What is a safe lead in basketball? Answer: a “win”. Illinois State stated with very hot 3 point shooting (5 of 7) and took a 33-15 lead with 4:07 to go in the first half and lead 36-23 at the half.
In the second half, Central Florida started to attack the basket more but ISU still lead 52-42 with just under 11 minutes to go.
Still, the UCF guards penetrated and their 7′ 6″ center (not a misprint) seemed to be more comfortable. So while ISU made all 8 of their free throws, UCF made 14-18 and that proved to be the key difference: more attempts from the line.
UCF took the lead for the first time with 1:41 to go (61-60) and used great defense (some good blocked shots) to hold the lead. But with 4 seconds to go, ISU drew a foul and calmly made both free throws to lead 62-61.
On the ensuing play, the UCF guard drew a foul (a force out) with 1.3 seconds to go and made both free throws (madhouse atmosphere) which sealed the win.
It was a terrific basketball game and a great atmosphere; I just wish ISU had gotten one more stop so we could have had a Wednesday game vs. Illinois (who won at home later that evening).
Socially, it was fun for us to go with Vickie and Harry.
Some game action:
Vickie sizing up the offerings at the concession stand.
It is my spring break and so I took advantage to catch a couple of NIT games.
The first one was Illinois vs. Valparaiso in Champaign.
Ticket demand was low, so I was able to get “club sets” right at midcourt. Only 4700 people (or so) showed up (capacity: 16,000) but those that did were boisterous. And more importantly, the Illini showed up and won 82-57 in a a game that was even more lopsided than the score might indicate (and the final spread was 25!) Valpo was without their best player, who had a broken foot.
People wondered if the Illini would have any competitive fire as they were drummed out of the Big Ten tournament and their coach was fired. But they played well and dominated from start to finish. They hit the 3, dominated inside, etc.
The arena (State Farm Center) looks eerie from the outside:
We had club seats, which gave me access to a “10 dollars for a large meatball sub, with potato wedges, salad and dessert” (which I did not have). But it was a nice meal for an arena.
We had great midcourt seats.
And my long suffering spouse seemed to enjoy it.
Overall, it was as nice as the NBA arena we went to (at least as far as watching the game).
And the tickets were all of 22 dollars (plus some fees, which put the price to 28).
BUT, yes, there were empty seats…a LOT of them as you can see.
Next day: Illinois State vs. California-Irvine, 8:30 pm start.
Once again, you had a disappointed team as Illinois State felt that they deserved an NCAA bid (and I did too). But they had a nice match up vs. the California-Irvine Anteaters. This pitted the Missouri Valley Champions versus the Big West Champions.
And while ISU won 85-71, the game was only a 6 point game with 11 minutes to go. It was much more competitive than the previous game.
In a nutshell: great outside shooting forced the Anteaters away from their “large” lineup (they had a 7′ 2″ center and a 6′ 10″ forward). That opened up the inside for repeated “Alley-Oop” dunks; I counted about a half-dozen of those or so. Hot outside shooting by the Cal-Irvine guards kept them in the game, but it wasn’t enough.
My seat (just me this time) was at the top of the lower bowl: not as fancy as the Illinois arena but still a very, very nice place to watch a basketball game.
Though the lower bowl was well filled, there were still quite a few empties in the upper bowl. They drew 5100 fans in the 10,200 capacity arena. The 8:30 pm start didn’t help.
Yes, low attendance was due to the NIT being a “second rate” tournament to begin with (by definition); a consolation prize for those teams left out of the NCAA. And yes, you did have one coach being fired.
BUT, look at the start times: “barely enough time to make it from work” in one case (6 pm…LOTS of old people) and 8:30..kind of late for those who work the next day (again, LOTS of old people).
Why? The fact is that, while more people in the arena is nice, say, even 4000 more people at a marginal profit of, say, 10 dollars a ticket (upper bowl prices) is 40,000 dollars extra, which is peanuts compared to what television pays out.
The money is in television. Hence the next round of games for me is….MONDAY NIGHT…Illinois State at 6, Illinois at 8. Needless to say, I had to choose..and I got a group of 4 to go to the Illinois State game. They wouldn’t play on the weekend because that is when the NCAA games are…television.
Back in the days when television wasn’t the driving factor (many NIT games weren’t televised), start times were more convenient for the fans; the NCAA on TV wouldn’t be much of a factor in scheduling.
So…expect to see more empty seats as in this day and age, “in person” fans are really a “nice to have” afterthought. TV pays the bills.
Fortunately, I can move office hours (to a more popular time) and make at least one of the games; most people do not have that luxury.
And who knows; maybe next year my team will be in postseason of some sort? Making the CIT or CBI would be a decent goal, and I enjoy the last time I went to those games.
