Over the past four years, Bryan Smith has become one of the more recognizable faces at the Rose Hill Gym. Smith has averaged more than 20 minutes per game over his career and has made 81 starts. He has played at four different positions, playing mostly forward last season in small-ball lineups, before transitioning back to the backcourt this year. As the lone senior on this year’s squad, Smith is counted on every game to provide veteran leadership.
The Fordham Ram: What made you decide to come to Fordham?
Bryan Smith: I felt like Fordham was the best place for [me] academically and athletically. We play in a good conference, [the]A-10 Conference, which is tough. Especially my freshman year, when we had Xavier and Temple. So, I felt like it would be a perfect school for me.
TFR: How has your game changed and evolved over your four years?
BS: I mean, in high school, I had to score. Coming here, I had to sit back and learn from the upperclassmen. During my first couple of years, I was known more as a shooter, just wait and let Branden [Frazier] create and play off of him. But, [in] my senior year, I [am] more of a leader. The ball is in my hands a lot more now and I can make plays off the dribble, too.
TFR: Coach Pecora is always stressing the importance of veteran leadership this year. What do you try to do to provide that?
BS: I just make sure that I have good chemistry with everybody on the team. Certain teams have their cliques. As a leader, I’m not letting that happen. I’m cool with everybody and everybody enjoys their time around me, both on and off the court. Also, my voice in the locker room helps a lot, too.
TFR: One of the more interesting things about your career is that you’ve played so many different positions. Has that been difficult for you? Do you have a preference at all?
BS: Honestly, I just do whatever the coach asks me to do. I just go play my game and play as hard as I can. Last year was obviously tough, playing against dudes that were five inches taller than me, 30 pounds, 40 pounds bigger than me. Some games it worked, some games it didn’t, but I made sure I played my hardest every night.
TFR: Doing those little things all seems like your trademark.
BS: The intangibles can win games. Loose balls, diving, talking— I feel like that’s my job on the court.
TFR: The Rose Hill Gym is getting older every year. Do you like it? Have you enjoyed playing there?
BS: I like it when it’s packed. When it’s packed it’s a great environment. Back in my freshman year, we played Harvard and it was packed. That was a great feeling, everybody cheering for you and helping you beat a team like that.
TFR: One of the main storylines for this season is how young the team is. What do you see in their future?
BS: I see a lot of improvement. You’ve got Jon [Severe] and Christian [Sengfelder] and Eric [Paschall]. That’s a real nice core. And Mandell [Thomas] and [Ryan] Rhoomes [are] in their senior year, next year should be a great one.
TFR: Do you have a favorite memory from your four years of basketball here?
BS: It’s got to be when we beat Harvard and Georgia Tech [in] back-to-back games. That was one of the best feats, and I got Rookie of the Week that week, too. Definitely one of my best memories.
TFR: Do you have any plans for after graduation?
BS: I want to continue to play basketball. I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, so if I could continue, that would be a blessing for me.