Bradley Braves

Getty Images

Lomax leads No. 15 Memphis past Bradley 71-56

Leave a comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Alex Lomax scored 17 points, Boogie Ellis added 12 and No. 15 Memphis survived a poor shooting performance to beat Bradley 71-56 Tuesday night.

Memphis made 36.1% of its shots from the field, but the Braves (5-3) were considerably worse. They hit 26.8%, including just 2 of 23 tries outside the arc.

Tyler Harris and DJ Jeffries added 10 points each for Memphis (7-1). Precious Achiuwa had an off-night scoring with only six points, but he grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots. Lomax also had three steals.

Elijah Childs led the Braves with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Danya Kingsby added 12 points.

Bradley’s top offensive players had tough nights. Leading scorer Darrell Brown entered averaging 14 points per game but was limited to four. He missed all eight of his 3-point tries and was 1 of 16 from the field. Nate Kennell was held to two points a week after hitting 6 3-pointers in a win over Kansas State.

Memphis pulled away at the start of the second half, opening with seven straight points.

Bradley shot 25% in the first half, including missing all seven of its 3-point attempts. Memphis was only slightly better at 35.5%, converting a pair of 3-pointers.

Memphis’ 29-19 lead at the break was its largest of the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Bradley: The Braves struggled from the field throughout, missing 10 straight during the first half and coming out of halftime on a 1-of-13 skid. The misfiring, despite the Braves outrebounding Memphis, allowed the Tigers to build the lead to double-digits.

Memphis: The Tigers improved in the second half — only slightly. Eventually, Memphis’ speed and ability to get out on the break overcame its poor shooting as Lomax provided a spark off the Memphis bench.

UP NEXT

Bradley: Host North Carolina A&T on Saturday

Memphis: Plays at UAB on Saturday

Sunday’s Things to Know: Houston wins AAC title; three autobids earned; bubble madness in the Big Ten

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The final regular-season Sunday in college basketball had some drama as a major conference title was decided. On the postseason side, three more autobids were also claimed while the bubble had some action as well.

Houston runs past Cincinnati to claim AAC regular-season title

Houston earned its first regular-season conference title since 1992 with a convincing 85-69 road win at No. 20 Cincinnati. The No. 12 Cougars poured on 48 second-half points as they went on a 35-12 run to put the game away. Corey Davis Jr. scored a career-high 31 points while freshman Nate Hinton produced a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds — knocking down some key three-pointers to ignite the comeback run.

For the fourth time in the last six games, Houston scored at least 85 points, which is a notable accomplishment considering the Cougars generally prefer to play on the slower side (232nd in adjusted tempo on KenPom). Houston already has a top-15 defense, so if its offense is getting hot before the postseason, then it’s a trend to keep an eye on during Championship Week.

Autobids handed out to Bradley, Gardner-Webb and Liberty

Sunday didn’t have very many regular-season games left. But there were plenty of conference tournaments to keep track of with three autobids being handed out in traditionally one-bid leagues.

The Big South kicked the autobid day off as Gardner-Webb earned its first NCAA tournament bid in school history by knocking off Radford for a true road win. With back-to-back true road wins during the conference tournament, the Bulldogs certainly earned their way into the Field of 68 with two difficult wins.

Things got crazy during the second half of the Missouri Valley Conference title game shortly after as Bradley rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to stun Northern Iowa. A day after knocking out a Final Four team from last year in Valley No. 1 seed Loyola, the Braves followed it up with their eighth win of the season in which they were trailing at halftime to come back and win. This will be Bradley’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006 when they stunned the nation as a No. 13 seed who made the Sweet 16.

Finally, Liberty gutted out yet another road win for a team in an autobid situation by advancing in front of a sold-out crowd at Lipscomb. A high-level game featuring two teams who deserve a real look from the NCAA tournament committee, the Flames are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2013. While Liberty is a potentially-dangerous double-digit seed, Lipscomb remains on the bubble as they have a long week of waiting ahead.

