Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brown Glows Making Maryland Shine in NCAA

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

Lexie Brown’s glowing smile never disappears.

Whether it’s dancing with teammates to synchronized routines during pregame warmups, using a selfie stick following a postgame press conference or zooming up the floor with the uninhibited fury of a race car against Princeton during the heat of a second-round NCAA Tournament women’s basketball game.

Brown’s flawless smile is constant.

A 5-foot, 9-inch smooth sophomore guard, Brown plays the game with the joy of a toddler enjoying their favorite toy: Free and easy.

While operating on her hardwood sanctuary, Brown’s thoughts always return to the driveway in her home as a youngster.

It’s the place where it all began for the daughter of former NBA Slam Dunk champion Dee Brown. The fun. The passion. The smile.

“That comes from my family,” Brown said. “Our family is extremely close and we have so much fun. I love the game. Fun and basketball has always been one in the same for me. I love being out there and the crowd was amazing. I love getting the crowd pumped up. When people know I am smiling, it’s a good thing.”

While Brown made all of the Maryland fans blissful with a splendid 23-point, six-rebound effort during an 85-70 win over previously undefeated Princeton Monday night at the Xfinity Center, she was already happier than Pharell because her mother, Tammy, was in attendance.

“My mom’s here and I was in an extremely happy mood,” Brown said. “This weekend was the first time she had a chance to see me play in person this year so that was special having her here. These are the first two games she’s been able to make all season. Everytime my mom is around; I just smile all day long. Today was just a great day.”

Beneath Brown’s radiant smile lies a fierceness.

A human handcuff and pleasant package of excitement, Brown has all the tools to be special by the time she finishes her career for the Terrapins.

She has been the leader of Maryland’s high-powered machine this season. While her physical gifts are plenty, such as her feathery three-point shooting touch and an ability to dissect even the most complicated defenses.

Brown’s poise is the biggest reason why Maryland (32-2 overall) is two wins away from its second consecutive Final Four.

“I am the point guard of the team and I can’t get too high or too low,” Brown said. “Sometimes, I have my moments of spiraling but (Maryland head coach Brenda Frese) reels me right back in quickly.

"I am like the heartbeat of the team so I can’t spiral out of control. I have to stay poised. Mostly though my biggest improvement was my mental game because I think that’s the most important part of the game. ”

She doesn’t get rattled. During the first two minutes against Princeton, Brown missed her first three shots and committed a turnover.

Even after she air-balled a 3-pointer, Brown flashed a brief smile and stayed in attack mode, eventually finding her groove to bring the Tigers’ unbeaten season to an end.

“Her ability to keep us under control when things get tough has been big for our team this season,” said Maryland senior guard Lauren Mincy following her 27-point performance against Princeton. “Her improvement from last year to this year is incredible and she continues to work everyday. She’s going to keep getting better, which is scary.”

Already this season, Brown was named the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, All-Big Ten First Team by coaches and the media and to the five-player All-Big Ten Defensive Team.

In addition, Brown is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.

She’s helped the Terps win a school record 26 consecutive games and advance to the program’s seventh Sweet 16.

Brown, who averages 13.4 points per game, has scored in double figures 25 times this season and 41 during her career. She has made at least one 3-pointer in 81.8 percent of the games she has appeared in (54/66).

“She’s been rock solid from start to finish this season,” Frese said. “She has more responsibilities this year as a leader, scorer, defender and so many things we put on her shoulders that she embraces and has done a phenomenal job. I love when she plays free like she did tonight. She didn’t have a care in the world. We feed off of that. Her team feeds off of that. She makes this team go.”

While Brown enjoys winning games and playing basketball, she loves being around her teammates more. All of the players live together in an apartment complex which has strengthened the sisterly bond between them.

“Lexie is a goofball and one of my personal favorites,” Mincy said. “She’s like an annoying little sister that I never had.

"She’s always knocking me in my head, running around and doing extra things that a little sister would do. She’s such a workhorse though. Anytime we have an off-day or time before practice, she’s always the first one in here. She’s either running or getting shots up. That’s something I definitely respect her for.”

Added teammate Shatori Walker-Kimbrough: “She’s a great person off the court and great leader on the court.”

The Terps face a familiar foe in former ACC playmate and fourth-seeded Duke, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Spokane. As the tournament winds its way to its denouement, Brown is looking forward to silencing more critics.

Despite being ranked fourth in the country and a No. 1 seed, the Terps are playing with a chip on their shoulders.

Maryland’s players made sure to remind everybody Monday night that President Barak Obama picked them to lose to Princeton, more so out of loyalty to his niece, Leslie Robinson, who is a reserve on the Tigers.

“We wanted to prove to people that we were still the Final Four team we were last season,” Brown said. “I am really proud of how everybody took it upon themselves to step up this year. We worked so hard in the preseason and during the summer. Last year was surreal making the Final Four as a No. 4 seed. We were definitely underdogs last year and we have that mentality now.”

More than 30 minutes after the game ended, Brown, wearing a crisp white T-shirt with Sweet 16 on it over her gold uniform, chatted with family and hugged friends while, of course, sporting a smile that could light the Chesapeake Bay, before disappearing back into the tunnel leading to the Maryland locker room.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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