In transitioning from The Big Apple to the home of ‘Big Tex,' freshman guard Brian Bernardi has had to not only adapt to a new culture but learn a new style of basketball.
Bernardi, who expected to play in the Princeton offense under former SMU head coach Matt Doherty, ended up suiting up for Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown instead. Bernardi says that overall he's learned a lot from Brown and the new staff and has consequently become a more complete player.
"They've taught me a lot and definitely a different style of playing," Bernardi said. "I'm used to a really slowed down offense but with this, we kind of pick it up. It's really taught me how to play with drivers and scorers and how to really get my shot open."
The 6-foot-2 180-pound Bernardi was a three-star recruit out of Xavierian and averaged 19 points in his senior year.
Bernardi, who says he didn't really know what to think after Doherty was fired by SMU, says that playing for Brown was an opportunity that he could not pass up.
"It was a little confusing at first when Coach Doherty got fired," Bernardi said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. But once Coach Brown got hired it was like an opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn't turn that down."
Bernardi, who has appeared in each of the Mustangs' first nine games, has earned a decent amount of action on the floor averaging around eleven minutes per game.
Bernardi says that coming in he didn't want to gauge how much playing time he would get as a freshman, but he wanted to work to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches.
"That's what I work for," Bernardi said. "I'm trying to get Coach Brown to trust me a little more to put me in the game and once I get in there, I just try to bring energy to the floor."
Bernardi says that as a whole he thinks the identity of this year's Mustang team is playing great defense and giving great effort. He says that the team's commitment to getting stops on the defensive end of the floor helps them on offense.
Bernardi, who is shooting 50 percent from the 3-point land, has proven to be most effective from behind the arc. He says this is what opens up the floor for his teammates to do damage.
"I try to bring whatever I can on the defensive end," Bernardi said. "I try to bring energy when I get out on the floor as well as help my teammates out in whatever way I can. Obviously I can shoot the ball so that opens the floor up for Ryan (Manuel) and Nick (Russell) to drive."
Showing improvement in each game is what Bernardi has been focused on doing so far. Bernardi says he watches a lot of film checking to see what he's doing wrong so that he can correct his mistakes and continue to get better. At the end of the day, Bernardi says all he wants to do is bring home the big prize.
"I really just want to win." Bernardi said. "I want to win as many games as possible and win the championship."
Bernardi Hopes To Earn Trust
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