SE: Brown Working For Consistency in Sophomore Season

Ask Bruce Weber to talk about sophomore guard Barry Brown and K-State’s head coach will likely use words like hooper or baller, basketball terms for when talent meets dedication. 

Put another way, Weber said he would be shocked if anyone on the team spends more time than Brown in the Ice Family Basketball Center. 

“He loves to be in the gym,” Weber said. “He’s got that drive, that toughness.” 

This made Brown’s 18-point performance in K-State’s season opening, 82-55 win over Western Illinois on Friday anything but a surprise. 

“The thing I like is he’s been very efficient,” Weber said of Brown, who converted 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-2 from 3-point range while also dishing out three assists and recording a team-best three steals. “We’ve had a lot of guys who have played well, but Barry has been the most consistent day in and day out. He loves it. He’s put in more time in the gym, he’s taking care of his body better and he’s played well.”

Brown helped fuel a 10-0 run for K-State in the first half against WIU, scoring seven straight points at one point that he started with back-to-back steals. He followed those with a 3-pointer from the wing, giving his team some breathing room in the first half, which he finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. 

“I feel like I’m improving from my freshman year,” said Brown, who went 3-for-3 from the field in the second half with a pair of assists. “I’m working to be consistent, taking pride on defense especially and trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

In the offseason, Brown focused on becoming a consistent player. As a freshman, he showed glimpses of his capabilities with performances like Friday’s. He opened last season with a 17-point game, but he averaged a little more than five points in his next nine games. 

He’s worked to avoid any soft of rollercoaster ride of production this season. 

“I had a lot of ups and downs last year, not only with scoring but playing well one game or two games in a row and then having a downfall,” Brown said. “So I’m focused on consistency and trying to maintain a good level of play.”

Brown went about this from a few different angles. First, his passion for the game drove him to the Wildcats’ practice facility frequently. Second, he dedicated himself in the weight room, adding about seven pounds of muscle. 

“I just feel stronger, more explosive,” said Brown, who upped his bench capabilities by nearly 50 pounds during the offseason. “I’m way stronger than I was last year. It’s translating to the game very well with our new strength coach Ben O’Donnell.” 

Part of Brown’s push to become a consistent player stems from his physical improvements, Weber said, but some of it has to do with maturity and experience. 

When Kamau Stokes went down with a knee injury last season, Brown’s role in K-State’s backcourt expanded greatly. In K-State’s last 12 games, he averaged 33 minutes of court action and only shot 40 percent or greater three times. 

Now, Brown said he’s better prepared for such a role. 

“I think he got a little bit wiped out and tired,” Weber said. “Now, he’s recouped and understands what it’s about. His body’s in better shape, he’s stronger, he has a better feel for the game and he has worked at it.”

Brown, pushed by Weber, also strived to better his assist-to-turnover ratio. After ending with 50 assists and 50 turnovers last season, Brown said he doesn’t have an ideal ratio in mind for this year but knows improvement is a must. 

“(Weber) has definitely told me about my assist-to-turnover ratio,” Brown said, “and I’ve been working on it, making the right decision at the right place at the right times.” 

His work is already paying dividends, Weber said. 

“I think the biggest improvement is probably his passing,” he said of Brown, who had just one turnover against WIU. “He’s becoming more a complete player. I like that he’s making better passes. He’s recognizing things and making better passes than he did a year ago.” 

This well-rounded approach is key for Brown, who is aware his team needs more from him than points.  

“I’m just going to continue to work and try do whatever I can do to help my team,” said Brown, as K-State hosts Omaha on Tuesday at 7 p.m. “Maybe next game it’s going to be assists and rebounds, playing good defense. It’s really whatever the team needs.”