UW-W enjoys seven years of Bryson


Josh Sinclair, Senior Staff Writer

You can still find them at the YMCA in the summer playing hoops together. Brother and brother, uniting to lock down some unknowing patrons who came to get in some run.

Little do they know, that scoring on this afternoon might not be in the cards for them.

Even after 160 wins, two national championships and Division III college basketball honors, the Bryson brothers still get after it on the defensive end like they are desperate for minutes.

“Eric and I take it personally if somebody scores on us,” UW-Whitewater guard/forward Drew Bryson said. “Back in high school, our coach used to get on us about our defense, and that’s how we got to see the floor. So when we got to Whitewater, we just kept applying that same mentality.”

That mentality has lead to an abundance of success for the Brysons.

Eric Bryson was the first to arrive here on campus in the fall of 2010, with Drew following in his footsteps in the fall of 2013.

The Brysons fill the role NBA analysts call “the glue guy.” Let’s delve into that idea quick. What is a glue guy? Or more aptly put, who holds your team together?

The guy who does all of the little things to make your team successful–takes charges, dives for loose balls, sets solid screens, and is a total a** on defense.

The role isn’t glamorous, it’s barely recognizable to those who hunt box scores. But those who have ever played with a glue guy, can attest that it is invaluable to have one on your team.

The Brysons took that role. And owned it.

From the beginning Eric was a contributor. Averaging 20 minutes a game as a freshman Eric’s effort, hustle and defense is what found him his way onto the court.

In his second season, Eric picked up right where he left off. Leading the team in minutes and scoring almost nine points per game on an efficient 54 percent from the field, still matching up with the other team’s premiere offensive talent every night.

Oh, and he won a national championship.

As a junior Eric again lead the Warhawks in minutes and despite being listed at 6’2” he was second on the team in rebounding.

In 2014, in his final year as a Warhawk, Eric added the three point shot to his game, leading the team in three point shots made, while keeping up his nightly defensive assignments.

Eric earned all-WIAC defensive honors both junior and senior years for his work on that end of the court.

Drew was a freshman that season and proceeded to follow right in the footsteps of his older brother.

“I knew that if I wasn’t going Division I that I was coming to Whitewater,” Drew Bryson said. “I’ve been here for Eric’s games, and I knew this is where I wanted to play. It was really a place for my whole family, my parents have been coming to Whitewater basketball games for seven years now.”

Winning a national championship his first year on campus, Drew had a role to fill, one his brother had already carved out for him.

“Eric was our glue guy for 4 years,” head coach Pat Miller said. “Drew plays the same way. They give everything on the defense and take on the opposing team’s number one. Once Eric left, we were able to plug Drew in to take his place.”

Drew has been able to do that, flourishing in his role as the, get-in-the-shorts-of-the-other-team’s-best-player, guy.

The two brothers took the same route geographically, but also took the same route to get time on the court.

Elkhorn’s varsity basketball coach during Eric and Drew’s tenure was John Handel, and to this day he raves about the players the Brysons were.

“Our program in high school really focused on defense and rebounding,” Handel said. “We face-guarded the other team’s best player, and really made it a big deal for that guy that he had the biggest challenge that night. Both Eric and Drew were hard working, athletic, and knew how to play, which led to them being easy choices to take on that challenge.”

What the Brysons do doesn’t jump off the statsheet. Eric averaged 8.5 points per game, 3.6
rebounds and just about 1 steal over the course of his career. Drew averaged about the same recording 4.1 points, snatching 2.5 rebounds and ripping a steal a game.

But what they do outside the box score is what separates them from the pack.

“You need guys to set the culture,” Miller said. “Every program has a culture and it is guys like Drew and Eric, who give everything everyday and compete everyday that set the culture for our program.”

The sports culture at UW-Whitewater is winning. Doing it the Brysons’ way epitomizes the culture they’ve created.

“As people, you won’t find any better,” Handel said. “Exactly what you’d want in teammates.  Two of the best guys I’ve had the pleasure of coaching, and two great people.”

So next time you think about heading to shoot some hoops, find your glue guy. If you ask anyone who’ve played basketball at UW-Whitewater for the past seven years, they’ll tell you how important it is to find your Bryson.