MANKATO — Preston and Bryce Brunz both have plenty of good memories of playing basketball at Bresnan Arena.
Both were outstanding players at Mankato West who played numerous big game on this court, from youth basketball all the way through the end of their prep careers.
But they agree that this time will be different. As members of the Central Missouri men’s basketball program — Bryce as a graduate assistant coach and Preston as a player — it’s different.
“Coming to Mankato, I don’t feel like a visitor,” Bryce said. “Coming to the Taylor Center, I feel like it’s more of a business trip.”
Bryce is in his first season as a coach, though last year, as he finished his undergraduate degree at Central Missouri, he practiced with the team and did some coaching duties last season. He played two seasons for the Mules, and he’s happy that area fans can see why he was so excited to join that program.
“I like representing Central Missouri,” Bryce said. “The program has great tradition, and I hope people have a chance to see what we’re all about.”
Preston is with the team but won’t play. After two seasons at Kirkwood Community College, he followed the same path to Central Missouri that his brother took a few years ago. Before the season, he decided to redshirt this season, which has been tough but will likely benefit him in the future.
“It’s a little weird coming back (as the visiting team),” said Preston, who looks a little more grown up now that his hair, which was usually cut pretty short in high school, is a little longer. “In high school, I played here with all my buddies. It’s a little bigger now; it’s the NCAA tournament.”
Both Bryce and Preston have fielded a lot of question this week about what the team could expect from Mankato. As part of his coaching duties, he arranges meals for the team so that’s something he can handle.
“I was talking to the bus driver to show him some quicker ways to get around town,” Bryce said.
Both said they’ve take a few odd questions, too. Is summer only three weeks? Are there polar bears n Minnesota? Is there really such a thing as women’s hockey?
But neither Bryce or Preston get back home much. Instead, their parents, Bill and Jane, make the seven-hour trip to Warrensburg, Mo.
“There’s a lot of people I’m excited to see,” Preston said. “I know people have school or work, but hopefully, some of my family and my buddies can make it up here to cheer us on this weekend.”