Yderstrom to Use Her International Experience
By Camron Ghorbi
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For a rising senior with an Atlantic Coast Conference championship ring, World Championships silver medal and three personal All-ACC certificates tucked away safely in her ever-expanding trophy closet, Stefanie Yderstrom sure knows a thing or two about being doubted.
Too many opponents forgot about the junior at critical moments during the 2011-12 season, one where Miami finished only one game behind Duke for a second straight conference crown.
There was an 18-point showing in an ACC Tournament contest against Wake Forest. She scored 16 points on the road at Cameron Indoor, exactly two weeks after a career night in a win over then-No. 8 Maryland: 26 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
By season’s end, Yderstrom had earned her place on the All-ACC third team.
“I think last year she really had a tremendous type of season, and earning all-conference was big for her. She deserved it on her own,” head coach Katie Meier said.
In the aftermath of the Hurricanes’ second-round tourney upset at the hands of Gonzaga, a season where many pundits had Miami penciled into the later rounds of the postseason, it would have been too easy to just give in and admit defeat. Like she always has in the face of adversity, Yderstrom responded the only way she’s ever known how - shut up and keep playing.
“I wouldn’t call it a disappointment,” Yderstrom said. “Of course we wanted to go further, but I think the last game we had, it was a good game. Gonzaga played well.”
With a grin, the sharpshooter pauses ever so slightly, before adding: “That’s the best part about basketball. You always get a chance to come back and do what everyone doesn’t expect you to do.”
Now, Yderstrom has more on her horizon once senior year concludes; the Östertälje, Sweden native helped guide her nation to a 2013 European Women Basketball Championship berth and a first-place finish in Group D qualifying this summer. A nine-point win for Sweden over Spain - the heavy favorites to win the group and the fifth-ranked team in the world - helped clinch first place and a trip to France in 2013.
“Sometimes, even better than winning is overcoming things,” Yderstrom said. “We knew we could do it. But the expectations on us from the outside didn’t expect us to win at all, especially with Spain in the group.”
Much like the Hurricanes’ recent triumphs on the court, Sweden’s rise to prominence has been a few years in the making. Yderstrom has fond memories of the 2007 U-19 team that made an unlikely run to the championship game, where they eventually fell to a talented USA squad. It was there, in courts across the host country of Slovakia, where they established the team chemistry that would pay off some five years later.
“It all started in 2007, when we made it to the championship,” Yderstrom said. “The core group of that team is now on the senior team, and being a part of it is just amazing.”
Before Eurobasket 2013 and another tournament representing her homeland, however, Yderstrom has to prepare for one last season in Orange and Green. She says the lessons learned over the past few months about the importance of team chemistry - with both the Hurricanes and her national side - will be pivotal in 2012-13.
“We have to be strong as a team,” she said. “We just have to learn from what’s been done these past few years, learn from the good stuff and the bad.”
Coach Meier is relying on Yderstrom to lead the way.
“She had an open floor to work her game last season, and we’re going to be leaning on her this year,” Meier said. “I’m going to put a lot of pressure on her, and I’m excited about the possibilities.”
When she decided to commit to the Hurricanes’ program some four-plus years ago, the Swedish sharpshooter was coming off a silver medal performance on the international basketball stage, an unprecedented feat in Sweden’s history.
With her help, the Hurricanes made an unprecedented run to the 2010-11ACC Championship after finishing in the conference cellar only a year earlier. After playing a key role in that meteoric rise, Yderstrom could very well be the difference in another run to a conference title.
In true Meier-esque fashion, Yderstrom isn’t looking ahead to the season opener, protecting a 40-game home winning streak, or making any postseason predictions. Nope, not her.
For now, it’s about preseason conditioning, practice and training, and taking the season one step at a time. It’s still only August, after all.
“I’m looking forward to watching us get better, to see how much work people are willing to put in, and see how far I can push myself,” she said. “Of course you can’t wait to play in games. But for now, we have to enjoy each moment as it comes.”