Extra Work Paying Off For WVU's Bryant - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Extra Work Paying Off For WVU's Bryant


Truck Bryant walked into a nearly empty gym in Wichita, Kan. and began putting up shots hours before his team would join him to warm up for a game against Kansas State.

WVU assistant coach Jerrod Calhoun came up with the idea while Bryant and the rest of the Mountaineers sat around the team hotel waiting on a tipoff that must have seemed like it would never come after an hours-long flight delay.

The idea was essentially that the senior guard shouldn't be wasting time in the hotel when he could be working on his shot, which to that point in the season was not meeting his expectations.

Bryant and Calhoun met in the lobby, called the hotel's shuttle service, and took an early trip to Insight Bank Arena.

He had a goal in mind: Make 100 baskets from all areas of the court.

Jumpers fell in, 3-pointers were good, layups came with ease and Bryant's confidence in his shot was as high as it had been this season. Asked before the game how the personal shoot-around went, Bryant answered that it was just how he hoped it would.

And the results were evident.

In a double overtime game, he put up 24 points, a season-high.

If it worked once, it could work twice, so Bryant got out on the home court early again on Saturday to make another 100 shots, and the results were even better this time.

A career-high 27 points led the way for all scorers and sparked a dominant second half comeback to take down the visiting Miami Hurricanes and improve WVU's record to 6-2.

"I don't want that to be my career-high," says Bryant. "I want to go higher and I want to keep winning, most importantly."

Bryant missed just three of his shot attempts while connecting on five 3-pointers and each of his four free throws. At this rate, he intends to continue taking the court hours before a game gets underway for the remainder of the year so long as the results stay the same.

"It's something I'm going to keep doing," he says. "Just keep shooting before the game and my teammates – I can't say anything more about my teammates. They kept finding me in great spots and I just made shots."

Shooters are often known for being streaky. Make a few, more will come. Miss, though, and there could be a long night ahead. Bryant has had a few of both in his career and this season has been no different thus far.

As a senior, he'd like to have more of the former than the latter. He knows his teammates count on him to make shots, especially when he's playing nearly every single minute of the games.

When he's on, the team benefits greatly and a performance like Jabarie Hinds' scoreless effort Saturday can go largely unnoticed. If he's off, the Mountaineers are stuck looking around at each other for who else will pick up the slack.

On a night when Kevin Jones isn't making many shots, that list is extremely short.

"I needed that one big game and I had it last game to where I felt comfortable out there and I just felt very comfortable as a senior and as a leader for this team," says Bryant. "I just made shots and my teammates found me."

Games like these last two for Bryant would normally give a player confidence and help that shooter's mentality to string together more successful nights and more made baskets. Confidence has never been an issue for the senior, even if the stats weren't what he wanted.

"I always feel comfortable," he says. "My confidence is always sky-high, since freshman year, whether I played bad or didn't, my confidence is sky-high."

As he sat there following his career night, filing through so many texts messages on his iPhone that he couldn't easily find where they ended, the sky may not have been high enough for his confidence.

The key now will be maintaining it. As long as those 100 shots are falling pregame, he believes they will continue to fall when it counts.

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