To truly embody the 24/7 life of basketball’s sixth man, you need to pay acute attention to details.
“What you are doing is learning by watching,” begins UBC Thunderbirds second-year guard Taylor Browne, who has thrived to such an extent as the first man off the bench with the nation’s No. 3-ranked team that he just might be the best sixth man in Canadian university basketball. “You analyze, you visualize and in the end, you develop a better mental state to your game.”
On Saturday, in the ‘Birds’ 102-76 win over No. 6 Alberta at War Gym, Browne, one of UBC’s Stars of the Week, was again a study in the game’s most intimate details, coming off the pine and scoring 11 points in 20 minutes as part of a bench crew that outscored the Golden Bears’ subs 49-9.
And for the graduate of Surrey’s Holy Cross Regional Secondary, who by ninth grade had a Thunderbirds poster taped to his wall as a reminder of his goal, no detail on the checklist of preparation, both on and off the court, has ever been too small.
“It’s about the little things that happen in my day,” he says. “I take my naps, I shower before every game and practice. I feel if you follow a routine, you’re going to be in sync.”
And that even includes visiting friends Wowie Untalan, a freshman player at Capilano University, or Nathaniel Lorzano, for his must-have, once-a-week haircut.
“They’re both barbers and I am blessed to have them as friends because it can get expensive,” laughs Browne, who has been well-coiffed throughout UBC’s 11-1 start. “I like it when I look clean.”
A disciple of Jamal Crawford, the Los Angeles Clippers’ three-time, Sixth Man of the Year winner, Browne, 19, also totes around a lot of traits of Ricky Pierce, the 1980s’-era Milwaukee Bucks combo guard whose penchant for hitting money shots earned him the nickname, Big Paper Daddy.
Within the UBC roster, however, that moniker has to belong to one of the nation’s elite, senior guard Jordan Jensen-Whyte. It’s a fact that Browne won’t argue for a second.
“That’s my big brother,” Browne begins of the team’s backcourt leader. “Every day in practice, he tells me things and I soak it in like a sponge. It’s been a privilege to be his younger brother.”
UBC head coach Kevin Hanson knows all about how long Browne wanted to don the team’s blue-and-gold jersey, and that’s part of the reason he has relished his young guard’s coming-of-age within the program.
“I think Taylor is the top sixth man in the country, and I know he analyzed our program and idolized our players for so long,” Hanson says. “It’s a special thing for players to live out their dreams, and every time I hear that story about the poster on his bedroom wall, it gives me goosebumps to think about it.”
UBC’s other stars
Danielle Brisebois, volleyball
In the ‘Birds weekend sweep of Manitoba, UBC’s explosive left-side hitter stuffed the stat sheet with 26 kills, 15 digs and eight blocks in a pair of matches. The ‘Birds return to the friendly confines of War Gym this weekend as they play host to Calgary’s Mt. Royal Cougars.
Manraj Hayer, hockey
A third-year forward who prepped at Vancouver’s John Oliver Secondary and played for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, Hayer scored a goal and an assist in front of 5,063 hometown fans at the Doug Mitchell Arena on Friday as UBC beat Manitoba 4-3 in its third-annual Winter Classic.