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Krystal Luciano brings international experience to optimistic Hofstra

Krystal Luciano, a sophomore guard on the Hofstra

Krystal Luciano, a sophomore guard on the Hofstra University women's basketball team, practices at the Mack Sports Complex on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Krystal Luciano had a smooth transition into college basketball at Hofstra last season. The 5-5 guard already had honed her skills as a member of Puerto Rico's national team.

"All the things learned at the international level, I put on the court at the college level," she said. "I got stronger, I was playing with bigger players. In the international level, there is a big role for the point guard, so it helped me a lot."

Luciano averaged 25.5 minutes and led the team with 98 assists. Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey liked what she saw and believes Luciano gained valuable experience with the national team.

"You play a more aggressive brand of basketball and you've been exposed a little bit more to some higher level basketball," she said. "I think that carried over for Krystal last year. She's a crafty skills finesse player. Having that type of exposure playing at that level -- Brazil, Colombia, China -- I think that gives her a lot more of an edge."

Luciano also was instrumental in promoting Hofstra to guard Aleana Leon, one of her teammates on the national team.

"I know her since she was 12 years old," Luciano said. "Thank God she said yes and committed to us. She's a great player. She's going to do a lot of good things for us as a freshman."

Leon said of Luciano: "She helped a lot, I feel so comfortable. She helps me in school and also in the court. I'm nervous, it's my first season here, but I'm working hard."

The Pride's backcourt will be a strong suit. Asia Jackson returns and Hofstra is hoping West Virginia transfer Darius Faulk will be eligible under a hardship request. Kilburn-Steveskey is expecting contributions from freshmen Stephania Oramas and Olivia Askin.

In the frontcourt, 6-3 Elo Edeferioka led the team in rebounding, averaging 7.6. Kilburn-Steveskey wants Edeferioka to improve on the offensive end. "I think she's embracing that role," the coach said.

Helping up front will be George Washington transfer Angie White and junior-college transfer Maeva Dongmo, the tallest player on the roster at 6-4, likely will earn some minutes. Sophomore Kelly Loftus, who is 5-10, is a three-point threat who can swing between guard and forward.

Kilburn-Steveskey said the ingredients are in place for a successful season.

"Without a doubt, I feel like we're going to be competing for a top spot this year," she said. "I think we have the makings for a real basketball team where you have size, speed, ability to play different defenses, we have kids that can shoot the three. Our league is wide open."

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