TAMPA — For the past two seasons, Maryland has become one the country's talked-about teams thanks to a plethora of playmakers. Lexie Brown, though, is the one who makes the Terrapins' go-go offense go.
The sophomore is a model point guard, measuring defenders and calculating angles, all while considering her options at warp speed until determining the right instant to present a teammate with the ball and, more often than not, the best chance for a bucket.
This season, Lexie averaged a team-leading 4.6 assists on a team so balanced it had seven different players lead the team in scoring. Brown can score, too, averaging 13.4 points.
Her ability to dish and drive makes her one of the players UConn has to focus on in tonight's semifinal.
"Lexie Brown is a great shooter," Huskies guard Moriah Jefferson said. "I have to do my best to try to contain her and keep her from driving to the lane. The other guards are good also. They're really aggressive guards, and we have to make sure that they can't penetrate on us when they're trying to get to the basket and kick it off to the big guys."
Lexie is electrifying, much like her father, former 12-year NBA veteran and slam dunk champion Dee Brown. But it wasn't until Lexie was around 11 years old that she found her father had a lengthy basketball career.
"I was actually in one of his offices and going through his drawers for some reason and I found all his old VCR tapes," Lexie said. "I started watching them. After that, I found some TV commercials he was in. I was like, 'Wow my dad is pretty cool.' "
Lexie played tennis, soccer and volleyball. But basketball became the sport that consumed her. She honed her skills with her father at a gym in Orlando.
Lexie's basketball knowledge — and skill — has guided teams to stellar seasons throughout her high school and college careers.
In 2010, she played a key role as a freshman for Orlando Dr. Phillips High, which went undefeated in the regular season for the first time. Lexie moved to North Gwinnett, Ga., and helped that program reach the state semifinals for the first time since 1963 during her junior season and the state championship as a senior.
Last year, Lexie came up big in the postseason in leading fourth-seeded Maryland to the Final Four.
Despite her struggles this postseason, Brown has come through in clutch situations. In the region final, she scored 15, including 10 of the Terrapins' final 14 points in a 58-48 win over Tennessee.
"It's definitely, for Lexie, her confidence level," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese, describing what her point guard needs to get going. "She needs to have a big assist or a big shot in terms of feeling the ball go through the net."
Lexie's McDonald's All-American trophy sits next to the one her father won for the slam dunk title at home. The family might have to create more room for another trophy if Lexie can lead Maryland to a national title.
"We'll just have to shove his trophy to the side," Lexie joked.
Contact Bob Putnam at [email protected] Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.