Athlete of the Week: Brandon Rash
January 26, 2012 Leave a comment
by Taylor Deaton
Transylvania basketball is experiencing a bit of a resurgence this year. Pioneer fans can always expect strong season-long performances from their men’s basketball team; but after they kick-started the year with one of the most exciting games in program history, a contest against the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the team has been in rare form.
Transy has lost only one of its scheduled conference games this year — a tight away contest at Defiance College — and finds itself on top of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference once again. This is in no small part due to the efforts of 6-foot-4-inch junior forward Brandon Rash. Rash had arguably the strongest performance among many valiant efforts when the team faced UK, and he has ridden that momentum to a season many are calling All-American-esque.
“He is one of the best players I’ve ever seen at this level of competition. We saw it in the UK game, but he has shown time and again he has Division I ability and physicality. No one is going to be able to stop him,” said first-year Daniel Lyvers. “Add the fact he has a great coach like Brian Lane and great playmakers and role players all around him, and it becomes easy to see why he’s been so successful this season.”
Rash was especially strong in the Pioneers’ most recent game against Anderson University. With 2:49 to go in the second half, Rash hit the go-ahead bucket that gave Transy a lead it would not relinquish. Neither team led by more than seven points in the second half, but after Rash’s crucial bucket, Anderson could not find the rim again, ultimately falling 58-55 to its conference rival.
Consistency has been a key factor to Rash’s dominant season. He is averaging 31.9 minutes a game and shooting lights-out from the field (57.4 percent) and behind the arch (50 percent), all while pulling about five boards a game and scoring 16.6 points a night.
Along with the numbers, it is clear Rash’s presence on the court alone is enough to help the Pioneers be successful.
“When (Rash) is on the court, everybody else knows we have a great shot at winning,” said first-year forward and center Gavin Dunagan. “Sure he has a deep skill set and can stroke it from outside, but his effort and tenacity really set the tone for our team. He leads by example. I’ve already learned so much from watching him play.”
Rash is only a junior and will be back to torment the HCAC once again next year. For the time being, however, teams must figure out a way to stop what some are referring to as an offensive and defensive machine.
If you want to catch “B.R.” and the rest of the stacked Transy squad, their next game is a home contest Saturday at 3 p.m. versus Defiance.