CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — There’s no shortage of languages being spoken in the Miami women’s locker room these days. Besides English, there can be some Spanish, German, French, a little Danish, even some Dutch dialects.
It’s a winning mix.
With five players born overseas, No. 11 Miami looks to the diversity of its roster as a strength. And with the Hurricanes riding an 11-game winning streak — their longest in nearly five years — the results cannot be argued with so far either.
“I won’t tag us with this, `Oh, Miami’s gone international’ kind of thing,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “I have a personal relationship with every kid. I played development for three years. I coached with USA Basketball for two summers. I have a lot of international connections. They tell me, `You’re going to love this kid,’ and I go get them.”
So with players who hail from 45 minutes north in Boca Raton and over 4,500 miles away in Copenhagen — along with plenty of places in between — Miami is about to open its Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a huge test. The Hurricanes (11-1) play host to No. 7 Florida State (12-1) on Thursday night, a game that could earn Miami its first top-10 ranking since the end of the 2011-12 season.
“I think it’s great, being a multicultural team and people coming from different parts of America,” said Miami guard Laura Cornelius, who hails from the Netherlands along with fellow sophomore Emese Hof. “We’ve got a lot of internationals. Everybody brings their own mix to the game and it just fits really well together right now. It’s a lot of fun.”
Miami recruits internationally, and one of the things in the Hurricanes’ favor is that students from around the world already flock to Coral Gables. The current student body has representation from more than 120 nations.
Meier was able to find prospects in a different manner as well.
When she coached a USA Basketball Under-19 women’s team at the world championships in 2013, with a roster loaded with players like Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, the Americans faced off against a Dutch team that was completely overmatched.
Final score: U.S. 102, Netherlands 42.
But Meier noticed Cornelius and Hof that day, even though they were much younger than the best U.S. players in that game. And eventually, Cornelius and Hof found their way to Coral Gables. So have Sarah Mortensen of Denmark and Serena-Lynn Geldof of Belgium. Miami senior Adrienne Motley calls Newport News, Virginia home, but she was also born in the Netherlands.
“Internationally, I think we broke through,” Meier said.
And teammates have picked up a few key phrases as well, though might not be quite fluent.
“I feel so bad saying this,” forward Khalia Prather said. “I know the cuss words, and hi, and bye.”
There can be a challenge to having all this international flavor. Sometimes, the coach doesn’t understand what some players may be saying in those rare moments of frustration during practice — even though the coach thinks she does. Meier played in Belgium in the 1990s and picked up some languages along the way, including a version of Dutch.
“So when they think I don’t know, I know,” Meier said. “They can’t be sneaky around me. They can fool their teammates, but not me. And sometimes I’ll yell back at them in their own language.”
Well, she tries to, anyway.
“She thinks she knows how to speak our language,” Cornelius said. “Honestly, she doesn’t. Especially when me and Emese start to talk really quickly, she has no clue what we’re saying. And if we want to talk trash about you, we’ll do it in English.”
In any language, it’s all working for Miami.
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