Friday, October 15, 2010

Guest Blog: John Dwyer on Bradley Basketball 2010-2011 Season

Dustin is traveling the south and making an avant record with a friend.  He has limited access to the internet.  Until he returns and for you sports fans, here is some college basketball!

2010-2011 Bradley Preview:


For the program, declining an invite to a minor postseason tournament marked the end of a vaguely disappointing 2009-2010 campaign for the Bradley Braves. Fans are becoming disenfranchised with the middling conference results following a major high point in NCAA tournament four seasons before. For a fan like me, I had my morale ups and downs with team performance-- but my fandom is driven by a loyalty to my Alma Mater and a great enjoyment of the process of being a fan. I have my crew of fans I run with, we drink a million beers (more on that later), and we yell ourselves hoarse over the greatness of the product or the skullduggery of the evil refs. A summer off leaves the disappointments of a 16-15 season behind, and hope springs eternal. If I'm honest nothing really indicates a huge swing up in performance, but with a fresh new season lying ahead I'm ready to predict a chance for greatness and a surety of fun. BRING IT ON!

Roster Changes & Roster

Two scholarship players graduated from Bradley and completed their college eligibility in 2010. The first, Dr. Sam Singh, Emeritus, was at Bradley for at least 300 years (in actuality 6), honing his basketball skills and maximizing his talent. This means he averaged 14 minutes, 1.7 points, and 3.2 rebounds per game. To be perfectly honest, this was a little disappointing. It was a surprise when it was announced he'd applied for and received a medical waiver that allowed him to play a sixth season. We fans viewed it as kind of, "hmm, okay," since we were thin in the paint and it seemed like Sam would be able to improve on his 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds a game from his fifth season. He didn't, and Bradley really struggled down low. Despite the fact that I like Sam Singh, I can't help but wonder if bringing him back didn't potentially stunt the growth of other post players without providing any particular value. I believe his departure will not affect Bradley's performance and may actually help a little.

The other graduating player was 6'4" Chris Roberts a fan favorite wing guard. Chris Roberts was an athletic monster-- the kind of guy who would occasionally leap out of the gym and electrify the fans. He's probably most famous for a 75 foot game winning jumper he hit during a postseason contest in his first (junior) season as a Brave. He was a solid contributor on offense (9.2ppg/2.2apg) and an very good on-ball defender. I thought he offered his best contribution at the 2, but almost always played at the 3 where he was a little undersized. I'm sure we'll miss Chris at times, but Bradley is pretty deep at his position so the net performance loss may not be that great.

Eddren McCain also left the program, or I suppose it should be said, was kicked off the team. He got himself into legal trouble involving drugs and a prostitute. He'd also managed to play himself out of the lineup despite a promising freshman season. It's too bad that's the way it turned out, but it should have no affect on the 2010-2011 season.

Incoming are two freshmen: Center Andrew Davis (6'10" from Oklahoma) and 6'3" athletic guard Walt Lemon, Jr. of Chicago. Andrew Davis was a late signing who'd previously committed to Army before deciding to reopen his recruitment. It's hard to say anything either way about Davis as he's relatively unknown. Post players often take a long time to develop, so I'm going to go into the season with the expectation that he's a project and we won't see him on the floor too much during the regular season.

Walt Lemon, Jr., on the other hand is a little bit better known. You can see some videos from earlier in his career with mixed results. He comes from the Chicago Public League, a known source of quality talent. He's got a reputation as a point or combo guard, depending on who you ask. I normally wouldn't expect much from a freshman either way, and I've been burned but the hype machine, but... BUT, the "insider" hype on this kid has been pretty strong. Things like, "I heard Dick Versace said he was the best guard in the CPL!" and (despite being loaded with three senior guards-- two of which are all-conference candidates) "he could push the seniors for playing time." Anyway, we'll see how it all shakes out, and I can't exactly predict a major contribution from a freshman in a rotation of guards as strong as Bradley has... But, it'd sure be fun if he was awesome.

Not really newcomers here, but post man, Jordan Prosser (one of the highest rated recruits Bradley has ever had) is coming off of a freshman redshirt and Dodie Dunson returns from medical redshirt. Dodie was a strong contributor after transferring to Bradley two years ago but missed most of the last campaign due to injury. I suspect he'll be our starting shooting guard as he's returned to health and a talented defender and scorer. It's premature since he hasn't played yet, but Prosser could be the key to Bradley's season. An emergeance of another post player that could see Taylor Brown moving to his natural "3" position could be an incredible breakthrough for the Braves. Either way, it'll be nice to have both of these guys contributing this season.

