Sept. 5, 2008
Bronco Fans - if you aren't excited yet about this year's Santa Clara basketball season then spend about five minutes with senior John Bryant and you will probably RUN to the Bronco ticket office to buy season tickets. Bryant, who is down to 275 pounds, says he is getting stronger and stronger each day. He can't wait to start individuals in the next couple weeks with the first team practice set for Oct. 15. A preseason WCC Player of the Year candidate, Bryant returns as Santa Clara's leading scorer. He led the WCC and SCU in field goal percentage, rebounding and blocked shots last year.
SantaClaraBronocos.com sat down with Bryant this week to find out where he was on the scale, how his workouts with strength coach Joe Siara are progressing and how the team looks early. He also talked about doing things for his last time as a senior.
SCU: When you lose as much weight as you have, do people ask you every day what you weigh now?
Bryant (big smiles): I am at 275 right now. It's kind of a balancing thing because the goal was 275 and I have reached that so now it's more losing more body fat. I want to get stronger. Muscle weighs more than fat so my weight might go up a bit, but I am much leaner. That's what we are working on now.
SCU: In August you played in the adidas Nations. It was a camp in Dallas were they brought in different high school players from nations all over the world as well as some of the top college players nationally. What kind of experience was that for you? Did you meet some good college players as well?
Bryant: It was a world camp and they brought in 20 or so of the top college guys to be counselors, to play in front of NBA coaches and hang out with the kids. It was fun, but the day before I went I sprained my ankle in open gym here at Santa Clara so I didn't do all that well. I couldn't move really well there because my ankle had to be taped so heavy so they didn't see my best. But overall it was a fun experience and it was fun to be around those kids.
My roommate was Cole Aldridge, the back-up center from Kansas. Diamon Simpson from St. Mary's was there and we've known each other from high school so it was cool to just hang. Cole talked about winning the NCAA title and said it was the craziest time in his life and the funnest time in his life. He said he'd never experienced anything like that in his life and it made me want it a lot more because I haven't experienced that feeling in life yet.
Some of the kids didn't speak a lot of English so it was hard to talk to them, but interesting to be around them. They had a rec area at the camp with a lot of TVs and Xbox's. We would go in there and play games with them. That was a lot of fun. They were all pretty good players on the court. You have to be good to be on these teams - those high school teams. These specifics teams had traveled in Africa, Europe, a lot of places; and they have been playing together for awhile so they are all pretty good.
SCU: It must have been exciting being around all those top college players and the NBA people. What did you bring back to Santa Clara with you - what did you learn?
Bryant: I saw again it is a lot of hard work to be a professional. It showed me that if you want to be a professional, you have to do a lot more work! It was really eye-opening to go against the top college players in the country and to keep working hard, even harder than I have been working. I have to have the mentality that this is the last year I have to play in college and I have to go all out all the time.
SCU: How has Bronco strength coach Joe Siara helped you this summer?
Bryant: There are no words to describe how Joe has helped me this summer. He has been huge for all of us. Our program is set up now so that we don't lift for more than 45 minutes each session so we get in there and get moving. So much of what we do in the weight room is based on game situations and what you need your body to do to be successful. We go through an exercise and it pays off later when you are playing. It's very much geared towards basketball. Joe came to Santa Clara after working at Florida. They have been successful (the Gators won back-to-back national titles) so Joe is a good person to listen to.
SCU: Does Joe tell you any stories about the Gator basketball players?
Bryant: When we complain about getting up early he says `Florida gets up at 6 am every day and they win. These guys got up early and now look at them in the NBA'. He is really motivating. I started doing one-on-ones with him because I wanted to do some extra voluntary work-outs and that has helped me gain so much strength. I know more now proper technique so when we lift with the team, I can focus on each exercise even more. I am working in the morning so I do one-on-ones with Joe in the afternoon a lot.
SCU: You have been cooking a lot of your own food since you moved to an apartment. Have you cooked up anything special lately?
Bryant: For Labor Day we bar-b-qued a bunch of steaks and chicken for the adults and hot dogs for the kids.
SCU: What have you done this summer besides work? Any vacation?
Bryant: I haven't gone home, but my family has come down here to go swimming at my apartment complex's pool. I just hang out. I haven't been on vacation. I'm just here working out - I will take a vacation after I get all the work done (smiles).
SCU: How are the new guys doing?
Bryant: They are doing really good. They are getting into the grove. Because they came in this summer they have been able to ease into things. The coaches can't be around right now and because we have played a lot of open gym they have really gotten to know us. That will help a lot when we begin practice with the coaches. They have a lot to learn, but where they are now is the good start. I think they are doing really good job.
SCU: The full schedule hasn't been released yet, but any games you spotted you are really looking forward to?
Bryant: I am looking forward to the preseason NIT. If we win both games at Arizona we would go to Madison Square Garden to play two games there in New York City. If I had an opportunity to play there, at Madison Square Garden, it would be a real highlight in my career. Madison Square Garden?!
I am also looking forward to playing two games in the Boston area around New Year's. My Aunt Ethel lives in Vermont and she will be able to see both games so I look forward to that.
I always look forward to St. Mary's - they are our rivals. I am ready for San Diego, too. They beat us twice last year. Turnovers killed us at our place last year so I would like to work to redeem that.
SCU: Last year the WCC sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament. Is the conference going to be good again this year?
Bryant: Yes, really good. San Diego and Gonzaga and St. Mary's went to the tournament. It got a lot of attention for the WCC so I feel like more talent wants to come here to this conference. It's going to be a tough year, but we have to get it done.
SCU: Have you thought much about this being your last year?
Bryant: I haven't sat down and thought about it, but once in awhile a thought crosses my mind. Today I was thinking `Brody is gone.' All those talks Coach Keating had last year for the seniors - when he would say `this is your last time you will do this'; and that will be Calvin Johnson and I this year. I have thought about that a little bit and it will really hit home when school starts and individuals start. I will try to focus on the year and try not to focus on it as my last year. I want to focus on it as my best time. I want to try to have the best season I have ever had as my last year and let people remember that.
Bronco fans - get your season tickets today! Call 408-554-4660 or visit the website for more details at www.santaclarabroncos.com. Don't miss a minute of the action!