Gone, but not forgotten

By Gus Bode

Bradley faces SIU without a bruising forward and with a bruised ego

Bradley forward Danny Granger pummeled SIU for 46 points 24 rebounds and 70 in three games last year.

This year, all those numbers will be zero.

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Bradley will face SIU tonight without the services of Granger, who left the team Jan. 17 and is now enrolled at New Mexico.

Granger was Bradley’s leading scorer and rebounder, and his departure leaves a gaping hole in the post for Bradley and enormous opportunity for the Salukis.

Senior guard Kent Williams, though cautious not to say Bradley was a bad team without him, said Granger’s loss may potentially kill its inside game.

“One thing that hurts him is that he’s a great inside player and is an inside presence they have been counting on all year,” Williams said. “You take out a key guy like that, it may not have its effects right now, but eventually it’s going to catch up to them.”

Williams used the word “eventually” because Bradley is 3-1 without Granger and the three wins were against Drake, Indiana State and Northern Iowa – three teams on the lower rungs of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Bradley head coach Jim Les was ecstatic about his team’s performance without Granger, and credited his team’s last three wins to improved team chemistry and the increased contributions of every member of the team.

“Our guys have really come together as a team,” Les said. “And we’re about team. Nobody is really more important than this collection of players and coaches. Nobody is more important to that mix than anybody else, including myself.”

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Granger left the team high and dry, causing animosity between him and his coach and laying the grounds for what may turn out to be a tampering charge against New Mexico.

Granger was enrolled at New Mexico only seven days after officially leaving Bradley, causing Braves officials to wonder if the Lobos had been talking to him before his departure form Peoria.

The ill will between the two sides has been increased by Bradley’s refusal to release Granger. If Bradley does not release him, Granger will be forced to pay all tuition, room, board and fees his scholarship would have paid for out of his own pocket until he is eligible to play again in December.

Bradley is a private college, so the cost will be high, and Granger must fit the bill himself. Any contributions from New Mexico would be illegal.

Les said the school normally releases transfers, but said Granger did not go about his departure in an appropriate manner.

“We’re not in the practice of keeping kids here if they don’t want to be here, but there’s a certain process of going about and transferring a school,” Les said. “When that process is circumvented, we feel we’ve been cheated out of the commitment that we’ve made to a young man.”

Les has removed himself from the controversy and said he will leave all other decisions about Granger to his athletic department, including the accusations of tempering that have been thrown at New Mexico.

“I’m moving on,” Les said. “I think our team has moved on, and I’m focused on Southern and the games we have to play, not who is not here. I’ve got enough to worry about who is here.”

Reporter Michael Brenner can be reached at [email protected]

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