Playing Catch-Up With Shameka Christon

With Training Camp on the horizon, NYLiberty.com is bouncing all around the country to check in with some players before they all assemble in New York to prepare for the Liberty's highly anticipated return to Madison Square Garden.

Today, we landed in Arkansas to check in on forward Shameka Christon who spent the off-season competing in Russia. Check out how the returning tri-captain is looking forward to getting back to the Big Apple to pick up where the team left off in 2008.

What was the most beneficial thing you got from playing overseas this season?
A lot of scoring and a lot of shooting. I really had to step up my role this season. I played with Betty Lennox, so we had a good balance going with a decent team, but then she left and I had to step up. So I was shooting more, which was beneficial for me.

Was there anything†beneficial being off the court by being in and exploring a new city?
Oh my gosh [laughs], I canít say. I thought about this while I was there. When I first got drafted, everyone was saying to me, ďHere comes Shameka, a small-town, country girl going to New York City,Ē thinking I wouldnít be able to adjust. But I adjusted really well to New York. I donít know how I could adjust to where I was [in the off-season]. I loved Moscow, but it wasnít that close. When we did travel, it would take a day and half to get where we needed to be. Weíd stop and stay in hotel and then wake up and take a train for a day. Weíd be on a train for 24 hours, it was very difficult. I just had culture shock being where I was. The competition was good, I would definitely go back because I enjoyed it, but someone has to go back with me!

Was Betty the only other American team-mate of yours?
Yes. There were two other players that spoke English, and I had played on a team with them last year in Spain. So that made it easier. One of my team-mates was Latvian and spoke Russian and English, because she went to college in the U.S. Definitely helped having that around.

Itís kind of a crazy lifestyle jumping back and forth in cultures like that, donít know how you girls do it.
Itís crazy. This experience was by far the hardest. Israel wasnít bad, I loved it there. I loved Spain. I loved Moscow and St. Petersberg, but once I was away from there itís like, oh boy, how am I going to do this?

What was the first thing you did when you got home?
Sleep. I slept, because traveling to get back to Arkansas was just in and out of the airports. It took a whole day to get back here. If I had gone straight to New York it wouldnít have been as bad, but because itís not an international airport here, getting home was connecting and waiting the whole time.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?
Being with my team-mates. I kept in touch with a lot of them and it seemed like we were all saying that we couldnít wait to get back to New York. Weíve played together now for a couple of years, so thatís our family, outside of our real families. Iím just really looking forward to playing with them and seeing them. I also just canít wait to get back to The Garden and play in front of our fans. Fans send me messages on MySpace and Facebook, so I know theyíre excited as well. I just want to get back and compete.

Has it ever been so exciting to come back here? Especially given how the past two seasons have ended with this, ďWeíve got some unfinished business to attend to,Ē attitude?
Yeah, definitely. The past two season endings were frustrating, but last season was by far the most frustrating. It was that same scenario, where we played well in the first game. In the second game, we lost it in that fourth quarter Ė I still remember it like it was just yesterday I remember that feeling. And in the third game, we got down by 17. Itís exciting and rewarding just knowing how we came back, fought back Ė we were almost there. Iím just not going to make any excuses; almost doesnít count. But now itís like, letís go for it again. Youíve got to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, get in there.

Outside of basketball, in terms of New York, is there anything youíre looking forward to getting back to here in the city? Restaurants? Shopping?
I think itís really just seeing my friends, my team-mates. I cut out the shopping when I realized how much stuff I had. I have stuff in New York, in New Jersey and Arkansas. I have to stop shopping. I just have too much stuff. My team-mates, thatís just what I am looking forward to in New York [laughs].

So you had yourself a little personal intervention on the shopping?
Yes. I just have too many shoes, I love shoes.

Join Shameka and the Liberty at The Garden to tip-off the summer on Sunday, June 7 at Madison Square Garden. Click here to purchase, visit The Garden Box Office or call 877-WNBA-TIX.