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Geno Ford’s Bradley program in a better spot heading into year two

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Upon taking over at Bradley last spring, head coach Geno Ford realized that there was a lot of work to be done with a program that hadn’t accomplished much since a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2006.

Sure enough that’s what happened as the Braves finished last in the Missouri Valley, going 7-25 (2-16 MVC) overall and losing 11 of their final 12 games.

But familiarity helps when it comes to building a program, and that seems to be the case with Bradley as they head into the summer.

“When you walked into our gym last spring, you knew we were going to struggle,” Ford said in an interview with Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal-Star. “That’s not the feeling I have this spring. Guys are starting to figure out the level of toughness they need to play with. The speed at which the workouts moved and the effort that was consistently given was much higher than (last year).

“We have freshmen who are now (going to be) sophomores and all took steps forward, which you would expect. Also, getting Will (Egolf) back and moving Shayok (Shayok) to the 4 means the bigs are working at a better rate. This spring was a step forward in the right direction.”

Leading scorer Taylor Brown departs but much of Bradley’s young nucleus that took so many beatings in 2011-12 is due back, and the return of forward Will Egolf will also help.

Egolf tore the ACL in his right knee in early June, cutting short his 2011-12 before it even began. And as Ford noted, Egolf’s return should put Shayok Shayok in a better spot.

Brown and Jordan Prosser led the way on the glass for Bradley last season, and a year of experience under his belt should help the 6-8 Shayok a great deal.

Ford and his staff will also be able to spend some time during the summer working with their players given the NCAA now allowing coaches two hours of on-court instruction during the week.

“It was a long time coming,” Ford said of the rule change. “Kids are on campus in the summer, anyway. The whole purpose is to get ’em acclimated. So having access to coaches seems like a good idea.

How much better will Bradley be in 2012-13? That remains to be seen, especially in a tough league like the MVC.

But unlike last spring it doesn’t seem as if the rest of the Valley is getting a head start.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Illinois dismisses Kendrick Nunn

Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn (25) tries to go up for a basket against Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
(AP Photo/Heather Coit)
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Illinois announced on Tuesday that they have dismissed Kendrick Nunn from the basketball program.

Nunn was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to a battery charge that stemmed from a domestic violence incident. He was alleged to have hit a woman in the head and pushed her to the ground before pouring water on her.

“We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men’s basketball team, effective immediately,” a statement put out by head coach John Groce and athletic director Josh Whitman read. “After extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior.”

Nunn averaged 15.5 points as a junior last season.

Delaware hires Martin Inglesby as head coach

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Joe Raymond, AP
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Delaware has finally hired a head coach, a little more than two months after Monte’ Ross was fired.

The man that earned the right of taking over a program with just four returning scholarship players is Martin Inglesby, a Notre Dame assistant that has been under Mike Brey’s tutelage for more than a decade. A source confirmed the news with NBCSports.com. Brey spent his first six seasons as a Division I head coach in Newark.

The reason that the search for a new basketball coach took so long is that the university was in the midst of looking for a new athletic director. Chrissi Rawak was hired as AD on May 13th, and one of her first orders of business was finding a replacement for Ross.

CBS Sports was the first to report Inglesby’s hiring.

Report: UCLA signs record apparel deal with Under Armour

(Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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The latest arms race in the collegiate ranks centers around apparel deals, and UCLA has reportedly signed the largest in the history of amateur athletics.

Under Armour will pay the university $280 million over the next 15 years, according to ESPN.com, in exchange for their athletes to work as unpaid models, turning Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl into a runway for the athletic apparel company to hawk their wares.

Here are the details from ESPN:

At those numbers, the deal would be the largest in college football history. In January, Ohio State said its 15-year deal with Nike was worth $252 million. Texas signed a 15-year deal with Nike worth $250 million in October, and Michigan signed an 11-year deal, with a four-year option, that could be worth up to $173.8 million.

Landing UCLA only furthers Under Armour’s presence on the west coast. Their most famous client is Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Kentucky-Kansas headlines the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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The Big 12 and the SEC announced the matchups for the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Tuesday, and the highlight is, of course, Kansas and Kentucky.

The two schools, who played an instant classic in Phog Allen Fieldhouse last season, will square off in Lexington this season. If that wasn’t enough, Kentucky and Kansas are currently sitting second and third, respectively, in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25.

So that should be fun.

The game will be played on January 28th along with the rest of the matchups in the series. Those matchups are:

Texas at Georgia
Texas A&M at West Virginia
Florida at Oklahoma
Baylor at Ole Miss
Iowa State at Vanderbilt
Kansas State at Tennessee
Arkansas at Oklahoma State
Auburn at TCU
LSU at Texas Tech

To be frank, the rest of that schedule is not all that enticing. West Virginia should be a top 25 team, and they host a Texas A&M team that is talented but young. Florida and Georgia are arguably the two best non-Kentucky teams in the league, but they face off with a rebuilding Oklahoma and a young Texas squad, neither of whom are guaranteed to make the tournament.

The problem here?

Both the SEC and the Big 12 are likely going to be down this season, which puts a damper on just how excited we can get about this challenge.

Purdue forward to return to school, withdraw from NBA Draft

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) celebrates with forward Vince Edwards (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Purdue defeated Michigan State 82-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue announced on Tuesday that forward Vince Edwards will be returning to school for his junior season.

Edwards declared for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent and went through the process to gauge his value at the next level.

“After getting the NBA experience and going through the evaluation process, I have talked with my family and Coach Painter and decided it is best for me to return for my junior year,” Edwards said in a statement. “Although the NBA is still a dream for me one day, I am coming back to Purdue to make next year a special one. Thank you to all the organizations who gave me the chance to not only showcase my talents, but also the chance to know me as a young man and not just an athlete.”

Edwards averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 boards last season.

Purdue now has to wait to hear from Caleb Swanigan, a rising sophomore that was a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2015. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is Wednesday.