Brandy Broome smiles a lot. She’s even playful.
On March 8, Broome skipped around the court at Xavier’s Convocation Center, her emotional release after leading Southern University at New Orleans to the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament championship against Xavier, earning an automatic bid to the NAIA Division I national championships in Independence, Missouri.
She earned all-tournament honors, including most valuable player. Awards that she skipped her way back to half court to receive. It’s part of this season’s friendlier approach to the game.
One year earlier, Broome, a transfer from Ole Miss, said he pushed her teammates to improve and perform — mental challenges that led to a less-than-fun college basketball experience for all involved. So this year, realizing different players react differently, she opted to turn frowns into smiles.
It has worked.
SUNO (21-4), seeded No. 7, plays No. 2 seed Vanguard (22-7) at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of nationals at the Independence Events Center.
“I’m looking forward to competing without having confrontation with the team,” Broome said. “With this team, I feel like they’re focused and they’re ready.”
Teammates Marquetta Stokes (14 points, five rebounds per game) and Rayvin Miller (14.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) earned second-team All-GCAC honors.
Broome, the GCAC regular-season MVP, is ready too.
Each win for SUNO places Broome closer to a pro basketball career. Coach Elston King said several WBNA teams have expressed interest in the 5-foot-9 guard.
Broome has led SUNO to the NAIAs for the second time in her three seasons at the school, this time averaging 18.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 6.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in four GCAC tournament games. She also posted double-doubles during the stretch, increasing her season total to 17.
This from a player who prefers to share the ball than score.
“She’s a triple-double (threat) every night,” King said. “And she’s had a quadruple-double (during the regular season against Talladega).
“Guess what? The next two games, she almost had the same thing. She’s unbelievable on the court.”
Her historic feat — 23 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists and 11 steals — was the first in GCAC history and the first in the NAIA since 2005.
“Right now, we’re like we don’t want this to end,” Broome said.
Guard Riley Holsinger (19.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and guard/forward Samantha Doucette (17 ppg) lead Vanguard.