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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

July 15th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Bradley Braves

Overall Rank: #120

Conference Rank: #7 MVC

 

2005-06: 22-11, 11-7, 5th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

After sporting an experienced team last year, Bradley has a little rebuilding to do.  The top four scorers are gone and Coach Jim Les will need to recapture the magic if the Braves hope to return to the NCAAs.  The Sweet Sixteen is reaping some benefits in confidence, but the recruiting benefits will take another year. 

 

Who’s Out: Patrick O’Bryant left Peoria in search of the NBA.  The center averaged 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest.  Forwards Marcellus Sommerville and Lawrence Wright averaged over 10 points and five rebounds apiece.  Guard Tony Bennett tacked on 10.6 points per game and center Brandyn Heemskerk, who started three games, has also run out of eligibility. 

 

Who’s In: Forward Matt Salley will see plenty of minutes in the paint.  Salley averaged 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds last year at Monroe College in New York.  The 6-7 Charlotte, North Carolina native is a solid rebounder and can step out and hit the short jumper.  His experience gives him an early leg up in the battle for a starting role with fellow newcomer Xavier Crawford.  Crawford, a raw 6-9 power forward, has some defensive skills, but needs to bulk up and work on his offense before he can make a big impact.  Saihou Jassey has the potential to work his way into the frontcourt.  The 6-6 forward is a great athlete, but has not played a game in two years after being ruled ineligible his senior season in high school and redshirting last year.  Andrew Warren is a solid shooter with loads of potential, but he may have trouble finding minutes in a crowded backcourt.  The two guard can be the long range threat that Bradley needs if he can battle his way up the depth chart this season.

 

Who to Watch: All you need is a quality senior point guard and you have the potential for a surprising season.  Daniel Ruffin averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 assists as a junior last season and will be the team leader on so many levels.  The backcourt has plenty of other options with Will Franklin, Jeremy Crouch, J.J. Tauai and Ray Brown all having some experience.  Franklin is a great backup point guard and with a little consistency, Crouch can become a deep threat.  Despite starting 19 games, Tauai averaged just 1.8 points per game last season.  However, he will provide senior leadership and solid defense and hopefully some scoring with more opportunities to shoot.  Brown showed some promise as a freshman and will be given the chance to earn more minutes as a sophomore. 

 

Final Projection: The frontcourt is where we run into problems.  After thespian and power forward Zach Andrews, the options are slim.  Newcomers Salley and Crawford have to contribute or the Braves will have major issues in the paint.  However, this is the guard oriented MVC and a lack of depth up front is something that MVC teams have successfully dealt with time and time again.  The difference in this case is the long range shooting.  For a team that will depend on guard play, nobody is a proven threat from behind the arc.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: none

 

Projected Starting Five:

Daniel Ruffin, Senior, Guard, 7.7 points per game

J.J. Tauai, Senior, Guard, 1.8 points per game

Jeremy Crouch, Junior, Guard, 4.6 points per game

Matt Salley, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

Zach Andrews, Senior, Forward, 5.3 points per game

#121 Miami » Complete List » 119 Murray State

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