When it comes to his role on the Georgia basketball team, junior college transfer Sherrard Brantley just wants to fit in.
Of late, he's done exactly that.
After not playing at all in the opener against Mississippi Valley State, the Dublin native has seen his court time steadily increase and entering Saturday's game against visiting Arkansas State (noon, CSS), is growing into a player head coach Mark Fox has come to depend on.
"I think the main thing is, I'm just more comfortable playing with my teammates," Brantley said Friday. "They've just kept believing in me, keeping me confident and helping me play better."
The numbers bear Brantley out.
After playing 11 minutes against Notre Dame, Brantley saw 13 minutes against Temple, 14 against Manhattan and 14 against UAB before a season-best 20 against Georgia Tech.
More importantly, he's starting to find his range from 3-point land.
After converting just 3-of-13 threes in his first five contests, Brantley has gone 5-for-9 in victories over UAB and Georgia Tech, scoring 8 and 9 points, respectively.
"Sherrard has really shot the ball well and getting used to the speed of the game," Fox said. "He's not as consistent in some areas as we'd like him to be, but he's been a real plus for us because he can really shoot the ball."
His ability to drain those long-range jumpers is one of the big reasons Brantley currently calls Athens home.
Last year at Northwest Florida Community College, Brantley made an eye-popping 43 percent of his three-point shots (113-for-263), averaging 13.7 points per game, second most on the team.
"He can be a guy who continues to expand his role if he keeps developing, but he's just a sophomore," Fox said. "He's kind of been thrown into the fire. I mean, all of our new guys, we haven't had a lot of easy games where they could come in and really play without the consequences of some of their mistakes being so great. But he's gotten off to a good start and hopefully he can keep building on that."
Brantley credits his recent success with simply being able to get in a rhythm with the rest of the offense.
"It's all about getting in the flow," Brantley said. "Once you run down the court a couple of times after having a good warm-up, it gets you going. I feel real comfortable coming off the bench because I'm able to watch how things are going, so when I get in I'm ready to go."
Brantley credits point guard Gerald Robinson for helping to make that possible.
"It's nice to play with him," Brantley said. "As fast as he is, he draws a lot of attention so I just try to stay within eyesight of him so he can get me an open shot."
NOTES: Georgia resumes the 2010-11 season this Saturday with an afternoon contest against Sun Belt Conference foe Arkansas State. The Bulldogs have taken the past 11 days off from competition for Fall Semester final exams, which ended on Wednesday of this week. Two commencement exercises were held Friday inside Stegeman Coliseum.
Most recently, Georgia defeated its in-state rival Georgia Tech for the second straight year in a 73-72 decision. The win improved the Bulldogs' overall record to 6-2 this season. It also marked just the second time in the 16 years since the series moved back to campus sites that the visiting team won. The Georgia Tech game represented yet another close call in a season full of them so far. All eight games to date featured 2-possession margins inside the final minute of play. Five of them were decided on the game's last possession.
Last season, 13 of Georgia's 31 games had such characteristics, and the Bulldogs were 5-8 in those contests.
Saturday's game starts a busy stretch to close the calendar year for Georgia. The SEC schedule starts three weeks from Saturday at home against Kentucky. Before then, the Bulldogs will play five games, including three over the next five days before Christmas.
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