ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Ninth-year Bradley head coach Paula Buscher was named the 2009 Rawlings Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year Thursday at the annual Rawlings MVC Coach-of-the-Year Luncheon at the Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles, Mo. Buscher guided the Braves (20-9) to their first 20-win season since 1979-80 and the team’s best finish in Missouri Valley Conference play since the 1991-92 season.
Buscher becomes Bradley's first-ever Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in women's basketball and joins Lisa Boyer as the program's only two conference Coaches of the Year. Boyer was named Gateway Conference Coach of the Year in 1990 after leading the Braves to a school-best 12-6 conference record.
“Paula Buscher is a terrific leader both on and off the court, with her team and on behalf of the entire University,” Bradley University President Joanne K. Glasser said. “She has done a phenomenal job this year melding young and experienced talent, while overcoming the significant obstacle of not having an on-campus home court. She has created a renaissance of her own and is strengthening our rich basketball tradition at Bradley.”
Buscher and the Braves matched a school-record with 20 victories during the regular season and enter this week’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Charles, Mo., with a 20-9 overall mark. She led the Braves to an 11-7 record and fourth-place finish in the regular-season Valley race. Bradley’s 11 conference victories and fourth-place finish are both the best in school history since 1991-92 when the Braves finished tied for third in the Gateway Conference at 11-7.
Despite playing home games across the Illinois River at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Ill., due to construction of a new on-campus facility, Bradley matched a school record with 12 home victories and boasted a 12-2 home record. In addition, the Braves tallied six road wins (6-7) and tied for second in the MVC with eight road or neutral site victories.
Bradley boasted a school-record six-game win streak in Missouri Valley Conference games and had two win streaks of five or more games for the first time in school history. The Braves also matched a school-record for non-conference victories with nine (9-2 in non-conference play).
After opening conference play 4-0 for the first time in school-history, Buscher and the Braves went 6-3 in the second half of league action, marking the fourth consecutive year Bradley had a better record in the second half of Valley play.
The second winningest coach in school history, Buscher owns a 116-141 (.451) record at Bradley. She is just nine wins away from breaking Boyer’s school record of 124 wins.
Bradley returns to action Friday at 2:35 p.m. when the fourth-seeded Braves take on No. 5 seed Indiana State in the quarterfinals of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Charles, Mo.