Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s 92-82 victory at Western Oklahoma on Monday was Bryson Bryant’s type of basketball.
The sophomore forward was doing the dirty work inside in a 15-point effort going seven of eight from the field, one of one from the line with five rebounds — three offensive and two defensive.
“He really played well,’’ said Jets head coach Greg Shamburg. “He played with a lot of energy. He’s getting his energy back the second half of the season. He is rebounding well and being more active. He knows he’s close to being done here and he’s refocusing a bit and doing a good job.’’
Bryant came out more focused and determined after the Jets (10-8 overall and 3-5 in the OCAC) had lost three straight.
“I just feel like we have to apply what we do in practice day,’’ Bryant said. “We work hard in practice and it just shows in the game. I’m just playing more aggressive and attacking the basket when I get the ball. I really worked hard over the break and I’m just coming back and getting a lot better.’’
Bryant’s numbers are up from his freshman year when he was a part-time starter on the first Jets team to reach the national tournament.
He is averaging 7.4 points compared to 3.1 as a freshman. He is averaging 6.3 rebounds to 2.8 last season. He is shooting 56.7 percent from the field compared to 45.5.
“The game is coming a little easier to me,’’ he said. “I’m getting adjusted to the pace better. I just plan on going after every loose ball, every rebound and attacking the glass and going back to nationals. My goal is just to win.’’
He’s the most comfortable in the paint with a physical game.
“I’m the workhorse,’’ he said. “I get the rebounds and putbacks. I play defense and try to give the team a lot of energy. I like being physical. I just attack every ball, every loose ball. I don’t ever stop attacking the ball.’’
Ray’Shawn Dotson, another inside player, was another dominant figure inside Monday with 12 points.
“It’s definitely helped me having to go against him in practice,’’ Bryant said. “Me and him battle it out and it just makes both of us better. He’s coming back next year and he’s really going to dominate.’’
His game was inspired by childhood hero Shaquille O’Neal.
“I saw how dominant he was with his size,’’ Bryant said. “He was attacking the goals and dunking on people, that’s how I want to model my game.’’
Bryant’s is studying to be an athletic trainer. He works with Jets trainer Julie Baggett with the NOC Enid women’s basketball team, the softball team and the baseball team. His ambition is to be a trainer first at the college level and then the NBA or NFL.
“Getting other players into the best shape they can be has helped me,’’ he said. “I wasn’t in the greatest of shape coming in and now I’m in the best shape of my life. Everything you do off the court — eating better and getting your sleep … it all shows on the court. I’m getting a lot of experience and I’m learning a lot.’’
Bryant is from Queens, N.Y., which is almost like being from a different planet in rural Oklahoma.
“I think being further from home has been a good thing for me,’’ he said. “I’m experiencing life and getting out and seeing the world and experiencing a new culture. I’ve grown both mentally and physically. It’s been a big change from your parents being right there in your face. You got to do it on your own, and if you don’t, no one cares.’’
He smiles and says Shamburg “definitely gets in your face.’’
“Basketball is so much different there,’’ he said about his hometown. “There’s a lot of in-your-face. The crowd gets in your face. There’s a lot of stuff that can throw you off. I learned a lot on the playgrounds and in high school. If you get good enough, then everybody is going to help you and you develop and grow.’’
He is a avid New York Knicks fan, his favorite player is ex-Knick Carmelo Anthony, now of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Jets return to action Monday at Murray State to start the second rotation of conference play. The Aggies beat the Jets, 81-77 at the Mabee Center on Nov. 30.
He is determined to make a return trip to nationals. The Jets are fighting for a good seed for the regional tournament in March which will determine the Region 2 representative.
“That was a great experience and I will do whatever I can to make sure the freshmen have that experience, too,’’ he said. “We just need to keep the wins coming.’’