Arguably the best player to ever put on the Crimson and Grey, Susan Moran shined on the court for the Hawks from 1998-2002 and has since helped Saint Joseph's to the best turn around in the nation and a berth in the 2006 WNIT as an assistant coach. A former member of the WNBA's New York Liberty, Moran has spent the past two summers playing professionally in Spain and New Zealand. This spring, the 2002 All-America Honorable Mention joined the Rockhampton Cyclones of the Queensland Australian Basketball League. The following is a weekly diary by Moran chronicling her time in Australia.
Wow...so where do I begin? It's only been two weeks since I left good old Philadelphia but so much has happened since then. It all began with a 13hr flight from LA to Brisbane. I had forgotten how long 13hrs can be when crammed into such a small space. Thankfully the flight wasn't packed so I managed to finagle some empty seats together. I ended up with a nice row to myself and caught a couple of zzzz's before touching down...well Downunder! Apart from the fact that my bags never made it (it's a common theme when I travel recently!) all went extremely smoothly...except for the TV cameras that were awaiting my arrival in Rockhampton! I dragged my tired, smelly and generally disheveled self off the plane to be greeted by the local news team. I am sure I didn't leave a very good impression on those who tuned into to WIN TV that afternoon, but I've been trying my best to make up for it ever since!
The weather here is absolutely beautiful. It's getting into winter on this side of the globe but I wake up to a sunny 85-90 degrees every day! The reason being is that Rockhampton is located right on the tropic of Capricorn. After my little stint in New Zealand last summer, where I left the US and went from winter weather to winter weather, this is such a treat. Australia is a pretty interesting country in relation to its weather patterns. I am living to the north east of the country where we have a tropical climate. A little further to the south is a sub tropical climate and the most southern part of the country has a temperate climate. I am glad however that I touched down in Rocky in winter. The summer heat here apparently can be unbearable and I believe it....I've endured a couple of winter days already that were a little much for my Irish blood!
Basketball wise we have kicked off the season on a real high. We have already broken our win record from last year.....which was a whopping two for the season! Yip it's true, the Rocky Cyclones struggled just a tad last season, but we are off to a great start in '06! With three wins under our belts confidence is on the rise and people are beginning to take a little notice of the women's program here, which is pretty neat. We started our season with a road trip down to Brisbane for two games, and when I say road trip I mean ROADTRIP!!!! Our first match was last Saturday at 5pm so I obviously assumed that our coach was kidding when at the end of practice he reminded us that the bus would be pulling out from the stadium on Saturday morning at 2am!!! But he was in fact very serious and that is exactly how my first road trip with the Cyclones got under way. An 8 hour drive from Rockhampton to Brisbane, in a 21 seater mini bus, starting at 2am on the day of our game!!! I'm not sure if I would still have a job at SJU if I made those travel plans for the Hawks!
Despite the crazy journey we pulled out two great wins on the road. Our win against Brisbane on Sunday was a real boost to the team as we had never beaten them before on their home court, and actually had only beaten them once since the league started 14 years ago! At first I didn't quite understand what all the hugging and cheering was about after the game. I thought about reminding the team that we had only won a game and not the championship, but after a quick explanation from our team captain about the poundings they've gotten from Brisbane over the last couple of years I quickly changed my tune and got involved in the celebrations!
Our third win came at home this weekend against the Northside Wizards. This was the win that broke the record from last season so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when two bottles of champagne were popped in the dressing room after the game! I really hope we can keep up the good work because the tables have turned a little in Rocky this year and we will no longer be the hunter, but instead the hunted! It's nice that we've come out of the gates strong but as we all know it will be a long season full of ups and downs....we're just banking on more ups then downs right now ;)
A lot of other journal worthy events have taken place in Rocky off the basketball court but rather than bore you with a fully fledged novel I will save those stories for another day. Suffice to say that the hawk flag is flying high down under and I will be back online to update you really soon so keep eye out! For now I'll leave you with a g'day mate! I'll be in touch soon. - Sue
I know, I'm such a slacker! Originally this journal of mine was supposed to come to fruition once a week, but as of right now I seem to have opted for the once a month rule, please don't hold it against me! Remember how I mentioned in my last entry that there would be a lot of ups and downs this season? (You may not remember it was so long ago!!!) Well since I last checked in with you that has pretty much been the story of my life here in Rockhampton. I don¡¦t feel like bringing down the mood right from the start, so how about I begin with the good stuff!
