After playing basketball at the national level in India, Asmat Taunque ‘21 entered Lawrenceville as a new Fourth Former. This winter marks her first season on the girls’ varsity basketball team.
Ashley Duraiswamy: How did you start playing basketball?
Asmat Taunque: I was always a really tall kid, so when I turned 13, my school coach spotted me, and he said, “You should play basketball.” My parents also encouraged me. It started off like a casual fling, but as I played—as I got more opportunities—I started playing for the fun of it. I started loving the sport. I played in India, obviously. I played in different age categories: I played the under 14; under 16; under 19; and senior, which is the above age 19 category where women play. I also played that in the national level over there, so that was pretty cool, and I just started loving the sport ever since.
AD: What do you love most about the sport?
AT: I think that it’s a very challenging sport. You can never be perfect at it—there’s always something to improve. And I really love challenging myself that way just to shatter my own limits. I think that’s an amazing way to grow.
AD: What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced while playing basketball?
AT: I would say that it was figuring out that basketball is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. The mental part of it is actually something you can’t underestimate—you need to condition yourself a lot—and that was something that was a little challenging for me when I started to play. But over time, I was able to condition myself, and I’ve been able to develop a mindset that is aggressive and that helps me with the sport.
AD: What has it been like to play basketball in a new country?
AT: Well, it’s definitely different, and it comes with its own set of challenges. For example, basketball is more aggressive here than it was in India, so that was something that I am getting used to. Also, the whole outlook—strategy-wise, speed-wise—it was all very different.
AD: Are any aspects of your previous teams in India that you wish we could incorporate into Lawrenceville’s athletic programs?
AT: That’s a good question. Maybe the 24-second shot clock. In most of our games, we don’t use a shot clock, and then when we go to college basketball, having a shot clock will have [make] a lot of difference.
AD: What has it been like to adjust to playing on the Lawrenceville team, especially coming in as a new junior?
AT: It was hard, definitely, because academic standards rose, and the basketball level also rose. [In the fall], we had some Sunday leagues that were optional to play in. I [played in] every one just to help me acclimatize and adjust to the game here. [With that experience] it wasn’t as much of a shock for me coming into the winter term as it would have been without that previous exposure.
AD: You mentioned that increased academic rigor can be a challenge. What strategies have you used to balance academics with sports while also getting used to life at a boarding school?
AT: The most important thing for me has been time management. It was very, very crucial for me to plan my time well and not just plan in the heat of the moment. I was able to fit in everything in my schedule on a daily basis based on time management. Whenever I did either sports or academics, I just concentrated on that. I didn’t think about the other thing.
AD: Do you have any personal goals for the season?
AT: Well, I just want to grow as much as I can—I want to develop myself as much as I can in the sport. Definitely coming into a new environment and playing in a new country has been hard, but I just hope to improve my game as much as I can and move closer to being a better version of myself on the court.
AD: Have you teammates been helping you with that?
AT: Oh yeah, they’ve been very, very supportive and welcoming. They make me feel like it’s OK to make mistakes, and [it’s as if they’re saying,] “Don’t worry; we’ve got your back.”
AD: Are there any games that you’re particularly looking forward to?
AT: We actually have a game against Hill today [January 8], and I’m really looking forward to that because I’ve heard of the famous Lawrenceville-Hill rivalry. So I’m actually pretty excited for this game! Editor’s note: Lawrenceville defeated Hill 57-35.
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