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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2008 • Volume 14, Issue 3  

Sports Scene
Nursing grad seizes football opportunity I Men’s basketball plays in inaugural CBI championship

Men’s basketball plays in inaugural CBI championship

by Justin Phelps ’05

BU  BravesThe men’s basketball team is approaching the goal coach JIM LES ’86 set for the program. With a run to the championship series of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI), the Braves won a postseason game for the third consecutive season, a feat done only once previously in program history. They also won 21 games for the third consecutive season, which was last done from 1959 to 1962. “From three years ago, when we went to the Sweet 16, our goal was consistent excellence, to be a competitive team year in and year out,” Les said. “We’re starting to establish the consistency of excellence, which is sometimes tougher than getting to the Sweet 16 the first time.”

The CBI is a 16-team tournament created by The Gazelle Group in Princeton, N.J. Its intentions were to provide a meaningful opportunity for teams deserving of a postseason, but left out of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and the NCAA tournament. It is a single-elimination tournament until the final, which is a unique best-of-three series. Tulsa defeated Bradley in three games, with the home team winning each game, to win the tourney.

While it may not have the allure or history of the NCAA tournament or the NIT, the Braves took advantage of the opportunity presented by the CBI. After a season of playing many games without at least one starter, Bradley was at full strength for the tournament run. “Our guys were excited,” Les said, “particularly our seniors, who had a chance to put on the jersey one more time and play. And our younger guys gained experience with a chance to play in a hostile environment at Virginia, against Cincinnati and at Tulsa, twice.”

JEREMY CROUCH ’08 was named to the all-MVC first team. DANIEL RUFFIN ’08, who became the second player in Missouri Valley Conference history to amass 1,200 points and 600 assists in a career behind ANTHONY MANUEL ’89, was selected to the league’s honorable mention team. THERRON WILSON ’10 was picked for the all-newcomer team with SAM MANISCALCO ’11, who was also selected to the all-freshman team.

Men’s Basketball Championship Game History

  • 1950 NCAA tournament runner-up
  • 1950 NIT runner-up
  • 1951 National Campus Tournament runner-up
  • 1954 NCAA tournament runner-up
  • 1957 NIT Champion
  • 1959 NIT runner-up
  • 1960 NIT Champion
  • 1964 NIT Champion
  • 1982 NIT Champion
  • 2008 College Basketball Invitational runner-up



Sports Illustrated writer Deford tells tales

Frank DefordLegendary sportswriter Frank Deford, best known for his work in Sports Illustrated, spoke April 2 at Bradley as part of the Department of Communication’s Robison Lecture Series.

A six-time winner of U.S. Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers, contributor to HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” commentator on National Public Radio and author of 15 books, Deford spoke to a near-capacity crowd of about 300 at Neumiller Hall. His 45-minute lecture, entitled “A Half Century (well, almost) in Sports Journalism,” focused on sports being a common ground for society. Deford shared tales from his writing career, ranging from bathroom breaks with Alabama football coach Bear Bryant to a wrestling bear. “Sports is one thing that unites us all,” the gangly 6-foot-4 Deford said. “And for all its abuses and excesses, it’s truly a unifying element. And no, it’s not unworthy to be one of its troubadours.”

The program concluded with a 15-minute question-and-answer session, followed by a book signing and reception. The Robison Lecture Series was established by the late Mary Leslie Robison, a journalism professor at Bradley from 1957 to 1969.

Nursing grad seizes football opportunity I Men’s basketball plays in inaugural CBI championship