Feb. 19, 2005
PHILADELPHIA - By Ryan Prinz '05 Frequently described as a player who does many of the things that do not show up in a box score, Saint Joseph's senior John Bryant's statistics would not win many awards. However, Bryant's value to St. Joe's is not found within the limits of a nightly box score. To Bryant, only one column matters--the win column
"All I've done since I've been here is win," said Bryant. "We've won the Atlantic 10 regular season title four times in a row. I bring that winning mentality to the team."
A mentality that landed Bryant a starting role on the number one team in America last season.
A fifth-year senior and co-captain, Bryant's role has significantly changed during his last season on Hawk Hill. Relegated to the bench, in favor of the taller, offensive-minded Dave Mallon, Bryant has handled the transition with the mindset of a leader.
"John has done what a senior leader should do on every team. He has thought of others before himself. It would've been easy for this guy to hang his head. Everything he's done, he's done with a smile, and an attitude that a greater good is being served here," said Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli.
For Bryant, the move to the bench simply adds another chapter in the "story of John Bryant," as he describes it.
"It hasn't been tough at all. I've come off the bench a lot so it's nothing new. Whatever the coaching staff feels they need then I'm their ultimate team player. Whether it's setting screens, making passes or grabbing boards, then John Bryant is their man," said Bryant.
A 3-6 start to the 2004-05 season came as a surprise to a fan base that ended last season in the Elite Eight with a 30-2 record. Bryant knew it was his responsibility to help turn the ship around.
"I knew coming into the season I was going to be a leader on this team. It took time for us to play with each other and get to know what each player can do to contribute for us to be successful," said Bryant. "I expect us to get better each day in practice. We set a goal to become regular season champions of the league for the fifth year in a row."
That feat would be a tremendous accomplishment for Bryant and his teammates as the only squad to achieve that in Atlantic 10 history has been the dominant UMass teams from the early 1990's.
During the game with Richmond on Feb. 16, the Hawk offense needed a jumpstart and a good dose of CPR. That was when Bryant reached deep in his bag of tricks. Following a dunk in which he was fouled, Bryant sank the subsequent free throw and came up with a steal on the defensive end. With nothing but the student section in front of him, Bryant took the ball coast-to-coast for an energizing jam.
According to Martelli, Bryant was a bright spot in the dismal play of the Hawks in that 49-36 win. "John Bryant's energy in the second half helped save a brutal game," said the coach.
This scoring burst coming from the man who is currently averaging 3.0 points per game. And the same man who once told SJU radio analyst Joe Lunardi that he could go out and score 30 if that's what the Hawks needed.
Surely, Bryant, the self-proclaimed "All-American Screener", was joking.
"We're showing now that we're a good team and there's a lot of basketball left to play," said Bryant.
With a bachelor's degree in Information Systems in his back pocket, Bryant has been attending graduate school at Saint Joseph's in pursuit of his master's in Business Administration. But when asked of his future plans, Bryant seemed less than certain where he would be next year.
"I'm going to ride the waves and see where it takes me. I'm going to live my life. I don't know, we'll see. I believe something good will happen, but I'm just going to focus on now. And now is the time to get this team ready for the Atlantic 10 Championship," said Bryant.
The witty Bryant does know one thing for sure.
"I'm going to be killing it in the 35 and older men's leagues one day," said Bryant. "The story of John Bryant is not going to stop after St. Joe's."