Well, I have enjoyed many mini adventures into the world of Oz over the past couple of weeks. First on the list was "Beef 2006¨ an amazing spectacle that comes to Rocky once every four years. Cattle breeders from all over the world converge on Rocky for "Beef Week¨ as it is so fondly referred to, and I have to admit that there was quite a buzz about the place. I would compare "Beef Week¨ to perhaps the final four! The best cattle are on show, with awards being given to the top breeders. Daily seminars take place on everything from pasture improvements to herd genetics. And my personal favorite, the "Beef Week 2006 Rodeo¨ is the main event. Now I know that rodeos are not specific to Rockhampton or indeed Australia, however this was my first ever opportunity to get up close to the action and boy do they take their bull riding seriously in the beef capital of Australia. It was pretty impressive stuff. I thought I might give it a go but didn't think my coach would approve! However, my teammates couldn¡¦t let me leave without a quick go on a mechanical bull. Despite their pleas to the man in the control booth to up the speed I managed to stay on¡K.had a major bruise on my thigh for the next week from gripping the bull so tight.but hey, I lived to tell the tale!
Other important Ozzie things that I¡¦ve been entertaining myself with include¡K.well what would a trip to Australia be without taking to the surf! I headed down to a place called Agnes Water one weekend to try my luck on the long boards. I registered for surf school with all the little kiddies, and after being assured that shark attacks were very rare at the particular beach where I had decided to "hang ten¨ I hit the surf with a vengeance! I have to say it was pretty amazing. Very hard to describe how good it feels to actually get up and ride a wave in to shore. My mates took a good pic so I have some proof that I actually stood up! It's definitely something that I would like to do more of but unfortunately Rocky doesn't get good waves. The Great Barrier Reef is so close by that it breaks the surf. Some day though when basketball is over I could definitely see myself chilling out on a beach somewhere just waiting for the next set of waves to come in. Now that I think of it I picked the wrong sport...but hey, surfing was not something you heard much about in Ireland!
Last mini trip I took was to the local crocodile farm. I've been scared out of my mind of these creatures since I got here. The Fitzroy river runs right through the center of Rockhampton and it¡¦s not uncommon to hear of dogs being taken or sightings of these lovely reptiles at the ski gardens, where the locals (mad locals!) like to water ski. I really don't get the locals on this point. I mean there are signs up everywhere¡..."Crocodiles Live Here, They Want To Eat You For Dinner¨ yet the hard core locals insist on frolicking in the water, not a chance! I much preferred to see them behind some bars at the croc farm, and even then I didn't think the bars looked sturdy enough! I actually got to hold a baby croc. It's amazing how soft they are on their underside. This little guy's mouth was taped shut but I still was pretty scared. I'm sure you can tell from the picture!
So last but not least there is the bball that needs to be addressed. Well, all was going great! We were riding high at second on the table with a record of 6-1 when our fortunes changed for the worse¡Kthis is where the mood of my journal takes a nosedive. One of our key players has been ruled as a restricted player. Ok, so what does that mean? Well each ABA team here is allowed two restricted players. Imports (yip that's what they call me!) are restricted as well as any Ozzie players who play a certain amount of minutes in the WNBL, or who have played overseas. One of our starters was reported for playing in a league in England. Personally I think some teams may have been getting worried that Rocky were actually winning for a change and were hoping to take us down a peg or two by reporting us! From our end we were aware that Bianca played in England while taking some time to travel abroad, but she never signed a contract and never got paid for her services¡K¡Khence our club did not see a problem. Well, the Australian National Board has ruled that she was restricted, has taken away any wins in which she participated, and has made us drop one of our restricted players! Pretty harsh I know. So as you can imagine the mood has been really down for the past week. We had to let go of a very good player from Townsville who was playing extremely well for us, and because they striped us of our points we have gone from second in the league to sixth!
