Houma native Randi Brown can score the basketball.
She’s done it her whole life — as a youth, in high school and then at the University of New Orleans where she left the school as one of the most decorated players in school history.
In the pros? It’s no different.
Across the pond, in bitter cold, playing against the best competition she’s ever seen?
Nothing changes. She’s scoring the basketball.
Brown has returned home after her inaugural professional season in Finland, playing for Hyvinkaan Ponteva in the Finland Korisliiga League — the top league in the country.
Brown dominated, averaging 24.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game — helping lead her team to a 20-7 regular season, then a Semifinals appearance in the playoffs.
Brown was named to EuroBasket.com’s All-Finnish League First Team for her efforts — the icing on the cake of what she called a great experience.
“I had high expectations for myself going in just because I’m generally very hard on myself,” Brown said. “And it was rough for me at first because I was nervous and wasn’t used to playing in that environment. But once I realized that this was what I worked for and that I was prepared to be successful, everything else was easy and took care of itself.”
Brown was a dominant force as a rookie.
She scored 24.3 points per game, yes. But it wasn’t inefficient offense, because she shot 47.2 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from behind the 3-point line.
When not showcasing her elite shotmaking, Brown was also helping the team defensively, pulling down the third most rebounds per game on the team, while ranking first in steals.
When Brown initially signed, she said she was told she’d evolve away from her collegiate role as a combo guard and morph more into a true point guard.
And there were moments where she played that role.
But she said, the team also saw her scoring ability and let her “do what she does best.”
“They let me play my game,” Brown said. “And I got comfortable doing what my coaches asked of me.”
Brown’s team made the playoffs as the No. 1 overall seed, then swept their first-round series before being swept in the Semifinals — losing two of the three games by five points or less.
Brown had 18 or more points in all three games. She said she learned a lot about playing basketball at an elite level in the playoffs, adding that she will take those lessons with her for the rest of her career.
“It’s always a great feeling being in those positions,” Brown said of playoff basketball. “It really shows what type of player you are and I always enjoyed being in those situations with my teammates. Win or lose, it always made us closer.”
With the successful overseas stint now in the rearview mirror, Brown is moving her attention toward the future.
She said in the coming weeks and months, she’s going to work tirelessly in the gym to stay in shape, but also to refine her game.
Brown said she doesn’t yet know where her next team will be, but added that she’s going to be ready to shine — no matter where on the globe she is.
“I’ll know more by the end of the summer,” she said. “But Finland was great. It was a bit of a culture shock, but I enjoyed it. It was a new experience that I’m blessed to have been able to take part in.”
OK, now to the elephant in the room — the weather.
It’s really, really cold in Finland — far unlike anything Brown has ever seen in her life.
She said she packed for the weather, but “it didn’t matter,” adding that her “cold weather clothes” for Houma cannot compete with the winter chill in Finland.
“Over there, you need real winter clothes,” Brown said with a laugh. “It’s different than here. Over here, you put on a jacket. But there, that jacket you put on might not do anything to help you. It’s on a whole another level.”
Brown was asked if she got used to the snow and the cold over time, but added that she believes it’s impossible for someone to get used to snow every, single day from November to March like she experienced.
She said she remembered seeing some snow early in her tour around late-October or early-November and thinking, “this is actually pretty nice.”
But she was quickly told by locals not to get too comfortable because temperatures were still going to get about 50-60 degrees colder at the peak of winter.
And they did — with highs sometimes not ever getting above 0.
“One game, we got back late from a game,” Brown said. “And the reason was it was snowing so much that our bus got stuck in the snow in the parking lot. It was cold in Finland. Like — cold, cold.” •