Basketball is played with five players, but sometimes an individual can take over a game. Junior guard Crystal Bradford is that player for the Central Michigan women’s basketball team.
Bradford became the first player in Mid-American Conference history to have two triple-doubles in the same season during an 84-81 overtime win Thursday against Ball State.
“I’ve been (looking to pass) all year, but even more now,” Bradford said. “To get a triple-double felt good. It felt like I was definitely doing well in all aspects, but it feels really good sharing with my team.”
In Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Bradford came close to having her third triple-double of the year. Her 18 points and 13 rebounds were good enough for her 13th double-double of the season. Bradford recorded seven assists in the matchup.
“If people would have hit a couple of those shots early, she would have had another triple-double,” said CMU head coach Sue Guevara.
A triple-double – or double digits in three statistical categories – requires both an element of individual and team skill.
In Bradford’s case, she must be able to score enough points and fight for enough rebounds, while having the consciousness to assist the rest of the team.
“It’s still a team thing when you have 10 assists coming from someone else scoring,” Bradford said. “Anytime you give a good pass to someone and they hit it, it feels better than a shot. I give credit to my teammates for hitting the shots I passed them.”
Bradford’s ability to find her teammates for open looks has been one of her major improvements from last season. In 2012-13, Bradford was able to assist her teammates 99 times in 33 games. This season, she has 94 assists in just 21.
“I give CB all the credit in the world because I am never happy with her game, but she is really passing the basketball,” Guevara said. “That’s the biggest thing. She’s seeing other people and she is really looking for Jas’Mine Bracey down low.”
Rebounds are playing a big role in Bradford’s stat line as well. She has 294 this season, which leads all Chippewas this year.
“Rebounding is just a matter of who wants the ball more and early rebounding positioning,” Guevara said. “I talk to CB about this all the time. She’s a nightmare to guard. She’s pretty easy when she doesn’t go to the glass.”
While Bradford’s individual achievements have been impressive, Guevara is most impressed with her consistent commitment to the team effort.
“She’s being consistent and that’s what I’ve asked her to do ever since I’ve started her,” Guevara said. “She hasn’t been (up and down). She’s been pretty steady.”