By The Editors / May / June 1999
November 14th, 2007

She leaves with a backpack full of basketball records, including more career points scored - 1,962 - than any other Brown basketball player, man or woman, in history. But in Vita Redding's mind, her greatest accomplishment over the past four years did not come on the hardwood of the Pizzitola Center, nor in any other gymnasium around the Ivy League. It came at Providence's Fox Point Elementary School during her freshman year.

Like many other Brown athletes, Redding '99 participated in a mentoring and tutoring project at the school. She and teammate Audra Gray '97 made a point of spending time each week with a wheelchair-bound girl. "She was a beautiful little girl," Redding recalls, "but nobody else in the class would talk to her, and it seemed like they picked on her.

"Audra and I would go and talk to this girl to try to get her to open up. One week we were just goofing around about the lunch ladies because - I hate to say this - they seemed like such drill sergeants, and the little girl just burst out laughing. Then all the other kids started laughing, and we were high-fiving each other. After that, the other kids started talking to her. It was cool."

The sentiment comes as no surprise to Brown women's basketball coach Jean Burr. "Vita's solid," Burr says. "She came right at those kids [at Fox Point] and was very direct with them. She makes an impression on people." Redding, a Cleveland native, ensured she would leave a lasting impression at Brown during a game against Dartmouth on January 30, when, while scoring sixteen points, she beat the career record of 1,779 points set by Donna Yaffee '85. A month earlier, in a game against Marist College on December 29, Redding had surpassed Arnie Berman '72, who holds the men's record with 1,668 points.

Redding, a five-foot-eight-inch shooting guard, finished her career owning nine different Brown women's records, including points (season and career), scoring average (season), field goals (season and career), field goal attempts (game, season, and career), and three-point field goal attempts (game). Redding capped her senior season by being named first-team All-Ivy. She averaged 18.9 points a game, good for third in the league, and scored in double figures in twenty-five of twenty-six games for the Bears, who finished 12-14 overall and 7-7 in Ivy play. Redding also led the Ivy League in steals with eighty-three, the third-highest total in Brown history.

The list goes on: Redding was on the Ivy League All-Rookie team during her first year at Brown, was a first-team All-Ivy pick as a sophomore (when she averaged 23.8 points per game), and was a second-team All-Ivy pick as a junior (after recovering from an early-season third-degree ankle sprain). She fell a mere thirty-eight points short of her goal of 2,000 career points and only a handful of wins short of the team's goal of an Ivy league title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

"Vita's one of the best players we've ever had, " says Burr, who believed in Redding from the time she first saw her play high school ball in Cleveland. "Vita can wheel and deal. She is a different style of player. Her style of game is dynamic and explosive. A lot of people have come up to me and made a point of telling me how much they enjoyed watching her play."

As much as she has enjoyed her days on College Hill, Redding admits she can't help wondering what might have been. She received feelers from Seton Hall, Ohio State, and Michigan while she was lighting it up for John Marshall High in Cleveland. "Anywhere I wanted to go, I probably could have gotten in," she says. "I still wonder if I had gone to a bigger Division I school how it would have worked out, but I don't really regret it."

In early May, Redding decided to put her skills to the test by trying out for the WNBA. Unfortunately, scheduled tryouts with the New York Liberty and the Orlando Miracle were canceled because of the league's nascent labor problems. But Redding did get a chance to show her stuff to the Utah Starzz during a two-day audition. The team, unfortunately, chose not to sign her up. "I was pretty upset at first," Redding says, "but I'm moving on now. I'm just sending out résumés and looking for jobs.

Glen Miller is a patron saint of lost causes. That makes him perfect for Brown basketball.

Glen Miller is the new men's basketball coach. Are congratulations in order - or condolences? When it comes to basketball success, the Bears are light years behind Penn and Princeton. Brown has won just one title in forty-seven years of Ivy League basketball (1986) and finished as high as second just one other time (1974).

Miller, appointed in late March, inherits a team that, under former coach Frank "Happy" Dobbs, went a combined 14-64 over the past three seasons, including a foundering 8-34 in the Ivy League. Dobbs, who had not a single winning season in eight years at the helm, resigned on February 16, but stayed on to coach Brown's final four games. The Bears lost them all, finishing off a 4-22 record and the University's seventy-fourth losing season in ninety-three years of basketball.

Chins up, Brown fans. Help just may be on the way. The thirty-seven-year-old Miller, who arrives at College Hill after thirteen years of coaching at colleges in Connecticut, is a patron saint of lost causes. "I've been involved with two programs," he says, "one as an assistant at the University of Connecticut, which was at the bottom of the league, and one at Connecticut College, which was at rock bottom of its league. At both places people were very skeptical. I had the benefit of being with a great coach at UConn [Jim Calhoun]." Miller helped Calhoun transform a perennial Big East tail-ender into the conference's dominant team and a national power. This winter at Connecticut College, while UConn was on its way to beating Duke in the NCAA Division I championship game, Miller fell just short of his own NCAA championship. His Connecticut College Camels raced through an unbeaten regular season (24-0) and racked up three straight wins in the NCAA Division III tournament before losing to Hampton-Sydney in the national semifinals. The Camels rebounded to win the national third-place game, putting the wraps on a 28-1 season, by far the best in school history.

The achievement capped one of the most dramatic turnarounds in Division III basketball history. The Camels were 10-38 in Miller's first two years and 85-20 over his last four, which included two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. "Glen has shown he can rebuild a basketball program," says Dave Roach, Brown's athletic director. "He has the combination of great Division I experience under an outstanding coach plus six years as a head coach, doing the recruiting and pushing the right buttons on the court."

During the press conference at which Miller was introduced to the media and the Brown community, Roach stated unequivocally that he and President Gee had grown tired of watching the Bears camp out in the Ivy basement. "When our search started," Roach said, "our goal was to find someone who can take us to the top of the Ivy League and [who can] be successful in our non-league schedule. Make no mistake about it. I didn't say just competitive. I said win the Ivy title and be successful in our non-league schedule."

Miller thinks he knows how to do these things. "If you look at the last few years and what we have in the program now," he says, "we definitely need to in- crease the talent level." Miller believes that Brown's new financial-aid plan, which aims at increasing grants and reducing loans, will help with recruiting: "There are things here that weren't in place before - the financial-aid policy and certainly the new support of President Gee and Dave Roach. I was very satisfied with the answers I got to the questions I asked."

Next winter may be too soon for basketball fans to measure Miller's success in wins and losses. Floor burns and discipline may have to be the yardstick for now. "People will appreciate how hard we play on a daily basis," said Miller. "We'll be organized, and we'll play very hard. That will be apparent from the beginning. When we increase our talent level, and combine it with our work ethic and organization - that's when we're going to win."

And that's when congratulations will replace condolences.

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May / June 1999