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Women’s Basketball: UL’s Brown going out in style

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 3, 2015



UL’s Robbie Brown (3), shown here pulling down a rebound during a win earlier this season, became more of a complete player for the Ragin’ Cajuns during his senior season.(Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)



Let’s just call it culture shock.

After coming off a celebrated high school career at St. Thomas More that ended with a state championship, life as a college basketball player was quite a jolt for Robbie Brown.

Initially, it was the losing.

Brown went from winning nearly every game she played in high school to a 7-23 freshman season with the Ragin’ Cajuns when “we lost almost every game we played.”

At that point, it hit Brown that she’d have to dedicate herself to a higher standard of hard work to prevent those kind of losing seasons from ever returning again.

New head coach Garry Brodhead and his staff made sure Brown had every opportunity to fulfill her new goal of working harder.

Actually, they surpassed it.

“The workouts were so much harder than I ever thought they would be,” Brown said. “The practices were longer than I ever thought they’d be and I felt pains in my body that I had never felt before.”

But now that her college career is winding down – with Thursday’s 5 p.m. clash with first-place UALR in the Cajundome being her final home game – Brown is relishing every minute and appreciating the progress that UL’s program has enjoyed during her stay.

“I had been trying not to think about it,” said Brown, who is the only senior on this year’s squad that enters Thursday’s game at 18-9 overall and 10-8 in Sun Belt Conference play. “But in this last week, I’ve been really trying to take in everything that’s happening.

“I’m just so happy that I got to experience it. I got to meet so many great people and experience so many things that I never imagined I would be able to experience. But the toughest thing is going to be leaving my teammates.”

Brown will be leaving behind an example of hard work, a defensive mentality and a lesson that you can improve in areas beyond your base strengths.

“Robbie’s really steady,” UL associate head coach Sallie Guillory said. “She’s consistent. She’s a four-year senior who has been through a lot. She’s a selfless player who plays both sides of the court.

“You can count on her. She knows her role and she knows it well.”

Early on during her senior season, however, Brown decided to expand that role a little more. Known has a defensive player throughout her career, Brown got more aggressive with the ball in her hands.

Going into Thursday’s home finale, Brown has 217 attempts from the field and 80 at the line. Her previous career highs were 146 field goal attempts and 35 tries at the line as a sophomore.

Perhaps even bigger, she’s made 26 3-pointers so far this season. Her previous season high was five.

The results are that she’s now the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 7.1 points a game, in addition to 3.3 rebounds a game. She’s also dished out a career-high 34 assists.

The turning point occurred in an early-season practice when Brown was showing the ability to be an offensive threat in practice, something that didn’t always show up in the games.

“My teammates just started pushing me,” Brown said. “They told me they needed that from me in the games. My coaches and my teammates just built up my confidence.”

And it didn’t take long for Brown to embrace this new-found trust on the offensive end.

“Being my senior year, I wanted to show off all my skills before I leave,” Brown said.

Don’t think Brown is getting too carried away with it, however. Deep down, she still possesses a defense-first mentality.

“I’ve always liked defense a little more,” she said. “Most players would prefer to score 20 points, but I’ve always had the mentality that if you score 20 and the player you’re guarding scores 30, then you’re actually hurting your team.”

Whatever is asked of her from here on out, Brown is obviously ready to play her part. She’s grateful that those seven wins her freshman season grew to 10 and then 14 and now up to 18 victories as a senior with her first collegiate winning season already in the bag.

“It feels great,” Brown said. “Once coach Brodhead got here, we all bought into it and we knew it was going to happen. It’s paying off now. All those 6 a.m. workouts are finally paying off. It’s a great feeling.”

UALR at UL women

Game: 5 p.m., Thursday, Cajundome.

Records: UALR 24-4, 17-2; UL 18-9, 10-8.

Radio: KPEL 1420 AM.

Series: UALR leads 16-8 (won 67-41 on Dec. 30).

Top players: UALR – Taylor Gault (14.9 pts, 2.9 rebs); Shanity James (11.6 pts, 7.3 rebs); Alexius Dawn (9.6 pts, 2.8 rebs UL – Jaylyn Gordon (13.8 pts, 4.0 rebs); Keke Veal (13.7 pts, 3.8 rebs); Kia Wilridge (12.3 pts, 4.9 rebs).