3 mile walk outside (too pleasant not to) and weights: rotator cuff,
pull ups (5 sets of 10, much better)
bench press: 10 x 135, 6 x 185 (good), 8 x 170
military press: 10 x 50 standing dumbbell, 10 x 45 standing dumbbell, 10 x 90 (each arm) machine.
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
incline press: Hammer, 10 x 160 (80 each arm), 8 x 160, 10 x 140
Weight: 197.2 before (199.8 with shoes, shorts, shirt)
Yes, after a last second 3, Bradley trailled Missouri State 32-30 at the end of the first half. The Missouri State lead swelled to 42-33 with 15:41 left to play. But this team does not panic any longer; they made adjustments, kept making the extra pass, stayed with their defensive assignments, etc. They took a 1 point lead with 11 minutes to go and never trailed again. The crowd got loud..the atmosphere is starting, just starting, to resemble the better atmospheres of a decade ago. It was so much fun to see!
What a great way to end the home season. Bradley won 3 of their final 4 home games; they haven’t done that in a number of years.
Oh, my workout: great running weather, though the course was a bit slick with light rain. I did the 5.1 mile course, running the hills hard enough to force myself to walk after finishing each hill; this was my usual “6 hard segments workout. It felt good, though without a stopwatch for each segment, did I really push myself hard enough? Note: the second half took 30 minutes to do (12 mpm, which of course includes recovery walking.
On each uphill, I try to make myself hurt; maybe I imagine the 5K race clock about to tick past 25:59, or maybe T and her shiny spandex just a few yards ahead, etc. …anything to get me to push.
Well, the Bradley Women lost to Wichita State 76-69; the free throw shooting did not help. They were 13-15; we were 16-24. It was 38-34 at the half; note that Bradley started out with a 10-2 lead. Wichita also shot 50 percent from 3 point range; that is way too high of a percentage. Yes, they were mostly open looks.
Bradley trailed by 10…but then rallied to cut it to 2 points…but missed a layup! (somewhat contested though). Wichita seemed to take control after that.
But I have gotten spoiled given that BU has won 4 home games in a row. They are much improved from last year and are a pleasure to watch.
Of interest is that they handed out stuff to make sandwiches with as you walked into the arena. Then at half time, they had you make your sandwich. I gave mine away to a younger man (higher metabolism).
Workout notes: I didn’t sleep well last night; too giddy from a wonderful Saturday. The weights went ok:
rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, strong), bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185 (slightly weak), 7 x 170 (weak), 10 x 135 incline press, rows: 3 sets of 10 with different machines. Military: 7 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 40 all standing dumbbell, 10 x 180 machine (strict) Usual abs: 2 sets of twist crunch (12), 2 sets of 10 leg lifts, head stand (reasonably good).
Then I went outside to walk (beautiful day): I did the out and back to Bass Pro (5 miles) then had to rest; I was very, very thirsty and had a slight headache. I drank, then did another 3 to get 8 miles (8.2 really).
Last night: the Bradley women had a tit-for-tat slugfest with Missouri State. The Braves were outrebounded and out shot (slightly; both teams finished in the high 30’s) but made 75 percent of their free throws (24 of 32, as opposed to 10 of 18 for MSU); that was the difference. One forward had a great first quarter; the other two picked up the slack for the remaining 3. The star has 17 rebounds and 21 points. That was enough for BU to pull off an exciting 52-46 victory over the MVC’s no. 3 team.
Then this morning, Mamma T made some time to do a social 8 mile run/walk with me (she is recovering from an illness)
It was so pretty, and the company was wonderful..as it always is.
Then a quick bite, followed by a Bradley men’s game. I took Mat to that one.
Bradley started out well and took an early 7 point lead; Evansville rallied to take a 4 point lead at the half; Bradley’s star forward had early foul trouble. He still finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The point guard hit several 3 point shots during his 16 point first half (22 total).
But Evansville extended the lead to 55-41 with 14 points left in the game. But this time, Bradley did not panic. They slowly chipped away to pull to within 64-61 with 7 minutes to go. They gradually took the lead and extended it to 8 with 2 minutes to go and made enough plays down the stretch to build it to 84-70; they got the last basket to make the score 84-72. Great game!
Mat joked that I should take him to more game, since the Bears won the game I took him to (vs. the 49’ers).
Then it was an errand, followed by dinner with a dear friend. We were supposed to meet at the Indian restaurant but it was closed; so we went to a new (new to me) Mexican plate. The food was good; the company was even better, but the table..was one of those tiny round tables that was too low to the ground; kind of a “ok to have a drink” tables.
Still..’twas a nice day of workouts, sporting events and friendship.
Tomorrow: another woman’s game (maybe a another Bradley sweep weekend?) and then on Monday: the Peoria Democrats Dinner (Tracy is going to that one with me this year)
We had a mild snowstorm (unusual for THIS winter, but seasonal) and a cold snap that put the overnight temperature into the teens. (F) So, given that ISU-blue was last in the conference, Bradley was 8 out of 10 and there was an 8 pm start to the game, attendance wasn’t great:
Announced attendance was just over 5000, but I doubt that there was even half of that actually at the game. But we were there.
