By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Go slower, achieve more.
For the better part of two years, the wordage seemed foreign to K-State junior Branshea Brown.
Simplified, Brown's game was out of sync to Big 12 play through her first two seasons when she averaged a measly 1.4 and 3.1 points per game, respectively, in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
"I just couldn't put my game together with the rest of the team," said the now 6-foot-2 Wildcat junior. "I'm getting better, but I want to keep stepping up."
Step up Brown has definitely done with 2010-11 averages of 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Her 50 percent shooting is high for the team as are her 21 blocked shots, while her 21 steals rank third.
"I'm just trying to do what I can do. My practice habits are much better, and that has carried over into the game," said Brown, who was one of the heroes in last week's three-point win over Missouri with 11 points and seven rebounds. "I still tend to go to fast, that's still a problem that I have, but the game is starting to slow down some. I just have to keep reminding myself to play under control. I have a problem of getting too excited."
What Brown's slower pace has done is excite her coach.
"I'm pleased with her," said coach Deb Patterson of the impact Brown has had on the Wildcats' 13-5 start to the season. "Even though she's a junior, her minutes were spotty in those first two years. Right now she is playing solid defense and rebounding so well. If we can turn those seven or eight points per game into 11 or 12, that will help push the team toward that 70-point mark that we're trying to reach. Her role is more on defense, but we have a strong need for her to advance her offensive game."
Fellow 6-2 junior Jalana Childs says of her teammate, "We all looked at her as a defensive player, but now she's playing as an offensive player, as well. She's such a brute. She's bigger than I am. I'm physical, but not as physical as she is."
Brown says of her own basketball resume, "It starts with rebounding, always rebounding, then playing defense, and then hitting what shots come my way."
A native of Walterboro, S.C., Brown prepped at Colleton County High School where she scored 1,400 career points and snared 1,226 rebounds. She was also a part of a school record 72 wins in her four-year career.
South Carolina to Kansas? "It's a long way from home," Brown said, flashing a smile. "I just tried to take a chance. I came on a visit, and really liked the area. I had never really been off the east coast. I wanted to go away from home to play, but probably not this far. Then, I just decided to take a chance."
She added, "My parents were supportive. I'm an only child, but my dad said, 'Whatever you want to do, just be happy.' My mom probably had a bigger problem because we're so close."
Brown and her Wildcat teammates play in Colorado tonight at 8 (central time) before returning home Saturday to take on the University of Kansas in a 2 p.m. start.
Playing the 'D'
There's no question about it, K-State's winning games by way of its defense.
The Wildcats are allowing just 52.2 points per game to rank fourth in the league and ninth in the nation, their .344 field goal defense ranks fourth in the league and 12th in the nation, and their .275 3-point defense ranks fourth in the league.
Those numbers have overshadowed the fact that K-State is averaging just 61.9 points (11th), on .397 field goal shooting (12th), and .299 from 3-point distance (10th).
The Wildcats are also only 10th in rebounding margin at plus-3.2, 10th in assists (13.4), and 12th in blocked shots (3.06).
Brittany Chambers' 14.9 scoring average ranks 11th in the league, while Jalana Childs' average of 11.4 is 21st. Mariah White is eighth in assists (4.50) and 13th in steals (1.83). Chambers' 2.61 3-pointers per game ranks third, and her .362 3-point accuracy ranks 11th.