Deep Crusaders test NCCAA's best

Deep Crusaders test NCCAA's best

March 13th, 2013 by Ron Bush in Sportscollege

The Brady bunch now gets to enjoy a fine time at Winona Lake.

It would have been a big surprise midway through this basketball season, but coach Brac Brady's first set of Tennessee Temple Crusaders has reeled off 13 wins in a row and is 22-11 going into the late quarterfinal tonight against defending champion Cedarville (Ohio) in the National Christian College Athletic Association Division I tournament in the Indiana town.

No fewer than 17 Crusaders have played in at least a dozen games, and Brady regularly uses 10 to 12. Late-season addition Elliot Johnson leads them with 14 points and 6.6 rebounds a game and was the Mid-East Region player of the year despite coming off the bench, and fellow reserve Corey Sanders (8.5 ppg) was the region tournament MVP last weekend.

Rashaud Bell averages 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, 3-point hot shot Weedlens Beauvil 10.5 points, Hampton Mack 9.2 points and 6.1 rebounds and freshman PJ Whittaker 9.0 points. And they're not the only ones who've led in individual games.

"We've kind of found our niche over the course of the season, and our chemistry has evolved as the guys have bought into their roles," Brady said after practice Tuesday. "Using a lot of bodies makes us fresher at the end of games.

"Another big part of it is that the guys have committed to work on their games on their own. We had a big improvement in our shooting percentage late in the season."

The NCCAA tourney is set up so each of the eight teams gets three games.

"We're very excited to be here and we're happy for the opportunity," Brady said. "And we're looking forward to the experience this week."

• Interestingly, in Temple's return to the tournament for the first time since its record seventh NCCAA championship a decade ago, the main speaker for Tuesday's banquet was the man who was the coach for most of those titles, Ron Bishop. The former TTU athlete, coach and athletic director heads the SCORE International ministry based in Chattanooga.