University of Akron senior guard Brian Walsh owns a quick trigger, and he knows how to use it.
To watch Walsh race down the court, and when he’s on, nail a basket with nothing but net, is akin to watching a sharpshooter at work.
Be it a 2-point or 3-point basket, Walsh adds just what Zips coach Keith Dambrot can appreciate. Walsh helps keep a balance between big men and shooters who can nail a basket from the outside.
Dambrot said that’s especially true for Walsh, whom he knows put in a lot of work in the offseason, working on his shot and overall game.
That regimen included taking at minimum 500 shots a day, five days a week to prepare for this year’s grueling schedule.
“That would add up. The more you shoot obviously the more confidence you have and the more confidence you have the better you’re going to play,” Walsh said after practice Tuesday. “I’m feeling real confident [these] days not only with my shot but my overall game right now.”
The season is still young. He knows it and Dambrot does as well. But it’s hard not to be impressed with what Walsh has done so far in a very quiet way.
Walsh averages 11.8 points and is shooting better than 50 percent, 52.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer behind junior point guard Alex Abreu, generally providing the pop in the offense when a big shot is needed.
Dambrot is realistic. That’s a better than three-point bump in his scoring average from last season, when he started 27 out of 34 games.
“It will all even out. He’ll end up averaging about 10 [points] and shoot a high percentage like last year,” he said.
But there’s little doubt Walsh continues to contribute significantly, most recently scoring 12 points in a win over Middle Tennessee.
Ask Walsh about his early success and he takes little credit for it.
“I just think it’s the system really. We have guys who can stretch the floor. Our fours are very explosive and they spread the floor, which makes it hard to get out to the shooters,” he said.
But the reality might just be that Walsh, who transferred from Xavier in 2010 and didn’t see game action for the Zips until last season, might just feel comfortable in his role as a starter.
“I’m willing to do whatever I need to do for us to be successful. That’s just the way things fell last year,” he said. “I think everybody who starts feels a little more comfortable. Coming off the bench in college is a lot harder than most people think. Getting the start eases the early game jitters and helps you play.”
That’s one of the reasons he transferred. The likelihood of him seeing significant playing time wasn’t very likely, so opportunity beckoned here.
“That’s hard to handle, especially when you know you can play,” he said. “When you don’t play in college it makes your life hard because that’s what you’re here for — this and an education. When you don’t see any playing time, it’s hard to come to practice every day and put in the hours and put in the time.”
He’s found his role and taken advantage of that chance. And there are few places so far that feel as much like home as the court, especially when he gets the chance to pull up and pop a 3-pointer.
“There’s nothing like catching and shooting and seeing it go in. That’s a huge part of my game,” he said. “When I can get open and get my feet set, I think every single one is going in. I love shooting 3s.”
Reserve center Pat Forsythe is being treated for a strained right rotator cuff suffered in the Middle Tennessee game. … Abreu is dealing with an injured knee, but it didn’t limit his practice time.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.