Sterling HeightsJanuary 29, 2014
Stevenson sophomore point guard has confidence of her coach
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer
STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights Stevenson sophomore point guard Madeline Brender loves basketball.
She plays year-round and watches the game for hours, especially NCAA hoops.
Titans first-year head coach Brian Hottle, who has served as an assistant for the Stevenson boys and girls teams since 2002, said that love for the game has helped Brender develop a high basketball IQ. He also said she has stepped up and taken a leadership role for a very young team.
Stevenson’s roster features nine players who return from last season, including five sophomores. The team has one senior.
“Coaches compliment (Brender) on how hard she plays and how vocal she is in games, and I tell them she’s that way every day in practice,” said Hottle, whose team sat at 3-8 overall and 1-5 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division at press time. “She’s such an important player — setting up our team. She’s very smart. She’s got a high basketball IQ.”
Brender took the reigns as a freshman. Former coach Troy Marks was looking for someone to lead last year’s team and a 5-foot-4-inch tall point guard stepped up.
“Coming into last season, we lost a lot of veterans, so someone had to step into the role,” said Brender, who called Ohio State University senior point guard Aaron Craft her favorite player because of his scrappy style of play. “(Marks) had come to me and said, ‘We need someone to step up,’ and I was happy to take that role. I just try to make sure everyone stays positive, no matter the outcome of a game.”
Brender smiled when she was made aware of Hottle’s sentiments. She said she just tries to put the things she sees on television into play on the court, adding that she can see lots of little things other people may not notice.
Hottle said Brender has earned the respect of her teammates. He said they listen to the team’s leader and that she does a good job of helping them.
“She doesn’t try to boss anybody around,” Hottle said. “She’s going to be a really good coach one day, if she decides to do that.”
The young team is experiencing some growing pains, and Hottle has tried to keep things simple. He employs a four-out, one-in offense that is predicated on ball movement and moving without the ball. Stevenson has five or six set plays it runs each game.
The Titans also look to get out in transition depending on the opponent, Hottle said.
“But we’re adding things as the season goes along,” Hottle added. “I don’t want to put in 20 plays and have the girls not be comfortable with all of them. They’re doing a good job with what we’ve been doing.”
The Titans primarily play man defense, but Hottle will also add some zone looks as the season progresses. He also said the team is working on handling pressure from opposing defenses. In its season opener, Stevenson committed more than 40 turnovers.
“They know if we rebound well and handle pressure and get out in transition, we’ll be in the games at the end,” said Hottle, adding the team needs to find a go-to scorer for late-game situations. “We play in such a tough league. Hopefully, we make some headway the rest of the way.”
Leading that charge will be Brender. She said she tries to have the mindset of a coach on the floor, but she’s unsure if being a head coach is the route for her.
“That was a very nice compliment. Being a coach would be fun one day, maybe,” Brender said. “I don’t know about being a head coach. Maybe an assistant. I’m more of an enforcer. I don’t know about setting up practices and things like that.”
“Hopefully, (Brender) does decide to be a coach and stick around here,” Hottle said. “But I’m happy to know I’ll have her for the next three years.”
Stevenson next hits the court for a matchup with Clinton Township Chippewa Valley at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Stevenson.