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The MVP diary from Ulm - John Bryant: Best shape of my life, but there are still extra pounds I...

The MVP diary from Ulm - John Bryant: Best shape of my life, but there are still extra pounds I...

This time the MVP talks about learning from the TOP FOUR defeat to ALBA; Omar Samhans great locker room performance; tackling his weight; and his NCAA bracket.

Losing in the TOP FOUR final to ALBA BERLIN was hard. It was a tough game. We were making shots up until the last quarter. That’s where we kind of lost it. We didn’t really do what we do, which is push the ball and run in transition. You can say they played good D and stuck to their game plan in keeping the ball out of the middle and us out of the post. But I think it was us not focusing on getting the ball inside and sticking to our game plan. That’s why we lost it. I feel we learned from it. It’s a tough feeling. As a team we just have to figure out how to finish games off. We had a lead going into halftime. In the fourth quarter we have to calm our nerves and make shots. And play our game. If we play our game I think we’re very tough to beat.

One fun thing was Omar Samhan showing his butt on national TV. We had just won the TOP FOUR semifinal game and were all happy. Coach came in and told us the TV guys were going to come in and doing a camera scene. Don’t ask me why but they’re coming in. Omar said, okay, I’m going to make a point of this. We were sitting right next to each other and they were setting up the camera and he said: ‘Should I do it?’ I said, ‘Just do it. You can’t just talk about it. You gotta do it.’ It took him a little bit to build up some courage but then walked across and it was pretty funny. Everybody really had a good laugh. It was just a fun time after a big win.

Our first game back in the Beko BBL is at home against Berlin. I’m super excited and ready to go. We get them here at our place. And it’s actually going to count in the league. It’s going to be a big, big game for us in the rankings. We’re neck and neck with them for second place so it will be a huge game. We’re super motivated. There will definitely be some payback for the loss we just had.

Practice is getting fun, especially banging against Omar. It’s good for me physically because it will get you tired in practice. I have great competition because he’s a big guy like me. It’s tough for me to back him down. It’s definitely a pure positive for us. It’s also helping my fitness. I feel like I’m in good shape, probably the best shape of my life. There are probably a few extra pounds I could lose and be in better shape. But I feel that I’m in a great position right now.

Tackling the extra pounds is something personally that I want to do. Get it off just for personal reasons. I know it will help my basketball game. It would help me further my career and be the best player I can be, make me faster, quicker and play more minutes and be more effective. It’s something that I want to do, something that’s always been on my mind. And I’m doing extra cardio after practice and doing extra stuff by myself – at the house or core stuff, just little things that are going to burn calories and continue to fight the journey and keep going. It’s always in progress.

The hardest part is definitely the eating. I’m a guy who loves food. That’s one of the things you have to work on every day. It’s an everyday battle. You go to the hotels and you have all these buffets and these desserts and stuff. So it’s definitely the choices you make and the foods you eat that are the hardest part. I really got serious about my body starting in my junior year at Santa Clara University. We got a new coach, Kerry Keating, who told me: You could play professional basketball if you get your body in shape. How much you dedicate yourself to getting yourself in shape and ready for basketball is how far you will go. That was my first eye-opener. I was enjoying college and having fun my first two years. And he came in and said if you want to make a living out of it, you have to get in shape. That was the first thing that opened my eyes. And I’ve been working on it since.

Being in Berlin, we were watching the NCAA Tournament on TV in the hotel. The beauty of the tournament is that you’re always going to have the Cinderella team – the team that nobody saw coming. Watching Gonzaga losing was fun for me as a player who went to Santa Clara because I don’t really like them. But it would have been good for the West Coast Conference if they went further. What can you say about Florida Gulf Coast? It’s another team going out there and playing hard. It’s win or go home. When your backs are against the wall, people’s true colors come out. It’s definitely fun watching that kind of basketball. It’s the best of the best. My bracket? Mine’s shot. Florida Gulf Coast and Gonzaga screwed it up. I had Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. I have Louisville winning it, so I still have a chance.
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