Don't fear though...i have done the math and it is still mathematically feasible for us to make playoffs. Right now our team wants it more than ever considering what we¡¦ve been through with this situation. Last weekend we had the best win in the history of Rocky Basketball beating Southern District Spartans for the first time in the history of the league, and without 3 of our starters!!! So anything is possible and we are just going to keep working hard and trying our utmost to make it to playoffs. So watch this space because revenge is sweet!
So that's pretty much a wrap from Downunder. I think I've caught you up on everything that there is to know. The World Cup starts tonight so everyone has caught a little bit of World Cup fever¡K.it¡¦s been 35 years since the Australian team has qualified! Well we have a big game tomorrow against one of our northern rivals...so I better go get to bed. Again, sorry it has taken so long to get back in touch but I promise next time will be sooner. I hope everyone is doing well on Hawk Hill.
Take care for now,
So my time here in good old Oz is drawing to a close. It has been an unbelievable adventure. It's funny how you go through life playing basketball and falling in love with the game, never realizing where exactly it will take you. Playing ball has brought me from my homeland of Ireland all the way to Philly and my second home on Hawk Hill. I've spent a year living in Manhattan and had the luxury of walking up 34th Street to practice at The Garden every day! I've lived and breathed Gaudi's fascinating city of Barcelona, learning Spanish and sampling tapas. I've toured the rugged landscape of New Zealand for a summer, from the surfing beaches of Christchurch to the humpback whale tours at Kaikoura. And now I will gladly add a Downunder adventure in sunny Queensland to my list!
What I've realized while on these journeys is that you can win and lose games, but what you will never lose is the experiences that you have gained along the way. You hold on tight to the different relationships that you have formed, the people who have touched your life, and hopefully the people whose lives you have touched along the way. I guess the point is (being in a reflective packing-my-bags-&-heading-home mood) that basketball is not just a sport; it's a way of life. For me it has been an integral part of who I am, where I've been, and who I would like to become. Basketball for me has been more than just a game. And as the quote goes...the journey truly is the reward.
But coming back to the here and now I'm sure you are wondering how things have finished up here in Rockhampton??? Well perhaps I started with the above paragraphs because a lot of my greatest memories from my time in Rocky will be based upon the people I've met, the places I've seen....and not necessarily the success of the Cyclones! You see I left you last time in the midst of our little dilemma regarding our violation of Basketball Australia's ruling on the number of imports allowed on each team's roster. The result of the ruling was the loss of one of our strongest players, and unfortunately the loss of all our points earned to date. It was extremely hard to fight back and rally the troops knowing that in essence, despite our unbelievable start to the season, we were now in a position where we were playing for nothing. Don't get me wrong now, we were playing for pride, we were playing for each other, we were playing for the love of the game. But unfortunately knowing that we had no shot at the championship we just kinda lost our mojo!
We had a couple of bright spots though that helped us to stay afloat, and for me made the whole basketball experience worthwhile. The one that sticks out in my mind was our home game against then league leaders Townsville. We had lost to them up in Townsville 3 weeks before we got a crack at them on our home court....and when I say lost, killed might be a more appropriate word to use!!! They pummeled us 115 to 87..I know, ouch!!!! So then they came to our place and we finally clicked and played the way I knew we were capable of. It really was an unbelievable game. We had a sold out Rocky crowd cheering us on and we did it. We beat the league leaders playing some of the best basketball of our season and it left you with that warm fuzzy feeling inside! We came together, we played as one, we battled back despite a slow start to the game, and we came out the proud victors ;) An extremely fun game to be a part of to say the least, and one I will remember for many years to come!
So to sum it all up.......Suiting up for game time again...awesome, making a bunch of very good friends...important, beating Townsville...excellent, coaching little Aussie kiddies...rewarding, taking home the league MVP...flattering, some good nights out with the locals...interesting, petting a kangaroo...pretty cool, snorkeling the great barrier reef...amazing, climbing the Sydney harbor bridge...scary, diving with sharks...breathtaking, being back home on Hawk Hill with a great class already verbally committed for 2007........PRICELESS!!!!