Q&A with Armelie Lumanu

April 21, 2010

Second-round draft pick Armelie Lumanu will enter Indiana Fever training camp this weekend hoping to earn a roster berth and represent Indiana during the 2010 regular season. Originally from the French-speaking Congo, Lumanu follows former center Bernadette Ngoyisa as Fever training camp players from the African nation.

She came to the United State to attend Southeastern Illinois College before venturing to Mississippi State where she and Congolese teammate Chanel Mokango helped guide the Bulldogs to the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

A second team All-SEC selection and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, he 5-9 combo guard/forward is known for her defense and athleticism. Prior to the opening of camp, Lumanu took time to answer questions for FeverBasketball.com.

FeverBasketball.com: You were one of three Mississippi State players to be drafted this year after a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Was there a point in your senior season (or earlier) that you began thinking about playing in the WNBA?
Armelie Lumanu: “Playing in the WNBA has always been my dream since I started playing at the age of 10. However, I was not sure when it was going to happen. Fortunately, that dream has become a reality after two years of hard work at Mississippi State University.”

FB: What was your motivation to come to the United States?
AL: “Getting to WNBA was my motivation to coming to the United States. I told myself, ‘if I go to the U.S. and work hard, there would be a chance for me to go the WNBA.’ Also, my high school coach encouraged me to come to the United States so I could get an opportunity to play professionally. I would always play hard whether I was sick, or not.”

FB: If you had not been drafted by the Indiana Fever, what do you think you would be doing this summer?
AL: “I had always been praying day and night to God so I could make it to WNBA. However, if I was not drafted, I would have gone to Europe to play basketball there.”

FB: What was your college major and is there a career you would like to pursue besides basketball?
AL: “My college major was interdisciplinary studies.  Beside basketball, I would probably get married and have kids.”

FB: You and your Mississippi State teammate (Chanel Mokango) both are from The Congo. Can you tell the Fever fans a little about when you came to the U.S., and what has been your path through school and college before attending Mississippi State?
AL: “Before Chanel and I came here in 2006, we were both playing for the Congo basketball national team. When we moved here, we went to school at the junior college in Illinois before we transferred to Mississippi State University.”

FB: The Fever had a player from The Congo a couple of years ago, Bernadette Ngoyisa. Fever fans learned about her, and learned that her native language was French. How many languages do you speak and how well do you speak English?
AL: “I speak French and Lingala fluently. Lingala is our local language and now I am trying to learn how to speak English very well.”

FB: Can you tell us a little about your family? Have they followed you to the U.S., or are they still home in your native country?
AL: “My family is still in Congo. I have one brother and one sister. My father and mother have been following my career since I started playing basketball. My parents actually cried when I told them I was drafted to WNBA by the Indiana Fever. My parents really pushed me hard to become a better basketball player because they know I love basketball.”

FB: Describe your game for us. What kind of a player is Armelie Lumanu? What is the best part of your game? What is something you need to work on?
AL: “First of all I am a fierce competitor. I played hard for my team and I do everything that coaching staff asks me to do. The best part of my game is playing defense, attacking the rim, and setting up my teammates for easy shots. I need to work on my 3-point shooting and free throws.”

FB: What do you like to do when you are not playing basketball? Any favorite hobbies or interests?
AL: “My favorite hobbies are watching television, swimming, and dancing.”

FB: Can you tell us something special about your family?
AL: “My daddy is a great boxer and he taught me how to work hard in everything.”

FB: Do you have any superstitions or pregame rituals?
AL: “I have to take a nap before every game.”