PEORIA — The Bradley Braves need to get mentally stronger if they are to overcome the split personality that has defined their record so far this season.
The Braves are 10-0 at home and have a 17-game home winning streak dating back to last season, the nation’s fifth-longest active home winning streak.
On the road: BU is 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the valley.
Bradley coach Brian Wardle led his team through an intense workout on Monday and gave them a stark reminder as he donned a t-shirt that read ‘Bradley. 86-61. ESPNU”.
It was a reference to the team’s blowout loss to Drake on Saturday.
“To win on the street, our work ethic has to rise,” said Wardle. “We need to give more time to prepare. Our best players need to play better. And we need to be mentally stronger.”
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The statistical breakdowns are interesting, although numbers don’t always give the full picture. For example:
• BU point guard Duke Deen shoots 56.1% from three-point range in 10 home games but just 28.1% in nine away games.
• Center Rienk Mast averages 10.29 rebounds per game in seven home games and 5.17 rebounds per game in six away games.
• Forward Malevy Leons is a top shot blocker in the Valley and has 21 in 10 home games. On the road, only 12 in nine exits. However, his steals are behind, with more games away (18) than at home (14), and he has had three 10-rebound games, all away. Leon’s 3-point shooting – one of the best among the bigs in the league – is 52.4% at home but only 16.7% away, which accounts for much of his score (12.5 ppg home, 9th .44 away).
• As a team, the Braves are beating 3s at home with a 42% clip but only 28.6% away. They’ve made at least 12 3s in six home games.
• Bradley averages 81.7 points per home game and allows 59.6. That’s a difference of +22.1. Away, they score 57.8 points per game clip and allow 67.8, a -10 difference.
“The challenge doesn’t come from a specific opponent or location,” Deen said. “The challenge lies within ourselves.”
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The Braves have lost five straight games at Indiana State, most recently winning there on January 28 of the 2017-18 season (81-73). … MVC co-leader Indiana State ranks 18th nationally (KenPom metrics) for average ball possession length (15.6 seconds). … Bradley forward Christian Davis will be out for 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain but may be stepping off his hiking boot this week. … Since 2010, all but three teams that have led the MVC in FG percent defense have earned a spot in the NCAA tournament. Bradley’s current tally of 39.5% leads the MVC and ranks 30th nationally. … Bradley’s bench is averaging 19.8 points per game while opposing reserves are averaging 17.4 points. … The Braves bench has been surpassed just six times all season – and the team is 1-5 in those games. … The Braves have slipped to #3 in Analytics Experts Matt Hackmans (@mjhackman) weekly Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Seeding Probability Chart. Indiana State slipped to No. 2, and Southern Illinois — with a win at Indiana State — rose to No. 1. … Indiana State leads the MVC and ranks 31st statewide for team field goal percentage (48.2). … Indiana State leads the league and ranks 42nd statewide in scoring (78.8 ppg). …Bradley Guard Ville Tahvanainen has made 29 consecutive free throws, making it the ninth longest streak in BU history Roger Phegley (1977-78). Tahvanainen’s last missed free throw was a second attempt at 16:38 in the second half against Indiana State in a loss on January 2, 2022 at Carver Arena. His current winning streak began on January 5, 2022 at home with a buzzer beater loss to Missouri State. This is also the last home game Bradley lost before embarking on a 17-game winning streak. Tahvanainen is 13th of 13 at the line this season.
- When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
- Where from: Hulman Center, Terre Haute, Indiana
- Regard: ESPN+
- Listen: WMBD-AM 1470, FM 100.3
- Records: Bradley, 12-7 (5-3), 4th in the MVC. Indiana State, 13-6, (6-2), 1st in MVC.
- all-time streak: Bradley, 55-42.
- NET Ranking: Bradley, No. 78. Indiana State, No. 105.
- KenPom Ranking: Bradley, No. 87. Indiana State, No. 111.
- MVC Preseason Survey: Bradley, No. 2. Indiana State, No. 7.
- head coach: Bradley, Brian Wardle (8th season). Indiana State, Josh Schertz (Season 1).
- Players to watch: Bradley Braves: C Rienk Mast 12.8 ppg and 7.9 rpg (2nd in MVC), 31.0% of 3. He is an MVC preseason first-team pick; F Malevy Leon’s 11.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg and MVC-best 33 blocks, plus 32 steals (4th in MVC) and 37.5% of 3; F Ja’Shon Henry 9.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg; G Duke Deen 11.3 ppg, team best 58a, 38.0% of 3. Indiana State Plane Trees: 6-5, 211 lb G McCauley Courvoisier leads with 16.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 35.7% of 3; 6-6, 210 lbs G Henry Cameron 10.8 ppg, team best 63a; 6-4G Cooper Neese 10.6 ppg; 6-3G Larry Julian 7.4 pp, 60a. And a 6-10 freshman C Robbie Avila.
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star’s sports columnist, covering Bradley’s men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.