1 - Dodie Dunson
4 - Jake Eastman
5 - Sam Maniscalco
24 - Andrew Warren
25 - Walt Lemon, Jr.
32 - Dyricus Simms-Edwards

3 - Taylor Brown
34 - Milos Knezevic
44 - Jordan Prosser
54 - Will Egolf

23 - Andrew Davis
41 - Anthony Thompson

Coaching Changes

It was a busy off-season for Coach Les and newcomer-AD Michael Cross. Alvin Brooks III took a job back home in Texas creating a vacancy for the "recruiter" assistant coaching position. Also, (son of Bradley legend Chuck) Eric Buescher left or was fired. It was publically positioned that he left, but heavily suggested he was shown the door. I can't honestly say anything first-hand about if he was or wasn't qualified or if he was or wasn't contributing to the staff. It is widely believed, however, that he maybe couldn't quite handle the job and that Les was left to handle almost all tasks required of a coaching staff.

Bradley made, at least as far as I'm concerned, a couple of very good hires. They first brought in Jim Platt, hired from the staff at Army (and probably the reason why Andrew Davis is coming to Bradley), who is known as a defensive expert and is a very experienced college coach (31 years, including 9 as a head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock and Charleston Southern). Bradley has struggled with defense and rebounding, and most believe Coach Platt may help the Braves a great deal in those areas. Platt is Les's top assistant and Les has confirmed that Platt has complete responsibility on the defensive end of the floor.

Bradley also hired Willie Scott, a former Bradley point guard, and most recently the head coach at Chicago JuCo, Malcolm X College. He was successful at Malcolm X, with the program experiencing a complete reversal from perennial loser to a winning program. He's recognized also a strong recruiter with good ties into Chicago, a recruiting pipeline Bradley has long coveted but only rarely succeeded in.


The "big deal" schedule-wise came when Bradley announced a game at Duke for the upcoming season. As far as playing the best goes, this is a great development. Bradley's also involved in an exempt tournament for this season, the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. This thing used to be a big deal when it was the unofficial start of the basketball season and one of a very few exempt tournaments on the scene. As it happens, this year they struggled to even put the thing together with teams dropping out here and there. The way it's structured now, I don't think it's even really a tournament with a tree, but instead just a series of games. Bradley got games in Peoria against D2 Texas A&M-Kingsville and Loyola Marymount, as well as games in Springfield, MA, against USC (a big name, but a bad basketball program) and TCU. The Mountain West-MVC challenge is back this season with Utah visitng Peoria. Other than that Bradley has home games against Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Jackson State, and Detroit Mercy, and an away game at Western Carolina.


Non-Conference (including Bracket Buster) - 11-1
Conference Record - 12-6
Overall Record - 23-7
RPI - 50s
Post-season - NCAA Invitation

I'm always optimistic, so sue me. Seriously though, I feel the Valley is up for grabs, and the non-conference schedule isn't weak, but there is only one nigh-on unwinnable game on it (@ Duke). Bradley has a trio of talented senior guards who have one last chance for glory as well as an extremely talented forward in Taylor Brown who has a bit to prove to himself and fans this season (due to discipline problems he got little respect all-conference wise despite being one of the league leaders in scoring and rebounding). Bearing usual caveats (injuries, discpline, meteor impacts), I feel like some things are aligning to position Bradley for a run this season.

Projected starting lineup:

PG - Sam Maniscalco
SG - Dodie Dunson
SF - Andrew Warren
PF - Taylor Brown
C - Will Egolf

Significant contributors - Dyricus, Prosser, Thompson

This is my safe prediction for starting lineup, based on our recent history with Coach Les as well as the known quantities on the roster. As for reserves, Dyricus is in there over Eastman because I think DSE showed a great deal more in his freshman season. Thompson and Prosser get minutes just based on the need for play in the paint. What I'd really like to see (which requires an unknown conversion of talent into performance) is Taylor Brown at the 3, and two "bigs" muscling in.

Starting lineup I'd love to see:

PG - Sam Maniscalco
SG - Andrew Warren
SF - Taylor Brown
PF - Will Egolf
C - Thompson or Prosser

Significant Contributors - Dodie, Dyricus, Milos, plus whoever isn't starting between Thompson and Prosser.

Such a lineup would give us great depth at all positions, and get rid of our traditional size disadvantage. In fact, that lineup, would be well above average size wise. It does absolutely rely, however, upon Thompson or Prosser proving they can provide a good 20 minutes in the paint, something that hasn't happened yet.

Winning and the Beer Consumption Model

When asked how I thought the season would go, I've often answered well, they're going to win or lose and as a result I will drink more beer one way or the other. Taken in those terms it becomes interesting to ask does winning or losing lead to more consumption of beer? I've spent many years gathering data and pondering this important question. After years of painstaking research my foundation is ready to share their results:

I was surprised that neither result seems to indicate increased beer consumption. While a bad game drives you to drink early, the depression and desire to return quickly home eliminates post-game fesitivies (other than a beer or two to cry into). Contrast this with a good game that shows you paying great attention (requiring less consumption) to the stellar play of your favored team, this temporary situation is replaced by extensive post-game festivities with your friends and fellow fans. Granted there can be outliers, such as a great game lost inexplicably, or a game you think you're going to lose that you managed to pull out in over time. Other factors such as Brave Club backed pre-game parties rife with free beer or huge games like the historic Michigan State game can also skew results, however over time results normalize and you get this result.

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