The U of M Bisons men’s basketball team is having a year for the record books.
After a weekend split with the Brandon University Bobcats, the team finished with a 16-4 record.
This record is the best in program history, and helped give the Bisons a bye to the second round of the Canada West playoffs.
With a third of the herd in its rookie season, the way for this impressive season was paved by the performances from veteran players like Rashawn Browne, James Wagner and Keiran Zziwa.
Fifth-year guard Browne has taken on a leadership role in his final season, and has proven that he can lead on — and off — the court.
“As a fifth year it is very important for me to lead [by] example,” Browne said.
“I want to see the program grow in the years to come and because of that I have to show the guys how to conduct themselves when they’re in that role.”
Browne has taken the conference by storm this season, averaging 19.6 points per game, good for fourth overall in Canada West. Tack on a third-best 99 assists and conference-best 94-for-121 free throw shooting, and Browne has shown this season he can be an offensive dynamo.
Browne has taken on a star role and has led a Manitoba team to a record-breaking season.
Now Browne and the herd will turn their attention to the Canada West playoffs, where the club is expected to make some noise. With a first-round bye, the U of M will have some rest before its championship push begins.
“Our plan for playoffs is to just simply continue to get better every game until there are no more games left,” Browne said.
“Whether that’s first round of playoffs or deep into nationals our only goal has been to improve every time.”
With Browne being a strong asset to the team, other players have stepped up to the plate and helped him with the goal of winning games.
A great player always has great teammates to help them, and Browne believes this is the case for the 2019-20 Bisons, with whom he’s put together the best season of his university career.
“Me scoring has a lot less to do with me than with my teammates,” Browne said.
“Guys like [Zziwa] and [Wagner] are also averaging career highs which means they are also attracting more attention and making it easier on me.”
Teammates are people who stay with you your whole life and can make any place feel like home. For Toronto-born Browne, this is exactly the case with the Bisons.
“My transition to Winnipeg was very easy,” he said.
“Before [Winnipeg] I was in New Mexico and Pennsylvania for three years, so I was already used to being away from home. If anything, Winnipeg felt more like home than the other places.”
Basketball does not always last forever and that is something Browne knows and has prepared himself well for after he graduates this year. A future basketball career is something that he has always wanted, but he also has a secure backup plan.
“My plan for after the season is to sign with an agent and see what I would be worth moneywise overseas and if the money seems to be worth leaving my life behind again I would strongly consider it,” he said.
“If not, I would love to [pursue] a career in residential real estate.”