European Connections in the Women’s Basketball team

Trey Lower, Staff Writer

Wingate University’s Lady Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 2016-17 season, which lead them to advance to the second round of the Southeast Regional.

Photo source Wingate University Athletics

While the season ended earlier than they would’ve wanted, there were many bright spots for the team. One of those was the addition of Marta Miscenko, from Riga, Latvia. But how did she end up playing basketball at Wingate, of all places?

“The assistant coach at UTEP was from Poland” Miscenko said. “I had practice in this big gym, and that’s where she saw me, in Latvia. She started asking my coach ‘how old is she’ when I was in the 8th grade or 9th grade” Miscenko said. “I ended up going [to the US] and graduating from high school, so I was there for my junior and senior year.”

The 6’4 Miscenko committed to play basketball at UTEP, but ultimately transferred to Wingate. The star center of the basketball team grew up in the Baltic nation of Latvia, a country known more for its love of hockey than its basketball. Yet, she ended up here, walking into Cuddy Arena for practice every afternoon with her teammates. However, basketball isn’t something she initially wanted to do.

“My best friend played basketball at that time, and I wasn’t really into sports. My mom started making me go to basketball practices, and that’s how I started”. The rest is history.

Miscenko was one of the key offensive weapons for the Lady Bulldogs this season, averaging 13.8 points per game, tied for the team lead. In addition, Miscenko averaged about 48% shooting during the season, with most of those coming inside the paint, her key area, and also averaging nearly ten rebounds and over two blocks per game.

Miscenko said the style of play is somewhat different in the US than it is in Europe. “The style of play is different. Over here, it’s more individually tendered. There’s usually one or two players that don’t necessarily take over the team, but are the most scoring [points] players” she said. “In Europe, it’s more of a team sport. There’s several players that score the points. Basketball is a team sport, so I like to play when there is a team effort, and it could be over there or over here,”  Miscenko said.

The Latvian was also quick to praise coach Ann Hancock.“She cares about all of the players, even after you’re done playing. She has such a good relationship with her players, it’s great. She’s your friend after basketball”.

When it comes to in-season, Miscenko also had words of admiration for the Wingate alum and current coach. “When it comes to basketball, she is willing to help you, work with you; at a D-I level, the coach should care about the players, whereas they didn’t when I played there [at UTEP], whereas over here Coach Hancock is like ‘we’ll do whatever it takes to make you better’”.

While Miscenko enjoys basketball, she’s not quite sure she sees herself playing after college. The junior has aspirations to be either a physical therapist or a chiropractor.

But for the time being, Wingate’s Lady Bulldogs will get to enjoy the talents of Marta Miscenko just a little while longer.

Edited by: Brea Childs

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