Sunday, January 17, 2010

Under the Radar: ODU's Russia

We start a new feature this week: the "Ladyswish Under the Radar Player of the Week." We figure the respective conferences around the state (minus Longwood) recognize the players with the top performances. Monica Wright, Dawn Evans and Brittani Shells already have their share of those honors.

Ladyswish will honor those players who might not have the guadiest stat line but contribute those little things that are often overlooked on a stat sheet. Old Dominion's Alena Voronova is our first such player.

She's "Russia" to Lady Monarchs fans, named for her native country, and a spare part for ODU until this season. Almost a permanent fixture on the bench, the 6-2 forward only appeared in 13 of ODU's 30 games a year ago. She's got the scars to show for it, too.

"See all the bruises," Voronina said, rolling up pants legs and sleeves that reveal black and blue marks of all shapes and sizes.

Don't be fooled by her adorable accent that she is proud to note is not Austrlian, where Voronina moved at age 12. ("Thank God. That sounds too country to me.") Voronia can bang with the best of them.

"I got banged up once, twice, three times," she said. "You know what? I finally said, 'You gonna push me? I'm going to push you back."

Voronina rarely left the floor at Forstyth Country Day, but ankle and foot injuries slowed her collegiate career. Players earn their minutes under coach Wendy Larry by playing defense, and Voronina has started to shine in that role, drawing top assignments against Delaware rookie sensation Elena Delle Donne and going toe to toe with reigning Player of the Year Gabriela Marginean.

How did Larry put the fire in Voronina's belly at the start of the season.

"It's all about you, baby," Larry told her.

Finally Voronina has made efficient use of her minutes, cleaning up her turnovers and occasionally finding the confidence to shoot the 3. When it swishes in, Voronina can't hide her brilliant smile.

"I'm slow -- not that good at moving side to side," Voronina said. "I love to shoot 3s. In high school they told me not to shoot it."

A junior majoring in international business, Voronina is unsure what path her career will take, but she loves travel and big cities. She fell in love with New York City when she took a solo trip there over Christmas break 2008.

"I love big cities. As soon as I got to New York, my eyes sparkled," she said. "I went to Sak's, Macy's. I didn't buy a lot, but I liked looking. I saw a Broadway show - 'Chicago.' Just walking around, there's so many people. I went to Little Odessa. It was cool walking around hearing Russian people talk. You don't get that way here.

"Norfolk's OK, but really, there's nothing to do. I used to just lay in my bed and play Playstation."

Her other indulgences: "Family Guy" and a wonderful treat her mother consistently sends her called Turkish Delight. and best of all, no chocolate. Voronina pigged out on chocolate growing up, thanks to a grandmother who couldn't say no.

"I used to eat boxes and boxes of Milky Ways," she said. "Now I have to go to the dentist like every month."

No comments:

Post a Comment