HOUGHTON - For the first time in her four years as a head coach, Kim Cameron is considering breaking her rules.
The Michigan Tech women's basketball team has always firmly stood by its defensive principles. No matter how good an individual opponent - and there have been some stellar ones in Ashland's Kari Daugherty (National Player of the Year last season), Grand Valley's Briauna Taylor and Northern Michigan's Mariah Dunham - the Huskies have trusted their man-to-man defense to hold without double teaming any single player.
Wayne State's Shareta Brown may be the exception.
Michigan Tech’s Morgan Anderson drives to the basket during Saturday’s home game against Grand Valley. The Huskies are on the road this weekend, starting tonight at Wayne State. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"She is 6-foot-1, she is nimble and she is strongest post player we have ever seen," Cameron said. "She is built, but you watch her make her first step and she is so quick. It is unbelievable the way she finishes and spins and has control of her body. She is very tough to stop one on one.
"This is going to be the toughest game we have played all year."
Brown averaged 21 points a game last year while shooting 59 percent from the field.
In Division I.
Setting a Horizon League record for scoring at Detroit Mercy.
After dropping down to Division II - she transferred from UDM to Wayne State to reunite with her legal guardian, Darrin McAllister, a Warriors assistant coach - Brown has been simply unstoppable.
The junior scores a GLIAC-best 22.3 points per game on an absurd 67 percent shooting from the field. She also grabs 11 boards per game (four offensive) and leads the conference in steals with 2.7 thefts a contest.
Brown was great in Division I. She is unparalleled in Division II.
"She was one of the top scorers in the country in Division I. As a sophomore. And she transferred to Division II," Cameron said. "She is really, really, really good."
So for a chance at limiting Brown, Cameron is willing to try a few gimmicks, rare for a team steeped in traditional defensive principles.
To start, she may play long-armed 6-foot guard Dani Blake on Brown, trying to deny her the ball at all opportunities.
Brown will have a significant power advantage if she catches it, but Blake may be able to limit her touches enough to make the tradeoff worth it.
"We may have to go with Dani Blake fronting her, because the only way to limit her is to take away her touches," Cameron said. "So we are trying to come up with different ways to do that, and we just have to make sure we have different options for that."
Aside from Blake fronting, straight double-teaming is also an option.
Tech spent a good chunk of practice Tuesday working out the rotations for double-teaming - and got burned on a number of backdoor cuts as the kinks were being worked out.
"It is uncomfortable for our players, especially the older ones who have never been allowed to do something like that before," Cameron said. "We are going to try playing (straight up) to start with, but at least if we have to make a change we will have something in our back pocket."
For all Brown's talent, the Warriors are still beatable.
Wayne has lost two games this season, dropping a conference contest last Thursday at Northwood.
Brown's size allows her to effectively protect the hoop, but Cameron said she is reluctant to leave the rim defensively, opening up mid-range lanes for post shooters.
"She likes to sit underneath the hoop and protect on drives," Cameron said. "So that 15-foot shot will be there all game and we do have some girls that can hit that. We are going to have to play really smart basketball though."