The bubble gets crazy in the Big Ten

Among bubble teams playing on Sunday, things got especially chaotic in the Big Ten. Indiana began the conference’s bubble day with a home win over Rutgers. Winners of four consecutive games, the Hoosiers have played their way back into the serious at-large discussion after a mid-season freefall.

Later in the afternoon, No. 21 Wisconsin outlasted Ohio State for an overtime road win that brutally hurts the Buckeyes’ bubble profile. Rallying from 23 points down to tie the game and force overtime, this was a golden opportunity for Ohio State to add some insurance by getting another Q1 win. Instead, they’ve dropped three straight games as the slide continues entering the postseason.

These two results mean that Thursday’s Big Ten tournament matchup between Indiana and Ohio State will have massive implications for the bubble. Both of these teams appear to be teetering right on the edge of the cut line as this result could ultimately put one team in while leaving the other team out of the proceedings.

Introducing Cinderella: Bradley earns comeback win to grab Missouri Valley’s autobid

Getty Images
1 Comment

Bradley rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to stun Northern Iowa on Sunday as the Braves earned the Missouri Valley Conference’s autobid with a stunning 57-54 win.

The Braves trailed by 12 at halftime as they only mustered 15 points of offense before getting hot and rallying quickly in the second half. Down 35-17 with 17 minutes left, Bradley made a furious comeback (a common theme for them this season) behind a balanced scoring effort.

Sophomore forward Elijah Childs paced the Bradley offense with 16 points while senior guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (13 points) and senior guard Luqman Lundy (11 points) also finished in double-figures. Bradley was able to rally and win despite a poor offensive night from junior guard Darrell Brown — the team’s All-MVC player. Brown was only 3-for-10 from the floor to finish with seven points, yet the Braves still found a way to win and advance to the dance.

After knocking out No. 1 seed Loyola in the semifinals and rallying to beat Northern Iowa, Bradley is playing with a lot of confidence heading into the NCAA tournament.

CONFERENCE: Missouri Valley Conference

COACH: Brian Wardle

RECORD: 20-14, 9-9 Missouri Valley Conference

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 170
  • NET: 176

PROJECTED SEED: Missouri Valley top seed Loyola was previously projected as a No. 15 seed in our latest bracket and Bradley finished below them in both the conference standing and most major metrics. That means we could be seeing a very dangerous No. 16 seed come from a historically-proud basketball conference if the right teams in other one-bid leagues keep winning.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Junior guard Darrell Brown (14.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, 44% 3PT) is the heart-and-soul of the Braves as he’s earned back-to-back All-MVC honors. Sophomore forward Elijah Childs (12.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is the team’s top interior presence. Junior Nate Kennell (9.5 ppg, 39% 3PT) and senior Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (8.5 ppg, 40% 3PT) are upperclass veterans on the perimeter who can both light it up from three-point range.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: Bradley didn’t play a particularly tough non-conference schedule but they did pick up a Q1 win by beating Penn State on a neutral floor — the only Q1 game they’ve played all season. The Braves have also been inconsistent at times this season, as evidenced by a very mediocre 7-4 record against Q4 opponents — including a very bad loss to Eastern Illinois (309).

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Bradley has trailed at halftime and come back to win eight times this season as they’ve shown tremendous resiliency. Three-point shooting will likely be the key for the Braves in the NCAA tournament as they shot a respectable 37 percent from there (52nd in the country) during the season.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: The Braves were an actual Cinderella story the last time they made the NCAA tournament in 2006. Behind eventual first-round pick Patrick O’Bryant in the middle, Bradley took down No. 4 seed Kansas and No. 5 seed Pitt before falling to No. 1 seed Memphis in the Sweet Sixteen. Former veteran NBA guard Hersey Hawkins, one of college basketball’s most prolific scorers of all time, is also a Bradley alum.

FINAL THOUGHT: Head coach Brian Wardle deserves a tremendous amount of credit for rebuilding Bradley into the team they have today. Inheriting a program that didn’t have a lot of hope or talent, Wardle and the Braves suffered through a miserable 5-27 campaign during his first season in 2015-16. But Wardle and his staff found players who fit their system and continually improved as they’ve now reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 13 years.

