PEORIA, Ill. -- Francis Poulenc, the French composer known as well for his austere demeanor ("le moine et le voyou" literally "the monk lout"*) as his music, claimed a motivation for his masterwork "Gloria" was when he observed several Benedictine monks playing a game of soccer. The work, an interesting paradox of unbridled sarcasm with moments joyeux and yet invariably explores the depths of faith (for example the incredibly emotive Domine Deus, Rex caelestis was likely the reference for John Williams' Map Room sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark) . At one point even the text is presented in the most mocking fashion, deliberately setting the text against natural vocal patterns.
The absurdity of game and faith in combination is not as unusual as it seems when one considers the influence of philosophy into coaching, and that is what earned Phil Jackson the nickname "Zen Master" as he has indicated a wide range of ideologies in shaping his coaching methodology. A Division II power at the time, as a player for North Dakota his teams played a number of Division I schools and were a fairly regular foe on Bradley's schedule. During the 1960's the difference in class between North Dakota was not as disparate as one might think. For starters they were coached by Bill Fitch who parlayed his success at North Dakota into gigs at Bowling Green and Minnesota before heading to the NBA and coaching the Cavaliers where he famously took a team that lost its first fifteen games one season to the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics the following year. By 1980, Fitch's success and reputation found him at the helm in Boston with whom he would win an NBA title in 1981. In Jackson's first year with the Fighting Sioux, they lost in Peoria to the previous year's NIT Champion Bradley by just 3. Perhaps their most notable triumph during that period was a 1966 win over Loyola-Chicago who had won the 1963 NCAA Championship.
North Dakota is presently placing itself at the Division I table, and they have made the transition fairly well, comparatively. It hasn't been since 1969 however that North Dakota and Bradley met. Both teams were entering this contest at 2-0.
In a contest where neither team for stretches seemed able or even interested in running their offense-- probably not unlike monks playing soccer--following a breakaway Troy Huff dunk that made the score 23-all, an 11-2 run over the final 3:26 of the first half put some distance between the teams which that quickly disappeared in the second half with the Fighting Sioux taking the 49-48 lead with just under eleven minutes left. However, the Braves responded with back-to-back baskets from Taylor Brown and off a fastbreak from Walt Lemon, Jr. The lead would never be surrendered. Nevertheless the Braves were not able to contain Huff who may have been one of the best breakout players to play in Carver Arena in some time, posting 22 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. On the other hand, a good job was done containing North Dakota center Brandon Brekke to 7 points and just 4 rebounds while Bradley forward Brown and center Jordan Prosser combined for 41 points and 23 rebounds in the 78-69 victory for the Braves.
* Rostand, Claude. Paris: Paris-Presse, 1950.
at BRADLEY 78, NORTH DAKOTA 69 11/19/2011
NORTH DAKOTA 2-1 (0-0) -- J. Webb 2-8 2-2 7; P. Mitchell 6-13 0-0 15; T. Huff 8-21 4-5 22; A. Anderson 4-9 5-6 13; J. Allard 2-9 0-0 4; J. Schuler 0-5 0-0 0; B. Brekke 3-3 1-2 7; D. Archer 0-0 1-3 1; J. Gentry 0-2 0-0 0; L. Antwi 0-2 0-0 0; N. Haugen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-72 13-18 69. BRADLEY 3-0 (0-0) -- T. Brown 9-16 7-10 26; D. Simms-Edwards 4-11 0-2 10; J. Eastman 2-8 1-2 5; W. Lemon Jr 6-9 7-9 19; J. Prosser 6-9 3-6 15; S. Shayok 0-2 0-0 0; A. Thompson 0-0 1-2 1; C. Woods 0-0 0-0 0; J. Crawford 1-3 0-0 2; D. Stewart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 19-31 78.
Three-point goals: NDAK 6-25 (J. Allard 0-1; J. Schuler 0-2; P. Mitchell 3-9; A. Anderson 0-2; T. Huff 2-6; J. Webb 1-5), BRAD 3-14 (T. Brown 1-2; J. Eastman 0-4; D. Simms-Edwards 2-6; J. Crawford 0-2); Rebounds: NDAK 39 (T. Huff 12), BRAD 43 (T. Brown 14); Assists: NDAK 10 (A. Anderson 3), BRAD 14 (T. Brown 4); Total Fouls -- NDAK 25, BRAD 20; Fouled Out: NDAK-None; BRAD-None.