Maya Moore Making Mark in China
December 13, 2012 -- Maya Moore has excelled everywhere she's played, winning championships from college to the WNBA and Europe. Now she's leaving her mark on the Chinese women's basketball league.Averaging 45 points a game for the Shanxi Flame, Moore has helped bring new fans to the women's game in a basketball crazed nation. "They show maybe five NBA games a week here," Moore told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "They get a good amount of coverage and people love it. We are starting to get a little more interest about our game." The NBA long has seen China as a place for huge growth.
Maya Moore is averaging 45 points per game in China.
While Moore has definitely brought interest with her play, Catchings has tried to mentor her teammates."I think my approach is probably different then the approach of some of the younger players," Catchings said in an email to The Associated Press. "I feel like my job is to teach my teammates how I play and how to have fun doing it." It didn't take long for Moore to endear herself to her new team. Moore, the first woman basketball player to be signed by the Jordan brand, gave a pair of yellow and red sneakers to each of her teammates. Then she started playing and the team only has lost once since. Moore introduced herself to the Chinese fans almost immediately with a 60-point performance in her third game, which just happened to be nationally televised. "The game was against one of the army teams," Moore said. "They don't have a foreigner and they are very prideful. The first quarter I was in a zone feeling good. I hit seven 3's in the first quarter. It gave me a jump start on the 60." Moore was hard-pressed to remember ever scoring close to that before. She had 48 in high school and 48 was her college best. Connecticut and Olympic coach Geno Auriemma wasn't surprised by his former star's success. "Maya is Maya," he said. "Her scoring that many points isn't a real shock. She can really do whatever she wants." Basketball has been the easy part for Moore since coming over to China. Communicating with teammates has taken a little more work with up to four languages being spoken in team huddles. "It's pretty comical," Moore said laughing. "I speak English, one of my teammates is Korean. That's two languages. Two of our coaches are Spanish -- one is the Spanish national team head coach. The first couple days I was there my head was spinning." On the court, there don't seem to be many communication issues. The team uses hand signals, numbers, and Moore said she learned some basic words to get through. "I'm getting better, I know about 10 words so far, I'm learning new ones every day," she said. Moore also has a personal assistant assigned by the team to help her with basics like grocery shopping and getting around. "I think the success to your playing overseas really relies heavily on your translator and how well the team is able to help you adjust to them and being in a foreign country," said Catchings, who also has spent time playing in Korea. "It's definitely an adjustment. Your team and the organization becomes your family while you are over here." Moore, who played in Spain last winter, also has had the benefit of having her mom with her. She came over in October and has spent most of the first two months in China, including Thanksgiving. The two have been put up in a "western-style" hotel for the four-month season. "It's really been great having her around and she'll be here for Christmas," Moore said. "She's experiencing China herself." Among the things Moore has learned to appreciate while being in China are some of the freedom she has in the U.S. "It's kind of hard not having unrestricted Internet," she said. "There's certain things you can't view. Certain liberties you don't have. YouTube, Twitter, things like that. There are certain social medial sites. You're so used to having access to whatever we need. It's different that way."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press