COLUMBIA — RaeShara Brown looks forward to every basketball season. It is her passion.
But there might be one thing she enjoys more — traveling. Brown especially enjoys going on trips with her older sister, Felisia Brown-Lackey.
Ball State (3-3) vs. Missouri (3-2)
WHEN: 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
“Me and my sister love to travel. We go to different water and theme parks every summer,” RaeShara Brown said. “I just enjoy traveling. When I get older, I plan on traveling the world.”
While noting Wild River Country, a water park in their hometown of Little Rock, Ark., as a place she and her sister frequently visit, RaeShara Brown said the two already have plans to visit a water park in Florida in the near future.
For now, those plans will have to wait. RaeShara Brown is currently busy doing some traveling of her own with the Missouri women’s basketball team. The Tigers (3-2) are coming off a Thanksgiving tournament in Florida in which they beat Florida A&M and then nearly knocked off No. 9 Florida State. Despite the near upset, the Tigers aren’t satisfied with moral victories.
“I’m not letting them relax. We've got to get better,” coach Cindy Stein said. “That’s the emphasis. We lost, plain and simple.”
RaeShara Brown is a player Stein has relied heavily on thus far. Brown’s 33 minutes a game are leading the team.
“I hope that number goes down a little bit, honestly,” Stein said. “We want some energy coming off the bench. We’re having trouble finding that consistent effort that puts in the effort that Amanda (Hanneman) and Rae (Brown) give.”
With point guard Bekah Mills out for the season with a knee injury, Brown, a shooting guard, has to stay on the court longer when senior Toy Richbow needs a break. Brown has handled the ball well this season.
“Rae is tough. She rarely gets tired,” Richbow said, adding Brown’s ball-handling skills give the Tigers an extra weapon. “Teams can’t just key on me because Rae can push the ball up, too.”
Brown, referred to as “Rae Rae” by her teammates, is known for the effort she consistently exerts on the basketball court. Despite standing at just 5 feet 8 inches tall, the junior leads the Tigers with 7.4 rebounds a game.
“Size don’t matter. You’re height don’t mean nothing,” Richbow, Brown’s close friend and teammate, said. “Everybody on our team and the Big 12 knows Rae loves to pursue the ball.”
Defense and rebounding are two things that Brown puts extra emphasis on.
“Anything that has to do with hustling or getting an extra possession, or anything that has to do with defense, I pride myself on that,” Brown said. “I get a little kick out of it being that I’m only 5-foot-8, playing against people six foot and being able to get rebounds.”
The Tigers coach isn’t surprised by the results Brown has been getting.
“It’s her effort. She plays with a will to compete at all times,” Stein said. “She does all the dirty work. She’s on the floor, she’s getting the rebounds, she’s crashing offensive boards, she’s getting steals.”
Brown’s athleticism and scrappy play allow her to be one of the best defensive players in the Big 12. Last season, she led the Big 12 with 2.7 steals a game. This season, Brown has been stepping up on the offensive side of the ball as well, averaging 12 points a game, compared to six a game last season.
“She always plays with a lot of energy. I think where she’s improved is that she doesn’t stop playing with that energy,” Stein said, adding though that her scoring could be more consistent. “She’s very capable of scoring at that rate.”
After losing against the Seminoles, Brown said her team didn’t want to start a “trend” of losing consecutive games. The Tigers will try to avoid that when they play Ball State at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
While Brown loves traveling during the summers with her sister, there is one destination she would probably enjoy more with her teammates in March.
“Every person that goes to college should experience the NCAA tournament," Brown said. "That’s what you go to college for. That’s supposed to be your ultimate goal. You don’t go just to play ball. You go to get to the highest point you can go to.”