Brown looks to bounce back Broadneck alum gets new start at Arundel CC

November 01, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Tammy Brown never took her eyes off the rim as she methodically dribbled a basketball between her legs. She stood about 12 feet from the object of her attention, expressionless in creating an almost hypnotic motion.

She allowed the ball to take one looping bounce in front of her body, just far enough to entice her opponent to lunge for it. At the blink of an eye, the ball was drawn back to her side, and Brown sped past her stationary defender for an easy layup.

The victim of this picturesque move, a muscular custodian from Baltimore named Reggie Brooks, smiled and winked at a visitor to Anne Arundel Community College's gymnasium. It wasn't the first time he had been burned during this half-court game of one-on-one last week. And it wouldn't be the last.

Her hair is shorter and straighter than during her final season at Broadneck, in 1989-90, but everything else about Tammy Brown looks the same. The athleticism, the cockiness, the confidence -- it's all here. Inside a Pioneers jersey and shorts.

Brown, 20, has been practicing with the women's basketball team for the past couple of weeks, and will be in the starting lineup -- either at point guard or small forward -- for the season-opener Dec. 1 against Montgomery-Rockville.

"When I got out of high school, they counted me out," she says. "But I guess I'm surfacing again."

An All-Metro, do-everything player for two seasons at Broadneck High, Brown disappeared from the county after leading the Bruins to their second straight Class 4A state championship. And that was her intention.

"I just wanted to get away -- new people, new atmosphere, new coaching staff," she said.

She may go down as the most controversial female athlete to pass through the county. Every newspa

per story about her exploits on the court seemed to be countered by another tale of her troubles off it.

An administrative transfer from Annapolis High after her sophomore year -- spurred by her highly publicized disagreements with then-Panthers coach Daryl Watson -- was a prelude to two stormy seasons at Broadneck. She left the school as the only girls player to score more than 1,000 career points, and was named the Anne Arundel County Sun's Player of the Year as a senior, when she averaged 21.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

But she received as much attention for being at the center of the bickering that often took place among her Broadneck teammates during those two years. Her talents never were questioned, but her attitude routinely was. It's an image that won't go away.

"I have this gray cloud hanging over my head from high school and all the turmoil that went down," she said. "But I'm dealing with it, I'm accepting it.

"I think once you're under a microscope, you're always going to be under a microscope. I've been labeled. I don't think I've been given a fair shake here in the county, and for the most part, in the state. People have a very poor misconception of me."

This is Brown's third try at wiping the slate clean, after her failed attempt at Broadneck and a brief stay at the University of Maryland at College Park.

She was redshirted as a freshman and attended the school's University College in order to complete 24 credit hours. If successful, she would have been allowed to play with a full athletic scholarship next season, but that never happened.

"Coach [Chris] Weller and I just didn't see eye to eye, we just didn't click, so I thought it would be better if I transferred out of there," said Brown, who had a 2.6 grade-point average at Broadneck, but a 690 score on her Scholastic Aptitude Test, 10 points below the requirement.

"I just didn't make the transition from high school to college, and my parents and myself felt that it would be best that I start here and then go to a four-year school."

She enrolled at Anne Arundel last fall, but didn't play basketball to concentrate on academics. Her grade-point average rose to 3.1, and Brown said the testing and tutoring department asked her to work as a sociology tutor.

The years between high school and the start of Anne Arundel's practices haven't robbed Brown of her tremendous gifts in the sport. If anything, her time spent in women's leagues in Baltimore and Washington have made her quicker and stronger. She's equally adept at starting or finishing a fast break, and anyone trying to guard her alone most likely will end up like Brooks.

"She probably jumps higher than she did before, too," said Anne Arundel coach Tom Smith, who coached Brown for one season at Broadneck. "She's hitting around 60 to 65 percent of anything she puts up outside. I think she'll draw a lot of double coverage this year, which will open up our inside game, or another guard outside."

Brown said she's blending in "fairly well" with her new teammates. "We're working things out, smoothing out the edges," she said.

"She's definitely an asset," said 6-foot sophomore center Tiffany Clayton. "She'll open up the team more. And she blends in fine."

Said forward Ann Heiser: "Tiffany and I were scared because we're the only two returning players. It was good to know someone strong like Tammy was coming."

Despite being sidetracked after high school, Brown still has been heavily recruited by a few Division I schools. She has committed orally to Temple University and will accept a full athletic scholarship during the early signing period that begins Nov. 11.

She will have at least two years of eligibility remaining after this season and is in the process of appealing to the NCAA's board of directors for a third year.

Until then, Brown will try to adapt to life back under the microscope.

"I don't really know what kind of reaction to expect. I guess it could be good, I guess it could be bad," she said.

"I think I've matured a great deal. I got a bad rap, but I think if you give me a chance and you get to know me, I'll prove all those people wrong."

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