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Inside women's basketball newcomer Marina Radocaj's confidence in upcoming freshman season

Radocaj brings experience from playing for Canada's U16 and U17 teams to Arizona State as a freshman

Marina Radocaj.jpg
ASU freshman guard/forward Marina Radocaj (10) looks for a pass at Desert Finnancial Arena on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in Tempe. Emilio Terrazas

Known for her versatility and confidence on the court, freshman guard Marina Radocaj brings her international experience playing for Canada's U16 and U17 teams in her first year with the Sun Devils.

Upon arriving in Tempe, Radocaj quickly established a great relationship with head coach Natasha Adair and assistant coach Camille Collier. She finds Adair's guidance particularly valuable since Adair took over as the coach for the Sun Devils following Charli Turner Thorne's retirement in 2022.

"Like, right away, right off the bat," Radocaj said about how long it took her to connect with her head coach. "She's really sweet. She's always uplifting. She never gets mad at you and gets mad at the team. She's always that person who advises you to take the next step, and she wants everyone on the team to progress. I love her."

Adair notes Radocaj's versatility in playing multiple positions on offense and defense, displaying aggressiveness on the perimeter and scoring ability. Adair was impressed with her ability to handle the ball and attack off the dribble from anywhere on the court. However, it's not just Radocaj's offense that stood out to her.

"She also can punish a defense for switching," Adair said. "She has the size, the natural act for rebounding. I think there are so many places that you can put her on the floor to where she could be a matchup nightmare."

Adair called Radocaj a "blessing," saying she is an exceptional player who is highly coachable and always gives her best effort.

"She's very attentive. She listens to understand," Adair said. "On the court, she wants to know what she's doing well, but she also wants to know how to improve. She's a player that's never going to make excuses. She's going to try new things even if it's uncomfortable, even if she's not used to it."

Witnessing Radocaj's growth at ASU during her freshman year is a cause for excitement for ASU fans. Collier fully supports Adair's sentiments of Radocaj being a "student of the game."

"We're just really excited about her and her growth," Collier said. "I think that's the fun part about coaching: You see freshmen and all your players when they come in the beginning and then how they grow throughout the year. And she's such a sponge, and she's very coachable, and she wants to learn, work, contribute, and help us win."

Radocaj originally comes from Canada, where she competed for her country's U16 and U17 teams. Playing internationally, she competed in FIBA Americas in 2021, where she averaged 9.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on the way to a second-place finish in the tournament. In 2022, she played five games in the FIBA U17 Women's World Cup.

Now at ASU, Radocaj, Adair, and Collier made it clear that winning the Pac-12 Championship was the Sun Devils' ultimate goal. To achieve this, they established a mantra of getting one percent better every day.

"It's about the journey," Collier said. "So, every single day, we talk about getting one percent better. And that's what we've got to do: one percent better in practice and one percent better in every single game. And if we do that, we'll be able to achieve our goals."

Although the Sun Devils had to deal with the loss of All Pac-12 guard Tyi Skinner, who will miss the upcoming season due to a knee injury, Radocaj said Skinner has leadership skills, but she sees the team having the next-man-up mentality. She also added that ASU aims to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019.

Adair firmly emphasizes and builds upon Radocaj's points regarding the potential of ASU and outlines a clear path for their success this season. 

In her first year, Radocaj is determined to play hard and give her absolute best. 

"Every single time I put on the jersey, I just want to play as hard as I can and give my one hundred percent," Radocaj said. "Coming in as a freshman, obviously, that's hard, and it's different from high school. I just want to give my all, and I feel like I've been putting in the work. So I just want to win this year. Have fun winning games with my new team and new coaches."

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Grace Copperthite.

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