Bradley Basketball Preview: #72
Overall Rank: #72
Conference Rank: #3 Missouri Valley Conference
2008-09: 21-15, 10-8
2008-09 postseason: CIT
Coach: Jim Les (126-105 at Bradley, 126-105 overall)
Considering all of the injuries that Bradley had to endure during the 2008-2009 campaign, it was a very good season for Coach Jim Les. The Braves ended up in the CIT and made it all the way to the finals and that at least provided some great experience for the younger players.
Key Losses: C David Collins, G Darian Norris, F Theron Wilson
The frontcourt lost a couple key players in David Collins and Theron Wilson and that will be this team’s Achilles heel. And the only help the team will get from the newcomers in the frontcourt are incoming freshmen Milos Knezevic and Jordan Prosser. Prosseris is the more likely option to see playing time this year, but one of those two will likely be asked to contribute quite a bit off the bench. The backcourt does not need too much depth right now, but freshmen Jake Eastman, James Robertson and Dyricus Simms-Edwards will be available if they are needed.
The top four returning scorers are all perimeter players and that is not counting the return of Andrew Warren who missed all of last year with an injury. Sam Maniscalco turned into a very valuable leader. Not only did he average 12.6 points per game during the 2008-2009 campaign, but he dished out 3.1 assists and connected on two three-pointers per contest. Dodie Dunson was also a double figure scorer last season who can knock down the outside shot. Chris Roberts is yet another shooter who can mix up his game by getting to the basket. What makes him different than the rest of the group is his size and he can hit the glass. Somebody has to find all those weapons and that man ended up being Eddren McCain. McCain had a superb freshman campaign and he dished out 3.1 assists per contest.
Nobody benefited from the run in the CIT more than Taylor Brown. On the year the 6-6 sophomore only averaged 11.5 minutes per game, but he came on strong late in the year and he has the potential and the confidence to play a much bigger role this time around. Sam Singh will likely be the starting center. The fifth year senior is not a great scorer, but he can eat up space in the paint. Will Egolf started playing pretty well last season, but he got hurt after five games. If he can stay healthy, the frontcourt at least has potential and some experience. Otherwise Bradley will need the newcomers and Anthony Thompson to play a lot more minutes than they probably should.
Who to Watch:
The return of Warren creates a conundrum for Coach Les. Maniscalco turned into the top three-point shooter on the team last season, but the team hit a lot more long balls when Warren was playing two years ago. If Warren gets back to his old ways of shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc, he will playing a big role on this team. That could leave Dunson and Roberts on the bench.
The other option would be to play small and put Roberts at the four spot. That has worked in certain situations, but it does leave the team vulnerable on the glass. Last season Wilson and Collins were there to pick up the slack, but Singh and Brown are not nearly as proven of players. If the frontcourt struggles, bigger teams will have their way with the Braves under the basket.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Eddren McCain, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Sam Maniscalco, Junior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Andrew Warren, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Taylor Brown, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 points per game
Sam Singh, Senior, Center, 4.7 points per game
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