For bench players and even coaches, life on the road can be monotonous and even physically draining.
Unlike the starters and the team's regular rotation players, it is easy for the fitness level of those sitting at the end of the bench to wane during a road trip, given the shorter practices and lack of playing time on game night.
Brett Brady is familiar with the routine. The senior walk-on for the University of Colorado men's basketball team is as devoted a worker as they come. Down time means a wasted opportunity to improve, and so it was only a mild shock for CU head coach Tad Boyle when he crossed paths with the unassuming yet sweat-soaked Brady in a hotel fitness room last year.
"My best Brett Brady story is, I remember last year, distinctly, we were at the Pac-12 tournament," Boyle said. "On game day I try to get a little exercise in so I went down to the hotel gym ... and as I go in, Brett Brady is coming out in a full sweat. And this is on game day. I said, 'Brett, what are you doing?' He said, 'I'm just trying to stay ready coach.'
"It speaks volumes for that kid. He's not playing. He's not in the rotation. But he's preparing himself so if that opportunity comes, he's ready for it."
Brady has been called upon a little more frequently this season, yet he remains more of a vocal and spiritual leader for a Buffs team that put together its best start in 74 years. It is a role in which Brady has thrived. Widely considered perhaps the best pure shooter on a team stocked with bona fide 3-point threats, the Highlands Ranch native is the sort of sparkplug who savors every moment he gets to don a Buffs jersey, be it on game night or at practice.
"I love any chance I get to go out there and help the team in any way I can," Brady said. "Obviously, I've been able to help out a little bit more in the first half this year. I've always supported CU. All four of my older sisters went to CU for school. I feel I help the team as a leader on the bench, making sure we're cheering for guys, making sure we're all standing up, and just trying to stay positive and help the team any way I can."
Experienced and savvy, Brady has seen his number called more often by Boyle this season. In a win against Air Force on Nov. 25, Brady knocked down a key 3-pointer that helped spark a first-half surge by the Buffs. Star forward Josh Scott wasn't surprised by Brady's big shot that night, commenting afterward that the team has seen Brady torch them enough at practice they expect the ball to drop through the net whenever Brady fires away.
"The players love him. They understand how hard he works," Boyle said. "They see it in the offseason. They see it in the weight room. To see where Brett Brady has come from as a freshman to where he is now as a senior ... I think his fellow seniors like Josh and XJ and X-Talton, Eli (Stalzer), they could see ... his freshman year, he was on the team and he had practice gear, but he couldn't practice with us very much because he physically and mentally wasn't capable."
The Division I game might have been too fast for Brady at first, but he has caught up in a hurry. Brady has appeared in seven games while logging a total of 15 minutes, approaching the totals he put together the past two years combined in games played (10) and overall minutes (25).
Because Brady was strictly a practice player during his first year at CU in 2012-13, the senior still has another year of eligibility remaining and has expressed an interest in returning. While that is a discussion that won't be held until after the season, Boyle said his quiet sharpshooter would be welcomed back with open arms.
"When I first started, I wasn't really playing confidently and I was at a disadvantage as far as size goes," Brady said. "That didn't really allow me to be ready. The first semester I was here I had conflicts with classes and I wasn't able to practice as much. I didn't have a chance to actually practice with the team much until that second semester. By my second year with the team I felt much better."