Local college hoops 2016-17 preview: Bradley


Local college hoops 2016-17 preview: Bradley

2015-16 Results: It was a tough first season for head coach Brian Wardle as his rebuilding roster finished 5-27 and 3-15 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Winning three league games with a roster that bare was no small feat as last year's roster took plenty of lumps to prepare for the future. 

Players to Watch: Guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye was one of the few bright spots last season as he averaged 9.8 points per game and was an MVC All-Freshman selection. Junior forward Donte Thomas, a former Thornwood product, also returns as he put up 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Key Storylines: Last season, Bradley had nine true freshmen on the roster as the Braves were one of the youngest teams in the country. With six of those freshmen back, as well as six new freshmen (some of them walk-ons) Wardle still has an incredibly young team as he tries to find pieces that will help him set up a foundation for the future.

Newcomers to Track: Besides the freshmen, the Braves get two new transfers this season. Former Seton Academy star Alex Foster returns to the Land of Lincoln after starting his college career at Texas Tech while forward JoJo McGlaston joins the roster from Utah State. Both juniors give the Braves some much needed experience.

Season Outlook: It will be baby steps for Bradley again this season as their roster is, once again, incredibly young and inexperienced. If some new pieces continue to emerge and some of the sophomores show improvement, this could be a team with a lot of upperclass experience the next few seasons that could make for a tough out.

Clayton Custer's 'good bounce' sends Loyola to Sweet 16

Clayton Custer's 'good bounce' sends Loyola to Sweet 16

UMBC may have stolen the most attention from the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but Loyola became the early talk of Saturday's games by advancing to the Sweet 16 with another dramatic finish.

It wasn't the pure exhilaration of Donte Ingram’s last-second game-winning 3-pointer in the first round win against Miami, but the Ramblers knocked off Tennessee 63-62 (a one-point difference from the 64-62 score against Miami) with another exciting finish.

This time it was Clayton Custer sinking a jumper, one that hit rim, then backboard and some more rim before going in, with 3.6 seconds left and the Ramblers surviving a last gasp three attempt by Jordan Bone to get the win.

“The ball bounced up on the rim and I got a good bounce like that,” Custer said of his game-winning shot. “The only thing I could think about after the game is that’s all the hard work that you put in to get in a situation like this. All those hours, waking up early in the morning and working out. For all that hard work to come up to that lucky bounce is worth it.”

Custer’s shot may not have been the cleanest looking, but teammate Ben Richardson said it’s nothing new.

“I’ve seen him make a 1-2 dribble pull-up probably a million times,” Richardson said. “I have so much faith in that shot just because I’ve seen him make it. When we’re just working out and stuff I see him make it at maybe a 98 percent clip so before games I’m always like ‘Get to that 1-2 pull-up, get to that 1-2 pull-up.’... It’s fitting that he hits a big shot going 1-2 pull-up, like we’ve been doing in the gym for our whole lives working on that shot.”

Loyola, an 11 seed, is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1985. The Ramblers will face either Cincinnati or Nevada next, looking for a first trip to the Elite 8 since winning the national title in 1963. Oh, by the way, Loyola beat Cincinnati in the 1963 championship game.

Former Simeon players come up clutch in Thursday's March Madness action

Former Simeon players come up clutch in Thursday's March Madness action

It's no secret that Simeon routinely churns out some of the best basketball talent in the country. From Nick Anderson to Derrick Rose to Jabari Parker, the Wolverines are notorious for the impact their former student-athletes have at the collegiate and professional ranks.

Thursday, former Simeon stars Zach Norvell (Gonzaga) and Donte Ingram (Loyola) hit clutch shots to lead their respective schools to victory in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64. 

Norvell, who graduated from Simeon in 2016, buried a go-ahead three with about 20 seconds remaining in No. 4 Gonzaga's 68-64 win over No. 13 UNC Greensboro. 

Norvell, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, averaged 12.2 points in 26.1 minutes for Gonzaga this season. He finished with 15 points on 3-of-12 shooting (2-of-8 from three) in 34 minutes Thursday. He was ranked 83rd in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2016.

In the biggest upset of the day, Ingram and No. 11 Loyola knocked off No. 6 Miami 64-62. Ingram hit a three with less than a second remaining, securing Loyola's first NCAA tournament win since 1985. 

Ingram is a 6-foot-6 guard/forward who graduated from Simeon in 2014. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 30.7 minutes this season for Loyola.

Ingram finished with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting in 34 minutes for Loyola Thursday. He shot just 3-of-8 from distance, though one of those conversions obviously came at a perfect time for the Ramblers. 

Norvell and Ingram both have Friday off before their respective schools are back in action Saturday. Norvell and Gonzaga will face-off against No. 5 Ohio State in Boise, while Ingram and Loyola will play No. 3 Tennessee in Dallas.