The tape at the finish line has been broken on this regular season. But instead of a track, this race took place on a roller coaster.
Now that Bradley basketball has the 2009-10 regular season behind it, it’s time for the Braves’ best basketball to be played.
Bradley goes into Arch Madness in St. Louis as the fifth-seeded team and plays the fourth-seeded Creighton in the first round of the tournament. They had the opportunity to get “home-court” advantage against Creighton if they could have beat the Bluejays in the final game of the season.
After a season with more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan production, now is the time to buckle down. In the end, no one will remember who won the regular season title or who finished in fifth, people will remember the tournament.
Everyone remembers Deon Thomas’ 3-pointer to beat Missouri State in the semifinals for Bradley.
This is the Braves’ and Jim Les’ chance to make everyone forget the apprehension they felt this season. No one wants a coaching change after you win the tournament.
This might seem like a stretch after the inconsistencies this season, but the Braves have more than an opportunity to do something this weekend.
They come in today as the fifth seed in the MVC’s Arch Madness, and after coming off four-straight seasons of 21 wins and picking up a lot of postseason success along the way, this team is more than primed for a run.
And it’s going to take a run to get anywhere. A 15-14 overall record isn’t going to get you anywhere in today’s game, even if there are four postseason tournaments.
But with that being said, this season hasn’t been a disappointment.
Sure, there’s enough talent here to win this conference or at least be in the thick of things, but this isn’t the end of the world for Bradley.
We have a lot of reasons why we should be excited for the tournament.
First off, is experience. No team boasts as much postseason experience as the Braves.
Over the course of the last four years, no team in the Valley has played more games or has seen more nail-biters than the Braves have seen in their postseason endeavors.
In addition to the experience, the Braves have the talent. This team is undefeated against top-25 opponents and was three points away from knocking off the MVC’s top-ranked team Northern Iowa on the road. Bradley’s has the tools to make some noise this weekend.
The last reason is the intangibles. No team has been in the Valley longer. No team in the Valley has a richer history. No team has a city like Peoria behind it.
There’s a lot of history and pride involved in being a member of the Braves, regardless of whether or not you play for the basketball team. Every person I have met that has graduated from Bradley gets a big smile on their face as they tell you about their “glory days.”
Being a Bradley alum means a lot to the people that are connected to Bradley. And the part of the university that brings all that pride together is the basketball team.
Everyone from kids in Peoria to students and alums of Bradley find great pride in the success of the team.
This weekend is this team’s opportunity to bring all of that together. It’s been four long years without an NCAA Tournament appearance and I can think of no better way to spend my Spring Break than watching the Braves take on the best college basketball has to offer.
Bill Hopkins is a sophomore sports communication major from Oswego. He is the Scout sports editor.
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