Dave Reynolds has covered 770 consecutive Bradley basketball games, dating to the 1990-91 season. His streak put so much pressure on me I skipped a game for a Springsteen concert after four seasons because I knew I couldn’t keep up.
Q: Freshman forward Josh Cunningham seems to be the bright spot for the Braves. How do you describe his skills?
Josh was Bradley's first top 100-rated recruit in 31 years when he signed last spring. So hopes were high for him. But he got off to a slow start when he arrived here in the summer because he hurt his knee and had to have minor surgery. He missed a lot of time on the court and in the weight room that set back his development. His early performances reflected that.
His game really shifted into high gear when league play began as he became more comfortable and confident on the court, but still lacked strength. He has great leaping ability and a real sense of where a shot is going to carom off the rim. He adds a determination to go get the ball out of his area. Those things have made him a great rebounder (he's averaging 9.6 in MVC games). His offense is still a work in progress, but his outside shot has improved. He gets a lot done on the offensive glass. Once he becomes stronger, he'll emerge as an elite player.
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Q: A new university president is on the way at Bradley. What kind of shape is the athletic department in for the next boss and how important is it to get men's basketball on track?
The Bradley athletic department has had a tough year. The only successful programs have been cross country (built up by ex-Shocker coach Marc Burns before he departed) and, to a lesser extent, the golf teams. Soccer has been strong, but had an off year. The good news is Bradley athletics has set all kinds of academic success marks.
Men's basketball is obviously the engine that drives the department and must get on track to help everybody. Peorians have tired of the downward trend of the program in the last decade and have shown their displeasure at the gate. Bradley is at a crucial juncture in its history and men's basketball has to lead the way out of the darkness that's enveloped BU athletics.
Q: Last season's visit by the Shockers drew an announced crowd of 10,257. Do Braves fans remain motivated to turn out in those numbers on Wednesday?
I would be shocked if Wednesday's attendance was close to that. The best paid home crowd this year has been 6059 and there weren't nearly that many in the building. I'm sure the Shockers' appearance will draw more than that, but last year had the unique factor of an undefeated, No. 2 team coming in late in the season. I'm guessing about 7500-8000 for Wednesday.