Brian Wethers: A Force on Two Ends
Feb. 1, 2001
A change has taken place in Brian Wethers this season.
After struggling through a frustrating freshman year and getting off to a slow start to 2000-01, Wethers has since established himself as a significant component to the Bears success.
Now a starter for Cal at a wing position, the 6-5 sophomore has begun to capitalize on his potential offensively for the Bears after establishing a reputation has a tenacious defender. Wethers' breakthrough game came Dec. 21 when he soared to a career-best 21 points vs. Georgia in the Pete Newell Challenge. That output started a stretch of five consecutive double-figure games. Wethers also had a team-high 18 points at Stanford two weeks ago.
As Wethers has matured, head coach Ben Braun has seen an increasing growth in his confidence.
'Brian's playing aggressively,' Braun said. 'Brian's doing different things for us, grabbing rebounds, running the floor and taking the ball to the basket very strong. If you look at his statistics, he's gotten a lot more confident shooting the ball, and hopefully, the freedom we are giving him is helping that.'
Wethers understands the impact he has made and wants to continue to improve as an offensive player.
'I want to continue to be a threat offensively,' said Wethers. 'I want to make it so teams won't be able to double down on the post men. That will open up shots for Joe, Ryan, Shantay and Donte.'
As Wethers recognizes, developing his offensive game should only increase his performance as a defensive weapon.
'I want to be a versatile weapon on the floor,' Wethers said. 'By challenging my man defensively by staying active, I know I can give him trouble. Continuing to get better defensively will help me be a more consistent player on both ends of the floor.'
Wethers' potential does not go unnoticed, as Braun describes his defensive influence as a reason to expect more of a consistent effort on Wethers' behalf.
'He is realizing that he can always go out and control his effort,' Braun said. 'He really brings so much to us defensively. I think Brian has a chance to be a really explosive player, and if he continues to improve, he should be able to dominate a game defensively.'
As Wethers has become more of an all-around player, Braun has seen marked improvement in Wethers' decisions on the court. As Wethers finds himself a more integral part of the offense, his ability to play under pressure has risen.
'Before, Brian was kind of indecisive, but now he has picked his times when to be aggressive,' Braun said. 'Initially, he was trying to make things happen that weren't there. Now he's staying more patient and is a little more selective. His decision-making has gotten better.'
With almost two years under his belt and two more to go, Wethers is excited about the prospects for this Bear team. With two seniors and three juniors, the younger players have an opportunity to build a strong and cohesive unit. Wethers shares an understanding and a bond with the underclassmen since, as a sophomore, he knows the future of the program looks especially promising.
'The younger classmen are a group that will challenge the upperclassmen, and by being more assertive, we can accomplish a lot.' Wethers said. 'By sticking together and making this team successful, we are going to see great things in the future.'
Cal has a leader in senior Sean Lampley, and as Wethers recognizes, Lampley's influence on the team is significant.
'His attitude has set a standard for the rest of us,' Wethers said. 'He works very hard all the time, and he demands that we play hard. When guys are acting up and not playing hard, he gets in our faces and makes us focus on what we need to do to win. We go out there every night and try to follow his lead.'
Wethers has found his place within the starting lineup, and with growing confidence, has begun to take advantage of his opportunities both ends of the court. The combination of Wethers' increased confidence and his growing comfort within the Cal program has boosted his level of play, and subsequently, has opened doors for everyone on the team.
'Brian's playing both ends right now, and he's doing that aggressively,' Braun said. 'It always follows that if his defense is consistent, his offense seems to pick up. Brian has been playing hard, and will continue to improve.'
By Cassidy Raher