For a brief moment in time, Joseph Bertrand the quiet, 6' 6' guard from Sterling, Illinois had the nation in awe.
For a brief moment on Wednesday night, Joseph Bertrand was trending nationally on Twitter.
Bertrand exploded midway through the second half of Illinois clash with Georgia Tech in the ACCBig Ten Challenge. He created a 10-0 run on his own that vaulted Illinois to the lead and an eventual, 75-62 win.
After the game, Bertrand did not emote much and stayed quiet during the press conference. Though he stepped up for his team on Wednesday night, he let those around him step up and brag.
Joe always competes, Illinois coach John Groce said. Until you get to know him he comes off as a quiet guy, but he has big time energy. I very rarely watch practice or game film and say Bertrands not competing. Tonight he competed.
Joes work ethic speaks for itself. He comes to the gym everyday and plays hard, senior Brandon Paul said. He wanted to extend his game in the offseason and hes done that with help from coaches.
The redshirt junior really extended his play against Georgia Tech. He tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal for Illinois.
His most spectacular moment came at the tail end of his 10-0 run, when he hit an off-balance shot while being fouled. Paul said the shot is a common practice occurrence for Bertrand, but he was glad to see it happen on a national stage.
That loop-de-loop, ridiculous play youll probably see on Sportscenter, he said.
So far this season Bertrand has been one of the first off the bench, but has yet to start. In the Illinis last few games, he has elevated his status to something like a super sub.
Against Chaminade, in the Maui Invitational semifinal, Bertrand scored 14 and grabbed six rebounds. He matched that rebounding total last Sunday, against Gardner-Webb, and put up another 13 points to help his team win a squeaker.
Bertrand credits his improvement to offseason conditioning under the new coaches. Specifically, the 11,000 free throws Groce & Co. asked players to make during summer workouts.
That really helped my shooting and skill developmentreally helped my confidence, Bertrand said. Im looking to shoot a lot more threes this year. I was driving a lot last year and Im doing both this year.
The change has been obvious, and Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory added his praise for the juniors improvement.
Obviously hes spent a lot of time working on his perimeter shooting, he said. You can see the package he brings to the table, thats really starting to develop.
Whether Bertrand remains Illinois super sub or begins to get some starting minutes, Groce is overjoyed to have him as a part of a group of upperclassmen that has been outstanding in the early stages of the season.
Im the luckiest guy in the world because Ive got older guys who care about the game, care about the team, the Illini coach said.