Brooke Burns still has fond memories of the first time she defeated her brother in a game of one-on-one basketball, but it appears she learned more from the times she lost.
"When we finished playing, I knew what I did wrong and would always go work on those things throughout the week and be ready for the next time we played," Burns said Wednesday. "Just being competitive improved my game a lot."
The 5-foot-10 freshman from Gadsden City, Ala., is one of five true freshmen on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball roster and hopes to make an impact for the Mocs in her first season with the program. She's off to a good start - she averaged nine points while making seven of her nine 3-point attempts during a five-day, three-game trip to Canada in August.
But it was in her driveway playing games against her brother Zack and father Stewart that her skill really began to develop. Her training regimen grew - she has an eight-minute video on YouTube of one of her workouts that includes weight training, dribbling drills and shooting - and she got better, to the point she was beating her brother by the time she was "14 or 15."
"I was really excited (when I first beat him)," she said, "but I'm also pretty sure he humbled me soon after that."
The Canada trip was an eye-opening experience for Burns, although it appeared she adjusted pretty quickly in the Mocs' 3-0 road swing.
Now, with the season less than two months away, Burns and the young core of players - part of the youngest of head coach Jim Foster's five teams since he arrived in Chattanooga - are doing everything they can to be sponges and soak up as much information as possible from the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach, as well as the three-player senior class of Aryanna and Keiana Gilbert plus Anna Claire Noblit.
The trip to Canada taught Burns "how much quicker" she would have to be and "how much more energy it takes in the college game."
"I'm learning not just how to develop my skills, but my basketball IQ as well," she continued. "I think we have a lot of potential, a lot of talent, so with (the seniors) showing us what they know and Coach Foster teaching us to develop our basketball (skills), and all the room we have to improve with our skill and development, it's going to take us a long way."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.