Maura D’Anna has started since her freshman year for the perennial power West Springfield girls’ basketball program, giving the Spartans a presence in the paint.
As a junior, the 6-foot D’Anna averaged a double-double and earned second-team All-6A North region honors. She helped the Spartans finish 24-3 in 2015, win their second straight Conference 7 title and reach the region semifinals, where they lost to eventual region champion Oakton.
In May, D’Anna committed to play basketball at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Crimson Hawks compete at the Division II level in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
D’Anna recently participated in a Q&A via email with The Connection.
Connection: You're committed to playing basketball at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. What made IUP the right choice for you?
D’Anna: I felt a strong connection to all of the coaches there, the facilities are brand new and I want to compete for a national championship. It really came to trusting head coach [Tom] McConnell and his staff and their vision for how I could fit in their system. I just knew that playing for him was the right choice.
Connection: What position(s) will you play?
D’Anna: I will play primarily a 5 and a little stretch 4.
Connection: How, if it all, do you feel committing prior to your senior year benefits you?
D’Anna: Oh, it benefits me a lot. It allows me a year to watch just their games, not a different college game every night, to see how I fit in their system and watch opposing players and their game. I will be able to train on what IUP will need me to concentrate on. Also, instead of visiting different colleges I can spend more time studying.
Connection: At what age did you start playing basketball?
Connection: When did you realize playing college basketball was an option for you?
D’Anna: In seventh grade I made a decision to stop swimming competitively and go for basketball. I enjoyed the team concept more than the individual events. I had to put in extra work to get on the "A" teams for AAU because I had put in so much time with swimming. It also helped that I grew a lot. After my freshman year I thought that maybe I had a shot at playing in college.
Connection: What is a positive of being a 6foot tall girl in high school?
D’Anna: It sure helps playing basketball and seeing who is down the hall.
Connection: What is a negative of being a 6foot tall girl in high school?
D’Anna: It is hard to find clothes and shoes that are appropriate.
Connection: Why is the West Springfield girls' basketball program consistently successful?
D’Anna: Tough love and a focus on defense.
Connection: What is one thing you have yet to accomplish as a high school athlete that you would like to accomplish as a senior?
D’Anna: I am still after the state championship. We fell short my sophomore year.
Connection: You're sitting around playing a board game with family/friends. Do you play to have fun or play to win?
D’Anna: I play to win at all costs.
Connection: Do you have a specific game day routine?
D’Anna: I like to have chicken tenders before a game and go watch my mom's freshman team play. She is the head coach of the freshman team at West Springfield.
Connection: What do you like to do when you’re not playing a sport?
D’Anna: I enjoy hanging with a few friends and walking around the malls.
Connection: Are you a pro sports fan? Which team(s) do you root for?
D’Anna: I don't watch much pro sports but I was rooting for Steph Curry during the NBA Finals. I do watch some Steelers games during the winter,
Connection: What location is the farthest you've traveled from the Washington, D.C metro area?
D’Anna: Orlando, Fla., like five times for basketball.
Connection: What’s your favorite food?
D’Anna: Chicken tenders and fries, mac n' cheese, pizza.
Connection: Who is your favorite music artist? Why?
D’Anna: I'll listen to whatever country artist is playing. Before a game I switch to loud pumping beats. Both kinds of music make me react in a different way.
Connection: What is your favorite movie? Why?
D’Anna: There really isn't one specific, but if it’s scary, count me in.