HELSINKI, Finland – For four years, D'Andra Moss put her heart and soul into the VCU women's basketball program and helped to take the Rams to new heights.
Moss helped echo in three straight 20-plus win seasons and three consecutive postseason appearances, including VCU's first-ever NCAA Tournament bid in 2009. She finished as a First-Team All-CAA player and the 10th leading scorer in school history.
Shortly after graduating, the Atlanta, Ga. native boarded a plane for Finland to join the Torpan Pojat in Helsinki. Just 10 games into her professional career, Moss is having no problems adjusting her game. She leads the team in scoring (23.3 ppg) and rebounding (12.2 rpg).
She is a beloved member of VCU's women's basketball history, so VCUathletics.com sent Nan Turner to catch-up and let her faithful Black & Gold fans what life is like across the Great Pond.
NT: What has your experience in Finland been like thus far?
DM: Let me tell you, Finland is not a bad place to be. I'm in the capital, Helsinki, and it's smaller than what I am used to, but I have really enjoyed myself. It has really helped me because the majority of the people speak English. There is a lot of expensive shopping, designer names, and Finnish people know how to have a good time. I'm lucky to have ended up around the people here, they have made me feel welcome and that is greatly appreciated.
NT: What's the biggest difference between living in Richmond and living in Finland? What has surprised you the most about your new home?
DM: Well there's a huge difference between the two cities. Over here, I'd say close to 70% of people use public transportation, whether the tram/trolly, bus, train, not many people drive. This isn't a college town, but it has a fair share of bars, restaurants, a good night life. It's so surprising to me at how aware they are with the environment. They consider having a dryer to be a luxury to no one has dryers. It's frustrating because you have to hang out your clothes out to dry and they get wrinkly, just common things to us as Americans they consider luxuries.
NT: How does your relationship with your new teammates differ from the one you had with your college teammates? How is it similar?
DM: Well, no not really. We don't do as much together as I did in college because we don't live together, but we still act the same on road trips, go out together. Our culture is different but we learn a lot from one another and I love my team. We have fun together.
NT: You've had knee problems in the past, including a surgery right before you went overseas. How has your health impacted your game and how is your health currently?
DM: Well in college, my knees took a beating because the practices were long and very intense along with school and other things. So that was hard for me, but now I feel so healthy. My range of motion is excellent, I can jump without pain, I'm so excited. I can give my maximum effort come game time. I am just as physical of a player as if I never got hurt because I am fearless now. My rebounding really took a hit dealing with the pain my last year at VCU, but now it's at a career high. It feels great.
NT: Have you learned any Finnish? Maybe a favorite word?
DM: I've learned a lot of Finnish words. My favorite I'd have to say is "yo" - which means yes, and "kiitos" - which means thanks.
NT: What were you looking for when it came time to seek professional contracts?
DM: Once the process began, the thing I was advised to do was to go with a club with whom you can trust. A lot of players go overseas and there are many discrepancies with payment and issues in the contracts dealing with injuries. So I was looking for somewhere I could trust and be comfortable in my surroundings.
NT: Do you still keep in touch with any of your old teammates? Have you been able to track VCU's progress throughout the season?
DM: Yes, I still keep in contact with a few of the girls on the team. We don't talk as much per se except maybe on Facebook because of the time difference, but we do speak. I keep on how the girls are doing as much as possible. Sometimes I want to put my input in, but its hard not being there when you've been there for four years.
DM: My relationship with Coach definitely came a long way from when I was a freshman. I remember being suspended for a miscommunication in practice between us. But I came from that to being able to basically tell her whatever I feel. I believe we grew to respect on another, more than just player-coach, which greatly helped the communication process between us. I enjoyed our relationship and she did a lot for me when it came down to seeking a professional career and that will never be forgotten.
NT: What college accomplishment are you most proud of? What experience has helped you out the most professionally?
DM: Well, in college, I learned how to lead and to also follow, to really take control of a team and give them someone to follow, a voice to trust and actions to lead them. That has helped me here in Finland because we have some really young and ultra-talented girls. Where as I'm fresh out of college, can sort of help them with the process and show them what coaches look for and be a leader for them.
NT: What do you miss most about game time at Siegel Center?
DM: I miss getting so pumped in the locker room with the team before the game. That really got my juices going. We had so much fun.
NT: You rank 10th in the program in scoring (at VCU) overall, how do you think you impacted the university in your time here?
DM: I think I brought a level of intensity and passion to the program. It was nice to generate a good fan base and win over new fans as well. I'd like to think I helped make VCU Womens Basketball important to people, and that feels good.
NT: What advice would you give to someone trying to follow in your footsteps? What do you know now, that you wish you would've known in college?
DM: I'd try my best to get them to stay healthy. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. I wish I had did that in college but it was the guilt of not playing that lead me to push through pain so much, which led to many of my injuries.