Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford continues to be the centerpiece for success this season for a deep women’s basketball squad.
After a freshman season full of accolades, including honorable mention All-MAC, All-Freshman team and the All-MAC Tournament team, the six-foot guard from Detroit continues to light up the scoreboard and control the glass, helping lead her team to the best conference start in 25 years.
“I’ve been working on my transition defense, my offense, my right hand and my one-on-one defense,” Bradford said. “My work ethic has been consistent this season. It’s been working for me.”
The rest of the coaches and players in the conference have noticed how good this sophomore is, because she has already won five Mid-American Conference West Player of the Week awards, which is one shy of a conference record with six weeks still left in the season.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll get (the record),” she said.
ESPN ranked her as a four-star recruit coming out of Inkster High School in 2011. They ranked her as the 37th best player in the class of 2011 and the eighth best guard. Other schools that were on her radar included Auburn, Louisville, Michigan State and West Virginia.
One ESPN scout was quoted as saying in 2011, “size, athleticism and individual skills make her a prospect at the next highest level.” She has more than shown these three characteristics during her young career at CMU.
On Jan. 21, she became only the second player in conference history to win three-straight MAC Player of the Week awards. She is on pace to win MAC Player of the Year, not just due to her personal accomplishments, but the success of her team.
“My team is a big factor in my success,” Bradford said. “I’m not passing the ball to myself.”
Bradford has already set a career-high in points this season, with 31, in the team’s last game against Akron on Saturday, which is only the second 30-point game by a CMU player since November 2010. It is also a McGuirk Arena-record for points in one game by any men’s or women’s player. She also tied a career-high in assists, with eight, on Jan. 19 against Northern Illinois.
“My team has helped me tremendously,” Bradford said. “When I’m having bad days my team is there to pick me up.”
Known for her offensive talents, she has also been progressing on the defensive end as well, making adjustments during games and usually having to guard the opposing team’s best player night-in and night-out. She ranks second in the MAC in both blocks per game, with 1.8, and steals with 2.1 per game.
During the first 19 games this season Bradford has led the Chippewas in points per game (15.4), rebounds (9.6), and assists (3.5). She was in a league of her own last season as she was the only player in the MAC to lead her team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
She doesn’t just lead her team in all these categories, she is setting the pace for the rest of the MAC. Bradford is averaging 20.2 points per game in conference play, 3.5 points ahead of the next closest scorer. Rebounding is no different as she finds herself at the top of the conference with an 11.8 rebounds per game. With 5.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per game she is ranked second in the MAC this season.