Being a starting guard for a Division I basketball team is no easy task, let alone being the fifth-highest scoring women’s player in the NCAA, but UCR’s Brittany Crain makes it look as easy as pie. Though she recently scored 1,000 career points and received Big West Player of the Week honors twice, the junior didn’t realize that she was one of the top scorers in the nation.
“It actually surprised me, but I think that I put in a lot of work behind the scenes,” Crain said. “It’s not just practice, it’s me coming in on the weekend, or during the nighttime when everyone’s sleeping. I’m in the gym shooting or doing something different like that.”
In addition to her personal practices, she has one- to two-hour team practices, a full range of classes and everything in between. Some of Crain’s favorite drills during practice include the use of weighted balls, using the shooting machine to get in more shots and other drills to better her game.
Crain’s hard work has been paying off, as her field goal percentage has risen every year she’s been at UCR. As a freshman, she averaged 41.4 percent from the field, 46.5 percent as a sophomore and 46.7 percent so far for her junior campaign.
Her shooting improvement has not gone unnoticed. Even her men’s basketball peers have taken notice.
“She’s been good. I felt it coming last year,” men’s basketball leading scorer Taylor Johns stated. “She was a sophomore and led the Big West in scoring. She can go.”
As the team’s lead scorer, Crain could easily use the tools that she already has, but acknowledges that there are parts of her play that could be improved, which she develops during her practice sessions.
“I could be in the gym three hours, four hours,” she said. “Depends on if I have to study … If I don’t have anything to do then I’m in the gym.”
Another factor in Crain’s success may be her levelheaded mindset in games. While some play rigidly, Crain seems fluid on the court.
“I think that it’s a matter of having fun,” she said. “If I’m in a game my mindset is different. I play harder and just let the game come to me, rather than forcing it.”
“She’s pretty efficient,” men’s basketball player Jaylen Bland added. “I’ve watched her games and she can play.”
For some basketball players, missing a shot might mean taking another to find their rhythm. For Crain, it means dishing the ball to her teammates. “If my shot’s not falling then I need to get the ball to my teammates,” she said.
Her assists show her unselfish nature and desire for her team to do well, not just herself. She has two goals for the season. “Win the conference and the Big West Tournament,” she declared.
One of Crain’s mentors is Assistant Coach Seyram Bell, who helps the guard out during tough times on court.
“All of the coaches have been there. Coach Seyram, my position coach, has been a lot of support,” she said. “She always pushes me in practice, and during games and different times to help me play better and work harder.”
Bell is familiar with what Crain goes through in games because she played for UCR from 2005-2009. Bell ranked fourth on UCR’s scoring list with 1,426 points, averaging 11.6 per game. Crain uses Bell’s success as a standard for herself.
Outside of basketball, Crain is interested in the possibility of pursuing a career in music. She has a rap group with her brother and produces songs in her free time.
“I actually changed my major to media studies, because I’m more in love with music (than biology),” Crain said.
The UCR’s women’s basketball team is currently 5-2, losing two straight after winning their first five. Crain recognizes the team’s success but she’s focused on the big picture — winning.
“(Wins are)… something that needs to be consistent, because you can always fall down,” she said. “You can win five and lose the next 28 games, so we have to move forward and take it game by game.”
Whether the team continues to win or lose, one thing is for sure. Crain will always be in the gym long after practice, honing her special craft.