A summer spent on the AAU circuit might have been just what Natasha Cloud needed.
As a junior at Cardinal O’Hara in Springfield, Pa., Cloud was the team’s designated defensive stopper. The Maryland combo guard commitment filled up the stat sheet, but wasn’t counted on to be the primary scorer with four Division I-bound seniors on the roster.
This summer with the Mid-Atlantic Comets, however, Cloud emerged as a go-to player on a young team -- something she’ll need to do this winter at Cardinal O’Hara.
“We came in fourth in the country at nationals,” Cloud said of her AAU team. “We could’ve done better ... because we had a lot of younger players. We had a lot of sophomores and juniors on the team ... but we did pretty good.”Cloud will still play to her strengths -- playing tough defense, setting up her teammates and rebounding -- during her senior season. But developing into more of a scoring threat this summer will be an added benefit for her team this year.
“I’m still going to do all the things I’ve been doing in the past,” Cloud said. “But I’m obviously going to have to take on a scoring role. My coach always tells me that. One of my assistant coaches [in high school] was a coach on the Comets. He said I progressed so much this summer with my shot. I’m going to do everything I need to carry it over for O’Hara.”
Cloud is the youngest of five siblings and the first in her immediate family to attend college. Her brother and one sister live at home with her parents, while two other sisters live in nearby Prospect Park. Family gatherings without the youngest Cloud next year will certainly be different.
“My mom always says it’ll be quiet around the house because I’m kind of loud,” Cloud said. “But I think they’ll get through it. It’s going to be hard [to be away from home] and it will be a change. But I know they’ll come and see me and when I get home I’ll see them. I know they’ll be calling me.”
Here’s an introduction to Cloud.
Name: Natasha Emily Cloud
Birthdate: Feb. 22, 1992
Birthplace: Broomall, Pa.
Hometown: Broomall, Pa.
Nickname: Tash or Tasha
Position: Shooting guard
High School: Cardinal O’Hara
Junior statistics: 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals
Other schools considered: Villanova, St. Joseph's, Virginia
Rankings: ESPN Hoopgurlz -- No. 96. AllStarGirlsReport.net -- No. 31.
Favorite pro basketball player: Kristi Toliver
Favorite pro basketball team: Los Angeles Sparks
Favorite all-time Terp: Kristi Toliver
Favorite music: Lil Wayne, Rascal Flatts, Mayday Parade
Favorite book: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Favorite movie: The Notebook
Favorite TV show: One Tree Hill
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite high school class: History
Favorite thing about College Park: “Just the atmosphere. It just has the complete and total family atmosphere. I fell in love with it.”
Hobbies: “Besides basketball, I just like hanging out with friends, going to high school football games. I’m really big on the spirit of my schools, so I usually attend a lot of events with my stomach painted. And I like shopping and dancing. I’ll just break it down in the hallway and start dancing.”
Intended major: Business
Something that not many people know about you: “[People at] Maryland would probably think I’m really shy at first, but I’m actually a complete and total goofball. And I sing really loud. Sometimes I just break out. In open gyms, I’ll just start singing.”
Best basketball moment: “I have two actually. They both are pretty high up there. Two years ago we won the [Philadelphia] Catholic League championship, which was the last one ever because the Catholic League has now switched over to the [Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association]. So that was a good moment there. Then last year, when we won the Arizona Tournament of Champions and became the No. 1 team in the country.”
Role model: “Gina Carano. She’s in the UFC -- a women’s MMA fighter. Just because even though she might lose, she still keeps her head up high and she does so much for the sport and is such a good role model. She takes everything with a smile and changed everything for women’s MMA. She just sends a good message to all women that you can do anything.”
Why Maryland? “I’m very close with my family and that was one of the reasons I chose Maryland. When I went on campus and they started touring me around, they all gave me hugs and stuff. [And I thought], ‘this is where I want to be.’ I’m a very family-oriented person and that’s what Brenda [Frese] has the team feeling like -- like it’s a family.”