Male Athlete of the Week: Rams’ Brill improving his inside presence

Tyler Brill Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Strasburg High School basketball player Tyler Brill reaped the benefits of having a strong inside presence in former teammate Ryan Smoot last season, a luxury that allowed Brill to do what he does best – shoot from the perimeter.

But Smoot graduated in the spring, leaving the Rams searching for players who could fill that void and be a consistent scoring threat inside paint. Strasburg coach Matt Hiserman knew the 6-foot-2 Brill would need to pick up some of that slack and has pushed to instill that mentality in the senior over the last couple months.

“We’ve tried to get Tyler to understand he’s gotta develop some stuff in around the bucket because people are gonna know who he is on the perimeter this year coming in, whereas last year a lot of people didn’t,” Hiserman said before practice Monday. “So he’s gotta learn to go inside and establish some things inside for himself and then when he gets the opportunity on the perimeter to be able to knock something down.”

Brill didn’t quite live up to that role in Strasburg’s first three games this season – Hiserman said Brill spent most of his time focused on “floating around the perimeter” – but the forward took a step in the right direction last Friday night against county rival Stonewall Jackson.

Brill erupted for a career high 27 points in the Rams’ 68-49 victory, scoring 21 points in the second half to help Strasburg pull away. More importantly, most of those second-half points came in the paint.

“I don’t think we were playing our best basketball in the first half, so we came out in the second half, someone had to step up because shots weren’t falling the way we wanted it to be in the first half,” said Brill, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for Dec. 6-12. “(I was) being a team player, you know, stepping up for your team, your teammates.”

Brill scored the game’s first 6 points before going quiet for the rest of the first half. His 27 points nearly matched his scoring output from Strasburg’s first three games (29).

“My shot wasn’t falling,” said Brill, who shot 42.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc last season, the best mark in the area. “I mean I hit two (3-pointers) in the second half but it wasn’t what I wanted. But it was different ways I could score, working inside the paint, going out to the 3-point line. If one doesn’t work, revert back to the other.”

Hiserman said Stonewall was the first team to consistently play a zone defense against the Rams, adding that Strasburg’s zone offense gives Brill more opportunities for looks at the basket from the high post and the short corner. Stonewall was focusing much of its defensive effort on the Rams’ perimeter players, Hiserman said, which opened up some gaps for Brill to take open shots in around the basket.

“He really did a nice job the other night,” Hiserman said. “We’ve gotta get him to understand to make more moves because obviously against some people with some size he’s gonna have to learn to make the moves down there and not be able to just turn and shoot over top of somebody. But he had a nice second half and really gave us a boost there in the game and the way it was played the other night.”

Hiserman said Brill is showing more production across the board in all areas so far this winter. Prior to Tuesday’s win at Rappahannock County, Brill was averaging 14 points per game and was shooting 51 percent overall from the field and 36 percent from 3, while also averaging about five rebounds, 1.5 steals and one assist per game, Hiserman said.

In Strasburg’s overtime loss at Page County on Dec. 7, Brill had 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Hiserman said Brill is slowly improving on his inside game.

“He’s not gonna beat anybody just off his speed or anything, he’s gotta learn to break somebody down and think about things like Ryan used to do as far as getting people up in the air, being savvy with the ball,” Hiserman said. “And he’s slowly learning those things and that’s what these first four games have kind of been for, to try to get him to understand that role a little bit more. And now you get into district play and hopefully he’s learned that kind of stuff.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com