RICHMOND, Va. – The passports of Rob Brandenberg and Jarred Guest will pick up a couple more stamps this summer, but they hope that’s not all they bring home with them.
The VCU duo is set to participate in a nine-day exhibition tour of Germany and the Czech Republic Aug. 11-19 with the Global Sports Academy (GSA). The team will be coached by Bill Brown of California (Pa.), a mentor of VCU’s Shaka Smart. For Brandenberg and Guest, it’ll be their second straight summer abroad. Both players were members of the Rams’ exhibition tour of Italy last August.
While there will be plenty of sights along the way, Brandenberg and Guest won’t exactly be singing “Holiday Road”. They say their primary focus is the same as every offseason, to become better players.
“Jarred and I have been working real hard, extremely hard for the season, so I think it’s going to be a chance for us to assert ourselves and show what we’ve been practicing and work on it in game form,” Brandenberg said.
Each player will have his own goals, his own checklist things to work on during the tour. For Brandenberg, who started 28 of 35 games last year and averaged 10.4 points, it means a focus on the intangibles. A rising senior, he’s aware that his teammates will look to him during the 2013-14 season for more than just his blazing speed or scoring punch.
“I really wanted to come in and just really work on my mentality, work on being a leader, being more vocal, trying to lead by example and vocally,” Brandenberg said. “I realize I’m a senior, and I’m going to be held to a higher standard, and my teammates are going to look up to me. So I just want to make sure I take care of all the little things and make sure I try to bring people along with me.”
Guest, a rising junior, averaged 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game last season. He sees this as an opportunity to gain additional repetitions and experience at game speed.
“[It’s] just giving me a chance to showcase everything,” Guest said. “We’ve been working hard this offseason, so it’s just giving me a chance to get comfortable, just playing and just showing myself, all the hard work that we practiced and just use it in the game. It’s a chance to translate that over to actual game play and help me out, and I’ll just bring that back over once the season starts.”
For Guest, the European tour will be a suitable bookend for what has been a busy offseason of self-improvement for the Columbia, S.C. native.
“It’s been about more strides,” he said. “I’ve been working on different things, [working] more in the post, more shooting; just trying to expand my game some more to help out with the team.”
During the summer of 2011, Darius Theus and Troy Daniels traveled with GSA on a 10-day, 5-game tour. Both men were featured prominently, as Daniels averaged 23 points and five 3-pointers in the team’s final three games, while Theus handed out eight assists and scored 13 points per contest. Theus and Daniels later credited the tour with helping them to career seasons in 2011-12.
Brandenberg hopes for a similar impact on his and Guest’s game.
“I remember when they went, and they came back and said how much they enjoyed it,” Brandenberg said. “Troy was averaging like 30 over there. Then you see what he did his junior year. I really feel that helped him just from a confidence standpoint. They were just out there playing their game, just having fun, playing hard, just really getting better. That’s what’s it’s really about for me and Jarred, a chance for us to get better rather than relaxing at this time.”
Daniels, after averaging 2.1 points in 53 career games as a freshman and sophomore, averaged 10.0 points per game as a junior in 2011-12. Theus averaged 3.0 points and 2.1 assists in 15.4 minutes per game as a sophomore in 2010-11, but improved to 8.5 points and 4.7 points in 31.2 minutes per game as a junior.