Bradley Braves men's basketball

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Bradley Braves
2017–18 Bradley Braves men's basketball team
Bradley Braves logo.svg
University Bradley University
Head coach Brian Wardle (3rd season)
Conference Missouri Valley
Location Peoria, Illinois
Arena Carver Arena
(Capacity: 11,442)
Nickname Braves
Colors Red and White[1]
         
Uniforms
Kit body thinsidesonwhite.png
Home jersey
Kit shorts blanksides2.png
Team colours
Home
Kit body thinwhitesides.png
Away jersey
Kit shorts thinwhitesides.png
Team colours
Away


NCAA Tournament runner-up
1950, 1954
NCAA Tournament Final Four
1950, 1954
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
1950, 1954, 1955
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1950, 1954, 1955, 2006
NCAA Tournament Round of 32
1950, 1954, 1955, 1986, 2006
NCAA Tournament appearances
1950, 1954, 1955, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1996, 2006
Conference tournament champions
1980, 1988
Conference regular season champions
1950, 1962, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1996

The Bradley Braves men's basketball team represents Bradley University, located in Peoria, Illinois, in NCAA Division I basketball competition. They compete as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Braves are currently coached by Brian Wardle and play their home games at Carver Arena.

Bradley has appeared in eight NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Fours, finishing as the national runner-up in 1950 and 1954.[2] They last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2006, reaching the Sweet Sixteen. The Braves have also appeared in the National Invitation Tournament 21 times with an all-time NIT record of 26–18 and have won four NIT titles (1957, 1960, 1964, and 1982). Until the introduction of the Vegas 16 Tournament in 2016, the program held the distinction of being invited to the initial offering of every national postseason tournament.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

The Braves began playing basketball in 1902, starting out as independent.

Alfred J. Robertson (1920–1948)[edit]

Alfred J. Robertson was named coach of the Braves football and basketball teams in 1920. Robertson coached both teams until 1948. He is Bradley's all-time winningest coach with 316 wins over 26 seasons. Robertson died in 1948.

Forddy Anderson (1948–1954)[edit]

Following Robertson's death, the school hired Forrest "Forddy" Anderson from Drake. Also in 1948, the school joined the Missouri Valley Conference for the first time.

National runner-up and scandal[edit]

In 1950, the Braves went 32–5 and won the MVC, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Braves advanced to the National Championship game against CCNY, which accomplished perhaps the greatest feat in basketball history, winning the National Invitation and the NCAA tournaments in the same season.[3]

However, in 1951, a point-shaving scandal rocked CCNY specifically, New York, and college basketball as a whole.[3] The scandal affected Bradley as Bradley players Gene Melchiorre, Bill Mann, Bud Grover, Aaron Preece, and Jim Kelly admitted to taking bribes from gamblers to hold down scores against St. Joseph's in Philadelphia in 1951 and against Oregon State in Chicago.[3] Melchiorre, Mann, and George Chianakos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, but avoided jail time. The others were not charged.[3]

Continued success[edit]

In 1952, the Braves went 32–6 and lost in the final of the National Campus Basketball Tournament, which was held in response to the point-shaving scandals centered around New York.[4] After the season, the Braves left the Missouri Valley Conference and became independent again.

In 1954, though only going 19–13, the Braves again advanced to the NCAA Tournament's championship game, this time falling short to La Salle.

Anderson was hired away from Peoria to coach Michigan State after the season.

Bob Vanatta coached the Braves for two seasons after Anderson departed. They returned to the MVC in 1955.

Chuck Orsborn (1956–1965)[edit]

NIT championships[edit]

Chuck Orsborn, a Bradley alum and basketball player in the 1930s, took over in 1956 after being an assistant from 1947 to 1956. In 1957, his first year as head coach, the Braves won the NIT championship over Memphis State, the school's first NIT title. The school returned to the NIT in 1958 and to the NIT championship game in 1959, losing to St. John's. In 1960, the Braves won their second NIT championship, defeating Providence in the title game.

The Braves won a share of their first MVC crown in 1962, but lost in the NIT's first round. A return to the NIT in 1964 resulted in the Braves' third NIT championship in eight years. After another trip to the NIT in 1965, Orsborn took the position of Bradley's director of athletics and served in that function until 1978.[5]

From 1956 to 1965, he compiled a record of 194–56 (.774). During this nine-year span as head coach, the Braves also earned six Associated Press top 20 finishes, Orsborn was named MVC coach of the year in 1960 and 1962.[5] Orsborn also has the distinction of recording his first 100 victories in 120 games, which is sixth on the all-time list for college coaches.[6]

Joe Stowell (1965–1978)[edit]

The Braves again turned to a Bradley alum as Joe Stowell, who was an assistant coach under Orsborn, became Bradley's ninth head coach in 1965.[7] In his 13 years as head coach, the Braves made only two postseason appearances: the 1968 NIT and the 1974 National Commissioners Invitational Tournament. He was fired as head coach in 1978.[8] Stowell finished with 197 wins, the second most in Brave history.

