PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley junior guard Jeremy Crouch (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) will be out indefinitely after suffering a sprained right knee while going for a rebound in the closing minutes of Saturday’s 85-78 Missouri Valley Conference victory versus Evansville at Carver Arena.
Crouch has proven to be one of the most-improved players and deadliest shooters in the nation through the first half of the season. After averaging only 4.6 points and making just 15-of-62 (.242) 3-point field goal attempts last season, Crouch is Bradley’s leading scorer this season at 16.4 points per game and he has ranked among the nation’s top 3-point shooters all year by draining 47-of-95 (.495) attempts from behind the arc through 14 games. Averaging 3.4 3-pointers per game this year, Crouch has quickly climbed into a 10th-place tie on the school’s career 3-point field goals list with 108 and he is currently on pace to shatter the school’s single-season record of 90 treys set by Aaron Zobrist in 1996-97. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week after his 22-point breakout game in the season-opening 78-58 victory versus DePaul and he has twice been named the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Week.
With Crouch leading the way, Bradley (10-4, 1-1) has been one of the surprise teams in the nation this year. The Braves were expected to take a step back following the graduation of four seniors and the early departure of center Patrick O’Bryant to the NBA, a quintet that combined for 66.9 percent of the offense during the team’s 2005-06 Sweet 16 season. Switching to a four-guard lineup that spreads the floor, however, Bradley leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.471) and ranks second with 11.4 treys per game. Bradley also leads The Valley in scoring at 80.6 points per game and by committing just 11.4 turnovers per contest, the Braves are the only team in the country averaging more than 80 points and fewer than 12 turnovers per game. The combination has helped the Braves climb to 23rd in the ratings percentage index (RPI), as calculated by collegerpi.com, with the majority of the nation’s non-conference action completed.
The 6-foot-5 Crouch has been more than a long-range bomber for Bradley and his overall play has underscored the way in which the Braves have played. He is tied for seventh nationally by shooting 93.3 percent (42-45) from the free throw line, he is third in The Valley with 1.86 steals per game and he averages 2.7 assists per game with a 1.65 assists-to-turnover ratio.
The temporary loss of Crouch is the second injury to hit Bradley’s starting lineup this season. Junior point guard
The Braves will try to extend their Valley-best 15-game home winning streak Tuesday by hosting