SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Allred Shoots to Improve His Game : Irvine's High-Scoring Guard Adept in Many Areas Now

Times Staff Writer

Bryan Allred plays on an Irvine High School basketball team that has very distinctive roles for its players.

Other Irvine players rebound, set picks, play defense and pass. It's Allred's job to shoot the ball.

It's certainly the role for which Allred is best suited. He loves, absolutely adores, shooting the basketball. And, as Irvine's leading scorer with a 16-point average, he's good at it.

But he's not a one-dimensional player these days. Allred, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, can play defense and rebound and pass well enough now, but that wasn't always the case.

When he was younger, Allred used to shoot jumper after jumper, perfecting his outside touch. He learned to play--and to shoot so well--at the house of a neighbor who had a basket in the driveway.

It didn't take long for Allred to become an accurate shooter from almost everywhere on the court. Long, 20-foot shots rainbowed into the basket. Short, pull-up jumpers settled neatly into the net.

But Allred and his coaches soon found that he had paid so much attention to shooting that his other skills were lacking.

He never met a shot he didn't like, even if it wasn't always the most appropriate time to take it. And he didn't like to pass.

As a freshman, Allred was the fastest gun at Irvine High, averaging more than 20 points for the Vaqueros' freshman team.

But he soon learned there was more to the game than shooting and if wanted to play on the varsity for Coach Steve Keith, he'd better learn how to play a little "D."

Allred went through some painful practices on the junior varsity as a sophomore, learning how to play defense. He still was a scorer. That much has not changed.

"He always had the shot, but that's just one part of the game," Keith said. "He didn't value the other parts of the game."

Allred does now, though, and that has made him a better player. He's one of the reasons Irvine is playing for the Southern Section 5-A championship against Capistrano Valley Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

In the playoffs, Allred has boosted his scoring average to 18 points a game in helping Irvine reach its first Southern Section championship game.

Allred led Irvine past Pasadena, 67-60, in the semifinals last Saturday by making eight of 13 shots from the field and scoring 22 points.

"I played solidly," Allred said. "I had four or five rebounds (too). It was a tough game defensively, the hardest game I've had to play."

Allred talking about defense? That's something that would never have happened when he was younger. And get this, he now admits he likes passing the ball.

"I like making good passes to my teammates," Allred said. "I know they'll do it for me when I get open."

Said Keith: "It's good to hear him say that."

The improvement in Allred's all-around game pleases Keith, but he still expects the guard to be the team's leading scorer.

"He's not a great set-up guy," Keith said. "For him to be most valuable to us, we need him to put the ball in the basket."

Keith was never concerned that Allred could not become a complete player.

"I'd much rather have a kid that can score and teach him how to play with the intensity that makes him an all-around player," Keith said. "The ability to score is a prized possession. Bryan has that. The other things are easier to learn."

Allred also has learned to pick his spots too. And that refinement in his shooting selection has been the most noticeable improvement in his game this season.

"It's a mind-set," Allred said. "I've taken a lot less shots and become a better player because of it. I can come to practice now and do more than just shoot jump shots."

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