|Idaho becomes home to Taleni|
By Samantha Cyphers, Vandal Athletic Media Relations
Transfer student-athletes tend to have their work cut out for them when entering a new team. Breaking into a new environment with high expectations behind you can be a daunting task, but for Derisa Taleni, meeting high expectations would be an understatement.
As a transfer to the University of Idaho women's basketball Team in the 2008-2009 season, Taleni erupted into the Western Athletic Conference with her athleticism and talent. In her first season with the Vandals she took the WAC Newcomer of the Year award with her 14.5 point scoring average. But her streak didn't end there. On January 5, of 2009 Taleni wowed the crown with an explosion of long range shots giving her game total a remarkable 31 points. That performance was also the ninth 30-point game in Cowan Spectrum history and fourth-best overall, while her five 3-pointers made are tied for second in Spectrum history.
The transition process was an easy process for Taleni, not only with her skills but with her team and coaches as well.
"It was pretty easy just because the coaches were all new. We were all new with each other and we were getting to know each other," Taleni said. "I think that in itself probably brought us closer together. We were learning how they were as coaches, and how they want their program run, so we were all learning together."
As a new player to the Idaho Vandals, Taleni was taken aback by the seriousness of the rivalry between Boise State and the University of Idaho. But the experience and meaning of the game became one of Taleni's favorite experiences as a player at Idaho.
"My junior year when we first played Boise we didn't do too well. Coming in I had never known about the rivalry. It was just another game," Taleni said. Then I saw how much it meant to the university of course, and our girls. So beating them at their place on senior day was great."
With the outstanding first year with the Vandals, Taleni looked forward to what was ahead of her for the next season. Unfortunately, Taleni suffered a season-ending knee injury during preseason practice and took a medical redshirt for the season. Taleni's senior year has been a reflection of how great of a player she is. Being one of the two Vandals that has started all 21 games of the season she has resumed her position as an influential player for the women's team. Senior year means a lot of things for Taleni, she has learned a lot about herself and what she plans for her future.
"I've grown a lot," Taleni said. "Becoming a better leader. Listening better. No matter what the standings are, what our record is, if we're the smallest team playing the biggest team, our hard work will out-do anything thrown at us. I've learned to grow up a bit, and have fun while I'm still young."
After graduation Taleni hopes to further her basketball career overseas and continue the journey she is on as well as taking care of her number one fan, her son.
"I'm hoping to play overseas, that's something that I'm really interested in, Taleni said. "And something to fall back on, helping inner city kids. Kids who are not as privileged. Kind of coming back to kids I've grown up with back home, and letting them know that whatever talent they have, they can use it and go far. They don't have to fall into the norm of just being on the streets, or not in school."
As the Idaho women's basketball team prepare themselves for the WAC tournament, Taleni parts with words of wisdom for upcoming athletes for the University of Idaho.
"Take advantage of what you get. I know a lot of people come in and mess around, and don't really take anything seriously," Taleni said. "At the end of the day, something good can happen. Just learn from people. Coaches, players, people around you, athletic trainers. And just be respectful."