Maly-Karros Proving She Belongs

Mikah Maly-Karros has arguably been the most talked about UC Irvine athlete this winter quarter. The sophomore transfer from Loyola Marymount University is playing exceptionally well and has played a crucial part in the UC Irvine women’s basketball team’s recent rise in the Big West standings. It may seem like Mikah has just fallen out of the sky and landed into UCI’s lap, but that is far from the truth. Mikah had to sit out a whole year of play when she transferred to UCI. She is making up for lost time in a big way. And yes, her step father is ex-Dodger great, Eric Karros. However, Mikah is not about to stay in anyone’s shadow.

The 6-foot 1-inch forward, who hails from Manhattan Beach, knew that she wanted to play basketball at an early age.

“I’ve always loved basketball. When I started playing basketball [ in fourth grade], I stopped playing other sports because I just knew that was the sport I would play,” Karros said, who is currently averaging a double-double with 18.9 points per game and 12 rebounds per game.

While growing up, Mikah did all the normal things any kid would do, like going to the beach and acting silly, but she was anything but that on the court. In her last year at Mira Costa High School, Mikah was an All-American Honorable Mention and was named “Daily Breeze” Player of the Year. She was Mira Costa High School’s all-time leader in points with 2,256 and rebounds with 1,817. If those stats don’t wow you, then this one will. Mikah broke former WNBA great Lisa Leslie’s CIF Southern Section HS Rebounding Record.

Even before her senior year in high school, Mikah knew where she wanted to go to college.

“I verbally committed to LMU when I was a junior in high school. At the time…I don’t know, I think it was the fact that [Loyola Marymount] was close to home and I had known the coaches there for a while. I really didn’t get a chance to get recruited by other schools,” Mikah said.

However, things did not go as planned and Mikah found herself leaving LMU after her first semester there. There have been a lot of different rumors why Mikah left LMU, but she claims her reason for leaving had to do with her not feeling like she belonged in the program.

“I didn’t get along with the coach as well as I thought I was going too,” Karros said. “LMU’s style of play definitely focuses around three-point shooting and they don’t get their post really involved. I was a little immature and didn’t know what it took to be a college basketball player.”

LMU’s loss was UCI’s gain. Mikah transferred to UC Irvine in the 2009 winter quarter and she has never looked back. The main reason Mikah chose UC Irvine over other schools was because of Coach Molly Goodenbour.

“I think Molly is an amazing coach. She is the best coach that I have ever played for or have been around. I thought it was exciting how she was going to turn Irvine into a good basketball program and I just thought that would be a lot of fun to be apart of. I definitely felt like I had always been here,” Karros said.

However, Mikah would not be able to make an impact on the court for an entire year because of an NCAA rule concerning transfer students. She was welcomed by her fellow players and this justified her belief that the roster was full of great people. It was frustrating for her to watch her teammates struggle in the early part of this season and not be able to go out there and help them. Mikah looked to practice as a way to keep sane and quench that thirst for competition.

On Dec. 15, 2009, Mikah played in her first official NCAA game in about a year. She scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in twenty minutes. In her next game against Eastern Washington, she recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds. On Dec. 22, she tallied 28 points and 14 boards. Proving her hot start wasn’t a fluke, Mikah dropped an outrageous 35 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks on Pacific on January 27. She has been named Big West Player of the Week twice this season. Yeah, she’s pretty good. Mikah is making sure that the last name Karros is not just synonymous with baseball. She views her step-father’s fame as a good resource.

“No matter what I go through, he’s been through it and he’s really good at giving advice. He understands,” Karros said.

Mikah is not sure what exactly is responsible for her tremendous play so far, but she points to coaching help as a major factor.

“I think, sometimes my shots fall and sometimes they don’t and for some reason, right now, they are falling,” Karros said. “When I was first playing, I was having big scoring games, and then teams started to double team me. Coach Goodenbour gave me some really good advice and told me just not to dribble when I catch on the block. Keeping it simple and trying not to get frustrated. I appreciate all the advice she gives. She’s always right.”

When asked about her time at UCI so far, Mikah answered, “I love it. I just love the girls on the team so much. We get along so well. The coaches provide a really good environment … I’m pretty excited to come to practice everyday.”

Mikah once told one of her assistant coaches that although UCI is tough academically, and the basketball program is demanding, she loves the structure of it because you know where you stand. Mikah is happy here at UC Irvine and it shows on the court.

Players like Mikah, Jade Williams-Smith, and Rebecca Maessen have led the Lady Anteaters in some amazing play this year. Dedication to the program and the school makes the women’s basketball team a tremendous example of how an athletic program should run. Women’s basketball at UCI is built for the now and the future.