Coaching Changes: Who’s set for success, failure

Associated Press
Leave a comment

The college basketball coaching carousel was in full effect last spring, as 40 head coaching positions changed hands. Of those 40 jobs, 12 major high major programs will enter this season with a new man in charge while six more teams that would be classified as mid-major plus had turnover in leadership.

Here are the coaches in the best position to succeed immediately, and those that will likely need some time before they see the kind of success they’re used to:

COACHES BEST SET UP FOR IMMEDIATE SUCCESS

  1. Steve Prohm, Iowa State: With Fred Hoiberg making the move to the NBA, someone was bound to land a job coaching a team with the talent needed to play deep into the NCAA tournament. Prohm was the pick for Iowa State after a successful run at Murray State, and with players such as Monte Morris, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay, his first season in Ames can be a special one.
  2. Will Wade, VCU: Yes, Wade has some personnel losses to account as the former Shaka Smart assistant returns to VCU; most notably, Briante Weber and Treveon Graham have graduated. The cupboard isn’t bare either, however, as Melvin Johnson is back for his senior year, as are JeQuan Lewis and Mo-Alie Cox. Look for the Rams to once again be a factor in the Atlantic 10 race. (And yes, I know my opinion differs from some of my colleagues.)
  3. Tim Duryea, Utah State: Duryea’s definitely familiar with the USU roster, as he served as the now-retired Stew Morrill’s assistant for 14 seasons. And he’s got a good roster to work with, with all five starters returning led by forwards Jalen Moore and David Collette. Utah State exceeded expectations by finishing fourth in the Mountain West a season ago; they’ll be expected to contend this time around and have the pieces to do just that.
  4. Mike White, Florida: Like Prohm, White arrives at his new gig after experiencing a lot of success at his last stop. But unlike Prohm he’s taking over for a coach in Billy Donovan took Florida’s program to heights never before reached in the history of the program. There’s some talent to work with, especially if he can get Kasey Hill going, and White also managed to hold onto most of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class.
  5. Ben Howland, Mississippi State: While Howland’s resume surpasses that of any other coach on this list, and he’ll have Malik Newman at his disposal, that doesn’t overtake the fact that there’s a lot to be done with a program that struggled mightily in the three seasons prior. Howland put together a good recruiting class led by Newman, but if there’s a concern it’s the health of his front court (that wasn’t all too deep to begin with).
  6. Matt McCall, Chattanooga: McCall’s first head coaching gig at the Division I level has the potential to be a very successful one, thanks to the talent due back on campus. Four starters, including guard Casey Jones and forward Justin Tuoyo, return from a team that won 22 games and finished 15-3 in SoCon play.
  7. Eran Ganot, Hawai’i: Last season began with tumult for Hawai’i, but interim head coach Benjy Taylor was able to lead the Rainbow Warriors to 22 wins and a run to the Big West tournament final. Now former Saint Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot takes over an experienced group that returns three starters (seven who started at least two games) led by Big West Defensive Player of the Year Roderick Bobbitt.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

