|Musically gifted Essence Carson or 'that hard-nosed guard' when she is on the court for Rivas Ecopolis|
By Jeff Taylor
One player who deserves a lot of credit in this terrific EuroLeague Women campaign for Rivas Ecopolis is Essence Carson.
A 25-year-old guard who is an explosive scorer, Carson came up big in their 64-56 win over Bourges Basket on 29 February that clinched a spot in the Final Eight.
She had a game-high 20 points, including a perfect nine-of-nine night at the free-throw line.
Rivas progressed from the opening round of the play-offs for the first time with that triumph.
"It's just a great feeling to be a part of a club and make history with this club," Carson said to Basketball World News.
So who is Essence Carson?
Well, she's much more than a basketball player.
A graduate of Rosa Parks School for Fine and Performing Arts in New Jersey, Carson is one of the most musically gifted basketball players in the world.
Do a search online for "Essence Carson piano" and you'll find a video of her playing a beautiful song.
She can also strum away on a bass guitar and knows how to handle the drums and saxophone.
While a student at Rosa Parks, she played sports for Paterson Eastside High School.
Carson was so good that she won a scholarship to Rutgers, one of the top teams in American women's college basketball.
After majoring in psychology with a minor in music at Rutgers, Carson turned professional.
In addition to producing music and playing in the WNBA with the New York Liberty, she has also taken advantage of the opportunity to compete professionally in Europe.
And she has a lot of responsibility with Rivas.
"My role is to be that hard-nosed guard that pretty much gets everything done on the offensive end, and the defensive end, and really be that force," she said.
Copa De La Reina And Final Eight
Last season, Carson wasn't with Rivas when they celebrated Spanish Cup (Copa de la Reina) glory with wins over Ros Casares and Perfumerias Avenida.
She'll be with the team when they take on Ros Casares in the Copa Semi-Final on Saturday in Madrid.
Can the Rivas players dig deep and go on another dramatic run to Copa glory?
"Hopefully we'll be able to go even further and make it into the championship game on Sunday," Carson said.
If they do, they'll face the winner of the other semi between Perfumerias Avenida and Girona.
After this weekend, Rivas will be able to fully focus on the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
The competition in Turkey is going to be hard, with Rivas taking on both of that country's top sides, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, as well as Beretta-Famila Schio.
Should they finish top of that group, Rivas would play in the final.
"It's a lot of games," Carson said.
"It reminds me of AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball back in high school.
"You play a lot of games in a very short space of time.
"In the WNBA, you also play a lot of back-to-backs.
"Sometimes, we can play up to four games in a week.
"It's going to be a tough road ahead of us but we are willing and determined to get things done."
Is the Final Eight a David versus Goliath scenario with Rivas cast in the role of the slingshot wielding David?
"Of course it is for us," Carson said.
"We have heart and you can't buy heart or teach heart.
"As long as we have that, we can compete with anyone."