International Kernel: Miller adapting to life on, off court in Spain
FERROL, Spain -- Macy Miller is discovering basketball is universal.
The lifelong South Dakotan is adjusting to life on and off the court in her first season of professional basketball for Baxi Ferrol in Spain. She’s adapting to a major time difference, learning a different culture and the Spanish language.
But they do speak basketball in Ferrol.
“Baxi Ferrol has such a great following that the atmosphere at games are crazy loud,” said the Mitchell native in an email with The Daily Republic. “Any game ranges between 700-1,000 people and quite a few blow horns and drums banging during the game. There are times when it’s hard to hear each other on our home court. I’d say the crowds are a lot like Frost Arena and the Corn Palace because the people are just so passionate about basketball as it was back home in South Dakota.”
Ferrol is located on the Atlantic Ocean coast in northwestern Spain and has a population around 67,000 people. There’s a seven-hour time difference between Ferrol and Mitchell, which forced Miller to switch her lifestyle.
“It took about a month for my body to finally adjust and not feel tired all the time,” Miller said. “The culture is different than back home but it is so interesting. Eating lunch and supper later than usual had thrown me off. When my body was use to eating lunch at noon and supper around 6, I was waiting until 3 to each lunch and 9 to eat supper.”
On the court, the former Kernel and South Dakota State University Jackrabbit is also adapting to a different style.
“The level of play has been very competitive and fast-paced,” Miller said. “I’ve been getting use to how physical the game is played here. Trying to make a cut can be difficult when they are holding and bumping you the whole way, and driving to the basket and getting and-ones don't come around as often.”
But so far, so good for Miller through four games this season. Miller pumped in a team-high 28 points in the season opener on Oct. 6. She’s second on the team in points (14.8), first in assists (3.0) and second in 3-pointers made (10). She’s also leading the team in minutes (30.3) as the starting point guard.
“The position I play is mainly point guard which has always been a comfortable spot for me,” Miller said. “My primary roles are being a leader on the court, understanding what my teammates are good at, and putting them in certain spots to help them succeed.”
Ferrol has been succeeding early on. Baxi Ferrol, which has five championships in its history, was relegated to Liga Femenina 2 in the offseason. LF2 is the second division of the women’s basketball league in Spain. The league is divided into two groups based on geography. The top four teams of each group will qualify for the playoffs. The qualified teams are then divided into two groups of four teams and the two top teams advance to the finals. The two winners of the finals are promoted to Liga Femenina.
Baxi Ferrol is currently one of four teams in LF2 Group A with 3-1 records, while two squads are 4-0. Baxi Ferrol went 3-23 last season.
“The season has been incredible so far and our team has so much potential,” she said. “It is cool to see people from all over the world come together and play well with each other. We have a bunch of new faces this year so we are still learning how to play with each other and understand each other’s roles. We have so many threats on the court so teams can’t focus in on just one or two people.”
Along with Spain, players with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, South Africa and Samoan nationalities are on Baxi Ferrol’s roster. Miller’s roommate is former Michigan State center Jenna Allen.
“Our team has adapted really well on and off the court and I think the coaching staff has done a great job of making that happen,” Miller said. “We always talk about how thankful we are for this group of teammates because everyone is down to hang out with each other.”
Road games range from one hour-to-seven hours away, they usually travel by bus and the schedule is different than Miller’s Division I days. Ferrol plays just one game a week and its 26-game regular season lasts until mid-April.
“It is different only having one a game a week, but we usually get one day off a week and we try to find different things to do around Ferrol,” she said. “We haven’t been able to travel a lot but we’ve been around the town center, beaches, and getting coffee at different places. The town is so pretty. It’s so cool to walk around and see the different culture from America.”