DePaul vs. Bradley Game Preview

The Bradley Braves arrive at Allstate Arena on Saturday for season opener.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Bradley Braves - Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 p.m. - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Television - None

Radio - WSCR AM 670 Chicago

WMBD AM 1470 Peoria

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The Last Time

The Blue Demons last played Bradley in Peoria on December 4, 2004. On that night, the Blue Demons couldn't hit the ocean when standing on the beach. They shot a miserable .290 from the field. DePaul sharpshooter Drake Diener walked away 0 for 5 from three point range. It was a night where nothing seemed to go right for DePaul as the Braves won 63-53. Marcellus Sommerville walked away with 18, Tony Bennett finished with 11, and freshman center Patrick O'Bryant had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Game Preview

The bad news for DePaul fans is Bradley returns all five starters and most of their bench. The good news is Bradley hasn't won a road game since December 1st of last year. The Braves finished last season at 13-15 and have been picked to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference. Sommerville wants to change that perception. "I think we haven't earned the respect yet," said Sommerville. "It's a great league. I think we have to prove some people wrong."

Sommerville is back and has been named the Missouri Valley Preseason Player of the Year by CBS Sportsline. He recently was named to the Preseason Mid-Major All-American team by He averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season for the Braves.

"It's a credit to (Marcellus) that he puts in the time that he does," observed Braves head coach Jim Les. "If I hear a ball bouncing in the gym at any time of the morning, afternoon, or night, it's generally him. He puts in the time. He's been very coachable. Every year he's tries to expand his game. That's put him in a position to be a better all-around player, more of an emphasis to play both ends of the floor, and to have an impact on both ends of the floor. He has that type of talent. I have those types of expectations for him, because that's how I much I respect him as a player. I think he's going to have a great senior year. I always believe that you're a product of the work you put in on the front-end. He's done a lot to put himself in position to have success. But he's also not so focused individually. He understands that it's about our team having success and the individual accolades will follow."

O'Bryant was named to the Preseason all-conference first team by CBS Sportsline. Wesley Green and Marlon Brumfield will have their hands full with Patrick "Big Pappie" O'Bryant in the pivot. The seven footer is receiving a lot of attention from NBA Scouts. He averaged 10 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. "The progress that he's made this summer has been very good as far as his individual improvement," said Sommerville. "He's always been athletic, seven foot, long. All he needed to improve on was his fundamentals. He's going to do well in this league."

Another player to look out for is Daniel Ruffin, a 5-10 sophomore point guard from Peoria Central High. Ruffin is the half-brother of former Indiana and NBA point guard A.J. Guyton. He averaged 4.7 assists and 6.3 points per game.

DePaul fans had better hope that former Westinghouse High guard Tony Bennett doesn't leave his heart in Chicago. A senior guard, Bennett is the team's best defensive player who averaged 1.8 steals per game and 11.8 points per game for the Braves last year.

Braves Head Coach Jim Les is 40-49 in three years at Bradley. He is optimistic for this season. "I'm just glad to have some seniors," said Les. "We didn't have any seniors last year. This year we have four. They'll be asked to carry a huge load on the floor and off the floor in terms of leadership. Marcellus being a tremendous talent is also our hardest worker. So I think that bodes well for the attitude that I want our team to have. Tony Bennett emerged as a leader as the year went on in his first year of Division 1 basketball."

"I like the talent and depth," Les expressed. "We're trying to work on some consistency. The competition in practice and intensity level has been very good. Like I said, it starts with our seniors that have some urgency and want to go out on the right note. That's spreading to the rest of our players and is our goal."

Another of Les' seniors is senior forward Lawrence Wright. Wright is the type of player that can create matchup problems for the Blue Demons. He boasts a 44 inch vertical leap. If Sommerville is limited, the Braves will go to Wright. Wright averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 boards per game in just 18.5 minutes per game.

Freshman guard Ray Brown was wearing a protective mask in the last game, but expects to remove it for Saturday's showdown in Rosemont. Freshman forward Saihou Jassey is doubtful for the game due to tendinitis in the knee.

The Braves won both of their exhibition games, first defeating Division II SIU-Edwardsville 74-62. In that game, O'Bryant finished with 14 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Next, Bradley took out Division II Minnesota State 85-55. Sommerville had 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals in that affair.

The Bradley fans travel well. Look for them to be out in force on Saturday.

Bradley Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown (Prev School)

32 Adams, Danny G 6-4 217 Jr. Metamora, Ill. (Metamora Community H.S.)

21 Andrews, Zach F 6-8 225 Jr. Sacramento, Calif. (Yuba (Calif.) College) (Cordova H.S.)

5 Bennett, Tony G 6-0 175 Sr. Chicago, Ill. (Pratt (Kan.) C.C.) (Westinghouse H.S.)

2 Brown, Ray G 6-6 195 Fr. Richfield, Minn. (Richfield H.S.)

14 Crouch, Jeremy G 6-5 211 So. Pekin, Ill. (Pekin Community H.S.)

4 Franklin, Will G 6-0 185 Jr. Houston, Texas (Kilgore (Texas) College) (Alief Hastings H.S.)

55 Heemskerk, Brandyn C 7-1 260 Sr. Grand Rapids, Mich. (Grand Rapids Christian H.S.)

1 Jassey, Saihou F 6-6 200 Fr. Banjul, Gambia (Rose Hill Christian H.S. (Ky.))

44 Lavin, Brian G 6-0 165 Fr. Peoria, Ill. (Notre Dame H.S.)

13 O'Bryant, Patrick C 7-0 260 So. Blaine, Minn. (Blaine H.S.)

20 Ruffin, Daniel G 5-10 165 So. Peoria, Ill. (Peoria H.S.)

54 Singh, Sam F/C 6-9 260 RFr. Ozark, Mo. (Ozark H.S.)

15 Sommerville, Marcellus F 6-7 225 Sr. Peoria, Ill. (Southwestern Illinois College) (Peoria H.S.)

10 Tauai, J.J. G 6-3 215 Jr. Verona, Mo. (Verona H.S.)

22 Wright, Lawrence F 6-4 198 Sr. Beale Air Force Base, Calif. (Yuba (Calif.) College) (Wheatland H.S.)

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