Shareta Brown: In a good position



They all knew it.

Now the rest of the conference is learning, too.

When the women’s basketball team was picked seventh in the preseason poll, nearly every player guaranteed they’d finish better.

Despite losing eight of their first nine games, the Titans are poised to do just that.

A win Saturday against Wright State would give UDM possession of second place in the Horizon League. Since the first and second place teams receive first-round byes in the conference tournament, the game is crucial.

"We’re just trying to give ourselves the best chance to win the tournament," Head Coach Autumn Rademacher said. "We need to not pay attention to what anyone else is doing and pay attention to what we’re doing, period."

Coach Autumn Rademacher expects a tough battle with the Raiders.

"They’re very similar to us," she said. "They have two very talented low post players so there’s going to be a lot of beef on the court. It’s going to be a heavyweight fight down on that block."

There’s no question Detroit’s success Saturday – and the rest of the season – rests on the shoulders of freshman star forward Shareta Brown.

Brown leads UDM in points (15.8), rebounds (8.7) and field goal percentage (55.9). She is one of only three players to have started every game and has won Horizon League player of the week awards twice so far.

But teams have realized Brown’s dominance and have adjusted, Rademacher said.

"Everyone’s defense is going to be geared around our post kids and what they can do around the basket," she said. "That’s going to lead to opportunities for our perimeters."

In recent games, Detroit’s outside shooting – or lack thereof – has separated wins from losses.

Last week against Milwaukee, Detroit built a commanding lead even with Brown on the bench. The Titans shot 7-for-14 from the 3-point line en route to the win.

In Detroit’s two league losses (during Christmas break at UIC and last Saturday against Green Bay), the Titans have shot poorly from beyond the arc. Detroit went 6-for-26 against the Flames and 6-for-24 against the Phoenix.

Still, the inside-outside game has worked more often than not thanks to the development of two sophomores.

Megan Hatter and Senee Shearer have both far exceeded their modest freshmen statistics this season and worked their way into the starting lineup.

Hatter, a forward, can stretch defenses with her 3-point shooting and Rademacher said she’s a great complement to Brown’s size down low.

"They have really good chemistry," Rademacher said. "She looks for Shareta inside and they work well together. She’s been a great high-low passer and really smart."

 Hatter’s 3-point shooting has virtually doubled from a year ago. She’s hitting 46 percent of her triples and attributes it to trust in Brown and forward Yar Shayok.

"It does help a lot because if I do miss I know they’re down there to get the rebound and set it back up," Hatter said. "It’s nice to have that inside-outside game."

Shearer, a guard, has proven to be a dangerous offensive threat. Earlier this year, she had a stretch of three-straight games with over 20 points.

The last Detroit player to do that was Rademacher herself.

Her defense has impressed the coaches, too.

"She adds a ton of value to the team (defensively)," Rademacher said. "That’s why she stays out on the floor even when her shots aren’t falling."

At times this season, her shot has been horribly off.

Senior point guard Jalesa Jones even mentioned Shearer’s poor 6-for-21 shooting night against UIC on Twitter, saying her teammate took way too many shots but knew she’d bounce back.

Jones is trying to find different ways to motivate her teammates in her final months as a Titan. Even as her career ends, she said she’s not panicking.

"When I was younger I didn’t realize how fast (the end) would come," she said. "I just try to be a great leader for my teammates. It’s not really a sense of urgency, because we all have confidence in each other."

Jones said she sees similarities in this team and the 2010 team that started slow before posting a 14-4 conference record.

She just hopes they can be better than the ’10 squad, which fell in the tournament semifinal.

"Hopefully we’ll finish it off (with a championship) and not settle for anything less," she said.