Feb. 19, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Like the basketball he rebounds with great fervor, Eastern Washington University men’s basketball player Andy Genao has bounced around a lot.
The senior moved to the United States with his family from the Dominican Republic when he was six years old. Settling in Bronx, N.Y., Genao (pronounced "Juh-nay-oh") proved his basketball worth playing in competitive Bronx parks such as Gun Hill Park and Bronx Park East. He went on to become a Junior College All-American at SUNY Delhi JC in New York and played one season at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.
In 2007, Genao decided to follow his Bronx friend Adris DeLeon to Eastern Washington to play for new head coach Kirk Earlywine. After sitting out that season due to NCAA transfer rules, he has made a big impact on the court for the Eagles.
The 6-foot-3 Genao has started 21 of 26 games and is averaging 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. He ranks fifth in the Big Sky in rebounding, and his 152 rebounds this season are good for second-most on the team, behind center Brandon Moore who has 176.
In the last seven games alone, Genao has averaged 12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds to lead EWU in both categories. He is coming off a 21-point outing at Idaho State on Feb. 14, and earlier this season had 17 rebounds in a win over UC Irvine to equal the fourth-best single game performance in recorded EWU history.
Genao and the rest of the Eagles would love to extend their 2008-09 season by qualifying for the six-team Big Sky Conference Tournament. To do so, Eastern will first need to win its final two league games.
The Eagles host Northern Colorado this Saturday (Feb. 21) at Reese Court at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time. Eastern also has home games the following week when EWU closes out the regular season with a non-league game against Seattle University on Feb. 24 followed by Eastern’s finale versus Portland State on Feb. 28.
Q: Why did you choose to transfer to Eastern prior to last season?
A: "After my year at Prairie View A&M University, I just didn’t like my role on the team and some other things. So I decided to make a move to a better situation. It also gave me the chance play alongside Adris DeLeon, whom I’ve known for many years from New York."
Q: What are your career goals for after you graduate from Eastern?
A: "I’m definitely not unlacing my shoes -- hopefully I can make some calls and try to play professionally somewhere, whether it be overseas or somewhere worth it. If that doesn’t go well, I will just have to throw on a suit and tie and head down to Wall Street!"
Q: What part of basketball do you like best?
A: "The competitive aspect of the sport. Growing up in New York you pretty much have to earn respect from others by outplaying them. At every park, you have to be able to play or you won’t get on the court. My college basketball experience has been amazing. Just the way it’s organized -- it’s like we are professionals only without the salaries."
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your playing career?
A: "I have to say my mother! Being a single parent raising four boys in New York wasn’t a walk in the park for her. I’d have to say that my ambitions for being a successful individual would be to make her proud, buy her a house one day and tell her that from here on out she’s on vacation."
Q: Growing up in the Dominican Republic, were you ever pushed towards baseball?
A: "It was always an option but I never really pursued it. My brother was actually a diehard baseball fan and semi-professional player in the Dominican Republic, but after my father passed away, things sort of fell apart for him. I will admit that while I’m home I watch tons of baseball on television with my brother. I’m kind of forced to because that’s what he watches 24/7."
Q: How was it adjusting to the Pacific Northwest after living all the places you have? Were there any similarities and/or differences?
A: "The junior college I attended in upstate New York was actually just as small as Cheney, so adjusting to small-town living wasn’t as bad as people may think. Prairie View was a small town as well, so I’m kind of used to it now. I kind of see it as a temporary thing -- after I graduate it’s back to the big-city life of New York!"
Q: Looking back on your basketball career at all levels, what is your favorite moment and why?
A: "I could go back and point out some individual games where I had an impressive stat line or even a triple double. But I would have to say becoming a junior college first team All-American and then playing in the all-star game which was held in Texas."
Q: Outside of basketball, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
A: "I enjoy going to the movies every time there is a new release that interests me, and mainly hanging out with my friends when I don’t have to be in class or practice."
Q: If you could play a game of HORSE with any athlete -- past or present -- who would it be and why?
A: "I would have to say Allen Iverson. I grew up idolizing him when I was young when he was playing in Philadelphia. When I used to have braids I used to get all the same designs he had."
Q: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?
A: "Making the conference tournament. It’s been a rough road, but I am optimistic that Northern Colorado will lose three of the four games they have left. After we beat them on Saturday, we will end up tied for sixth place when the season is over and we will get a spot in the conference tournament over them."
Q: What will you remember about EWU the most?
A: "My coaches, teammates and pastor Bob (Elfers), have always been great to be around."