Brown Overcomes Obstacles Far From Home
Feb. 9, 2006
By Todd Merriett, Bucknell Athletic Communications
After moving around from Tennessee to Iowa to Illinois and finally to Texas as her father was transferred around the country, Amanda Brown thought she had a home for the next four years in Stillwater, Okla., at Oklahoma State University. The 5-6 guard committed to play for head coach Julie Goodenough and the Cowgirls in the fall of 2004 along with four other talented players. Just two-fifths of that quintet remains at the Big XII school more than 15 months later.
Last spring, after just her third season at the helm of the Oklahoma State program, Goodenough resigned. Shortly thereafter, Kurt Budke, who had compiled an 80-16 mark in three seasons at Louisiana Tech took over the reigns of the program. He informed Brown that she did not fit into his team's future plans and allowed her to sign a release form, meaning she was free to look for another school to play for.
That is when Bucknell assistant coach Dan Burt, who handles much of the recruiting for the Bison program, showed up on Brown's caller ID.
"I was just watching TV and the phone rang," remembers Brown. "It was Coach Burt and I started talking to him and Bucknell sounded nice."
After a visit to the Lewisburg, Pa., campus last spring, Brown decided to keep orange a part of her wardrobe as she left the orange and black of Oklahoma State behind and chose the orange and blue of Bucknell.
While the 27-hour drive from her hometown of Richardson, Texas, is not ideal, Brown has begun to adjust to life in Central Pennsylvania with one semester of college now behind her.
One of the toughest challenges Brown encountered in her first few months at Bucknell was the distance from her family.
"At the beginning it was hard to be apart from my family because I am so close to them, especially my mom," says Brown, who is the oldest of Ann and John Brown's two children. "I had trouble finding time to talk to her, but I am starting to get used to it now."
One thing that has helped Brown cope with missing her family is their willingness to travel. Brown's father, who coached his daughter's AAU team in recent years, made a solo voyage to watch the Bison split a pair of games at the Air Force Classic in early December, while the whole family traveled East to take in a few games around the holidays in late December. They were even able to attend the team's holiday party at head coach Kathy Fedorjaka's house. After more than a month without seeing her family, Brown was excited to again see her father, who attended the Navy game at Sojka Pavilion the last weekend in January.
In addition, Brown has had plenty of support from her teammates to cope with her struggles of attending school so far from home. Teammate and co-captain Jacquie Seawright is a fellow Texan, while the young team is closer and better friends than Brown could have ever expected.
"Having Jacquie around has made things easier," explains Brown. "I had Thanksgiving dinner with her family and it is nice to have someone else to share common ground with."
While her adjustment to being apart from her family has been successful, if not seamless, Brown has excelled on the basketball court more than halfway through her freshman campaign. Through the season's first 22 games, Brown led the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game and had tallied at least 20 points on a team-high three occasions. A two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week award winner, Brown was one of just two Bison to have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio midway through the schedule.
"I started off a little slow and it took me a little while to get used to things," explains Brown, who was unaware of many behind-the-scenes duties of college basketball, like going over the scout for the next game, when she arrived on campus. "During (winter) break without academics to worry about, it became a little easier to focus on things."
It was during winter break that Brown was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time, in place of sophomore Kristina Collymore, after coming off the bench the first 11 games. She produced immediately with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes against Stony Brook.
"I kind of liked coming off the bench," says Brown with a wry smile before stating quickly that she likes to start as well. "I will do whatever helps the team win."
Brown and Collymore have formed a potent point guard combination for Fedorjaka. Collymore is defensive-minded, while Brown is the offensive force. Ironically enough, Brown had a reputation as a strong defender in high school, but her offense has blossomed, thanks to her patented high-arching, pull-up jumper with a defender in her face that seems to splash softly into the net every time.
The slight-framed Brown averaged more than 14 points per game during the eight games Bucknell played while classes were not in session, while the Bison, who are aiming for their first Patriot League title since 2002, posted a solid 5-3 mark. With the Patriot League season in full swing and classes back underway, Brown, who is considering a biology major, anticipates continuing the success both she and the team had over break, despite facing a demanding class schedule that includes courses like calculus 3, biology and psychology.
"The academics here are hard," comments Brown, who was a National Honor Society member in high school. "Balancing everything with basketball and academics can be challenging, but I am learning."
After overcoming the obstacles of the Oklahoma State situation, living apart from her family, the academics at Bucknell and adjusting to college basketball, Brown is ready for her next challenge - the 27-hour drive from Richardson to Lewisburg. Freshmen at Bucknell are not allowed to have cars on campus. Brown can't wait to have more freedom once she gets her wheels next year. Until then she will have to enjoy the freedom Fedorjaka gives her on the offensive end of the basketball court.