It’s always “Raining Threes” with FGCU’s women’s basketball team, given the Eagles’ knack for nailing 3-point shots beyond the arc.
But while the team’s calling card might be the three — FGCU has 407 long-range baskets on the season entering the NCAA Tournament, just 18 shy of the NCAA season record — one Eagle rainmaker also brings tons of thunder and lots of lightning with her aggressive game.
Meet China Dow. She’s the two-time most valuable player of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, was a first team All-ASUN selection this season, scored her 1,000th career point in the ASUN quarterfinal game and was a catalyst in many of FGCU’s 30 wins and fifth conference championship in just seven seasons of Division I eligibility.
With a soft shooting touch to complement an aggressive, drive-to-the-paint method of play, Dow’s game includes elements of the style made famous by “The Greatest” athlete ever to come from her hometown of Louisville, Ky. — former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. FGCU’s senior guard can kick outside and launch a rainbow shot that floats like a butterfly, then, an instant later, muscle inside aggressively and sting her opponent like a bee.
“She’s someone who consistently provides us a spark,” said FGCU coach Karl Smesko. “She’s very hard to guard.”
Dow’s also the type of person who’s very hard not to like. Given her engaging smile and outgoing personality, about the only people who might not warm to Dow are those she storms past competitively — such as the women who play for Jacksonville and were torched by Dow for 18 points and five rebounds in FGCU’s ASUN championship game victory.
“I’m a very social person … I just love people,” said Dow, who, fittingly, is earning a degree in communication. “I’ve met so many great people on campus and in the community, and I’ve been able to learn from people here who come from different cultures. And our fans … I never realized there were fans out there that really care the way our fans do.”
Like all of FGCU’s student-athletes, Dow also has been a presence in the community, spending two years working with the Eagle Reading program in Southwest Florida schools. “I just loved it,” she said. “The interaction with younger kids is special. Once the students see a college athlete in class, they get excited.”
Needless to say, Dow, who hopes to explore “different ways to stick with basketball as either a player or a coach” after her Eagle career is finished, has no regrets about transferring to FGCU from Middle Tennessee State University after her sophomore season.
“The first time I met the coaching staff, they made me feel so comfortable and at ease, it just felt right,” Dow said. “Then when I saw the campus, I said to myself, ‘This is so beautiful … it’s really somewhere I’d like to stay.’ When my family came to visit, they felt like they were at a resort. I mean, I was expecting palm trees … but there are alligators in the water here!”
- Watch Eagles play in 1st round at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2
What makes FGCU basketball so great?
Sure, it’s the players, but it’s more than that. It’s the coaches and the cheerleaders. It’s Azul and his hip moves. It’s the pep band and the Dancing E’Gals and, of course, the shouting, stamping, screaming, leaping Dirty Birds who ramp up the energy in the Nest. This is part of a series of profiles of some of those who put their hearts and souls into making Eagles basketball the force it has become.