It’s T-minus 47 minutes to tonight’s 7:05 contest between Bradley and the Loyola Ramblers. There are already some big things shaking here at Carver Arena as it was announced earlier that freshman Dyricus Simms-Edwards will miss three to six weeks with a stress reaction in his left foot. Not only does that mean the Braves will be without their top reserve and the provider of countless defensive lifts this season, but it also has allowed Coach Jim Les to activate 6-4 freshman Jake Eastman from his redshirt status immediately.
Eastman is a product of Douglas Freeman High School in Richmond, Va., and is the son of Boston Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman. He is a sharpshooter that has frequently been compared to former Bradley 3-point specialist Jeremy Crouch. Hmm… speaking of Jeremy Crouch…
Crouch, a native of Pekin, Ill., has also been involved some Bradley personnel decisions today, being named the Interim Director of Basketball Operations, taking the place of veteran staff member Kyle Vogt.
Vogt will take over the vacant assistant coaching position left by the Dec. 5 departure of Steve Merfeld.
OK… to tonight’s game…
The Ramblers enter this evening’s game with a record of 6-2 overall and 1-1 in the Horizon League. Loyola is paced by junior Geoff McCammon, who is averaging 10.8 points per game this year, including an average of 19.5 in the last two games.
The Chicago team is coming off a 66-63 home win over San Francisco, which seems to follow the pattern of wins by the Ramblers this season. While they have collected six of them, many have been by narrow margins against, at-best, mediocre teams. Their two losses have come to a solid Wisconsin-Green Bay team (90-69) and Kansas State (92-54), which has the No. 1 RPI in the country.
The Braves, on the other hand, are coming off a tough home loss to Western Carolina and a long break for final exams, which finished up today.
D.J.s Prediction: Bradley 68, Loyola 56 (D.J.’s record 1-1)
Alex’s Assessment: Former Scout Sports Editor Alex Mayster had the following to say before tonight’s contest.
“With a long time to think about the Western Carolina loss, the Braves come out hungry and looking to get back on track.”
Alex’s Prediction: Bradley 63, Loyola 49 (Alex’s record 2-0)
Eastman hasn’t touched a ball in the last hour of warmups, meaning that Coach Les must be serious about preserving his redshirt status if he can. Jake is available to play, but if the Braves can get away with not using him, I’m sure they would have no problem keeping him on the 5-year plan.
Starting lineups for tonight’s game are as follows: Loyola, McCammon, Averkamp, Polka, Stanley and Hill. For B, it’s the usual cast of Taylor Brown, Sam Maniscalco, Will Egolf, Chris Roberts and Andrew Warren.
Also, the word on press row is that DSE can still apply for a medical redshirt since he hasn’t yet played in 30 percent of the team’s total games for the season. However, there is no guarantee that will be the case according to Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star, who said that Les will wait to see how the injury heals in it’s 3-6 week timeframe.
Other news from press row, someone was passing out Jolly Ranchers. Boo-yah.
Bradley wins the tip and is off and running as Chris Roberts drops a 3 to start. Hill answers with a jumper for Loyola and Ben Averkamp drops a layup on the following Rambler possession.
Roberts comes up short on a long dunk attempt and McCammon hits a 3-pointer to put Loyola up 9-5. Freshman Milos Knezevic enters the game and grabs a defensive board, leading to a missed layup attempt by Egolf. Will is off to an 0-for-4 start from the field, which doesn’t bode well against a larger Loyola team.
At the 14:29 BU timeout, it’s Loyola 13, Bradley 8.
Eddren McCain and Anthony Thompson into the game for the Braves as Knezevic knocks down a 3 out of the media timeout. Milos hits another trey on the next BU possession, this time being knocked to the ground on a box-out.
After a McCammon layup inside, Warren drops the Braves’ third straight 3-pointer to give them a 17-15 lead. with 12:32 to play.
EM with a nice drive to the bucket to make it an 11-4 run over the past 2:42. Milos makes it 13-4 with a jumper from the elbow, and he drops another trey after a Warren bucket. The freshman is 4-for-4 from the field with 11 points.
With the bad news about DSE, you have to love that kind of production.
Knezevic heads back to the bench and a pair of BU turnovers and a Loyola 3-ball ensue.
The Braves are 6-of-7 from 3-point land to start the game. Coach Crouch must really work quickly.
At the 7:45 media timeout, it’s BU 26, Loyola 22. Knezevic leads all scorers with 11, while Terrance Hill is atop the Rambler’s scoring chart with nine.
Warren and Roberts each split a pair from the line, starting the Braves off on the same 50-percent free throw pace that arguably cost them last week’s game against Western Carolina.
A steal by Brown leads to a hard-nosed 3-point play by Maniscalco. After a miss by Hill on the other end, Warren responds with Bradley’s seventh 3-pointer of the night.
With 5:19 to play it’s Bradley by 12 (34-22).
Thompson misses a bunny inside on a pass form Warren and the Bradley lead has shrunk to seven. In other news, I have reports that our man, Alex Mayster, will be competing in some sort of free throw contest at the break. Should be entertaining to say the least.
