Brant­ley emerg­ing as threat off bench for Ter­rap­ins

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TOMMY CHALK

Last sea­son as a sopho­more, Maryland guard Jaylen Brant­ley was known more for a vi­ral video than his pro­duc­tion on the basketball court.

Brant­ley starred as team­mate Jared Nick­ens’ main sidekick in their fa­mous run­ning man dances to “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ. The hi­lar­i­ous videos war­ranted an ap­pear­ance by both Brant­ley and Nick­ens on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The slick dance may have been the only thing Brant­ley felt com­fort­able do­ing.

“Last year, I didn’t re­ally feel like I be­longed,” Brant­ley said of his role on the team. “But now I re­ally feel like I be­long.”

The ju­nior posted a 14-point ef­fort against Howard on Wed­nes­day night. Brant­ley, de­spite com­ing off of the bench, fin­ished as the sec­ond-high­est scorer be­hind cen­ter Michal Cekovsky, who had 16 points as the Ter­rap­ins marched past the Bi­son in a 79-56 win.

It’s the sec­ond straight ef­fort Brant­ley was able to fin­ish with at least 12 points. In Maryland’s first 10 games, he’s scored at least 11 points three times. Last sea­son, he had just one game where he scored more than 11 points in 32 ef­forts.

Brant­ley played an key role in Maryland’s game plan against the out­manned Howard team. The Ter­rap­ins took an in­side-out­side ap­proach of­fen­sively. With a tremen­dous height ad­van­tage un­der the bas­ket — Cekovsky stands 7-foot-1 while Howard’s big men, Solomon Mang­ham and Tyler Stone, both stand just 6-foot-7 — the Ter­rap­ins would kick the ball down to to their cen­ter.

If Cekovsky was able to get it to the bas­ket, he’d take a shot. If the de­fense col­lapsed on him, Cekovsky would dish it out to the three-point arc. Many times, the ball landed in Brant­ley’s hands, and he wasn’t afraid to shoot. Brant­ley’s eight three-point at­tempts led Maryland, as did his four three-point field goals.

“The kid’s un­be­liev­able,” Maryland coach Mark Tur­geon said. “He’s com­ing off the bench, play­ing hard. He’s com­mu­ni­cat­ing. He’s be­ing a leader. He made the first three and made some big ones in the sec­ond half. He’s just get­ting more and more con­fi­dent.”

Con­fi­dence has been a big fac­tor in Brant­ley’s new­found role, and it’s be­gin­ning to swell within him. He said he knows that who­ever ends up work­ing hard in prac­tice will get the play­ing time, and his coach is tak­ing no­tice of just how hard he is work­ing to im­prove.

“Jaylen brings it ev­ery day in prac­tice,” Tur­geon said. “If they start do­ing it in prac­tice, it’s go­ing to carry over into the game. It’s fi­nally car­ried over for him. He’s get­ting con­fi­dence, his team­mates are get­ting con­fi­dence in him.”

Brant­ley said he rec­og­nizes that his team is rel­a­tively young and that any­thing he does should be an ex­am­ple. Of Maryland’s starters against Howard, three were fresh­men. Fresh­man start­ing guard Kevin Huerter is cer­tainly tak­ing no­tice of Brant­ley’s de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“Jaylen plays with a lot of en­ergy,” Huerter said. “You can see he’s play­ing with a lot more con­fi­dence. He’s shoot­ing the ball a lot bet­ter and he’s mak­ing plays. He’s get­ting to the bas­ket, he’s play­ing de­fense. He’s been a re­ally good spark for us off the bench.”

Brant­ley is also start­ing to find more suc­cess due to his “yes sir” at­ti­tude. If Tur­geon wants Brant­ley to run through a wall to help the team, Brant­ley will do just that.

“If coach tells me to just go in and play de­fense, I’ll go in and play de­fense,” Brant­ley said. “If he wants me to make a shot, I’ll do that as well. Me play­ing as hard as I can is go­ing to keep me on the court more.”

Brant­ley pro­vid­ing a bit of offense from the bench can only be ben­e­fi­cial for Maryland. With Melo Trim­ble and An­thony Cowan serv­ing as the team’s pri­mary back­court, Brant­ley can pro­vide a change of pace, make a seam­less tran­si­tion for him and his team­mates on the court and com­fort­ably pro­vide rest to his back­court team­mates when needed.

Maryland (9-1) hosts Saint Peter’s (4-4) on Satur­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.