Jenkins adjusting to expanded role

Forced into the University of Louisville's starting lineup because of Taquan Dean's back problems, sophomore point guard Brandon Jenkins is adjusting to his expanded role.

Forced into the University of Louisville's starting lineup twice this season because of minor injuries to Taquan Dean, sophomore Brandon Jenkins is adjusting to his expanded role.

Averaging 20.2 minutes of action per game, up from 15 last season, Jenkins is making his mark on the defensive end and enjoyed perhaps his finest performance last Saturday when he helped contain high-scoring TCU point guard Corey Santee.

"It's coming along real good," Jenkins said of his budding confidence. "I feel that by coach putting me into the starting lineup in place of Taquan is helping my confidence."

With three steals and eight rebounds against the Horned Frogs, U of L coach Rick Pitino told Jenkins following the Cardinals 86-61 that he was the key to the game for his team.

"I told him [he] was the key to the game," Pitino said. "His pressure on the ball made our defense go. He's had two great games back to back. His pressure was relentless; Corey Santee is a heck of a basketball player. Brandon rebounded the basketball when it was long. He did a great job for us. He was the MVP without question."

Asked if he thought he played the best defense of his young career in the past two games, Jenkins said, "Houston and TCU were probably the best defense I ever played. Coach Pitino wanted me to check the point guard [Corey Santee] and use my length and not let him get to the hole."

Jenkins, who came off the bench against Houston, scoring ten points, helped provide a spark for the Cardinals during a second half rally without Dean's services. He said the transition to the starting lineup recently has forced him to make some adjustments.

"On the bench I can look and see how the point guard is playing and realize how to play him different ways [when I get in the game]," Jenkins explained. "It's not tougher [starting], but it's easier coming off the bench and watching what Taquan has been doing [defensively]."

Having played 30 minutes in each of the past two games, Jenkins took just 11 shots, hitting five, against both the Cougars and Horned Frogs. He says his pass-first mentality is to blame for his tendency to pass up open shots.

"Coach wants me to shoot the open shot but I'm so used to passing first before shooting," said Jenkins. "I've got to take the open shot when it is there. I have confidence that it will go in so I've got to start taking the [open] shot."

Jenkins will likely play a major role tonight against Southern Miss with Dean still not at 100-percent. And he'll have his work cut out tyring to stop former McDonald's All-American Rashaad Carruth.

"We don't look to far ahead, we're just worried about beating Southern Miss," said Jenkins.


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