CEDAR FALLS | The University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team didn't even practice it.
Bradley has shown box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses before, but never against the opposing center. UNI entertained the notion that the Braves might throw it at Matt Bohannon, Paul Jesperson or Nate Buss. So the Panthers practiced that.
But when Bradley started the game with a defender dedicated to shadowing UNI center Seth Tuttle, it was new. It's pretty rare to do that to a center.
"To be honest, that's how much respect we have for him and how good we think he is," said Bradley coach Geno Ford.
Officially, it was a diamond-and-one with a rotating set of guards assigned to Tuttle. To hear Ford explain it, it was the Braves' only chance to stay in the game -- UNI's offense runs through Tuttle, so why not try to eliminate him first and foremost?
It did work. Bradley, a team with eight wins this season, led the No. 11 team in the country for 5:38 of the first 12 minutes.
"For the most part, they did a really good job on the defensive end," said Tuttle. "Personally, I got a little annoyed for a while."
You have free articles remaining.
The senior felt some frustration simply because he didn't have the ball in his hands as much as he's accustomed to. He can do so many things with it to help the Panthers win, and it doesn't sit well when those opportunities are cut down.
However, Tuttle found other ways to contribute. He finished with eight rebounds, two steals, one block and made all four of his field goal attempts. Not to mention, the attention he attracted opened up the 3-point line for other shooters.
"This is as good a case for Seth being an All-American as any game he's played this year," said UNI head coach Ben Jacobson. "For him to know he wasn't going to get the ball, he's going to have to defend and rebound and get us into transition and do all of that without being in a game he touches it 90-plus percent of the time. I think today was every bit the case for him to be an All-American as anything else he's done."
Ford concurred when he brought up former Creighton All-American Doug McDermott. Let's just say there was more high praise.
"(McDermott) scored it more, but if you look at complete game, I could give you a heck of an argument that Tuttle is better," Ford said.
"If we played man, he would've had 20 and 15, that's a fact. I've seen that movie, I can show you the film. The first game, we couldn't guard him, so we tried something different."