Jan. 24, 2000
The transition from high school to college, both on the floor and off the floor, was difficult for Romie De Anda, the only freshman on last year's team.
After dominating at Socorro High in El Paso, Texas, and for the Wired For Success AAU team, De Anda found herself struggling to fit into Harold Rhodes' system a year ago.
"Last season was kind of a learning experience for me," she said. "It was a transition from going to high school to going to college. I had a lot of learning to do. I don't think I was ready to start last year."
De Anda came in off the bench to play in 21 of WSU's 27 games last year, despite admitting she had trouble of understanding the offense at times. Toward the end of the season, she began to show the same flashes of greatness that she experienced in high school, scoring a season-high nine points in just 15 minutes in Tucson against NCAA Tournament-bound Arizona.
Off the court, she was reserved and didn't talk to most of the other players on the team. Ironically, the team's only freshman became close friends with the team's only senior, Sheri Quinton.
"She showed me the ropes and told me what not to do and what to do," De Anda said. "When I first came here it was a culture shock. She took me in and guided me and said 'it will be okay.' Most of the time I would only talk to Sheri last year. I wasn't really in her shadow, but I went to her."
When the season ended, Quinton graduated and left De Anda without her closest friend on the team.
"It didn't hit me until the season was over," De Anda said. "It was really hard at first because I didn't talk to anyone on the team and no one knew very much about me. When she left, it kind of forced me to come out of my shell and be more open and express myself since I had no choice but to say what I needed to say."
Faced with a new coach and the loss of Quinton, it would have been easy for De Anda to transfer to a Big Twelve school that had recruited her out of high school in order to be closer to home.
"Transferring never did crossed my mind," De Anda said. "I don't think that would be a fair situation to leave coach Przekwas in. She was coming in here and if I were to say that since Harold isn't here anymore that I'm leaving, that wouldn't give her an opportunity. So I decided to see how it goes and if I don't like it then I would look elsewhere."
This year has been a complete turnaround for De Anda. The 6-foot-1 sophomore has become more open with her teammates and coincidentally she has become more involved on the court.
"We are really close this year as a team," De Anda said. "Last year, I never really communicated with the team. I only talked to one person on the whole team and I think this year we have become really close. Everyone knows everyone on and off the court."
Through four games this year, De Anda is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game. She leads the team in three-point shooting percentage (50 percent) and rebounds at 6.2 per contest.
"I am very excited about her play," Przekwas said. "I think she has given us (some) solid performances...I think she is very consistent with her game."
De Anda has started in each of the first four games of the season and has mixed emotions about her new role, after being a reserve last season.
"I don't really think I am better off starting or coming in off the bench," she said. "I just have to be focused when I get to come in, so I don't really think starting or coming in off the bench has anything to do with my performance. I just feel more confident this year than I did last year, so I think that has a lot to do with my performance."
Possibly the change in coaching has allowed De Anda to get in the flow of the game and to simply play basketball. The Przekwas system appears to be a good fit for De Anda, as it allows her to play both inside and out.
"With Harold's game style it was get down the court and shoot right away," De Anda said. "With coach Przekwas, yeah we still have to run the floor, but occasionally you can shoot the three, mostly off transition. She has more of a set offense where we try to work the ball inside and outside with the shot."
Coach Przekwas has more of an adlib style of play where the players don't have to run a set play exactly how they are drawn up, De Anda said. Often times a player will choose to fade off a screen instead of curl around it to get open, especially when the defense is trying to cheat around the screen.
The adlib style of play was what first led De Anda to the state of Washington back in 1996 when her Wired For Success AAU team played in an 18-under tournament in Spokane. The team took a trip down to visit Washington State University and De Anda fell in love.
"That was the first time I had been to Washington," she said. "We actually came down here to sight see and I really liked it. It is very different from where I live. It's green here and there are trees. In El Paso, there's nothing but desert and cactus. I really liked it because of the different atmosphere."
After finishing her collegiate basketball career, a different atmosphere is something De Anda is not necessarily looking for.
"I want to be a secondary teacher, an English teacher preferably," De Anda said. "I want to go into coaching, so that's kind of the main reason why I want to be a teacher. "I kind of want to coach high school," she said. "I'm not too sure about college because of the travelling. I want to have a family and stuff like that. Coaching college is kind of like your career. Some coaches do have kids, but it is so hard being on the road. I want to be stable, not moving around."
De Anda has regained her confidence at WSU and maybe she will be able to help restore that confidence to a future player she will coach.