Video: Courtesy, UIW athletics
Forward Charles Brown III says the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals are striking just the right balance in staying disciplined, while also taking time to relax as the holidays approach.
On one hand, Brown says the Cardinals enjoyed the fun associated with production of a holiday music video promoting Saturday’s home game against the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos.
At the same time, he said his teammates also know that it is time to elevate their level of play, with the Southland Conference phase of their schedule looming at the end of the month.
“We’re more focused now than ever,” Brown said before practice Friday morning at Incarnate Word High School. “The Gonzaga game and the Houston game, kind of woke us up a little bit.
“(That) told us we need to step our game up if we’re going to make a run in the conference tournament.
“So, we’re more focused than ever. But, we still have a positive attitude. We still like to have fun. We’re not too tight. But we’re not too loose, either. Just right in between.”
Routed in road games at Houston and at nationally-ranked Gonzaga, the Cardinals (4-3) returned home last week to beat Division III Texas Lutheran, 91-63.
All this week, they’ve been busy taking final exams.
But they did break away from the grind one day to shoot a video, “A Charles Brown III Christmas,” a take off on the popular, animated holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.
It was a perfect script for Brown, the gregarious native of New Orleans, who joined the team this summer.
Not only does the 6-7, 215-pound forward have double-double ability on the court, but he also has impressed his teammates with his impromptu dance moves in the locker room.
Brown said he thinks the video turned out well.
“I thought it was hilarious,” he said. “A nice promotion video. The guys had fun doing it. I love dancing, so I didn’t mind it at all. It was nice.”
As one of UIW’s best newcomers, Brown played well and contributed heavily in the team’s 3-0 start to the season.
But late in Game 4, when the Cardinals hosted Loyola Marymount on Nov. 22, it looked as if his dance moves — not to mention his season — might be in jeopardy.
Trailing a fast break, he was hit from the side and fell to the floor near the top of the key, clutching his knee.
The action stopped. He was helped off the floor to the bench. A few minutes later, he was assisted to the locker room. It looked bad.
But in a pleasant surprise, medical staff told Brown that it wasn’t serious. That the knee was bruised, and he could be back in a few weeks. He was.
Brown returned on Dec. 5 against TLU, played 18 minutes and contributed six points and five rebounds. In subsequent practices over the past week, he seems to have regained his old form.
“Charles is back,” UIW coach Ken Burmeister said. “He can go at full pace, at 100 percent, which is what we need because he’s a double double machine when he’s going good.
“You can see the difference (in our team) when he’s in there. We were up seven against Loyola Marymount, when he got hurt. (Then) we went down seven … He’s very valuable to us.”
Tipoff time for UIW (4-3) and UMKC (3-8) is at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center …
Burmeister said point guard Jalin Hart should be able to play after returning to practice Friday. He had missed some time earlier in the week with concussion symptoms …
Reserve guards Augustine Ene and Jorden Kite, who sat out against TLU, are both expected to be ready for UMKC. Ene was nursing an ankle sprain and Kite has experienced back issues …
UIW plays at UTEP next Tuesday and and at nationally-ranked Florida next Friday. The Cardinals open their SLC schedule Dec. 28 at McNeese State …
Seven-foot center Konstantin Kulikov, who has yet to see action this season, will be eligible to play at Florida after being cleared by the NCAA …
UIW center Konstantin Kulikov (32) hits a jumper during shooting drills Friday morning. Video: thejbreplay.com