AP Photo
AP Photo

NEW HEAD COACHES WHO NEED SOME TIME

  1. Shaka Smart, Texas: A key question for some is how Smart’s pressure system will mesh with bigs who are best equipped to play in the half court. However the biggest issue in Smart’s first season at the helm in Austin is the strength of the Big 12, with perennial favorite Kansas leading what should be a deep race. There’s still talent, enough to make the tournament, but contending in the Big 12 may take a little time.
  2. Rick Barnes, Tennessee: Barnes has relocated to Knoxville, where he’ll aim to rejuvenate a program that dealt with the Donnie Tyndall investigation (and ultimately, firing) for much of last season. Three starters return but the one true difference-maker, Josh Richardson, isn’t among those players. Add in a lack of size in the post, and this could be a difficult season for Barnes in an SEC that will be improved.
  3. Avery Johnson, Alabama: Johnson and his staff have made some waves recruiting-wise, most notably reeling in Terrance Ferguson, and that certainly bodes well for the future. However, when it comes to this season he inherits a roster that lost its top three scorers from a season ago. That could prove difficult to overcome in a league that’s improved from last season.
  4. Chris Mullin, St. John’s: To say that Mullin and his staff were left with a bare cupboard would be an understatement. Two of the remaining players (Chris Obekpa and Rysheed Jordan) didn’t exactly mesh with the new staff’s plans, so they moved on. The work done by Mullin and assistants Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih to fill out the roster will help St. John’s in the long run, but this season could be a difficult one.
  5. Brian Wardle, Bradley: Wardle’s move from Green Bay to Peoria, Illinois is a big one for a Bradley program that struggled in a big way under Geno Ford. Given Wardle’s accomplishments he’s got a good chance of turning things around. But it’s going to take some time to do so, especially with just one starter from last season’s nin win team back on campus. There was a lot of turnover on the roster, so the Braves will take their lumps as a result.
  6. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State: Hurley put together two successful seasons at Buffalo before making the move west, and he inherits a roster doesn’t lack for experience. In a similar situation at Buffalo in 2013-14, he led the Bulls to 19 wins and had the MAC Player of the Year in Javon McCrea. The two issues this time around: while the Pac-12 may not have a dominant team as it did a season ago (Arizona) it is deeper, and the Sun Devils will have to navigate a tough non-conference slate as well.
  7. Dave Leitao, DePaul: Since Leitao’s first run at DePaul came to an end in 2005, the Blue Demons have struggled mightily. Now he returns to the Windy City, and while there is some talent (Billy Garrett Jr. being one option) there’s a long way to go when it comes to making a move up the Big East standings and being a true factor in the conference.

Leading scorer Warren Jones dismissed from Bradley program

Leave a comment

Already expected to be an inexperienced team in Brian Wardle’s first season as head coach, the Bradley Braves will also have to account for the loss of their leading scorer in 2015-16.

Wednesday afternoon it was reported by the Peoria Journal-Star that Wardle has dismissed guard Warren Jones from the program. Jones, who was to be a senior this upcoming season, averaged 11.9 points per game last season and was the team’s leading returning scorer. Jones put forth that scoring average in 21 games, making just five starts, and he missed eight games due to a stress fracture in his foot.

Jones was also suspended for four games last season after being arrested on charges of using fake identification and underage drinking at a Peoria strip club in late-January.

Wardle issues the following comment to the Journal-Star regarding the dismissal of Jones from the program:

“I tell our student-athletes that where much is given, much is expected,” Wardle said. “Being a student-athlete at Bradley University is a privilege.  In the classroom, community and on the floor, we have high expectations and standards in this program.  When someone does not live up to them on a daily basis, changes need to be made.  We are here to assist Warren if he would like to pursue other opportunities to continue his basketball career.”

Jones’ dismissal means that Bradley will have to account for the loss of its top five scorers from last season’s nine-win team, with senior point guard Ka’Darryl Bell being the leading returning scorer at 6.1 ppg. The Braves add eight freshmen to the program, and in total nine of their 13 scholarship players will be either freshmen or sophomores.

Green Bay hires Linc Darner as new head coach

2 Comments

Green Bay has its new head coach, according to multiple reports on Friday afternoon.

Linc Darner, the head coach of Division II Florida Southern, will replace Brian Wardle as head coach of the Horizon League program. Wardle left for to fill the same position at Bradley on March 27. In five seasons, Wardle was 95-64 (54–20) with two NIT appearances with Green Bay.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports both reported the news.

Darner, who played for Gene Keady at Purdue, led Florida Southern to the Division II national championship two weeks ago, completing a 34-1 seasons. Daniel Turner, a senior forward for the Mocs, had transferred from Green Bay.

Last season, Kim Anderson led Central Missouri to the D2 title before being hired by Missouri, his alma mater. He has 12 years of head coaching experience all at the Division II level at both Florida Southern and St. Joseph’s College (Indiana).

Darner will be taking over a Horizon League program that loses top scorers Keifer Sykes and Greg Mays, but does retain Jordan Fouse.