Enter the Bradley Sage, 6th-year senior Sam Singh, who pulls down a board on Loyola’s first possession out of the timeout.
Warren drops another 3-ball to take the scoring lead at 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-4 from 3). Back to a 10-point lead on a fancy-pants spin move in the lane by Maniscalco. Knezevic and McCain check back in, replacing Warren and TB. Let’s see if the freshman can top 11 points in four minutes.
Roberts converts a 3-point play to give the Braves their largest lead of the night (13) with just over a minute to play.
Walt Gibler erases two of them with a pair of freebies and Singh is whistled for a player-control foul on the ensuing Bradley possession. Judging by Les’ conversation with referee Brad Gaston on the way to the locker room, I don’t think he was too pleased.
At the break, it’s BU 42, Loyola 31.
Warren lead the Braves with 12, Knezevic still has 11 and Hill still leads the Ramblers with nine.
For your halftime entertainment tonight, hypnotist Todd Silver has under his spell nine of the Carver Arena crowd, making them imitate such performers as Jon Bon Jovi and Katy Perry. I hope their friends have video cameras.
A-May sinks 6-of-13 free throw attempts and receives $10 for each one. Had this been a couple games ago, he could have suited up for the Braves with that percentage.
While he did receive $10 for each freebie he sank, I think it’s important to include the fact that he did air-ball three shots…
McCammon drops a baseline jumper for Loyola to get the second half started and TB answers with a dash to the basket. Brown didn’t land the dismount, however, banging his head on the floor on the way down. He heads to the bench and in comes Milos.
TB appears to be OK and comes back in the game with Singh. Averkamp hits one in the paint for the Ramblers he adds another on the next Loyola possession. The second basket came on an inbound pass that was little more than a handoff. Chalk that one up to bad defense rather than good execution.
At the 15:48 media timeout, the Ramblers have worked their way back to within eight points, 50-42.
Maniscalco draws a foul on another BU drive to the bucket. The boys look a lot more aggressive in this second half with a good deal of guard penetration. With the outside shooting that has been displayed already, there’s no way that slice and dice offense can hurt.
Singh can’t handle the inside pass from Warren, leading to CR’s second foul on the other end. Averkamp splits a pair of free throws with 12:30 to play, marking the game’s first points since the 16:07 mark. At the 11:47 timeout, Bradley has now gone 4:38 since it’s last basket and as a result, the lead has been cut to 50-43.
Egolf misses a pair and the great drought continues, but a 3-pointer by Warren wakes the Braves up from their nightmare. That was a 6:53 scoreless stretch, but BU still retains a 53-45 lead with 10:09 to play. That 3-ball gives AW 17 on the night.
A McCain steal leads to a Roberts layup and we are back to a 10-point lead.
Hill ends his own personal drought, dropping a 3-pointer to give him 12 for the game. Another missed FT by Egolf leads to another 3-pointer by Hill. But Roberts answers with a triple of his own to put the Braves up five with 8:07 to play.
Hill’s second 3 capped off an 8-0 run by the Ramblers over the last 1:09.
As good as the 3-point shooting has been for Bradley (10-of-17 now), the free throw shooting is still…um…less than stellar (4-for-11). I hope Alex is still here if the Braves need him.
Egolf hits his first free throws of the night after Gibler was called for an over-the-back on what appeared to be a Rambler bucket.
Averkamp hits a jumper in the paint to bring Loyola back within five (60-55) and Warren misses another free throw for the Braves (6-of-14 total).
Egolf is back at the line for Bradley after a foul on Polka that put both teams in the double bonus. Will hits both to make it 62-55 with 6:01 to play.
Gibler drops a pair for Loyola, who has hit 12 of its 15 throws.
Singh is back in the game for Bradley after Will picks up his fourth foul. Singh picks up a quick foul and sends Gibler back to the line with a chance to make it a one-possession game. He hits both and does just that. With 4:26 to play, it’s Bradley 62, Loyola 60.
TB cleans up a Warren miss to put Bradley back up four and Aric Van Weelden turns it over on the next Rambler trip.
There’s 3:02 to play and a glance at the stat sheet shows that the Braves have been out-boarded 37-24 and 11-3 on the offensive glass.
Courtney Stanley’s tough defensive forces a Maniscalco turnover, which leads to a 15-foot jumper from Hill. Bradley 65, Loyola 62 with 1:31 to play.
TB walks and gives the ball to Loyola, leading to a Roberts foul and a Hill split at the line.
Another TB turnover and another Roberts foul (4). Hill is back at the line with…wait for it…a chance to tie. He swishes them both and it’s a new game. Those freebies cap off a 5:12 10-3 run by the Ramblers.
So let’s review, Bradley hits 8-of-11 from 3-point land in the first half and takes an 11-point lead into the break. I’m not sure this is that same team on the floor right now…
Brown misses a contested jumper from the free throw line and Singh is out-boarded by 6-3 Van Weelden, who calls timeout for the Ramblers.
Wow. With 2.5 seconds left, Loyola inbounds to Stanley who drops a game-winning 3-pointer from just past half court for the Ramblers. It’s reviewed by the officials, but there’s no question. Loyola 68, Bradley 65. Disgusting.