Though Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball team lacks the roster depth it started with this season, sophomore guard Bryce Brady has stepped up his game to prove his potential.
Since Jan. 17, Brady is averaging 9.8 PPG and is shooting 14-for-24 from the field. Of those 14 conversions, 11 have come from behind the 3-point line as Brady has landed himself in the top 18 in 3-point percentage in the CCAA.
The 6-foot-2 guard has earned a steady increase in playing time as he is averaging 24 minutes per game over the last four, which is nearly double his season average.
Brady said as his playing time rises, so does his confidence.
“You get into more of a rhythm,” said Brady. “You play to do something good instead of playing to not make a mistake.”
Although Brady has made a name for himself on game days, the key to his recent success might be from what he has done behind closed doors.
“Two games before [the game against Cal State Monterey Bay], I was shorting all my shots,” said Brady. “The whole next week in practice every time I was short, Coach [Kamansky] was having me do 10 push-ups, so I’m just thinking don’t be short. It’s working so far.”
While the Chatsworth native has been as big a contributing factor on offense as anyone, he said his biggest improvement has been in his basketball IQ on the defensive end.
“Our matchup zone is a little different from what most programs do, so I know where to be on the court and I know the angles I need to take,” said Brady. “I’m much more confident on defense.”
As Brady’s defense confidence blossoms, so does the confidence of head coach Greg Kamansky in his sophomore guard.
“He’s got to play in a position sometimes where he’s guarding 6-9 or 6-8 kids and that’s kind of the issue,” said Kamansky. “We play him at the bottom of our zone most of the time and sometimes that’s a hard matchup defensively, but he fights.”
Kamansky said in the absence of junior guard Shannon Sharpe, who is ineligible, and sophomore guard Daniel Rodriguez, who is out with an injury, Brady’s performances have been much needed.
“He didn’t play many minutes early in the year, when we had a full team, and now the opportunity is there for him and he’s, at least for the last couple games, really stepped up,” said Kamansky. “It’s awesome to see that and we’re definitely hoping that he continues his hot hand on that end.”
With only two seniors on the roster this season, Kamansky loves the potential this team has in the coming years with talented underclassmen like Brady and true freshman Jordan Faison.
“We think they’re good players, but they’re going to have to develop and get better as this year progresses and going into next year,” said Kamansky. “The reality is, nothing is going to be on one guy’s head, but I think we have a good core of players that are coming back next year.”
Development will not be a problem for Brady who, according to teammate Barry Bell, is an extremely hard worker.
“He’ll be the first to run suicides, [he] never gets tired and he’s always in shape,” said Bell. “He works hard battling big men, even though he’s short.”
One key to Brady’s improvement in moving forward will be his persistency on the court when he’s not getting his shots to fall.
“If he misses one [shot], we tell him to keep shooting, we’re coming right back at you, keep shooting,” said Bell. “If he misses two, keep shooting, because we know he’s eventually going to get on and he’s going to start hitting more and more shots.”
Much like his drive on the basketball court, Brady’s willingness to make an impact off it sets him apart from his teammates as attested by his study abroad trip last summer to Tanzania with Political Science Professor Renford Reese.
“Really, I was just trying to be a citizen of the world and be as empathetic as possible,” said Brady. “Anytime I can exit my bubble and my comfort zone and experience something new, I’m all about that.”
From his hard-nosed work ethic to his inspirational travels in the off-season, Brady has defined what being a genuine role model entails.