Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Whitman’s Brown commits to UMBC for basketball

E-mail this article \ Print this article

Erin Brown knew that if she wanted to play college basketball, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County would be the place.

After several seasons of taking trips with her Whitman teammates to the Retrievers’ home arena to watch games, and taking the same floor in the MPSSAA Class 4A semifinals last March, she felt ready to call it home. With head coach Phil Stern recruiting Brown, an All-Gazette first-team selection as a junior, things seemed to be falling into place.

‘‘I had been talking to them for a while,” she said. ‘‘Then we went up there, and they told me that they had all their recruits for the upcoming season set up. I had to start talking to some other schools.”

Suddenly, though, things turned around again. The coaching staff asked Brown to come back to its campus last Thursday, and offered her a scholarship on that visit. Brown took the weekend to think about it, then verbally committed to UMBC Monday.

‘‘I guess some things changed for them and they offered me the spot,” Brown said. ‘‘I took some time to figure out whether I really wanted to play basketball for the next four years. When I thought about it, I realized that they have a great coaching staff, they made it into the NCAA tournament last year, and I couldn’t really ask for anything better. That’s why I said yes.”

Part of the reason the Retrievers were so eager to get Brown to commit is her ability to provide a dual threat on the offensive end of the floor. Last season she led Whitman in both scoring and rebounding, combining a deft touch from the perimeter with the ability to get inside and snag a loose ball. Her physicality might help her adjust to the college game more quickly.

‘‘She can put up a maximum bench press of 160 pounds,” said Whitman girls basketball coach Peter Kenah, who also coached Brown during the AAU season with the Maryland Madness. ‘‘From a strength perspective, she is as ready as any freshman going in there. And, playing year-round against the competition that she has played against will help her adjust. Certainly, she will be playing against girls that are older than her, but I think playing AAU makes the jump to college less of an adjustment.”

For Brown, the decision to commit now — she plans to sign her National Letter of Intent on Nov. 14, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period — commutes the stress of the recruitment process early. Two years ago, Brown’s older sister, Kathleen, went through a long senior season in which she had to consider such diverse basketball programs as Idaho State and Johns Hopkins. In the end, she opted to stay closer to home, playing at Division III Marymount (Va.) University, but it was stressful time. Erin Brown took her sister’s experience to heart.

‘‘When Kathleen went through the recruitment process, it was so hectic,” Brown said. ‘‘I wanted to focus on getting this over as soon as possible. It makes it easier to just worry about schoolwork and playing basketball.”

Her current coach concurs.

‘‘The stress is gone,” Kenah said. ‘‘When Kathleen went through the process it wore on her, and Erin knew that. UMBC was always her favorite. It just wound up to be a great fit.”