Bauxite Lady Miners’ senior forward Alaina Crouse isn’t shy when it comes to shooting 3-pointers and that’s ok with Coach Josh Harrison.
“She shoots the ball extremely well and a lot of times in clutch,” Harrison said. “She doesn't think a whole lot about it. She just sees that she's open and she shoots it. That's big to have. It's good to have a couple girls that don't have a lot of conscience when it comes to shooting.”
That’s what Harrison said after a game last week against the Maumelle Lady Hornets. The Lady Miners were down big early in the game, but Crouse heated up after halftime , hitting 3 of 4 from behind the arc in the second half and all three 3-pointers came during a 10-1 Bauxite run which lasted 2:22. Even when Bauxite took the lead and extended it, Crouse, who scored 18 points in the game, was still content on putting those 3s up even though the strategy was playing keep away and just scoring on anything close to the basket.
“[Monday] night it was layups only,” Harrison explained. “Hey I'm open for 3," he said referring to Crouse. " That's a layup for me. Ok, whatever.”
The only senior on the team, Crouse plans on getting into nursing when she graduates this spring.
“I just like to be around people,” Crouse said. “Hopefully I'll do children's nursing so I can be around little kids. It's only five years and they make pretty good money.”
But while she’s getting her degree, Crouse is excited about continuing her basketball career post Lady Miners.
“I've had a couple coaches contact me, but I haven't had any offers yet,” she said. “But, if I don't get any offers, I'm going to try to walk on.”
Crouse, who turns 18 on June 6, said the University of Arkansas – Monticello contacted her after her 18-point performance and she has looked into Arkansas Tech, but said if neither one of those two works out, she would consider Henderson State and Arkansas Baptist. She’s not limiting her choices to just Arkansas though.
“I would like to stay close, but if I get an offer to play ball out of state, then I'm all up for it,” she said.
At 5-9, Crouse is averaging 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and is shooting 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point arc. Having the size and the shooting touch from the perimeter should be enticing to colleges.
“She's kind of put her name out there in a search list so she's getting contacts,” Harrison said. “She was contacted by a school in Wyoming the other day. Places like that. It's not that they've seen her play; they see her size and what she can do and her shooting. “We've talked to UAM, we're going to send them some film; talked to Henderson's coach and we're going to send them some film. We're just going to try to look around. “She just wants to continue to play. Do whatever we can. I told her if it's to go to a two-year school somewhere and then find a four-year school, she just wants to continue to play.”
When she’s not on the court, Crouse said she likes hanging out with friends and going to movies. “I like the romantic love stories and the comedies,” she said, listing Adam Sandler as her favorite actor. “I like every one of his movies.”
She listens to “pretty much country and Alice 107.7” and said Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood are her two favorite artists.
Though she says she eats all kind of food, hashbrown casserole is by far her favorite and it’s just not for breakfast. “I can eat it any time of the day.”
Crouse said she likes the Razorbacks, but she likes a team that just beat the Lady Backs by 31 points on Saturday. She said the Tennessee Volunteers is her favorite team and Candace Parker, who was an All-American at Tennessee and currently playing in the WNBA, is her favorite player.
Crouse saw her play against the Lady Backs in the former Alltel, now Verizon Arena several years ago. “I saw her dunk for the first time. I went to an SEC game and it was pretty awesome.”
Though basketball is it for Crouse now, it wasn’t the only sport that she played.
“I used to be into softball,” she said. “Softball was big, but I had to quit because of basketball.
Crouse explained that she basically had to choose between AAU basketball and softball and that it was a pretty easy decision.
“That was fine,” she said. “I was happy with it. AAU helped me out a lot. You get a lot of different looks. It's a whole different level playing against girls. There are a lot of scouts too.
“One time I went to North Carolina and there were thousands of scouts. I've never been so nervous in my life. I didn't do so great. I get so nervous, but there was one in Conway where I did good and there was one in Searcy that I got sent to and that was real good.”
Crouse said working together is her favorite aspect about playing basketball.
“You can tell when we work together because when we work together, it's like we're all playing good,” she said. “We're all equal and you can tell when some people don't have the heart.
“Like [Monday] night [against Maumelle], I felt like we all had heart and it was just amazing. It was my favorite game probably. We didn't come out good in the first half, but we finally woke up I guess.”
Harrison said that Crouse gives great effort and rebounds the ball with tenacity, but there is one aspect of her game that he would like to see.
“I wish she was more vocal,” he said. “She's just not a vocal person. She goes out there and busts her butt. You can tell by looking at her face most of the time that she gives until she doesn't have anything.
“I really think her best basketball, if she can get to that next level and get an opportunity, could be ahead of her because she would be in the right type of strength program that she could get a little bit stronger and speed her feet up a little bit,” Harrison said. “I think she's just kind of starting to develop into a really good shooter. She's just recently moved out on the perimeter so I think her game can continue to progress.”
Regardless of how the rest of Crouse’s basketball career ends up, Harrison said she will be just fine off the court.
“In the whole scheme of things, basketball is great for all these girls and what we do, but just character is so important and I think she has some of the best character of any of the kids I've ever coached and that's really important to me,” he said. “That's something that she'll take to her family and for the rest of her life and that's bigger than what she does on the court.”