Bradley Braves men's basketball
|Head coach||Brian Wardle (3rd season)|
|Colors||Red and White
|NCAA Tournament runner-up|
|NCAA Tournament Final Four|
|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|
|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. 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.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early years
- 1.2 Alfred J. Robertson (1920–1948)
- 1.3 Forddy Anderson (1948–1954)
- 1.4 Chuck Orsborn (1956–1965)
- 1.5 Joe Stowell (1965–1978)
- 1.6 Dick Versace (1978–1986)
- 1.7 Stan Albeck (1986–1991)
- 1.8 Jim Molinari (1991–2002)
- 1.9 Jim Les (2002–2011)
- 1.10 Geno Ford (2011–2015)
- 1.11 Brian Wardle (2015–present)
- 2 Season-by-season results
- 3 Postseason appearances
- 4 I-74 Rivalry
- 5 Notable players
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Braves began playing basketball in 1902, starting out as independent.
Alfred J. Robertson (1920–1948)
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)
National runner-up and scandal
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.
However, in 1951, a point-shaving scandal rocked CCNY specifically, New York, and college basketball as a whole. 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. Melchiorre, Mann, and George Chianakos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, but avoided jail time. The others were not charged.
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. After the season, the Braves left the Missouri Valley Conference and became independent again.
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)
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.
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. 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.
Joe Stowell (1965–1978)
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. 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. Stowell finished with 197 wins, the second most in Brave history.
Dick Versace (1978–1986)
Stan Albeck (1986–1991)
Jim Molinari (1991–2002)
Jim Les (2002–2011)
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 and upset No. 16-ranked Pittsburgh to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1955. In the Sweet Sixteen, the Braves' Cinderella run came to an end as No. 1-seeded Memphis blew out the Braves. O'Bryant left Bradley after the season for the NBA Draft.
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.
Geno Ford (2011–2015)
Kent State head coach Geno Ford was hired to replace Les. 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. 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. Ford was found liable for $1.2 million. 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.
Brian Wardle (2015–present)
Following Geno Ford's firing, the school hired Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle. 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.
|No coach (Independent) (1902–1909)|
|Fred Brown (Independent) (1909–1918)|
|Fred Brown:||91–65 (.583)||–|
|Harold Olsen (Independent) (1918–1919)|
|Harold Olsen:||6–9 (.400)||–|
|Bill Allen (Independent) (1919–1920)|
|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)|
|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|
|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|
|1961–62||Chuck Orsborn||21–7||10–2||T–1st||NIT First round|
|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)|
|1967–68||Joe Stowell||19–9||12–4||2nd||NIT First round|
|1973–74||Joe Stowell||20–8||9–3||2nd||NCIT Second round|
|Joe Stowell:||197–147 (.573)||91–93|
|Dick Versace (Missouri Valley Conference) (1978–1986)|
|1979–80||Dick Versace||23–10||13–3||1st||NCAA First Round|
|1981–82||Dick Versace||26–10||13–3||1st||NIT Champions|
|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)|
|1987–88||Stan Albeck||26–5||12–2||1st||NCAA First Round|
|Stan Albeck:||75–71 (.514)||41–31|
|Jim Molinari (Missouri Valley Conference) (1991–2002)|
|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|
|1998–99||Jim Molinari||17–12||11–7||T–2nd||NIT First round|
|2000–01||Jim Molinari||19–12||12–6||T–2nd||NIT First round|
|Jim Molinari:||174–152 (.534)||110–88|
|Jim Les (Missouri Valley Conference) (2002–2010)|
|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|
|Jim Les:||154–140 (.524)||74–88|
|Geno Ford (Missouri Valley Conference) (2011–2015)|
|2012–13||Geno Ford||18–17||7–11||T–7th||CIT Quarterfinals|
|Geno Ford:||46–86 (.348)||74–88|
|Brian Wardle (Missouri Valley Conference) (2015–present)|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
NCAA Tournament results
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.
National Championship Game
National Championship Game
|1980||No. 11||First Round||No. 6 Texas A&M||L 53–55|
|1986||No. 7||First Round
|No. 10 UTEP
No. 2 Louisville
|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
|No. 4 Kansas
No. 5 Pittsburgh
No. 1 Memphis
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.
|1939||Semifinals||Long Island||L 32–36|
|1947||Quarterfinals||West Virginia||L 60–69|
Third Place Game
|1965||First Round||NYU||L 70–71|
|1968||Sweet Sixteen||Long Island||L 77–80|
|1985||First Round||Marquette||L 68–77|
|1999||First Round||Butler||L 50–51|
|2001||First Round||Detroit-Mercy||L 49–68|
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.
Finals Game 1
Finals Game 2
Finals Game 3
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.
Bradley participated in the 1974 National Commissioners Invitational Tournament where they advanced to the semifinals. Their record is 1–1.
National Campus Basketball Tournament results
The Braves appeared in, and hosted, the only National Campus Basketball Tournament. Their record is 2–1.
- Danny Granger
- Hersey Hawkins
- Walter Lemon Jr.
- Jim Les
- Bobby Joe Mason
- Shellie McMillon
- Gene Melchiorre
- Patrick O'Bryant
- Anthony Parker
- Roger Phegley
- David Thirdkill
- Paul Unruh
- Chet Walker
- Bradley Athletics Brand Identity – Usage and Style Guide (PDF). Retrieved August 2, 2017.
- "1949–50 Bradley Braves Schedule and Results | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "ESPN Classic – Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops". www.espn.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "National Campus Tournament 1951". www.luckyshow.org. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley's Ozzie Orsborn Dies at 99". WMBD News. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Bradley Great Charles Osborn Passes Away". Bradley University. Bradley University. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- http://centralillinoisproud.com/content/fulltext/?cid=2672[dead link]
- Wessler, Kirk (2010-09-26). "Double hit stings old coach, but ..." PJStar.com. Peoria, Illinois: GateHouse Media. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
- "Bradley vs. Kansas – Game Recap – March 17, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley vs. Pittsburgh – Game Recap – March 19, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley vs. Memphis – Game Recap – March 23, 2006 – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Former NBA Lottery Pick Patrick O'Bryant: 'I Tend Not to Work Very Hard'". NESN.com. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- Reynolds, Dave. "The Jim Les era at Bradley is over". Journal Star. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley hires Ford away from Kent State - USATODAY.com". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- Wire, SI. "Bradley has fired head basketball coach Geno Ford after four seasons". SI.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Kent State wins $1.2 million lawsuit against former coach Geno Ford". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Kent State drops lawsuit against Bradley University over Geno Ford hiring". Crain's Cleveland Business. 2013-09-26. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley hires Green Bay's Wardle". Sporting News. 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "Bradley Braves Index | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
- "National Campus Tournament 1951". www.luckyshow.org.
- "Redbirds Host Bradley in First Round of I-74 Rivalry Matchup - Illinois State University". Illinois State University.