COLUMBIA — RaeShara Brown stands at 5-foot-8, making her the second-shortest player on the Missouri women's basketball team behind sophomore Trenee Thornton. Her voice is the loudest on the court, though, often drowning out that of coach Robin Pingeton's. While she was a strong contributer last season, Brown has tried to step up into the role of a leader on the team.
"I just try to learn how to communicate and lead my teammates in a positive manner, learn how to encourage and be uplifting, more so than using constructive criticism," Brown said. "A lot of times, D-1 athletes are already hard enough on themselves, so by us being able to lift each other and encourage each other when things are going wrong, it makes the games go a lot smoother."
Brown's positive attitude translates on the court. The senior guard leads Missouri with 16 points per game. She has accumulated 41 steals in the Tigers' 16 games, 27 more than any other player. But one stat stands out. The second-shortest player to wear the Tiger uniform this season leads the team with 6.6 rebounds per game.
While Brown improved on every statistic from last season, she focused most on developing into a strong leader this past off season.
"I think some people have it in them, and I think some people don't. I'd like to think that I have a strong voice," Brown said. "When people see me work, I think it makes them want to work hard, too. It's just us pushing each other, and it's the message we try to get across. Being a leader, it's just a part of making people want to follow. I have to make the right actions when leading."
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton looks highly upon the senior. Because Brown has been at MU three more years than Pingeton, the coach relies on her to carry the new coaching staff's message on the court, saying Brown's buy-in from day one has been outstanding.
“She’s a young lady that impacts a lot of people. Her body language has gotten so much better. She’s a fighter," Pingeton said. "Sometimes we remind her, she’s one of those players that needs to take a deep breath and make sure she’s embracing and encouraging her teammates.”
Brown gives credit to the first-year coaching staff that came to Missouri from Illinois State for her continued success. According to the senior guard, the transition in coaching staffs this past off season was seamless.
"I can't think of a hard time we had adjusting to the new coaching staff," Brown said. "Of course we had to take time to learn what their expectations were and what they demanded of us, but as far as just embracing them and them coming in and making it easier to actually be a family, it wasn't a big mess with that part of it."
A smooth adjustment for the Tigers led to a conference-opening win over Texas. Missouri made a 12-0 run in the final three minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime. Brown scored a career-high 27 points that also led the team. The Tigers were unable to hold on to an eight-point halftime lead over Texas Tech, though.
"That win against Texas makes us want more of that, which has pushed us to work even harder," Brown said. "And to know that we came so close against Texas Tech and weren't able to finish I think put a bigger chip on our shoulder, and we don't want any more (games) to slip away like that."
Playing in her final year, Brown wants continue building on her leadership role by implementing positive thinking, both on and off the court. She attributes some of her growth to playing in the Big 12 conference, which has six teams in the USA Today poll's top 30.
"It's what the Big 12 is all about. When you get a little taste of something different every year, you learn how to intensify. You learn how much passion you have to play with," Brown said. "When I'm working on my game, I'm just constantly thinking about the Big 12."