Dick Versace (1978–1986)[edit]

Stan Albeck (1986–1991)[edit]

Jim Molinari (1991–2002)[edit]

Jim Les (2002–2011)[edit]

Bradley turned to another alum, Jim Les, to take over for Molinari. Les was a senior on the 1986 Braves squad that went 32–3 before losing in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. However, the Braves failed to finish above .500 in Les's first three years as head coach.

In 2006, the Braves, led by sophomore center Patrick O'Bryant, won their final five games of the season to finish in a tie for fifth place in MVC play. The Braves surprised in the MVC Tournament, reaching the championship game before losing to Southern Illinois. The Braves received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed, their first trip to the Tournament since 1996. In the Tournament, the Braves upset No. 12-ranked Kansas in the First Round[9] and upset No. 16-ranked Pittsburgh to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1955.[10] In the Sweet Sixteen, the Braves' Cinderella run came to an end as No. 1-seeded Memphis blew out the Braves.[11] O'Bryant left Bradley after the season for the NBA Draft.[12]

Each of Les's next three Brave teams appeared in postseason play, losing in the second round of the 2007 NIT, and finishing as runners-up in the 2008 College Basketball Invitational and 2009 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

After a disappointing 2010 and a 20-loss 2011, the Braves fired Les.[13]

Geno Ford (2011–2015)[edit]

Kent State head coach Geno Ford was hired to replace Les.[14] Ford's teams struggled under his leadership, failing to win more than seven games in conference play and finishing in last place in his first and final years at Bradley. The Braves did receive an invite to the College Basketball Invitational in 2013, where they advanced to the quarterfinals. In his final year, the Braves finished 9–24, 3–15 in MVC play. After the season, Ford was fired.[15] He finished with a four-year record of 46–86 at Bradley.

Ford's tenure at Bradley was most notable for a lawsuit filed by Kent State, his former employer, seeking payment on a buyout clause in his contract.[16] Ford was found liable for $1.2 million.[16] Kent State continued actions against Bradley for "tortious interference with Kent State’s contractual relationship" with Ford, but Kent State dropped the case in 2013.[17]

Brian Wardle (2015–present)[edit]

Following Geno Ford's firing, the school hired Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle.[18] In Wardle's first year, the Braves continued their struggles, finishing the season 5–24 and in last place in the MVC. In 2017, the Braves improved to 13–20 and finished in a tie for sixth place in MVC play.

Season-by-season results[edit]

Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
No coach (Independent) (1902–1909)
1902–03 No coach 5–2
1903–04 No coach 0–4
1904–05 No coach 5–4
1905–06 No coach 4–5
1906–07 No coach 7–6
1907–08 No coach 9–5
1908–09 No coach 6–7
Fred Brown (Independent) (1909–1918)
1909–10 Fred Brown 6–7
1910–11 Fred Brown 10–3
1911–12 Fred Brown 11–6
1912–13 Fred Brown 14–4
1913–14 Fred Brown 10–10
1914–15 Fred Brown 13–5
1915–16 Fred Brown 8–10
1916–17 Fred Brown 10–6
1917–18 Fred Brown 6–8
Fred Brown: 91–65 (.583)
Harold Olsen (Independent) (1918–1919)
1918–19 Harold Olsen 6–9
Harold Olsen: 6–9 (.400)
Bill Allen (Independent) (1919–1920)
1919–20 Bill Allen 5–10
Bill Allen: 5–10 (.333)
Alfred J. Robertson (Independent) (1920–1948)
1920–21 Alfred J. Robertson 7–9
1921–22 Alfred J. Robertson 12–6
1922–23 Alfred J. Robertson 14–5
1923–24 Alfred J. Robertson 11–10
1924–25 Alfred J. Robertson 11–10
1925–26 Alfred J. Robertson 15–4
1926–27 Alfred J. Robertson 7–8
1927–28 Alfred J. Robertson 14–5
1928–29 Alfred J. Robertson 8–8
1929–30 Alfred J. Robertson 13–4
1930–31 Alfred J. Robertson 10–9
1931–32 Alfred J. Robertson 7–10
1932–33 Alfred J. Robertson 8–5
1933–34 Alfred J. Robertson 3–14
1934–35 Alfred J. Robertson 1–13
1935–36 Alfred J. Robertson 6–10
1936–37 Alfred J. Robertson 15–4
1937–38 Alfred J. Robertson 18–2 NIT Quarterfinals
1938–39 Alfred J. Robertson 19–3 NIT Semifinals
1939–40 Alfred J. Robertson 14–6
1940–41 Alfred J. Robertson 16–6
1941–42 Alfred J. Robertson 15–5
1942–43 Alfred J. Robertson 8–11
1943–44 *** No Basketball due to World War II ***
1944–45 *** No Basketball due to World War II ***
1946–47 Alfred J. Robertson 25–7 NIT Quarterfinals
1947–48 Alfred J. Robertson 28–3
Alfred J. Robertson: 316–187 (.628)
Forrest "Forddy" Anderson (Missouri Valley Conference) (1948–1951)
1948–49 Forddy Anderson 27–8 6–4 3rd NIT Semifinals
1949–50 Forddy Anderson 32–5 11–1 1st NCAA Runner-up NIT Runner-up
1950–51 Forddy Anderson 32–6 11–3 T–2nd National Campus Tournament Runner-up
Forddy Anderson (Independent) (1951–1954)
1951–52 Forddy Anderson 17–12
1952–53 Forddy Anderson 15–12
1953–54 Forddy Anderson 19–13 NCAA Runner-up
Forddy Anderson: 142–56 (.717) 25–8
Bob Vanatta (Independent) (1954–1956)
1954–55 Bob Vanatta 9–20 NCAA Elite Eight
1955–56 Bob Vanatta 13–13 3–9 T–6th
Bob Vanatta: 22–33 (.400) 3–9
Chuck Orsborn (Missouri Valley Conference) (1956–1965)
1956–57 Chuck Orsborn 22–7 9–5 2nd NIT Champions
1957–58 Chuck Orsborn 20–7 12–2 2nd NIT First round
1958–59 Chuck Orsborn 25–4 12–2 2nd NIT Runner-up
1959–60 Chuck Orsborn 27–2 12–2 2nd NIT Champions
1960–61 Chuck Orsborn 21–5 9–3 2nd
1961–62 Chuck Orsborn 21–7 10–2 T–1st NIT First round
1962–63 Chuck Orsborn 17–9 6–6 T–3rd
1963–64 Chuck Orsborn 23–6 7–5 3rd NIT Champions
1964–65 Chuck Orsborn 18–9 9–5 T–2nd NIT First round
Chuck Orsborn: 194–56 (.776) 86–32
