Brophy's minutes increasing

ATHENS – Kevin Brophy is averaging one point and less than one rebound per game for Georgia's basketball team, but, in a season that is slowly slipping away from the Bulldogs, he's the closest thing to a feel-good story.

The Australian sophomore has seen his minutes dramatically increase in the last four games, not because he makes a big dent on the statistics sheet but because he affects the game in underappreciated ways.

"He's got a pretty good understanding of how to play, so he does some of those simple things that help your team go," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "He's good for our offense in that he is very unselfish so he's good for keeping the offense moving and flowing."

As a result of that, Felton has played Brophy an average of 17 minutes in each of the last four games. The Bulldogs take on No. 17 Florida today in Gainesville, Fla. Brophy totaled just 22 minutes in the nine games prior to this stretch. His playing time has coincided with the slumps and suspensions of freshmen guards Mike Mercer and Billy Humphrey, but it also has to do with his contributions.

"As we got on to SEC play, Coach really understood that I'd been in those big situations before and I wasn't nervous because I'd been there," Brophy said. "I was able to give something else that the other guys don't. I'm a lot more patient than some of the other guys as far as running a team goes. It just gives a different perspective."

Kevin Brophy has totaled five points, five rebounds and four assists in the last four games, but his numbers are better in the hidden stats, the ones taped to the wall of the team's locker room, like charges taken, deflections and extra passes.

"That's something I pride myself on, and I definitely think it's something that helps the team out a lot," Brophy said.

Brophy's understanding of the importance of the little things makes him stand out on Georgia's young roster because most of the Bulldogs have yet to learn the value of those things, Felton said. Although Brophy averaged twice as many minutes per game last year (22.8), Felton put him on scholarship this season to reward his hard work.

"I came into this year really not knowing what my role on the team was going to be," Brophy said. "I knew last year I was going to play a lot just because we didn't have many numbers, but I really didn't know how I'd compete against the incoming freshmen (this year)."

It's likely that Brophy will lose his scholarship next season as Felton continues to rebuild Georgia's roster, but the 21-year-old says he will stay with the Bulldogs regardless.

"It's a big financial struggle at times (without a scholarship), but my parents visited recently, and they really understood the magnitude of what I'm doing and the whole university and playing on TV and what a good academic school it is. They really feel like the sacrifice is worth making if they do have to pay for school next year."

Brophy came to America as a junior in high school and played one season at Memorial Day School in Savannah before walking on with the Bulldogs. He hopes to eventually play professionally in Europe or back home in Melbourne with the Melbourne Tigers.

"A lot of the better players (in Australia) have come (to America) and developed and now they're back in Australia making a big name for themselves," Brophy said. "You can see the value of coming over here for four years rather than staying at home."

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