In the past two years, his varsity basketball team, Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., Has won the Arch Madness tournament, the final tournament of the Missouri Valley Conference, in which ten teams from the states of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri play.
Three players are subject to disciplinary suspension
However, the Braves are far from a favorite for the extension of the title. It has been a volatile period, after three important players on the team were subject to disciplinary suspension from the defending champion. The team with freshman in red shirt Rienk Mast won six regular season games and lost twelve, meaning the team finished eighth in the standings.
“The last few weeks have been quite chaotic for our team. A few games before the end of the season, we lost three of our older players. Then you know it’s going to be tough, but we tried to make the most of it, ”said Mast, who is personally having a good season after having to watch his first year due to injury.
Rewards for Mast
The former Donar player is a regular baseman and has already been named by his university at the start of the season Athlete of the week. He was also appointed to his conference Newcomer of the week. He’s also consistently excelled this season, and at the end of the regular season, he was also voted one of the conference’s top five freshmen.
Optimistic result against the best team
Plus, there is hope for the team, following the double encounter with number two, Drake of Des Moines, Iowa. Although at first it didn’t seem to be going well.
‘Last weekend we played the last two games of the regular season, against Drake, back to back. Drake is one of the best teams in the conference this season and was even in the top 25 teams in the country for a few weeks this season. We had a chance to win the first game, but we ended up short (71-80), ”says Mast.
Everyone played their best and that was just enough
Before the start of the second game, it was getting much more difficult. We were told that our starting point guard would not be playing because he had injured his wrist the day before. Our starting shooting guard didn’t play either because he was too ill. The day before, he had played it. And after a few minutes of play, our little starting striker retired with an ankle injury.
“We had six players left, including three freshmen, two sophomores and myself. From our normal rotation of nine, which we played with while everyone was still available, there were only two players left. Somehow we managed to win this game (67-61). Everyone played their best and that was just enough.
‘Good feeling after a big failure’
“It gives a very good idea of our chances for the tournament,” continues Mast. This is played in a knockout system, so every game is decisive. The regular season was a pretty big failure, but now we have a chance to remedy that by doing well in the tournament. Namely, the winner of this tournament is this year’s champion and there will be a place March Madness final tournament. I am convinced that we can show something beautiful, but it will certainly be a challenge, ”concludes Mast.
Tegenstander in southern Illinois
Bradley will play the first game Thursday through Friday at midnight Dutch time against number nine in the table, southern Illinois. Both teams have won against each other once during the regular season. With a win, regular season number one Loyola of Chicago, to whom Bradley had already lost twice, awaits Friday at 6 p.m. Dutch time.
Number eight was never a champion
The tournament, played annually at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, runs through Sunday. Last year, Bradley, with Mast as a spectator, won the tournament as number four in the regular season. The year before, Bradley had won the number five title. It hasn’t happened since the start in 1977 that a number eight won the tournament.