THE STRAIGHT SKINNY
Shawn Bradley, BYU's 7'6" freshman center, reached a significant milestone last Saturday when he faced the toughest matchup of his nascent college career—against New Mexico center Luc Longley, a 7'2" senior and a probable NBA first-round draft pick.
Bradley won't have especially fond memories of their competition. Longley had 22 points and nine rebounds and blocked one of Bradley's shots; Bradley was held to seven points and five boards. But the Cougars won the game 72-65 to complete a productive week that included an 83-67 victory over Texas-El Paso. At week's end BYU was 9-8 overall and 3-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Although Bradley was outplayed, he did get some encouraging advice from Longley. "I got called for a foul, which I didn't think I committed," said Bradley after the game, "and [ Longley] said, 'You'll get that every time, all your life. Get used to it.' "
So far it is Bradley's opponents who have had to make most of the adjustments, especially in their shot selection. His average of 6.0 blocked shots per game at week's end (he was also averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds) was on pace to break David Robinson's NCAA record of 5.9 set during the 1985-86 season at Navy. And in only his sixth college game, a 90-86 win over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 7, Bradley snuffed 14 shots to tie Robinson's single-game NCAA mark.
"He blocks everything but the Midtown Tunnel—or what would it be out here [in Provo, Utah]?" said St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca after Bradley swatted away four shots in a 67-62 loss to the Redmen on Dec. 8. "In a few years, God willing he stays healthy, you're going to see a Wooden Award winner."
Any such awards will have to wait until Bradley returns from his two-year Mormon mission, which is expected to begin after this season. But there was speculation last week in area newspapers that Bradley might not be going away as scheduled. It was pointed out that it isn't unprecedented for a Mormon to forgo a mission. Bradley, however, said the only way he wouldn't go on a mission this year is "if I'm found not worthy." He plans to notify church officials this week that he will be available for his mission beginning June 1.
Meanwhile, the 210-pound Bradley will continue trying to gain weight and keep serving as a model, in more ways than one, for big men. Last week he received a call from the wife of 7'4" Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton. "She wanted to know the name of the tailor who made some pants she saw me wearing at a Jazz game," says Bradley. "She said, 'Those are so cute I have to get some for Mark.' "
The 11,520 spectators—an ACC attendance record for a women's game—who showed up last Saturday at the Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C., were rewarded with what might turn out to be the best game of the season, as No. 2 Virginia beat No. 3 North Carolina State 123-120 in triple overtime.