Blue Demons guard Brandon Cyrus was just one piece of an assembled puzzle that almost defeated the Creighton Bluejays (17-6, 7-4) in a spirited Big East conference showdown on Wednesday evening at Wintrust Arena.
The contest, which saw DePaul (9-13, 2-8) loose in the final second of regulation by a final score of 76-75, was as impressive as it was dejecting; at least for Blue Demon supporters leaving the game who hoped to witness a massive upset against their longtime rival. Especially after leading for more than 25 of the game’s 40 minutes.
But Cyrus, who grew up in Oakville, Ontario, tried to remain upbeat following the tough loss. “Obviously it’s a bad feeling right now, but it’s important to look at the positive things we were doing. We’ll come back tomorrow and look at the film. Go over some of the negative things, but know that we can correct it easily,” said Cyrus.
His head coach, Dave Leitao echoed the sentiment that tomorrow is always a new day, regardless of today’s outcome.
“Every day that we live, we have a challenge. And that challenge is tomorrow. Each one of us has an obligation to take it as a step by step process by the way we compete, by the way we do everything. So that’s my message to these guys. This game kind of gets us back to reset ourselves mentally, so that physically we can be in position to win these kinds of [close] games,” coach Leitao said.
Cyrus, who was on the floor for 29 minutes against Creighton, only put up a modest seven points. However, as I watched him up-close, it was his intensity and competitiveness that was his most pronounced feature in a game where not all of his shots seemed to be going in the basket. He looked engaged on every play, and after the game he acknowledged that his love for basketball, and his desire to improve every day is the reason why he plays with so much passion.
Growing up in a country that lives and breathes hockey, Cyrus fell in love with basketball instead, and he believes the NBA’s Toronto Raptors had a profound influence on him as a fan. He even sports the number four for DePaul, as a tribute to ex Raptor, Chris Bosh.
“Definitely growing up they were a big part of my life. I loved Vince Carter first, and then Chris Bosh,” he said. “Now it’s more about guys like DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowrie, and even Drake,” Cryus said with a chuckle.
Who knows if Cyrus would have pursued basketball if he hadn’t been exposed to the Raptors as a young kid. Perhaps he might have fallen in love with something else completely.
Fortunately for DePaul, and fans of the Blue Demons, Cyrus has a passion so deep that his will to get better each day compliments his strong desire to win. He’s just a sophomore, and he’ll face Creighton again, as well as many other good teams. Hopefully his friends and family watching back home in Canada will see Cyrus on the winning end next time.