For someone who has solidified his or her name in team record books, one might wonder, “What more does he or she have left to give?"
Senior forward Oshlynn Brown, who became Ball State Women's Basketball's all-time leading rebounder Feb. 24, can answer that on behalf her teammates.
“I don’t think we have anything left to prove to anybody,” Brown said. “We know we are a good team and are the best in the Mid-American Conference when we all want to be.”
Why is Brown so focused and restless on the Cardinals' success? To understand where she is coming from, you have to know her mindset. To know her mindset, you need to go back a few months to the beginning of her senior season.
Brown and the rest of her teammates did not experience a normal offseason and preseason camp due to COVID-19 concerns. For Brown, though, there was a bigger issue at hand.
Brown suffered a thumb injury before the regular season, causing her to miss the first four games. The Cardinals went 1-3 in her absence. However, Brown said she knew the situation would positively impact her mindset the rest of the season.
“I was a little bit overwhelmed by [the injury], trying to do everything I could to get back on the floor," Brown said. "But, once I realized, 'Everything happens for a reason,' I started to sit back and accept the fact that I needed time to heal. Sitting out only changed my mindset to go even harder, so I could be ready when it was my time to be back on the court.”
The injury did not lessen Brown's expectations. Despite the four-game absence, she finished the regular season averaging 19.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game and recorded a double-double in 15 of her 20 games. These stats helped her earn All-Mid-American Conference First Team honors.
However, those were not Brown's most important numbers of the season.
In a 79-77 victory against Miami (Ohio), Brown became just the second player in program history to achieve 1,000 career points and rebounds. She joined Emma Jones (1984-87) as the only Cardinal to accomplish that feat.
Eleven days later, in a 82-79 win over Northern Illinois, Brown passed Jones' number of 1,028 career rebounds en route to becoming the program's all-time leading rebounder.
“It felt great," Brown said, "but somewhat not surprising with the records I broke and the things I achieved this year. Rebounding is just a part of who I am. I don’t even know how to explain how I get all those rebounds, other than working harder than my opponent.”
Head coach Brady Sallee is thrilled to have had a front row seat to Brown's historic accomplishments.
“Osh has just littered her name through the record book,” Sallee said. "One of the best things I did was see our sports information director working really hard and updating that record book so much... Believe me when I tell you, 'She is a special one.'”
In addition to her game, Brown has seen her everyday thought process evolve these past four years. She credits the growth of both areas in helping her reach her recent accolades.
“At first, it was just me, scoring in the paint,” Brown said. “Now, it’s me being able to take people off the drive — shooting and grabbing more rebounds. I have got to a point where I don’t just lead by my actions but how hard I work and talk to my teammates. I now know that you have to be willing to go through the process to get to your goals."
Brown said the mentality she has instilled in her teammates all season will play a pivotal role March 10, when No. 6 Ball State faces No. 3 Ohio in quarterfinal action as the Cardinals begin their quest toward a MAC Title.
“We have goals we want to accomplish in Cleveland,” Brown said. “As long as we are the tougher team and want it more than our opponent, we are walking out Saturday afternoon with a trophy.”