Nov. 9, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — On the heels of a junior season that saw her earn honorable mention All-American and All-ACC First Team honors, a lot is expected out of Florida State women’s basketball star Cierra Bravard when the 2011-12 season officially starts Friday.
Bravard, who helped lead the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year last season, is the only returning senior on the roster and will be expected to help ease the loss of standouts Christian Hunnicutt and Courtney Ward. It’s a challenge Bravard is prepared to undertake.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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The Sandusky, Ohio native has improved steadily since she stepped foot on campus as a highly touted but wide-eyed freshman in 2008. She has seen her minutes, scoring and rebounding averages rise in three consecutive years.
In what is her final season in the garnet and gold, it’s Bravard’s work ethic that has her poised for yet another increase in production and in turn, a trip for the Seminoles deep into March once again.
Seminoles.com: Talk about your development as a player. What is the biggest difference for you now as opposed to when you came to Tallahassee?
Bravard: The biggest difference for me is being able to push through when things are tough. Another thing for me personally is that I can better recognize my potential now. In high school, it’s not hard to be a great player but when you get to this level everybody is that good. It’s up to the few people that are going to do the extra work and spend extra hours in the gym to take the next step.
Seminoles.com: What caused you to take that next step?
Bravard: When I first got here, I didn’t know what it was going to take to stand out. I didn’t do extra conditioning, I didn’t do extra weight lifting and I didn’t do extra running. Two summers ago I changed that mentality and I think you can tell the difference. My work ethic now means I am willing to do the work when nobody else is around.”
Seminoles.com: When did you develop such that strong work ethic?
Bravard: “I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was. I expected the game to come naturally. It’s definitely something that I have developed since coming here.”
Seminoles.com: What is your role going to be like now that Hunnicut and Ward are gone?
Bravard: “I think everybody has a different leadership role. For me, it’s just being out there and being an example for the younger players. I have done this now for three full years so there are a lot of things that Ebony [Wells] and Kristi [Mokube] are experiencing now that are so hard that I went through too. It’s on me to be a positive example and encourage them by telling them, ‘I’ve been there, you’ll get through it.’ I just have to be positive and take on that role of game-in and game-out being the example and the player that they can lean on and rely on.”
Seminoles.com: What do you as a team need to do to replace Hunnicutt and Ward?
Bravard: “Courtney is one of the best 3-point shooters ever at FSU and Christian was one of the best defenders. What they did I think a lot of people on this team are capable of doing but it’s going to take a lot more of a team effort than it did last year. It will be different but we are all ready. Everybody is buying in to whatever we have to do to get back to where we want to be.”
Seminoles.com: What have you see out of Natasha Howard?
Bravard: “Coming in as good of a player as she was, your first year really humbles you. For me, I didn’t know what to expect and I am sure she felt the same way. I think a lot of people underestimated her and others overestimated her but she stayed steady. She’s not negative about anything and she is always willing to give more and do more to get better. That kind of goes for all the younger players. They are so willing to take whatever it is we are dishing out to do what we need to do to be successful.”