And Bradley showed up, at least for the first half. Bradley jumped out to an early lead (hitting some 3 point shots; 50 percent in the first half) and lead 27-15 early. ISU rallied to cut into the lead, but a late 9-2 run put Bradley up 38-27 at the half. Things were looking up.
Bradley paraded its “athletes on the honor roll” at the half. I saw some of my students out there.
But then came the second half. While ISU made some good defensive adjustments, Bradley was so poor from the free throw line, they averaged 50 percent for the game. And this was *everyone*; this wasn’t a matter of the team’s worst shooter getting free throws most of the time.
And it took BU 10:30 to get its FIRST field goal (yes, 10:30 field goal drought) and BU was to go…THREE for TWENTY FOUR in the second half. 24 shots (many lay ups), 3 makes. That is not a misprint.
Needless to say, ISU took a small lead…but somehow, somehow, Bradley got it back and lead 54-51 with 1:48 to go. All that, and still BU lead.
But they left open ISU’s best shooter for a 3, and then gave up a lay up. BU called a time out but could only get off a bad look 3 point shot. That missed but with a few seconds to go, BU got a steal! With 1.8 seconds, a BU player desperately tried to call “time out” but the referee didn’t see it; he watched the driving desperation attempt from afar, which missed.
And thus ended Bradley’s hopes of putting together back to back conference wins.
This was perhaps the most disappointing game of the season. Yeah, the guys tried, but they seem to lack confidence in themselves; they have that “oh no!” aura when things go wrong.
This time, one of the power forwards stepped up and scored 18 points, and the whole team played excellent defense as the Bradley women won its second game in a row.
The team trailed by 2 points at the end of the first quarter (14-12) but the defense stepped up and only allowed 27 points over the remaining 3 quarters. They held ISU to 27 percent shooting and only 10 percent from 3 point range. BU out rebounded ISU as well; it was a great win all the way around.
I think that the freshman point guard is a major factor for the team’s improvement.
That finishes a 3 game weekend sweep; women winning two games and the men winning one. I could get very used to this! Note: yesterday’s and today’s wins were against “mid pack of the MVC” teams, not “bottom dwelling” teams.
Ok, it was a battle between a 8-16 and a 7-16 team, so there weren’t many there to see it.
But I was there and glad that I went. Bradley came out with fire and played with a bit of an attitude.
As you can see from the stats, the Braves shot the lights out from 3 point range; that opened up the inside for dunks, lobs, and put backs on missed shots. Just like the Wichita game, it was a great start..against a “sort of lower-mid-pack” MVC team (even after today, Drake has won 5 MVC games; Bradley only 4).
The Men’s 1995-1996 MVC championship team was honored at halftime; I am surprised at how much they’ve aged. I was already at Bradley for a few years when this happened; I saw these guys play.
But Bradley really isn’t good enough to blow out a “sort of lower-midpack MVC team” like Drake; Drake made a run and cut it to 5 points within the last few minutes of the game (2:36). But Bradley didn’t panic; they got some key stops and rebounds to close out a win.
I see a few more victories this season, especially at home. I don’t see a future home opponent that they don’t have a realistic chance of beating.
Now maybe the women can complete the weekend sweep tomorrow? But they are playing a much better team than they did last night. But ISU-blue is still 5-5 in conference whereas the Bradley women are 4-6. They have a realistic shot at winning this one.
Bradley’s big center was too much for Loyola; she ended up with 26 points (18 in the first half) as Bradley screamed out to a 47-16 halftime lead and then just cruised.
Note: in the action photo, you can see the men’s team in the stands, lending support.
It made for the end of a good day..though my back was still stiff. I was limited to .5 miles of running and 2.6 of walking on the treadmill (last mile was 12:45, with an incline), plus some back exercises.
I’ll take it easy for the next few days..it is better.
Ok, this isn’t the crowd one would expect from a Wichita State game, but the action in the first half was intense:
WSU scored 11 points in the first 5 minutes but only 9 more for the rest of the first half.
Bradley forces the Shockers into multiple turnovers.
But then came the second half; WSU went on a 31-13 run in the first 13 minutes of the second half and then went on to win 64-49, outscoring Bradley 44-24 in the second half. Cruel reality strikes again.
Still…I still think that this team has at least 3, maybe more, wins left in conference. Bradley has had 2 games with Loyola, 2 with Wichita and 1 with Illinois State. Aside from the Illinois State game in Normal (which will be brutal), Bradley should be able to compete for a win in each of the remaining 8 conference games. I think a 3-5 to 4-4 finish is a very realistic goal.
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