Aug. 1, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- A legend in the Longhorn women's basketball books, two-time All-American Edwina Brown recently caught up with TexasSports.com to talk about how life has been since leaving the Forty Acres. Brown, the No. 3 pick in the 2000 WNBA draft, enjoyed a six-year stint in the league before moving across the Atlantic to star for Israel's Ramat Hen in the European ranks. Read on as Edwina talks about her life in Israel, playing in the European professional league and how she spends her time off in Austin.
It's been just under 10 years since you played at Texas. Looking back, what are a few of your fondest memories? I would have to say my favorite thing about playing here was just being with my teammates and getting to know each one of them as my college years moved on. The whole Texas experience is truly one of a kind. I loved being part of a bigger family, learning from each other, and building life long relationships. You don't realize it is so important until after it is over.
You are currently playing overseas in Israel. How does life over there compare to life in the United States? Life overseas is an adjustment for anyone. I'm entering my ninth season as a professional, and I am still not totally adjusted. Growing up in America, we are so used to specific things that we fail to realize how great we have it here in the U.S. For example, the cost of living is more expensive abroad, people tend to come across rudely, and the driving is a whole different story. Depending on where I play, the climate is different. The weather in Israel is more like Texas, but Spain is very seasonal. Playing in the north of France was also really hard for me. Growing up in Texas, it snowed in my hometown once in my life. So to actually go through a real winter was a bit shocking.
What do you like best about coming back to the U.S. on your time off? Hands down, my favorite part of being home is eating my grandmother's cooking. The food is one of the biggest differences between living in a foreign country and living here in the U.S. The food is something that we miss and talk about on a daily basis living abroad.Most of my free time is spent with family and friends, trying to make up for the eight months when I am away from home.
How does the European league compare to playing in the WNBA? The style of play is totally different than the WNBA. Besides a few of the basic rules, the tempo has a faster pace and may seem a bit out of control at times. This is because the referees are not calling as many fouls. They allow you to play, which can be frustrating at times. Coming from the WNBA, we are used to a lot of touch fouls being called, or basic "hand checking" when an offensive player is facing the basket. In international ball, you can pretty much ride someone all the way to the basket, then contest their shot body on body, and the official will never blow his whistle. On the offensive side of the ball, the international game takes a lot away from a skilled one on one player. The quick first step is often called a travel.
There are also some different rules. Only coaches are allowed to call timeouts, everyone shoots two shots after the fifth foul is committed, and the half-court violation is closely applied.
I really like both experiences. In both leagues you are playing in front of people that appreciate you and love basketball. I love having the opportunity to continue to do what I love. This was a dream and a passion that I had from childhood. To still be able to live my dream is a blessing.
What is your travel schedule like? For the past couple of years I have been home for four months during the summer and abroad for the other eight months. Now I have a little more time to rest and be home with my family and train. When I played in the WNBA for six years, I was home for maybe two weeks out of the entire year.
How do you enjoy living in Israel? Israel is sort of a unique international experience. Unlike other countries, there is always something to do. Israel is so Americanized. In terms of staying busy and being around friends, I really feel like I am at home. Theaters show movies in English, shopping centers are everywhere, the beaches are nice, and all the American players, men and women, are within an hour of each other. For me, living in Israel, there is never a worry of what to do.
What do you have planned for the rest of your summer in Austin? I have been coaching an AAU team and we just finished our last tournament. In August I will be more focused on training and getting my body where it needs to be for the upcoming season. I have a few nagging injuries that need attention, but more importantly, I have to get back in shape. And at some point, I will definitely be taking another vacation.