YSU’s Brown, Boldon humble about winning league’s top honors

YOUNGSTOWN – Brandi Brown won’t be caught speaking about herself in the third person.

Her words are quick and she describes her teammates in grandiose fashion, not her own accolades.

The 5-foot-11 senior forward couldn’t shy away from Monday’s honor – Horizon League Player of the Year. Brown averaged 20.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, ranking among the nation’s best players.

Brown is one of two YSU players to eclipse 2,000 points and is the first to reach 1,200 rebounds. She even got espnW National Player of the Week honors for averaging 40.5 points and 17 rebounds against Wright State and UIC.

All this from a player who was on a team that was 0-30 her freshman year.

“I’m always reminded of where we came from as a team and not winning any games,” Brown said. “I know as soon as you think too highly of yourself, you’re more susceptible to fall. It’s really important to keep a level head and to remember who I am as a person, especially my faith in God has kept me grounded. My friends and people around me keep me motivated. They’re a reflection of who I want to be.

“I want to remain humble.”

She is the first YSU player to receive player of the year since Brianne Kenneally was the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year in 1999-2000 – leading the Penguins to the NCAA Tournament.

Penguins coach Bob Boldon, whose team is 21-8 heading into Wednesday’s Horizon League quarterfinal against Cleveland State, remained humble about Monday’s Coach of the Year honors.

“It means I’m really good at hiring assistant coaches,” Boldon said. “I’ve got a great staff. I’ve got good players. I have to put them in the right spots to be successful so far. I’m very fortunate to work with the people I work with on our staff.

“It’s a response to the success of our team and the hard work of our players and our staff.”

Brown said her team has responded in Boldon’s third season after YSU went 6-24 and 10-30 in his first two years with the Penguins.

“Everyone knows coach Boldon hates to lose,” Brown said. “That has been a key for us. He has instilled that same drive and motivation to win and to us as well, especially that first year. We all didn’t have the mentality that it’s OK to lose. We lost a lot. That was hard for him.

“He wants us to do our best. Anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s been important to us, winning more games.”

Boldon said 5-8 freshman point guard Shar’Rae Davis has been part of YSU’s winning ways. Davis was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer team, averaging 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per outing.

“We sat here for our first interview and I was very open in saying we don’t have a point guard I like playing,” Boldon said. “We have a point guard I like to play now. That’s hard for a freshman to do. At times, she’s guarded post players.

“She’s just done a tremendous job. I think the thing that gets me the most excited is her upside. She’s nowhere near the type of player that she’s going to be, which is really exciting.”

For Boldon, it’s exciting that the Penguins are improving. However, he said this is far from the pinnacle.

“Somebody told me last year it will take as long as it takes,” he said. “I did not like that, but I learned that to be true. You just work and try to do the best you can do. I don’t know where we are at the continuum of it. Hopefully this isn’t the top. Hopefully there’s still steps to be taken. Wherever we are, it took us this long to get there. However long it take us to take the next step it will take then to work hard and continue to try to get better day after day.”