I’ve not written updates like I did last year but as you may know I’m back in Israel this “off-season” playing for a different team, Ramat Hasharon.
The city of Ramat Hasharon is located between where I played last year (Herzliya) and Tel Aviv. It’s a nice residential city that I’ve really enjoyed living in so far. Many things are in walking distance and there are nice parks where I can take Bella (my dog) and let her run around and make friends. I’m only about a 20-minute drive from any of the nice malls, beaches and busy areas of Tel Aviv.
The season is definitely picking up and we are playing much better in this second round than we did in the first. Personally, I had a very slow start to the season but as of the last four games I’m much more comfortable and I’m back playing like myself again. We recently won a Cup game, advancing to the semi-final of the Cup Tournament that will be played March 13th. In the league, we have a record of 5-6 which places us in the middle of the league out of nine teams. We still have many things to get better at before we can truly compete with the top teams, but we have made a lot of progress in the last few weeks. We’ve made a few player changes since the start of the season and now my current American teammates are Cierra Burdick and Chante Black. Funny thing, I remember us recruiting Cierra while I was at Duke and I also played my freshman and sophomore seasons with Chante!
This is the first time I’ve done multiple seasons in the same country overseas. I had a great experience last season and just figured I’d come back and try it again. The best thing about Israel is definitely the lifestyle. The weather is great, you’re surrounded by nice beaches, plenty of malls, and so many amazing restaurants. There’s also so much history and sights to see, it’s difficult to be bored here and it’s tough to get homesick. I’ve especially appreciated playing here when I couldn’t be home for the holidays. For the third year in a row I wasn’t able to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas but I was able to celebrate both holidays with other American players on the various men’s and women’s teams.
Playing overseas has definitely contributed to some improvements in my game each year. The situations I’ve been in the last couple seasons have involved me playing thirty-plus minutes as a primary playmaker/scorer where I’ve faced multiple defensive schemes, mainly pressure full-court and traps in the quarter-court. It’s quite the challenge because I’m also defending the best or one of the best scorers/playmakers on the opposing teams. I take so much pride in my defense that I’m pretty much playing all those minutes very intensely with little-to-no rest. These seasons have helped me build my stamina. I’ve gotten better at eliminating some of the mistakes I make as a result of being tired. I’ve also improved my decision-making out of pick-and-rolls because of the various ways I’m defended here. Lastly, and most importantly, these seasons overseas have helped me build my overall confidence in my game and I think that’s what everyone was able to see in my 2016 WNBA season.
With all that being said, I’m extremely excited to get back to the States and get the 2017 WNBA season going. I can’t believe it will be my seventh year as a pro— I’m getting old ha! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and that you’re as ready for summer hoops as I am!
Pictured above from left to right: Jasmine Thomas, Alex Cohen, Arron Zimmerman. Keisha Hampton, Tayler Hill, Cierra Burdick, Jasmine Thomas. Bella.