BASKETBALL: Perkins grad Bravard fine-tunes game to keep up with demands of ACC

PERKINS TWP. Early in her freshman season, Cierra Bravard realized the difference between the high school and college level of basketball. A three-time All-Ohioan at Perkins, the 6-foot-4 Bravard used her size and height to dominate the paint. That didn't work at Florida State.
AnthonyMoujaes
Aug 25, 2010

PERKINS TWP.
Early in her freshman season, Cierra Bravard realized the difference between the high school and college level of basketball.

A three-time All-Ohioan at Perkins, the 6-foot-4 Bravard used her size and height to dominate the paint. That didn't work at Florida State.

In girls high school basketball, she was a rarity.

In women's college basketball, she was average.

"Early on in practice, I'd get my shot blocked all the time," Bravard said. "Things I did in high school didn't work anymore."

And as the season evolved, Bravard gradually learned, crafted, and fine-tuned her game to keep up with the demands of the Atlantic Coast Confrence

"It was hard, but after preseason and the first couple of games and I got used to it, it was pretty cool," said Bravard, who was a clinician at the Lady Pirates Basketball Camp that ended Friday at Briar Middle School.

The biggest thrill of her freshman season, Bravard said, was playing powerhouse programs in Tallahassee, Fla., where the Seminoles shattered their home attendance record.

"Playing teams like Duke and North Carolina at home is just an amazing experience," Bravard said. "I grew up watching those big teams play."

The FSU Athletic Site described Bravard as "a rookie that made an immediate impact in her first season... played in all 34 games and started the first 15... named to the 2009 All-ACC Freshman Team... a two-time ACC Rookie of the Week."

Initially, she had to learn to adjust to the speed of the game, because "everybody's as good as you, if not better," Bravard said.

"I had to get more moves, and a lot quicker footspeed, because I couldn't use my height to my advantage," she said.

And she had to adjust to college life.

Up by 7 a.m., Bravard went to class from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., went to tutoring, and spent 3-4 hours at practice -- typically an 8 a.m.-9 p.m. day.

"At first, it was hard to juggle everything," she said. "After a while, you kind of get used to it."

Bravard even offered advice to recent Perkins graduate Bethany Caudill, who, like Bravard, was the District Player of the Year and a Division II first-team All-Ohioan.

"I tried giving her some pointers here and there," Bravard said. "I think she's prepared and she'll do allright."

Trying to enjoy the free time she has before she heads off to Slippery Rock, Pa., at the end of August, Caudill is learning what she can from Bravard and Trisha Krewson, who finished her freshman season at Bucknell and an All-Ohioan herself.

"I'm going to go with an open mind, but of course I want to get playing time as a freshman," said Caudill, who wants to become a nutritionist after college.

But she's acknowledged there isn't anything that can fully prepare her.

And Bravard agreed.

"I thought I was ready (for college)," she said. "Once you get there, you have to work so much harder and so much longer."

Bravard, who wants to play professionally, will leave July 27 for a mission trip Aug. 10-20 to South Africa.

While the demands of the Division I college athlete are tough, she's willing to make sacrifices.

"If you love the game you play, you're going to find a way to play it," she said.