Bush Undergoes Transformation At UA

FAYETTEVILLE -- Adrienne Bush, Arkansas' 22-year-old "overnight success" at guard in women's basketball, is actually quite used to winning.

"I've only lost two games in 17 years as a football coach on video games," Bush said at a recent Lady Razorbacks luncheon.

And we're talking about a lot of games.

"I used to get up, take a shower, play at least six or seven video football games in a row, eat lunch, take a nap and play some more," Bush said. "It's fun and relaxing. I started out playing Utah when they were ranked 27th, but then they got good."

Somehow, Bush still found time to make the dean's list at Southwest Missouri State, where she played her freshman year under former SMS coach Cheryl Burnett.

"I love school," Bush said. "I'm weird like that."

She didn't always like English class ("I can speak English -- why is there a class on it?" she said), or reading books, until she took a class called "Contemporary African-American Fiction" under professor E. Lynn Harrris, after Bush transferred to Arkansas in 2002.

"That got me to reading all kinds of books," Bush said.

It cut into her video football time, and maybe even her attention to basketball.

Arkansas coach Susie Gardner admits she at first didn't know what to make of Bush last season. Bush, of Russellville, had transferred to her home-state school but didn't seem to be burning for playing time.

Amber Shirey, a longtime UA assistant, recalled, "In Adrienne's first year here she was always willing to do the individual workouts, but then she hit a little lull."

Gardner knew Bush would get her degree in four years, so Gardner never thought of Bush coming back for a fifth season next year. Bush thought the same way.

"Last year I dreaded practice every day," Bush admitted. "But this year it's more easygoing for everybody."

The Lady'Backs finally figured out they could kid Gardner a little, and in turn she's calmed down a little in practices and games."

When Gardner last week offered Bush the chance to play under scholarship next season while working on a graduate business degree, Bush was receptive.

Since then, she's had a career-high 13 point game against Mississippi State and is even more receptive.

"I like the girls on this team," Bush said. "And we only lose two seniors (April Seggebruch, Allison Singleton). I'd like to come back."

After all, how many women get to guard the No. 1 and No. 2 scorers in the Southeastern Conference in back-to-back games, as Bush is doing against Tan White of MSU and now Seimone Augustus of LSU tonight?

At least Bush had a one-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-7 White, but tonight she's giving up five inches against Augustus.

"Tan has a better 3-point range, but Augustus tends to involve her teammates more," Gardner said. "Seimone has only taken about six 3-pointers this season, but she can take over with her mid-range game. It's another big challenge for Bush."

Shirey added, "Adrienne has been much more committed this year, but she has her work cut out tonight. The best thing to do is not let Augustus catch the ball -- limit her touches."

Bush's defensive quickness and rebounding ability caught several college coaches' attention, but she committed to SMS in the 11th grade.

"They had followed me since the eighth grade, and I loved Coach Burnett," Bush said. "But she left after my freshman year. My sophomore year I had really bad shin splints and homesickness, so I left the team in preseason and transferred at semester. I had attended basketball camps at Arkansas and liked coach (Gary) Blair, coach (Vic) Schaefer, coach Shirey and coach (Kelly) Bond.

"I came here to walk on, but I'm on scholarship now. I can thank coach Gardner for that one."

Bush had setbacks early this season, with appendicitis in August and then a concussion in the first game of the season against Alabama State.

"I sat out three games after the concussion," Bush said. "I was not all there."

It wasn't until Gardner compared Bush with Ole Miss star Armintie Price that Bush began to think of returning next season.

"Actually, I'm no Armintie Price," Bush said. "She's a dominant player in our league. I laughed a little inside when coach Gardner said that. But it gave me confidence to think she felt that way."

A few days later, Bush surprised Gardner by saying she might go into coaching someday.

"You want to coach?" Gardner said to Bush at the Lady'Backs luncheon. "You need to see me before you go to Best Buy. You're smarter than that."

Bush stipulates that she would only coach in college.

"I don't want to have to mess with kids' parents," she said, grinning.

Bush figures she's already a veteran coach, with all those video football games behind her.

"I'm an only child, so I had plenty of time to do it," Bush said. "I like putting players where I want them."

UA women's sports information director Bill Smith could have suspected Bush might stay close to the college game.

"She's the first player we ever had who comes in and reads the pregame notes cover to cover," Smith said.

Bush even invades the media room for Cokes now and then, too.

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