BY SAMMANTHA DELLARIA
The commencement of a new Bradley mens basketball season will bring the opportunity for many players to step up their games.
This season, Koch Bar will be the most valuable player on the mens team, without a doubt. Despite only entering his sophomore year of play, the 611 center will pick up right where he left off after his freshman season and with the potential to go beyond that.
During his inaugural 2016-17 season, Bar aligned himself in the company of elite players of Bradley basketball program history with 41 total blocks good enough for the third most in school history. This feat places Bar just behind first-round NBA picks Patrick OBryant and Danny Granger.
This defensive prowess will be essential to the Bradley bunch as they look to keep opposing offenses at bay.
Yet, it is not just his defensive ability that provides Bar the potential to be a stand-out star this season; the Sudanese native also led the Braves with a 51.7 field goal percentage. Bars ability to not only shut down opposing offenses but also produce scoring makes him a complete player which will prove to be valuable for the mens team this season.
AJ will try and tell you that Bar is too young to be the best on the team, but the Bradleybasketball program is built on youth, providing ample time for a young player to step up and lead the group for years to come. This will allow young players like Bar to leave behind a foundational legacy for future players to follow. While Luuk van Bree is also an effective player offensively, his defensive play is just not as strong as Bars.
Luuk van Bree
BY AJ LAMB
As Bradley mens basketball closes in on the start of their season, there are still many unanswered questions about their upcoming 2017-18 play. The team has had their share of ups and downs the past few years, but one thing has remained consistent for the Braves: Luuk van Bree. With two solid years of play under him, the junior will look to continue leading the team both on and off the floor.
During his freshman campaign, van Bree saw plenty of action; starting in 28 of his 30 appearances in 2015. He went on to lead both the team as well as Missouri Valley Conference freshmen in 3-pointers with 44, the most a Bradley player has recorded since the 2007-2008 season. The forward was also named to the MVC All-Freshmen team, averaging 9.4 points a game in conference play the second highest on the Braves.
While van Bree took on a smaller role with less minutes last season, he still produced well for head coach Brian Wardle with 6.5 points per game and led the team with 26 steals on the season.
While these numbers may not jump off the page, the Netherlands native has consistently given the Braves a balanced attack, with solid two-way play. Van Bree has also proven time and time again he can deliver big performances, including his double-double freshman year against Texas Christian University with 19 points and 11 rebounds and his career-best 20 points against University of Northern Iowa last season.
While Sammy may tell you that Koch Bar will be the most important piece of the Bradley puzzle, van Bree is poised for a breakout season. With one of the most complete offensive skillsets on the team, the junior is ready to take the MVC by the reins and lead the charge for this coming season.