When the men’s basketball team opens its first home game of the season against Liberty on Nov. 9, many eyes will be on senior Darien Brothers, who is the only remaining starter from the 2010-11 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division I tournament.
Brothers, now one of three seniors on the team, shared the court with four other starters who graduated at the end of that year in which the Spiders also won the Atlantic 10 Conference championship.
Fresh off the pinnacle of victory, Brothers said that he had put too much pressure on himself going into the 2011-12 season. “I figured that I was the only returning starter, so I had to pretty much do this or that,” he said. “But I didn’t need to put all that pressure on myself.”
As a junior, Brothers met both highs and lows, finishing one game with two points on 0-4 shooting before turning around three games later with 38 points on 9-15 shooting, according to official game statistics. Brothers said that he was not satisfied with his performance last year and felt it was inconsistent. “It’s hard going from always winning to being mediocre,” he said.
Brothers already has a great deal of respect as a player, coach Chris Mooney said. But having played on the Sweet 16 team “gives him that much more authority as a leader for the team because he was part of one of the best teams in the history of this school,” he said.
Leadership is a major difference between the team now and the one two years ago, Brothers said. The 2010-11 team that made it to the Sweet 16 was more vocal with one another. “Guys weren’t afraid to correct a fellow teammate,” he said.
“We have leaders, just not as outspoken.”
With the new season nearing, Brothers said he would embrace more of a leadership role after four years of looking up to other players. He has been named team captain this year, but does not “believe in that stuff,” he said.
“If you’re a leader, you can just lead,” Brothers said. “You don’t need the title.”
Mooney said he hoped to have a team this year similar to the team two years ago, but said that the team would depend on younger players this season. Nonetheless, “those freshman are talented and more than capable of contributing,” he said.
In his final season playing for Richmond, Brothers said he would not dwell on past accomplishments, but rather looks forward to the possibilities of new ones. “I never try and live in that moment because it’s a new season,” he said.
Mooney said that he hoped Brothers would play consistently and enjoy himself during the season. Brothers said he hoped to leave a mark on the program after he left.
The Spiders open their season at 7 p.m. Friday in the Robins Center.
Contact reporter Mara LugoRudner at firstname.lastname@example.org