Dec. 8, 2017
CHICAGO - Sophomore Brandon Cyrus was everywhere Wednesday night in DePaul's 85-57 dismantling of Central Connecticut State; in passing lanes, snatching rebounds and leading the Blue Demons in transition. The Oakville, Ontario native served as the central figure in the second half with 11 points after the intermission as the Blue Demons put the game out of reach.
On the game Cyrus was a model of scoring efficiency en route to his 16 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field, 2-of-2 from three and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. Also, as he always does, the Blue Demons' sixth man got involved in a variety of other ways contributing six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
A year after starting all 32 games his freshman season, Cyrus has transitioned into a sixth man role for the Blue Demons in year two, a role he's embraced and is in many ways perfect for because of the instant energy his playing style provides.
"It's definitely a different role for me, but it's one that Coach Leitao wants me to excel in and accept so I'm willing to do whatever I can for the team," Cyrus said. "I don't mind it. The things I look to bring are defense and energy. All of that offensive stuff comes second. Coach Leitao and my teammates just always want me to bring defense and energy to the game."
Watching the Blue Demons it is evident how much they feed off of Cyrus's energy. One of DePaul's most active defenders, the six foot five shooting guard's playing style exudes heart and intensity. Whether he is diving on the floor for loose balls or locking up an offensive player for a shot clock violation, if you're sitting near the court you're sure to hear the Blue Demons' bench urging him on by his nickname "Lets go B!". Asked if he takes pride in providing a spark for his team, Cyrus lights up.
"Oh, one hundred percent." Cyrus said. "Especially coming off the bench, and being that sixth man. My job is to come in and bring energy. Just being able to do that gives our team an extra lift during the game."
While Cyrus absolutely plays with a ton of energy as a defender it'd be selling him short to leave it at that. What truly sets the second year guard apart as a defender is a unique blend of size and athleticism that gives Cyrus a height advantage over most shooting guards DePaul faces while not sacrificing any speed or quickness at the position. This allows the Canadian, whose favorite player growing up was another oversized shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, to lock up most team's best scoring threat on the perimeter.
"As a defender I bring hard ball pressure," Cyrus said. "Taking the offense out of their rhythm, forcing deflections and just being disruptive. There was no one I really modeled my game after but I was always just a big Kobe fan, just his mentality and how he attacked every game. I really wanted to take that with me in my own game."
Making the transition from year one to year two, Cyrus has focused on becoming more of a leader. He's liked what he's seen out of the team early as they've squared off and held their own against some of the best college basketball teams in the country. Now, in the weeks and months ahead all Cyrus cares about is winning basketball games.
"I've grown as a leader." Cyrus said. "Having Billy Garrett [Jr.] leave it's been placed upon me by coach and my teammates to be a leader during practices, on the road, wherever we are. Just always leading the team, helping out the younger guys and stuff like that.
"I've seen a lot of resiliency in this team." Cyrus continued. "We had a really tough schedule the first couple games playing Michigan State and Oregon and we were in almost every game. It showed we can go up against anybody and fight against anybody which is big.
"The rest of this year, I just want to win to be honest." Cyrus emphasized." The only goal is to win this year. We have a new arena, new fan base, all this new stuff coming in. I just want to win to make it all worthwhile."