Joe Stowell (Missouri Valley Conference) (1965–1978)
1965–66 Joe Stowell 20–6 9–5 T–2nd
1966–67 Joe Stowell 17–9 6–8 T–4th
1967–68 Joe Stowell 19–9 12–4 2nd NIT First round
1968–69 Joe Stowell 14–12 7–9 T–6th
1969–70 Joe Stowell 14–12 7–9 6th
1970–71 Joe Stowell 13–12 6–8 6th
1971–72 Joe Stowell 17–9 8–6 4th
1972–73 Joe Stowell 12–14 4–10 T–7th
1973–74 Joe Stowell 20–8 9–3 2nd NCIT Second round
1974–75 Joe Stowell 15–11 7–7 4th
1975–76 Joe Stowell 13–13 4–8 T–4th
1976–77 Joe Stowell 9–18 4–8 6th
1977–78 Joe Stowell 14–14 8–8 T–5th
Joe Stowell: 197–147 (.573) 91–93
Dick Versace (Missouri Valley Conference) (1978–1986)
1978–79 Dick Versace 9–17 3–13 T–8th
1979–80 Dick Versace 23–10 13–3 1st NCAA First Round
1980–81 Dick Versace 18–9 10–6 T–4th
1981–82 Dick Versace 26–10 13–3 1st NIT Champions
1982–83 Dick Versace 16–13 10–8 5th
1983–84 Dick Versace 15–13 7–9 T–5th
1984–85 Dick Versace 17–13 9–7 T–4th
1985–86 Dick Versace 32–3 16–0 1st NCAA Second Round
Dick Versace: 156–88 (.639) 81–49
Stan Albeck (Missouri Valley Conference) (1986–1991)
1986–87 Stan Albeck 17–12 10–4 2nd
1987–88 Stan Albeck 26–5 12–2 1st NCAA First Round
1988–89 Stan Albeck 13–14 7–7 4th
1989–90 Stan Albeck 11–20 6–8 T–5th
1990–91 Stan Albeck 8–20 6–10 7th
Stan Albeck: 75–71 (.514) 41–31
Jim Molinari (Missouri Valley Conference) (1991–2002)
1991–92 Jim Molinari 7–23 3–15 T–9th
1992–93 Jim Molinari 11–16 7–11 T–7th
1993–94 Jim Molinari 23–8 14–4 T–2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1994–95 Jim Molinari 20–10 12–6 4th NIT Second round
1995–96 Jim Molinari 22–8 15–3 1st NCAA First Round
1996–97 Jim Molinari 17–13 12–6 T–2nd NIT Second round
1997–98 Jim Molinari 15–14 9–9 T–5th
1998–99 Jim Molinari 17–12 11–7 T–2nd NIT First round
1999–2000 Jim Molinari 14–16 10–8 5th
2000–01 Jim Molinari 19–12 12–6 T–2nd NIT First round
2001–02 Jim Molinari 9–20 5–13 8th
Jim Molinari: 174–152 (.534) 110–88
Jim Les (Missouri Valley Conference) (2002–2010)
2002–03 Jim Les 12–18 8–10 T–5th
2003–04 Jim Les 15–16 7–11 T–6th
2004–05 Jim Les 13–15 6–12 8th
2005–06 Jim Les 22–11 11–7 T–5th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2006–07 Jim Les 22–13 10–8 4th NIT Second round
2007–08 Jim Les 21–7 9–9 T–5th CBI Runner-up
2008–09 Jim Les 21–15 10–8 4th CIT Runner-up
2009–10 Jim Les 16–15 9–9 5th
2010–11 Jim Les 12–20 4–14 T–9th
Jim Les: 154–140 (.524) 74–88
Geno Ford (Missouri Valley Conference) (2011–2015)
2011–12 Geno Ford 7–25 2–16 10th
2012–13 Geno Ford 18–17 7–11 T–7th CIT Quarterfinals
2013–14 Geno Ford 12–20 7–11 7th
2014–15 Geno Ford 9–24 3–15 10th
Geno Ford: 46–86 (.348) 74–88
Brian Wardle (Missouri Valley Conference) (2015–present)
2015–16 Brian Wardle 5–27 3–15 9th
2016–17 Brian Wardle 13–20 7–11 T–6th
2017–18 Brian Wardle 20-13 9-9
Brian Wardle: 38-60 18-34
Total: 1,632–1,178 (.581)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Source[19]

