Weekend Plans With WNBA's Renee Brown: NCAA Women's Final Four In Nashville
RENEE BROWN has had her hand in almost every sector of women's basketball, from her playing days at UNLV to coaching at Kansas, Stanford and San Jose State to serving on the USA Basketball Selection Committee to her current role as WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations & Player Relations. Brown's passion for and knowledge of the sport run deep. She has been paying close attention during the NCAA women's basketball season, keeping an eye out for those special seniors who may have an opportunity to become the next big stars of the WNBA. So it comes as no surprise that Brown will leave behind her cozy home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., this weekend to enjoy all the festivities Nashville has to offer around the NCAA women's Final Four.
BACK TOGETHER AGAIN: Friday what I would like to try to do is catch up with all the various college coaches that will be (in Nashville). The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention (WBCA) will be there, so it’s great to have an opportunity to see all the different college coaches that I know. At one point I was a college coach, a long time ago, so I’ve got very good working relationships with so many of them. It will be a good chance to see them, talk to them. What’s really fun also is that we’ve got many former WNBA players that are head coaches or assistant coaches that I will get a chance to see -- people like DAWN STALEY, SHERYL SWOOPES, CYNTHIA COOPER -- all former players of ours that also will be at the women’s Final Four. That’s exciting -- to get a chance to talk to them and pat them on the back and tell them how proud we are of them.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Before I do anything (Friday) night, there’s a celebration for BETTY JAMES. She passed away in February, and she was with the WBCA forever. She is like the godmother of basketball. There’s going to be a celebration of her life and her commitment to the women’s game, so I will definitely go to that. It’s being held at the Omni Nashville. Then I’m sure we’ll go out to dinner. We haven’t done our homework on where the best barbeque place is but I know I’m going to go get some barbeque while I’m in Nashville.
SCOUTING REPORT: What I love about Saturday is that’s the day that they have open practices, so I will go to all four practices. I used to coach at Stanford, so I will definitely be sitting front row at Stanford’s practice. I worked with GENO AURIEMMA with USA Basketball, so I’ll be sitting in on his practice. Each one of those coaches, they have a great story. MUFFET MCGRAW -- we’ve got so many of her players like RUTH RILEY and SKYLAR (DIGGINS) in the league. Then you go over to Maryland and BRENDA FRESE has one of the top players and we’ve got a number of players from Maryland -- CRYSTAL LANGHORNE to name one. So it’s just fun going there and all four teams, in my mind, have a top senior that we’re interested in that will be drafted into our league next year.
BEST OF THE BEST: Another fun thing on Saturday is they announce the All-American team, so I definitely like attending that. I always try to figure out who the winners are before I get there, so that’s kind of fun trying to talk to various coaches to see if one of their players was named an All-American. But it’s a great event to see how happy and proud both the players and the coaches are. They fly (all the players) in, so even if you’re not playing in one of the tournament games, they will fly in the All-American team. They put them in All-American sweatsuits and everything. It’s a great way to shine the light on the top players in the NCAA.
WALK THIS WAY: Sunday morning gives me an opportunity, because I’m an early riser, to walk around Nashville. By 6:00am I want to be up and out of my room walking around, trying to get some exercise in as well as touring. I have to walk. It gives me a chance to really get my thoughts together, to get fresh air, to have an opportunity to just see the town where I am. I enjoy it. Sunday morning gives me an opportunity also to have coffee with various people. When I get down there, I’ll meet different people -- whether it be college coaches or GMs -- somehow we all sort of get together. Some of my favorite people from Nike are there and I’ll definitely get with them. So it’s a great way in my opinion to network with some of the smartest minds in the game.
EYE-TO-EYE: Before the games on Sunday, (WNBA President) LAUREL RICHIE will have a little gathering with any WNBA personnel, any of our team members in town. So around 3:30pm we’re going to be going to the B.B. Kings Blues Club to have some dinner. The games are at 5:30pm and 8:00pm. I prefer to watch games almost at center court, where I’m facing the basket because I like to watch the dialogue of the players that we are evaluating and their coaches and their teammates. From there, you can see them during timeouts. I like to see who’s running to the bench, if a coach is talking to the guard, if the guard is looking her in the eye as the coach is giving instructions or if the coach is talking to them during any kind of timeout, how they are communicating. It’s funny because I watch it and I take notes on it.