Often, basketball was a bridge.
The sport her parents knew almost nothing about has turned out to be the perfect place for Ionescu to use the aggression, confidence and competitiveness she says comes from Romanian ties.
The culture is so different there than it is here, she said Sunday, outside UO s Spokane Arena locker room. I still try to hustle everyone here. Huh, Murph?
Looking up from her phone Megan Murphy, Oregon s director of operations, nodded in agreement.
All the time, she said.
After the Pac 12 tournament title game, Sabrina Ionescu celebrates with her dad, Dan Ionescu, at Seattle s KeyArena. The very first instinct for Sabrina was to be accepted by the boys, Dan Ionescu said. She wanted to be with the boys and always driven by that. Now, we know the rest, right?
COMPETITIVE TO THE CORE
Dan Ionescu was desperate, so he devised the twins first competition.
How long would it take to exhaust them, and ensure a peaceful night of sleep?
When you have twins and they re young, all you want is them to get tired, he said.
The solution was Larkey Park, with its tennis and basketball courts and sand volleyball pit. There was no soccer field; if there had been, he might have nudged them toward the game that is Romania s clear cut national pastime. But there wasn t, and the twins were left to foster their own passion.
They gravitated toward hoops.
At the park, they had volleyball and other things, but you can t play pickup with volleyball, Sabrina said. There were always men there playing pickup basketball . There was always competition, which is why we always played there.
Pickup games against men, whether against her brothers at home or parkgoers they d hustle for Slurpee money, became the foundation on which her All America game was built.
The very first instinct for Sabrina was to be accepted by the boys, Dan Ionescu said. She wanted to be with the boys and always driven by that. Now, we know the rest, right?
In 2013, Ionescu wasn t among those invited to USA Basketball s U16 national team tryouts. She went to Colorado Springs anyway and became one of two non invitees to be selected. In the years since, parents who brought their own uninvited children to tryouts approached Dan Ionescu to thank him for Sabrina s example. It remains one of his happiest memories.
She was a program changing recruit, UO coach Kelly Graves said Jordan Bell Jersey, but wasn t on everyone s radar. At pickup games in their hometown gym, Eddy would pick his sister. His teammates looked at me crazy. Then he d feed her the ball, possession after possession, to more scowls.
Then they d end up running everyone off the court.
We ended up winning, he said. I was like https://www.uobasketballjersey.com/evan-gross-jersey-c-9.html, go thank her.
She has since won gold on the USA Basketball U17 and U23 teams and last year earned national freshman of the year honors at Oregon. Her profile rose nationally with every triple double. She was followed on Twitter by Warriors MVP Steph Curry. Through UO assistant Mark Campbell, she s friends with Spurs guard Patty Mills, who used to work out at the same Walnut Creek gym. This year, she broke the NCAA career triple double mark.
You can count on one hand the players I ve coached in my 11 years who have that competitive spirit, said Campbell, who has known Ionescu since she was a seventh grader. It s her DNA, it s who she is. If she would have been a volleyball player, she would have been an elite volleyball player. If she wants to go into business, she is going to be a cutthroat businesswoman.
CONNECTED TO HER ROOTS
On the court, the twins learned the language of basketball, an American game filled with pick and rolls, flare screens, pindowns and elevators.
At home they spoke, read and wrote the family s native tongue. After moving to California, their parents met other immigrant families whose American born children were disconnected from their roots.
We didn t want to lose the language, Eddy said.
During class and basketball, it became the code they shared.
Growing up, Sabrina said, we definitely used our language to our advantage and our culture to our advantage.
Romanians, Dan Ionescu said, are temperamental, hot blooded, talking with our hands traits that describe him and Eddy, he said. The two tell the same story When Dan would shout advice from the stands in Romanian, Eddy would tell him to settle down in English. Sabrina grew up different Settled back, very calculated, very in control of her emotions https://www.uobasketballjersey.com/paul-white-jersey-c-8.html, her father said. If the twins were to play one on one now, he said, Eddy could certainly overpower her physically. Yet she would likely find a way, he believes, to needle her brother into making a spontaneous, emotional mistake.
That s why you see her play so well on the big stage, he said. Some people would be intimidated by the big stage and Sabrina would just kill it.
Romania has little cachet on basketball s biggest stages. The country has produced NBA players Gheorghe Muresan and future league executive Ernie Grunfeld. It last qualified for the Olympics, for either men or women, in 1952.
But as Ionescu began her international career and played in the Czech Republic with USA Basketball s U17 team, Romanian outlets began writing about her exploits. She knows this because extended family members still living in Romania post the links on Facebook. When articles are written about UO s five international players, Ionescu bristles, Campbell said She immediately jumps in and says, Me, too, I m Romanian!
Ionescu was named Pac 12 player of the year as a sophomore and is on the verge of All America honors.
Romanians, Ionescu said, always believe and aren t afraid to back it up. It s why https://www.uobasketballjersey.com/keith-smith-jersey-c-7.html, she said, during practices she might think up a difficult shot and ask teammates whether they think she can make it.
Bet against her at your own peril. From Larkey to the NCAA Tournament, she has made a habit of proving preconceived notions wrong.
Last season, Oregon made the Elite Eight as a 10th seed. This season, built around sophomores, UO won its first conference title in 18 years and Ionescu won Pac 12 player of the year while dropping a record 36 in the Pac 12 title game. In the NCAA Tournament second round, she went off for 29, a UO tournament record, including a a buzzer beating three while being fouled before halftime, a shot that even made her teammates gawk at the sheer confidence required to fire it.
We were all on the bench like, Only Sabrina would do something like that, McGwire said. It s crazy.
Her father has reminded her to be cautious of mounting praise and remember the lesson from her first USA Basketball tryout.
Right now, there is someone you don t know working harder than you, who wants to take your spot.
So she works harder. She has few obsessions between family and basketball, and competition is a product of both. It spills over into her off court life. When redshirt freshman Lydia Giomi recently picked up painting, guess who also began to paint?
But even at the peak of her powers, Ionescu says she is easily humbled.
Basketball might be her whole life, but within her family, the game s nuances still sometimes get lost in translation. And for that dose of perspective, from the old country to newfound fame, she is grateful.
Most of my family still doesn t know anything about the sport, she said. My mom asked me the other day why sometimes I shoot one free throw and why other times I shoot two. I couldn t help but laugh. It just reminds me of where I come from.