Q&A With Central Michigan Basketball Star Crystal Bradford

USA TODAY Sports

We caught up with Crystal Bradford while she was aboard the Chippewa team bus en route to South Bend to take on nationally ranked Notre Dame. Crystal talks about her experiences at the World University Games and the brutal non-conference schedule that the CMU squad is currently experiencing.

Hustle Belt: Okay, let's get right to the good stuff. There's a video of you on Hustle Belt where you score a three with no time remaining to win the game against Dayton. Will you set the play up for us?

Crystal Bradford: There were 21 seconds left and we were down by six. Our team was not going to give up. I hit a three. I passed the ball to my teammate Kerby Tamm and she hit a three. My teammates were all talking about ending the game before it went into overtime. We wanted to end the game right now. My legs were cramping really bad. My teammate stole the ball on the inbounds pass and fell gracefully. I got the ball and was determined to give that last shot my all. It was a great moment. I actually practice that shot. It was one of my highest accomplishments.

HB: Speaking of high accomplishments, you represented the United States of America at the World University games in Russia last summer. Please tell us about that experience.

CB: It was great, awesome! Colorado, where we trained, was a great experience. It is where the USA athletes trained. I got to meet great players. I found that I fit in really well both on and off the court. I proved to myself that I could play at a big level. I wasn't just hanging on in practices. I was able to prove myself as a player.

Winning the gold medal was a humbling experience. It was important for all of us to remain undefeated as the US Women's team has not lost in seven years.

There was a different style of play. Travel calls were different. Fouls were called differently. Hand checking is illegal. The Russians were very large.

HB: There is a student component to being a student athlete. Can you tell us what you took from the World University Games from a student's perspective?

CB: The languages and the different foods were part of the cultural experience. I soaked in everything that I could. I was impressed with the money that they use in Russia.

HB: You played for Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale as part of Team USA. What was that like after you did your best to beat her team in the NCAA tournament?

CB: She knew what I could do. She designed plays for me since she was familiar with me from the NCAA tournament.

HB: What did you impart upon your Chippewa teammates from the experience in Russia?

CB: I really sharpened my communication skills. Also leadership and experience have been shared with my teammates at CMU.

HB: Your teammate Niki DiGuilio has emerged as a star player in her own right. Would you comment on Niki's progress as a player?

CB: She shoots with more confidence. Her communication has improved on the court. It is a weapon. She is in sync. Niki has definitely emerged as a leader and has developed right before our eyes.

HB: CMU has a very tough non-conference schedule. How has it gotten you ready for MAC play starting with the January 4, 2014 showdown with the Toledo Rockets?

CB: It is setting us up for the MAC. MAC games are like wars. College ball is mental. There are momentum shifts. We have to take punches. We learn from the non-conference games to not fall apart. I am glad that coach Guevara I setting us up to play tough.

HB: We are going to flip the script and give you a chance to be journalist. What do you suggest for the promotion of MAC Women's basketball?

CB: Televise more games.

Special thanks to CMU Athletics and Crystal Bradford for the interview.

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