Postseason appearances[edit]

NCAA Tournament results[edit]

The Braves have appeared in eight NCAA Tournaments and have advanced to two final fours and two national championship games. Their combined record is 11–8.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1950 Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game
UCLA
Baylor
CCNY
W 73–59
W 68–66
L 68–71
1954 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game
Oklahoma City
Colorado
Oklahoma A&M
Southern California
La Salle
W 61–55
W 76–64
W 71–57
W 74–72
L 76–92
1955 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Oklahoma City
Southern Methodist
Colorado
W 69–65
W 81–79
L 81–93
1980 No. 11 First Round No. 6 Texas A&M L 53–55
1986 No. 7 First Round
Second Round
No. 10 UTEP
No. 2 Louisville
W 83–65
L 68–82
1988 No. 9 First Round No. 8 Auburn L 86–90
1996 No. 8 First Round No. 9 Stanford L 58–66
2006 No. 13 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
No. 4 Kansas
No. 5 Pittsburgh
No. 1 Memphis
W 77–73
W 72–66
L 64–80

NIT results[edit]

The Braves have appeared in 21 National Invitation Tournaments and are four-time champions (1957, 1960, 1964, and 1982). Their combined record is 25–18.

Year Round Opponent Result
1938 Quarterfinals Temple L 40–53
1939 Semifinals Long Island L 32–36
1947 Quarterfinals West Virginia L 60–69
1949 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Third Place Game
NYU
Western Kentucky
Loyola (IL)
Bowling Green
W 78–66
W 82–72
L 61–69
L 77–82
1950 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship Game
Syracuse
St. John's
CCNY
W 78–66
W 83–65
L 61–69
1957 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship Game
Xavier
Temple
Memphis State
W 116–81
W 94–66
W 84–83
1958 Quarterfinals Xavier L 62–72
1959 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship Game
Butler
NYU
St. John's
W 83–77
W 59–57
L 71–76
1960 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship Game
Dayton
St. Bonaventure
Providence
W 78–64
W 82–71
W 88–72
1962 Quarterfinals Duquesne L 85–88
1964 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship Game
St. Joseph's
Army
New Mexico
W 83–81
W 67–52
W 86–54
1965 First Round NYU L 70–71
1968 Sweet Sixteen Long Island L 77–80
1982 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
Championship Game
American
Syracuse
Tulane
Oklahoma
Purdue
W 76–65
W 95–81
W 77–61
W 84–68
W 67–58
1985 First Round Marquette L 68–77
1994 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Murray State
Old Dominion
Siena
W 66–58
W 79–75
L 62–75
1995 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Eastern Michigan
Canisius
W 86–85
L 53–55
1997 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Drexel
Connecticut
W 66–53
L 47–63
1999 First Round Butler L 50–51
2001 First Round Detroit-Mercy L 49–68
2007 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Providence
Mississippi St.
W 90–78
L 72–101

CBI results[edit]

The Braves have participated in one College Basketball Invitational in 2008 where they advanced to the 3–game series final. Their combined record is 4–2.

Year Round Opponent Result
2008 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Finals Game 1
Finals Game 2
Finals Game 3
Cincinnati
Ohio
Virginia
Tulsa
Tulsa
Tulsa
W 70–67
W 79–73
W 96–85
L 68–73
W 83–74
L 64–70

CIT Results[edit]

The Braves have participated in two CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournaments (CIT). In 2009 where they advanced to the championship game. Their combined record is 5–2.

Year Round Opponent Result
2009 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Championship
Austin Peay
Oakland
Pacific
Old Dominion
W 81–74
W 76–75
W 59–46
L 62–66
2013 First Round
Second Round
Quarterfinals
Green Bay
Tulane
Northern Iowa
W 75–69
W 77–72
L 77–90

NCIT Results[edit]

Bradley participated in the 1974 National Commissioners Invitational Tournament where they advanced to the semifinals. Their record is 1–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
1974 First Round
Semifinals
Kansas State
Southern California
W 68–64
L 73–76

National Campus Basketball Tournament results[edit]

The Braves appeared in, and hosted, the only National Campus Basketball Tournament. Their record is 2–1.[20]

Year Round Opponent Result
1951 Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Finals
Western Kentucky
Wyoming
Syracuse
W 75–71
W 77–63
L 75–76

I-74 Rivalry[edit]

The I-74 Rivalry (also known as The War on I-74) is an annual rivalry game between the Illinois State and Bradley University.[21]

Notable players[edit]

Anthony Parker with the Cavaliers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bradley Athletics Brand Identity – Usage and Style Guide (PDF). Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ "1949–50 Bradley Braves Schedule and Results | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d "ESPN Classic – Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops". www.espn.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  4. ^ "National Campus Tournament 1951". www.luckyshow.org. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  5. ^ a b "Bradley's Ozzie Orsborn Dies at 99". WMBD News. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Bradley Great Charles Osborn Passes Away". Bradley University. Bradley University. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  7. ^ http://centralillinoisproud.com/content/fulltext/?cid=2672[dead link]
  8. ^ Wessler, Kirk (2010-09-26). "Double hit stings old coach, but ..." PJStar.com. Peoria, Illinois: GateHouse Media. Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  9. ^ "Bradley vs. Kansas – Game Recap – March 17, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  10. ^ "Bradley vs. Pittsburgh – Game Recap – March 19, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  11. ^ "Bradley vs. Memphis – Game Recap – March 23, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  12. ^ "Former NBA Lottery Pick Patrick O'Bryant: 'I Tend Not to Work Very Hard'". NESN.com. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  13. ^ Reynolds, Dave. "The Jim Les era at Bradley is over". Journal Star. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  14. ^ "Bradley hires Ford away from Kent State - USATODAY.com". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  15. ^ Wire, SI. "Bradley has fired head basketball coach Geno Ford after four seasons". SI.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  16. ^ a b "Kent State wins $1.2 million lawsuit against former coach Geno Ford". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  17. ^ "Kent State drops lawsuit against Bradley University over Geno Ford hiring". Crain's Cleveland Business. 2013-09-26. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  18. ^ "Bradley hires Green Bay's Wardle". Sporting News. 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  19. ^ "Bradley Braves Index | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  20. ^ "National Campus Tournament 1951". www.luckyshow.org. 
  21. ^ "Redbirds Host Bradley in First Round of I-74 Rivalry Matchup - Illinois State University". Illinois State University. 

External links[edit]