By Peyton Doyle
I once had a Spanish teacher tell me that “poetry is what is lost in translation.” He believed that the beauty of words and ideas could not be truly translated across different languages.
If there is one thing that I have learned this past season covering the Northeastern women’s basketball team, it is that basketball greatness, the art of the game, poetry in motion, can be delivered and loved no matter what language you speak.
Basketball transcends the communicative boundaries and borders of the world. No matter what words your parents first spoke to you, what accent you developed, the region you were born into, the culture and alphabet thrust upon you, you can learn to play basketball with an air and prowess just as well as anyone else born on this Earth.
The great advantage of this modern world is that basketball has become a global sport. We can watch the most talented players play both in their home countries and here in the United States. It has allowed for me, and millions across America to be graced with the glory of international basketball and particularly European basketball.
On a more local scale, at Northeastern, the Huskies’ women’s basketball team has a prime example of this divine basketball force that often comes from across the Atlantic. Her name is Claudia Soriano. The team has been honored with someone instilled with the ability to bend defenses to her will, to make passes before her teammates even know they’re open, to instill a generational fear in opposing ball handlers as soon as she lays her eyes upon them.
The Huskies have been gifted one of the premier players that the country of Spain has to offer, a 5’7” ball of fire and grace that inspires both confidence and terror when she steps on the hardwood. Soriano has been nothing short of a Godsend in just her first season for Northeastern, a season in which she is sure to walk away with the Rookie of the Year Award, and possibly even more end of season honors.
To watch Soriano play is to see Michelangelo painting the Creation of Adam. The most frightening thing about this Spanish Supernova is that she turns just 19 years old on March 5.
Throughout this season I have seen the Huskies women’s basketball team play a dozen Division 1 basketball teams from across the country, and in nearly every one, Soriano looked like the surest, most confident, and frankly most experienced player on that court despite being five years younger than some of her opponents.
What allows her to play with that veteran presence is one of the most impressive parts of Soriano’s young basketball career. The Spaniard played in the National Spanish Championship five times for her club team Basketball Almeda. She won bronze with the Spanish National Team at the U16 European Championship. She also spent time playing, where she was leader in steals in the Spanish Second Pro League on her club’s senior team.
Soriano is one of the most gifted players in the CAA already, not as a sharpshooter, rebounder, or defender but as an all-around basketball player. Her basketball IQ is something to be held on a pedestal. She delivered some of the best passes I have ever had the privilege of seeing in person. Her feel for the game is far beyond her years and the vision of the basketball court often feels like she is seeing it from a bird’s eye view.
On a team of hardened upperclassmen and grad students, oftentimes I feel most secure when the ball is in Claudia’s hands. Even when she pushes the bounds of what should be possible with a leatherbound sphere and fails, it’s magical to see her even attempt her mistakes.
If my prose on this brilliant brain of baloncesto from Barcelona is not enough to convince you of how much she deserves the CAA Rookie of the Year award, allow me to present the statistical evidence.
Soriano has started in all of the 25 games she played for the Huskies this season, she took over the lead ball handler title and served it with passion and poise. While she did struggle with turnovers and rough shooting at times, her season as a whole is one to marvel at for a player in her first year of college basketball.
Over the course of the season she averaged 11.8 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game, and 3.2 steals per game. That steals per game mark is the seventh best in the entire country. She did everything for her team during the season. She also had the second best free throw percentage on the team at 77%.
Not only was Soriano’s season impressive but she also was fortunate to find herself in a relatively small field of impressive freshmen in the CAA this season. Soriano won seven rookie of the week awards this season, the only other player to win multiple times was Grace Abercombie of the College of Charleston who won it three times.
Abercrombie, Soriano’s only real competitor, faced injuries during the season which hampered her playing time. While Abercrombie achieved the higher mark for points in one game, 25 compared to 20 for Soriano, her points per game on the season was 8.0 across her 22 games and two starts.
As for the rest of the stats, Soriano was superior to Abercormbie in FG%, 3PT%, FT%, RPG, APG, and SPG.
By all measures, Soriano was the superior player, the best freshman player in CAA women’s basketball this season. She is the deserving CAA Rookie of the Year.