Mike Ashcraft

Luprichova uses basketball lessons to adjust to life in college, U.S.

Freshman forward Lucie Luprichova blocks sophomore forward Samantha Scull during a team practice. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Like many freshmen at Kent State, Lucie Luprichova is learning to adjust to life in college.

However, as a forward on the women’s basketball team, she is also learning about becoming a well-rounded player at a successful Division-I program.

And on top of all of that, Luprichova is learning about life in the United States off the court.

Luprichova, 19, was born in Prague, Czech Republic. Three years ago she moved to Wheeling, W.Va., and spent her last two years of high school at Mount De Chantal Visitation Academy.

The 6-foot-1 Luprichova, who has played basketball since she was 7-years old and competed on the Czech National Team for five seasons, is still getting used to the difference between the European and American styles of play.

“American basketball is pretty tough,” Luprichova said. “It’s hard. It’s a quicker pace of basketball. European basketball is cleaner. We play more by the rules.”

When Luprichova was young, she learned how to play in a European system that put a lot of emphasis on fundamental ball-handling work.

“Even (European) post players have a tendency to have better ball-handling skills than maybe the American players do at the same age,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said.

On the other hand, Lindsay said the more aggressive style of play in the United States is something Luprichova must adapt to better.

Though coming to a program Lindsay has built into a Mid-American Conference powerhouse over the years might seem intimidating, it may pale in comparison to what Luprichova has already overcome.

When she came to the United States, she was on her own, as her father, mother and older brother stayed behind in the Czech Republic. Being on her own was difficult, especially with having to get used to a new language and a new way of living.

But Luprichova said she used something she learned on the basketball court as a youngster to help her through it.

“You feel homesick, for sure,” Luprichova said. “The hardest thing is when nothing is going your way, everything is just falling apart, and you don’t have anybody. When I played basketball, the coaches have always told me, ‘Don’t show your weakness.’ It’s a defense thing.”

Luprichova said she always looks forward to going home and visiting her family and friends in the Czech Republic. Because of the logistics of travel and her schedule with school and basketball season, it is very difficult for Luprichova to return home during the school year, but she plans on going back over the summer.

Though she is thousands of miles from home, a piece of Luprichova remains in the Czech Republic. When Luprichova was two, her mother decided to name the hotel she and her husband were opening after her. Luprichova said it is a family-run business and only three employees work at “Hotel Lucie.” She and her brother have worked at the hotel since they were four years old.

Her parents’ business has inspired Luprichova to one day get involved in the hospitality industry. She said she loves interacting with people, and that aside from the basketball program, she was drawn to Kent State to the hospitality management program.

Contact sports correspondent Mike Aschraft at [email protected].