Ford ready to get to work at Bradley

What Butler, Richmond and VCU have done as mid-majors in this year’s NCAA tournament is the talk of college basketball.

Five years ago, Bradley was being discussed in a similar fashion. Back in 2006, Bradley made its own run to the Sweet 16 and was considered one of the country’s top mid-major programs. Since then, Bradley has dropped off the national map.

On Monday, the Braves are hopeful they took the first step toward getting back on it by introducing Geno Ford as their new coach.

“Bradley has a rich history of success at the top, and coach Ford has all the qualities to lead us to the next level,” Bradley athletic director Michael Cross said.

Ford, 36, comes to Bradley after three seasons as Kent State’s head coach. His teams went 68-37 overall and 35-13 in the MAC in his three years. The Golden Flashes were 25-12 overall and 12-4 in the MAC this past season. They won two NIT games before falling to Colorado in the quarterfinals.

Ford also has experience recruiting the state of Illinois, especially the Chicago area. Carlton Guyton, who played at Rich South High School, and Eric Gaines, who played at Hillcrest, were on his Kent State roster this past season.

Ford believes with Bradley’s tradition and fan support, which is normally around the nation’s top 50 in attendance, he will have no trouble bringing in talented players.

“We’ve got to get into Chicago and get good players,” Ford said. “Why wouldn’t they want to be here? We just have to get them on campus. It’s going to be difficult for me to get a good player on campus and for them not to want to be here.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college basketball, and we’ll be able to recruit here.”

Ford said his teams will be fast-paced and put points on the board. He also doesn’t mind his opponent scoring plenty of points as long its field-goal percentage is lower.

Kent State averaged 71 points a game and shot 44% from the field, and its opponents averaged 66.8 points and 42% last season.

“I’ll talk about attack all the time,” Ford said. “I want to play fast. I want to be at the top of the league in scoring. Players like playing fast. I want us get up and down floor. The other key stat is opponent field-goal percentage.

“We’ll be a blue-collar team, tough-minded, never be outdone in effort. I promised there won’t be a loose ball that we won’t dive on. I promised there won’t a charge we won’t take. From there as you know, we have work to do.”

Ford has not compiled his staff, but said Kent State associate head coach Rob Senderoff is a top candidate.

Ford replaces Jim Les, who was fired on March 6 after going 154-140 in nine seasons. Bradley went 12-20 and 4-14 last season. The Braves are expected to return nine players, including five of their top seven scorers, from last season’s team.