WOMEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas’ ‘Team Dad’ Aiming High
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012 20:05
“We’re going to do great things at Georgetown.”
Keith Brown’s booming voice rang across the McDonough Arena lobby, announcing a new chapter in the history of Georgetown women’s basketball.
The former assistant coach, who was officially tapped to replace Terri Williams-Flournoy as head coach last week, has a manner that couldn’t be more different from his predeccesor. Williams-Flournoy has a quiet confidence about her and rarely raises her voice. Brown’s demeanor, however, is just as imposing as his 6-foot-4 frame.
But Brown looks to keep one constant from the Williams-Flournoy era: unprecedented success.
Williams-Flournoy’s departure for Auburn was a major blow to a program that has been on the rise for the past four years. She was the architect of a revolution, the woman whose recruiting and coaching brought the Hoyas to heights unseen since the early 1990s. But fans of Auburn’s newest head coach need not worry: Brown promised last week to stick to what has brought Georgetown this far.
“We’re going to trap, trap, trap, put a lot of pressure on teams,” he said. “We’re going to get up and down the floor. We love that up-tempo style.”
As anyone who has watched the Blue and Gray compete over the last few years knows, defensive tenacity and a run-and-gun offense are their bread and butter. Implementing the strategy won’t be an issue for Brown, who seems to have a good grasp on the system. But the graduation of this year’s senior class will leave a gaping hole in the lineup, and a big part of the Hoyas’ future success will depend on Brown’s ability to continue Williams-Flournoy’s impressive recruiting.
Concern about Brown’s recruiting ability, though, is unfounded. During his tenure as an assistant coach, Brown served as the Hoyas’ head of recruiting and was instrumental in pulling in prospects like rising senior guard Sugar Rodgers, a high school All-American who has led the Blue and Gray in scoring since her freshman year. Other Hoyas attested to Brown’s recruiting acumen as well.
“Me and Coach Brown have been really close since I got here,” rising senior forward Vanessa Moore said. “He recruited me. He’s pretty much the reason that I came or a big part in the process of me choosing Georgetown.”
“He’s a really great recruiter,” rising senior center Sydney Wilson said. “He knows how to talk to people, he’s really genuine and sincere and I think that will definitely translate onto the court.”
Brown’s background as an educator also played into the decision to hire him. Before coming to the Hilltop, he held various teaching positions in the D.C. metro area while coaching AAU basketball.
But it wasn’t Brown’s basketball philosophy, teaching experience or even recruiting skill that landed him Georgetown’s top job. According to Director of Athletics Lee Reed, the administration saw a passion for the game and love of Georgetown in Brown that set him apart from the other candidates.
“The person that is successful is the person that displays the want, the willingness to be here more than anywhere else in the country,” Reed said. “And Keith proved that.”
Regular attendees of the team’s games at McDonough can attest to Brown’s passion, manifested in a thunderous motivational style during games. Brown frequently stood up from the bench to yell at players and could be heard all the way across the gym. But the team doesn’t seem to mind, with Moore even referring to Brown as a “team dad.”
“He was more of an — I don’t want to say aggressor, but more of a pusher,” Wilson said. “And I think we definitely need that.”
Brown said all the right things in his press conference, thanking everyone involved and even citing advice given to him by former men’s basketball Head Coach John Thompson Jr. — the closest thing to basketball royalty at Georgetown.
His passion, recruiting skill and basketball philosophy all qualify him for the job. What remains to be seen is whether he can manage the loss of the team’s seven seniors and make Rodgers’ senior season one to remember despite the Hoyas’ coming in as underdogs in the brutally competitive Big East.
That question won’t be answered for sure until next winter but Brown certainly has the right attitude going in.
“If you love competition, this is the best place in the world to be,” Brown said. “I keep getting grayer because of it, but I love the big games. We definitely want to focus on one day getting to the Final Four.”