Bradley Associate Athletic Director Bobby Parker offers his take on Bradley Athletics and the sporting world in general in his "Blogging with BP" feature on BradleyBraves.com.
I'm back. The mission of Bradley Athletics is to provide every student-athlete the opportunity for both a championship experience and a distinctive education. Part of that championship experience component is to host as many home events as possible, which offers a number of benefits for our student-athletes, and we started the 2013-14 competition year in home tournament mode.
I clearly offer a biased view point, but the Bradley Athletics staff as a whole deserves a pat on the back for successfully, simultaneously hosting The Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic soccer tournament and CEFCU Classic volleyball tournament this past weekend. For a relatively small staff, that is no small feat. Of course, the Braves themselves deserve a bigger pat on the back. The Bradley Soccer team opened the 2013 season by winning the fifth annual The Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic for the first time while also recording consecutive shutout victories to start a season for the first time in the program's 27-year history. The Bradley Volleyball team opened its 2013 season by going 2-1 in the CEFCU Classic, which included a 3-set victory against a Maryland-Eastern Shore program that was 28-6 a year ago and played in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a 4-set win against local rival Western Illinois. #ChampionshipExperience.
The Bradley Cross Country teams will get the similar home event treatment Friday when they host the 27th annual Bradley Intercollegiate at Detweiller Park. I am far from a cross country aficionado, but if you have never experienced a cross country race, I recommend you head down to Detweiller Park Friday evening to check it out. Watching the runners sprint off the start line in mass, as well as the race up Detweiller's steady incline to the finish line, are worth the price of admission - FREE. Both the men's and women's teams continue to make strides (pun intended) under fourth-year head coach Marc Burns and Friday's Bradley Intercollegiate will be the first of two home meets - Bradley Classic Oct. 18 at Newman Golf Course - for the Braves this Fall as they build toward the MVC Cross Country Championship Nov. 2 in Des Moines.
MVC Men's Basketball Schedule Revealed
Bradley's 18-game, double round-robin Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball schedule was revealed earlier today, completing the 31-game regular-season schedule. Working with 10 schools, including two that play in civic buildings, and multiple television partners, while operating with fairly stringent guidelines to ensure quality, makes for an arduous process. I haven't evaluated all 10 MVC men's basketball schedules, but a quick review of Bradley's schedule offers few complaints.
The Braves will bang out three league road trips before the Spring semester starts. Both arenas are plenty loud, but the Braves will visit two of the likely league preseason favorites - UNI (Jan. 1) and Wichita State (Jan. 14) - while those schools are still on break. Additionally, New Year's Day would seem to be a tough draw for a home team and the game at Wichita State is on a Tuesday night. Every road trip is tough and those two opponents make the road even harder, but if you had to select dates to make those visits, it would be tough to select better dates.
Some other notes:
- The regular-season home finale will be played Feb. 25 against the Shockers, who will become the first-ever team to visit Carver Arena after playing in the previous year's Final Four. Bradley has not hosted a previous year's Final Four participant since Indiana State visited Robertson Fieldhouse Jan. 21, 1980.
- The two games against I-74 rival Illinois State will be played Jan. 29 (Wednesday) at Carver Arena and Feb. 15 (Saturday) at Redbird Arena.
- Bradley will visit Valley newcomer Loyola Chicago Feb. 6 (Thursday) and will host the Ramblers Feb. 22 (Saturday).
- Only once the entire season - the Nov. 2 exhibition game versus West Virginia Wesleyan - will Bradley be faced with having to exit Carver Arena quickly for a change over to a Peoria Rivermen hockey game.
- Without yet knowing the MVC television assignments, there appears to be a possibility for four Saturday night games this season, as well as three Friday nights. I realize Fridays are traditional high school nights, but I think Friday nights are family friendly (at least the kids don't have to get up for school the next day). By comparison, Bradley had but one - ONE - Saturday night game during the 2012-13 regular season and we have never hosted as many as seven Friday and Saturday night games in my time on The Hilltop (since 1999-2000).
- Bradley starts and ends the league season on the road for the first time since 2009-10, but the Braves will play two of their first three at home and two of their last three at home.
- Bradley will tipoff the league season in January for the first time since 2003-04 (Jan. 3 vs. Indiana State) and the Braves have never before opened their MVC schedule on New Year's Day.
- It seems that in recent years, the trend has been to attempt to have the teams alternate home and road games as much as possible, but Bradley will "bundle" consecutive Valley home games four times this season and also will face three 2-game Valley road swings. The Braves have not experienced a similar "bundling" of games since 1994-95.
- Bradley will close the regular-season against Drake (March 1 in Des Moines) for the 12th time in program history. The Braves are 9-2 in their first 11 regular-season finales against the Bulldogs.
- By contrast, Bradley is 2-3 all-time in conference openers played against UNI.
Until nex time...
Blogging with BP
Aug. 27, 2013: Random Thoughts
Aug. 22, 2013: BP's Bucket List
Aug. 20, 2013: Bradley Soccer Promotions Review
Aug. 19, 2013: Bahamas Delinquency and Soccer Hype
Aug. 15, 2013: Random thoughts from the Bahamas
Aug. 14, 2013: A true Hall of Famer
Aug. 12, 2013: Perspective Check Monday
Aug. 11, 2013: Travel recap
Aug. 9, 2013: Live Stats for the Summer of Thunder Classic
Aug. 8, 2013: Bradley Athletics Provides Family-Friendly Entertainment Options
Aug. 7, 2013: Recapping the Bahamas Preview Luncheon and Scrimmage
Aug. 6, 2013: Check out the Bradley Team Store
Aug. 5, 2013: Introduction and Bahamas Preview
Bradley Athletics Mission
Provide every student-athlete the opportunity for both a distinctive education and a championship experience
Accountability | Courage | Diligence | Integrity | Respect