SE: Young, Lewis, Riche Reflect on Trip Overseas

July 8, 2015
By Kelly McHugh

The game of basketball has taken K-State women’s basketball juniors Breanna Lewis and Erica Young around the world.

Since coming to K-State as freshmen during the summer of 2013, the game has taken the pair to Italy (June 2013), the Bahamas (Nov. 2013) and Mexico (Nov. 2014), but, most recently, Lewis and Young took an unforgettable trip to Gizycko, Poland.

Selected to travel and compete with Athletes in Action (AIA), Lewis and Young spent ten days overseas (June 17-27), where they, along with a roster made up of players from college teams around the United States, competed against national teams from Poland, Latvia and France.

“It was a great, but a different experience. I’ve been out of the country before with my team here at K-State, but this was a completely different experience,” said Lewis, a 6-foot-5 forward with the Wildcats. “With this trip, we were with different players from different teams. We stayed in cabins, and it was very neat to experience the culture of Poland, to have their food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“It’s cool to know that a sport can take you all these different places,” said Lewis. “It’s been a neat experience, and I can now say I’ve been to quite a few different countries. I’ve ben able to experience these places as both a tourist and basketball player, and that’s really something special.”

Lewis and Young were on a roster made up of Marisa Sell (Roberts Wesleyan) Christen Johnson (Northwestern), Madison Buck (North Dakota), Lennique Brown and Julianna Prim (North Carolina State), Ivory Crawford (Illinois), Faith Randolph (Virginia), Lauren Brown (Elon) and Monique Billings (UCLA).

“I think the most exciting part about Poland was meeting all the other girls and playing with them,” said Young, a 6-foot-1 forward, of her AIA roster. “Everybody was amazing, so it was neat to have girls from all over the place come in and play together. Everybody had their own level of talent and we did some good things.”

After spending the first few days of their trip training together, the AIA team opened competition at the Polish Olympic Training Center on June 24 with a 61-52 win over Poland, went on to defeat Latvia, 60-54, the following day, and closed play with a close, 46-40, loss to France on June 25.

“The style of play was a lot different, overseas,” continued Young. “They play a lot more competitively. They don’t call fouls and they don’t care if you’re hurt, they just keep playing. It’s go, go, go; you have to be tough and soak up a lot of things. It made me appreciate playing basketball in the United States.”

Added Lewis, “The competition we faced was good. They were really competitive, and they were really physical. It was always great competition. We had one loss, to France, but even though we lost, it was a very competitive game.”

Along with Lewis and Young, K-State women’s basketball graduate assistant coach Micaella Riche also made the trip. Helping AIA head coach Trent May (Grand Canyon) and assistant coach Brett Vana (Weber State), Riche said the opportunity to coach in a new, different atmosphere helped her grow on the court as well.

“It was a really great experience,” said Riche who came to K-State after a four-year playing career at Minnesota. “Coach May and Coach Vana taught me so much about the game and how to watch it. I did a lot of scouting reports, position coaching and worked with the defense. They gave me a lot of opportunities to speak up, to coach, so I learned a lot.”

Riche said, along with the opportunity to grow as a coach, she also enjoyed watching and helping Lewis and Young compete in the new atmosphere. 

“The referees rarely called fouls, so that was something different, but overall I think the trip was great for both of them,” said Riche. “At K-State, we always preach making strong moves, finishing strong and drawing the foul, so for them to be forced to play like that in three different games, it was really good for them. They both got a lot tougher.”

Last season, as a sophomore, Lewis turned in a successful year where she became the first player in K-State women’s basketball history to register the combination of 300 or more points, 150 or more rebounds, 90 or more blocks and 50 or more steals in a single season. During the 2014-15 season, she led the Wildcats in points (11.5 per game), rebounds (6.4 per game) and blocks (2.9 per game, second best in the Big 12 Conference), and set career-highs in every statistical category. Lewis shined on the court last season, and has only continued to grow since then.

Also a sophomore last season, Young recorded a career year in 2014-15. She scored a total of 78 points, pulled in 51 rebounds, pocketed 10 steals, blocked nine shots and dished out eight assists in her 25 games played and said her time in Poland made her a stronger player moving forward. 

“My biggest takeaway was just being strong out there on the court,” said Young. “It was a whole different style. You have to be aggressive. You can’t go in soft. So, being strong, that’s what I think I’ve taken from this trip.”

In Poland, Lewis, Young and Riche grew together and grew individually. They each had an unparalleled experience on the courts in Europe, and it is an experience that will help them each as they now shift their focus to the upcoming 2015-16 basketball season.

 

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