Feb. 2, 2005
Like many international student-athletes, Artur Surov made a big decision to leave his home in Finland to make the best of an opportunity- to come to the United States to study and play college basketball.
Surov was born in Estonia, but moved to Helsinki, Finland, when he was six years old. With his size, basketball was his sport of choice and his club coach presented him the opportunity to go to school in America. Through his coach's contacts, he ended up at Memorial Day School in Savannah, GA, in January of 2003.
Most athletes who go to a new country struggle through an adjustment period, but Surov welcomed the opportunity, and handled it rather well.
"The adjustment was not as hard as it would be to go to some other countries. The United States affects the rest of the world so much you have an idea of what's going - even through things like old movies. You have a good idea of what to expect," said the Hawks' sophomore center.
"But there were some minor adjustments, like getting used to Southern speaking. And also, the food was very good," he laughed.
Surov was recruited by close to 30 colleges, but liked Coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's the best.
The 7-0 center had to make another adjustment with college life, but it was one he definitely welcomed.
"I really looked forward to the level of basketball here. Adjusting to basketball here was really much easier in college than it was in high school. I was just so much bigger than everybody in high school I would get silly fouls which were only because of my size. Here I could find competition that was close to the level where was I. Actually, it was a relief to come here after high school because I could play against guys my size," said Surov.
That Southern cooking in Georgia had put extra pounds on Surov, which he carried with him until this past summer. He entered Saint Joseph's at 285, 40 pounds more than when he first left Finland.
With some hard work and discipline, especially over the summers, the sophomore was able to start dropping the pounds and it wasn't until the first semester of this year that he got back down to 245. Surov actually grew an inch to 7-1 and he now has the distinction of being one of the tallest players in Hawk history.
"I lost some of it after my first summer here, but then it slowed down and I finally lost the rest of it. It took me about a year and a half to do it," Surov said. "I did a lot of work over the summer on my conditioning and overall fitness. That was one of my main goals."
But Surov knows he needs to do more work to be a main contributor to the Hawks. "The biggest thing now is to become more physical and continue to work on my strength and conditioning. Another goal is to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor," said the sophomore, who has played in five games this season.
Surov, who was slowed with a hairline fracture in his right hand, continues to learn and develop his game and like many of the current Hawks, cherishes the magical season that Saint Joseph's had last year.
"It was a very great experience. It will be interesting to compare all my future years to that one. That was like a model or example of what a season should and can be," said the business management major. "So now I always set my goals according to that year and to try achieve what that team achieved. It's a standard to compare things to."