Men's College Basketball

Coming of age: Briscoe fully prepared to be Hawks' leader

| H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 6, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 7, 2018 10:11 pm

QUINCY -- The roster read redshirt freshman. Officially, that is what Ryan Briscoe was.

But in many ways, he was as raw as the players fresh out of high school.

Briscoe's redshirt season with the Quincy University men's basketball team was spent rehabbing a shoulder injury that required surgery. He watched the Hawks win the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division championship and make an NCAA Tournament appearance, but he never practiced with that senior-laden squad.

"I was never fully cleared," said Briscoe, who was shooting and running some individual drills by the end of 2016-17 season. "I did some 5-on-0 stuff where there was no contact."

So when he inherited the point guard duties last fall, Briscoe had to get himself up to speed while getting the offense in gear as well.

"Last year, they threw me into the fire and I just had to go with it," Briscoe said. "I thought I handled it pretty well. I grew up a lot. I matured a lot. I learned a lot."

No longer does he feel like a freshman, a redshirt freshman or the sophomore that he is.

"I already feel like a senior," Briscoe said.

He's playing like it, too.

Briscoe, a 5-foot-11 guard from St. Charles, Mo., will lead the Hawks into the season opener at 5 p.m. Friday against Cedarville in the GLVC/GMAC Challenge at Truman State University's Pershing Arena. His performance in QU's lone exhibition game -- five points and five assists in 31 minutes in an 85-42 loss to Saint Louis University -- was indicative of his steady hand and grasp of the offense.

"I think experience has done wonders for him," QU coach Ryan Hellenthal said. "He's healthier. His body is in the best shape it's ever been. If we can stay healthy, he will be a very good point guard in the GLVC and a very good point guard for us."

He'll benefit from having some depth around him, too.

Last season, Briscoe averaged 33.3 minutes, even when playing hurt late in the season. In the season-ending 127-120 overtime victory against McKendree, Briscoe played 43 of the 45 minutes and finished with 20 points, seven assists and just one turnover.

QU shooting guard Demetrius Houston played all 45 minutes in that game. Neither should have to do that again, not with juniors Austin Downing and Jah-Kobe Womack ready to contribute.

"We don't have to run all the sets and all the plays and run up and down the floor for 35 to 40 minutes each game," Briscoe said. "That really wore us down at the end of the year. Me and (Houston) had some aches and pains."

And they were physically drained.

"I was pretty doggone tired," Briscoe said.

Those around him would say he's pretty doggone tough, too.

Briscoe played through a pulled groin muscle, a thumb injury and a variety of other muscle issues. He ended the season wearing as many ice bags as clothing.

"Getting in the training room just wasn't enough," Briscoe said.

That's what made the offseason invaluable.

"I'm looking forward to more productive minutes," Briscoe said.

So is Hellenthal.

"His jump shot has really improved," the second-year QU coach said. "His leadership qualities have improved. I'm looking for a big year from him."

Last year wasn't bad. Briscoe averaged 10 points and 3.1 rebounds per game with a team-leading 112 assists. He was second in steals with 23 and 3-pointers made with 39, all while playing more minutes per game than anyone.

He's anxious to see how much more efficient he is with a year of experience.

"I feel in full confidence I know what I'm doing with all my guys," Briscoe said. "I know the tendencies of everyone. I feel more prepared because of everything I had to go through last year. I feel more comfortable challenging my teammates and keeping everyone accountable. I feel comfortable being a leader."

Only a player who has aged well can say that.