Miller pinching herself in Spain (Basketball)
When Casey Miller of Fairbanks finished high school she figured she’d do OK in college.
Then she went on to become Merrimack College’s greatest 3-point shooter of all-time.
Now 22, Miller had a similar outlook when she joined her professional team in Spain.
Then she went out and dropped 24 in her debut.
“If you work hard and set goals, it can happen,” Miller told me. “I know that growing up in Alaska it is very hard to make it out and play at the next level whether be in college or professional. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication but it is possible.”
Miller, of West Valley High fame, was a consistent scorer at NCAA D2 Merrimack, where she scored 1,240 career points and made a school record 187 3-pointers.
After college she landed a spot with a team in the Spanish Third Division based in Oviedo.
“Life in Spain has been great so far,” said Miller, who has been on scene for a few months. “Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is a very clean city. There are a few cultural differences in that the big meal here is usually eaten around 10 p.m. and what would call lunch is also a huge mean around 4 p.m.”
It’s also a city with a vibrant nightlife.
“On the weekends people do not go out until around midnight and it is normal to return home around 6 or 7 in the morning,” she said.
The 5-foot-8 guard averages double figures, although her minutes have been limited of late due to a nagging knee injury.
Off the court, Miller is adjusting to life in a foreign country. It helps that she speaks some Spanish so there’s not a huge language barrier.
“I understand pretty much everything my coach says to me in Spanish,” she said. “For the first week of practice I really had no idea what my coach was saying.”
Playing up-tempo is the same in any language.
“We play with a 24-second shot clock so the game is a lot faster paced, which I like,” Miller said. “Also just about everything here is (whistled as) a travel, so I have been working with my team on not even catching the ball, just dribbling off the pass.”
As expected, Miller’s Alaska background is a hot topic of conversation with her Spanish teammates.
“They all want to visit,” she said. “I have shown them pictures and they can’t believe that moose can just walk in my backyard.
“They asked me if I could ‘Educate a moose,’ ” she said with a laugh.
To read more about Miller’s European experience, check out her blog.