A DAY’S WORK Once lanky and awkward, Briana Day has emerged as the centerpiece of Syracuse’s frontcourt

first_img Comments Video by Kiran Ramsey and Amanda Caffey | The Daily OrangeWith a 6-foot-4 frame and some of the most untapped potential the Raleigh, North Carolina, basketball community had ever seen, Day’s high school head coach Chris East insisted that she had the potential to be a top player.“(The Day twins) were a little raw when they first came in as freshmen, but they just worked,” East said. “The best part is, both of them wanted to get better. I’ve never seen kids that have a motor like they do, these kids took it to another level.”After spending nearly two years lifting, shooting and drilling in the school’s gymnasium, the Day twins led Millbrook to a state championship appearance in 2011. The following season, surrounded by six sophomores, they led the Wildcats to a state title — a new height for the program, East said.In the spring of 2016, weeks after the Orange lost to Connecticut in the national championship game, and seven years after East had said something similar, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman told Day that he wanted to see her tap deeper into her potential. He said he especially wanted to see her improve her mid-range game in the offseason in order to be an asset to the 2016-2017 squad.“She needs to be able to step out a little bit and shoot the ball from 17 feet,” Hillsman said at the Orange’s preseason media day. “Her game has to evolve some for us to be successful this season.”She stayed in Syracuse for both academic sessions of the summer, preparing for her final go-around as a senior. Most of Hillsman’s players go home for the first session and return for the second.,It was a six-week period that Day spent almost solely playing basketball, and extra time in the Carmelo K. Anthony Center that helped her in almost every facet of their game. Bria Day said the twins were able to go back to North Carolina for a short visit, but otherwise, it was a full summer of basketball.“You could stay here all summer, and do nothing, and it wouldn’t really matter,” Hillsman said, explaining it was the time in the gym that mattered. “That’s just the way it is.”When the rest of the team returned for the second session of summer classes to begin preseason practices, there was a noticeable buzz around the program regarding the new and improved Day, teammates and coaches said at media day.Graduate assistant coach Maggie Morrison, a former Orange guard who’s spent the last three seasons with Day at Syracuse, said she immediately noticed Day was more aggressive, much more vocal on and off the court and performing as “a better all around player.”Morrison sees Day in more of a leadership role this year, and expects her final season at SU to be her best. She thinks that with the time Day spent in the weight room and gym this summer, she’s in the best shape she’s been in since arriving at SU, and poised to be one of the team’s strongest assets.With just one season remaining in her SU career, Day’s opportunity to take her game to the next level is limited. But as was the case in high school, she’s lived in the gym and made basketball her top priority. If she’s able to fully piece her game together, the Orange will thrive because of it.“Everything (with Day) is about toughness,” Hillsman said. “She’s really gotten herself to the level where she plays hard, and that’s what’s really important for her is staying aggressive. I’m hoping she’s able to do that all season and make us a better team.”To read the rest of the stories in Basketball Guide 2016, click here.,Banner photo by Jessica Sheldon | Photo Editor In eighth grade, when Briana Day decided to hang up her track spikes and join her middle school basketball team, the tall center said she was “awful” compared to where she’s at now. She was too big for her body, and her coordination wasn’t nearly where it is today.Day had a lot to improve on in her first years of playing, but since she didn’t start until eighth grade, the improvement would have to come much quicker than it did for her peers if she wanted to become a target for collegiate programs.“(My sister Bria and I) weren’t always good. I’m glad nobody has footage of (us playing in eighth grade),” Day said. “It was just so bad, we wore glasses, we didn’t have contacts yet we just looked so ugly, it was bad.”But Day knew that with time in the gym, she could change that.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDay has built on what she learned as a young player, living by her credo of dedicating herself to her craft even now as one of the top centers in college basketball. The starting senior center for the No. 14 Orange, Day has learned that when something doesn’t come easy, the remedy is almost always the same. It’s how she took her Millbrook (North Carolina) High School squad to back-to-back state championship appearances, and how she plans on helping to bring SU back to the national championship game.center_img Published on November 10, 2016 at 1:07 am Contact Matt: mjfel100@syr.edu,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.last_img read more