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Freshman Force Leading the Cats
January 25, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
Leti Romero is settling into her role on the K-State women's basketball team perhaps better than anyone expected.
The freshman from Las Palmas, Spain, earned her second Big 12 Freshman of the Week recognition of the season last week for her stellar performance in K-State's 80-74 win over the No. 13/11 Iowa State on Jan 18.
"I'm just ecstatic about her progress thinking about the fact that she's so young in the American game right now," head coach Deb Patterson said. "Her upside continues to be tremendous. As we continue to recruit great players around her and watch her teammates step up and step on the floor and make the shots they're capable of making, we've become better instantly."
While the recognition is nice, Romero says the win meant more than the award.
"For me it's not a big, big deal because I would always rather just get a win," she explained. "Being freshman of the week is something that came, and it makes you happy, but as long as I know I'm helping the team and my play is helping my team to win, that's all I want."
Romero has been turning heads on the court as she is averaging 14.6 points per game and has led her team in scoring in 10 of K-State's 18 games this season, including a career-high 27 points against Iowa State in the Wildcats' upset win last weekend.
She's been making tricky shots and has become the player opposing teams zone in on to defend when playing K-State. Despite being a new player in the league, though, Romero has been playing with high confidence.
"It was a little bit of a struggle at first, and I had to figure things out," Romero said. "I had to learn the speed, how to play tough. It was something I really had to learn when I came, so I think I'm improving that and I'm seeing it. (Playing) well has really grown my confidence."
Along with her tremendous scoring effort, Romero leads her team in both rebounding, with 5.9 rebounds per game, and in steals, with 32 so far this season.
"She is extremely talented and I think that one thing that we do forget because she is so talented is that she's a freshman," senior forward Katya Leick said. "To put up the numbers she does, and to have the composure to play that well just shows her maturity level and shows how much she's been able to grow from her first preseason game until now."
Not only has Romero learned new things and worked hard on the court to get accustomed to a new style of basketball, but off the court, as a freshman, she has had to figure out the college lifestyle while also adapting to a new culture.
Along with getting used to a new culture comes with getting used to its weather. This week in Las Palmas, Spain, it was a sunny 65 degrees - a little different than the below freezing temperatures recently in Manhattan, Kan.
"Well, the weather here was something that I was scared of because I'm not used to it," Romero laughed after just entering the K-State Basketball Training Facility for practice and was bundled up head-to-toe. "But it's been good. You get used to it."
And got used to it she has.
While the weather might be cold outside, inside, Romero continues to heat things up on the court.
She and her team return to Bramlage Coliseum to face the Kansas Jayhawks this afternoon at 1 p.m., for the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Both teams will look to redeem themselves as K-State (8-10, 2-5 Big 12) is coming off of a 71-48 loss to Baylor while Kansas (9-10, 2-5 Big 12) is coming off of a 64-56 loss to Oklahoma State.
"There's always a real high level of anticipation prior to this KU game just because it's a school to school rivalry," Patterson said. "It transcends all the sports here at Kansas State and at KU. It's fun for the fans, the student body, the players and the coaches. You know these are great games; they take on just a little bit of a different personality.
"Generally speaking, you can just throw everything out the window because rivalry games are going to be radical, different, they're going to somehow take a swing or turn that's different than a traditional game you play."
For more information on this afternoon's Sunflower Showdown, click here.