In her first full season overseas, Karima Christmas is adjusting to life on the court beautifully, putting up dominant numbers in Israel while slowly acclimating to life off the court.
Christmas is averaging 20.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals a game in just over 31 minutes through 14 games for Bnot Hasharon in Israel. She has recorded eight double-doubles with points and rebounds and is shooting 50.6 percent from the field.
I think I am a lot more confident and playing a variety of different positions out here in Israel and that can help me be a more versatile player, Christmas said. Playing against great players and bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the game has helped me maintain a calm and collected attitude under pressure and also raise the level of play of my teammates around me.
Even with her on-court success, this is Christmas first season playing overseas basketball and the adjustment off the court has been a challenge.
The hardest part of a full season overseas is being away from loved ones and adjusting to a different lifestyle in a different country, Christmas said. As my first time overseas, it was a pretty hard situation to get used to and you definitely have some days where you might get homesick, but the overall experience helps you get through day-by-day.
Christmas has had a chance to play with veterans Ketia Swanier, Kerri Gradin and Kalana Greene, all of whom who have helped her manage her personal and professional life overseas. Christmas has also relished her spare time and really honed in on the areas of her game that she needs to work on for the upcoming Shock season.
Ive been gaining back confidence and working more on shooting off the dribble, Christmas said. I think being a rookie in the league can go either really well, or you can suffer from slumps and not playing the way you wanted to play. Last season was up and down for a lot of us and I just want to consistently come out with energy and use my strengths to make the team better, and work on my weaknesses so that I can be the best player I can be for the team.
The Shock signed Christmas in July of last season after she was waived by the Washington Mystics. Christmas, a Duke graduate, was drafted by the Mystics in the second round (23rd overall) in the 2011 WNBA Draft. In 17 games for the Shock, Christmas averaged 3.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.8 minutes a game. Christmas had her best game of the season on September 8, 2011 at Phoenix when she recorded 12 points, four rebounds, a steal, a block on 4-of-7 shooting from the field including 2-of-3 from three-point land in 26 minutes.
It's such a blessing to be living out my dream and playing basketball in the WNBA, Christmas said. I want everyone to be able to feel that same compassion from me and my teammates when they come out for games this season. I really want to learn from players and coaches around me, and just make the best out of this upcoming season.
In 2012, Christmas expects everyone to be on the same page under Coach Kloppenburgs system and is confident that that will lead to more wins on the floor.
We all have a level of respect for one another that I quickly learned when I joined the team in the second half of the season, but I want the chemistry that we have off of the court to resonate with our play on the court, Christmas said. We want to win and I know that we will find ways to do it this year.