Summer Travels Turn Guard Into “Quarterback” (Women’s Basketball)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

While other Northwestern students were traveling abroad or serving internships last summer, Northwestern point guard Nadia Bibbs was playing basketball with some of the best players in the world.

Bibbs represented Mexico as a member of its national team, playing in tournaments in July against other teams from North and South America.

Mexico began courting Bibbs, who has dual-citizenship because her mother was born in Mexico, four years ago after her AAU team in high school played the Puerto Rican national team. But scheduling conflicts and her old coach’s fear of injury kept her in the United States.

Though Bibbs had two years of collegiate basketball experience, she said it was difficult to adjust to practicing twice a day, every day to prepare for international competition.

“I got a lot of basketball in out there,” Bibbs said. “It really made me more motivated.”

Aside from the intense routines and no days off, Bibbs said she also had to adjust from NU’s focus on defense to Mexico’s focus on speed and precision.

“It’s a different tempo, a different speed,” Bibbs said. “Of course it’s still basketball, but they seem to tend focus more on offense. Going out there really helped my confidence. It was a great experience for me.”

Bibbs said her experience playing on a global stage was one she will never forget and has been one of the highlights of her basketball career.

But the experience transcended basketball by giving her the opportunity to celebrate her Hispanic heritage by representing Mexico.

“You don’t get to see that side of me much here,” Bibbs said. “Being able to bring that out is great feeling.”

Coach Beth Combs said Bibbs’ month with the Mexican team was a great benefit for the Wildcats, giving one of its leaders even more confidence and experience on the court.

“Nadia came in not only in fantastic shape this fall, but with a new confidence and a new attitude about her,” Combs said. “That’s an unbelievable experience for anyone to get to play with a national team and be able to tie in her heritage with basketball. And I think the experience meant a lot to her, but it also made her a better ball player.”

Combs said Bibbs’ success at point guard – especially on defense – will be a central focus of NU’s game tonight at Miami (Ohio). Bibbs leads the team with six steals and 11 assists, helping the Cats to their first 2-0 start since the 2000-2001 season.

“Nadia is huge for us,” Combs said. “As (our) starting point guard, (she’s) the quarterback of the team. The defense starts with her. If she can do her job then the rest of us will fall into place.”

Though Bibbs said she is focused on achieving the team’s goals this season, she is excited about playing for Mexico again next summer. The team will compete in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Panama, and a strong performance would ensure a spot for Mexico in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and give Bibbs the opportunity to be an Olympian.

“It’s the greatest accomplishment anyone could ask for, so I’m really excited about that,” Bibbs said. “So I’m just hoping everything plays out.”

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