Anthony Parker's friends from Chicago were tuned in, as were relatives throughout the Midwest. Their Jan. 11 viewing plans were disrupted, however, because Bradley's game against Evansville never made it to ESPN. It seems that an engineer's failure to respect an ice storm led to a frozen satellite dish and no signal out of Peoria, Ill.
"That's the way our luck has gone this season," said Parker, the best player you won't see on national television this season.
Bradley's only regular-season national exposure was never realized, but that win over Evansville nonetheless was a coming-out party for Parker, who broke a bone in his right foot during preseason practice. He didn't suit up until Jan. 5, the main reason Bradley will have to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to get back into the NCAA tournament.
Bradley, which has produced Chet Walker and Hersey Hawkins, was an at-large selection last year. The Braves played one game, but Parker's line in a loss to Stanford was illuminating. En route to scoring 34 of the Braves' 58 points, Parker made eight of 10 three-pointers.
That performance helped Parker join Tim Duncan and Brevin Knight on the U.S. under-22 team, which led Dream Team III by 17 points at the half last summer. Parker, 6 feet 6 and 210 pounds, was rated by many as the nation's best shooting guard prospect coming into this season, but he fretted after a screw was surgically inserted in his right foot Nov. 19.
"The notice I got in the preseason was exciting, because I consider myself an underdog," said Parker, who was recruited by one Big Ten school, Northwestern. "Coming out of high school, there weren't a lot of big schools after me, so when people notice now, that's a payoff for the hard work I've put in.
"At the same time, I didn't say to myself that the job was done coming into this season. That's why the injury hurt as bad as it did, because I wasn't where I wanted to be."
He still isn't. Bradley (6-9, 3-4) has won three of its past four and Parker is averaging 14.7 points, but he has made only four of his 27 three-pointers. He made 42.2 percent last season.
"Endurance is the last thing to come after an injury," Parker said, "and your shot is the first thing to go."
At least Parker will get to finish his senior season. Derek Anderson won't do the same for Kentucky, the latest twist in what has been a weird season in the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina leads the East Division and is the only unbeaten in SEC play, but was there a more bogus major-college team in December? Losses to some Atlantic Coast Conference teams were understandable, but how did South Carolina lose at home to UNC-Asheville and Charleston Southern?
At LSU, Dale Brown announced his retirement, and prize freshman Lester Earl defected to Kansas. Embarrassed by a 35-point loss to Cincinnati, Arkansas' Nolan Richardson has backed off his scramble defense and resorted to a straight-up man-to-man. Kentucky fans booed during a rout of Mississippi State, which reached the Final Four last year, only to fall to No. 2 in its state, behind formerly forlorn Ole Miss.
Anderson was the SEC's leading scorer before he tore an anterior cruciate ligament Saturday, and his absence added to the talent drain in a conference that had 13 players drafted by the NBA last year. There isn't a single quality big man in the conference, but don't bet against the SEC finding its way back into the Final Four.
Even without Anderson, Kentucky has enough talent to get to Indianapolis.
The immediate concern for No. 3 Kentucky is Sunday's game at Arkansas. The Super Sunday viewing fare also includes No. 1 Kansas at No. 18 Colorado, which has won eight straight behind sophomore guard Chauncey Billups.
John Thompson practiced Georgetown at 3 a.m. on Sunday, after the Hoyas arrived home from an overtime loss at Miami. The Hurricanes topped Connecticut by 24 two days ago, and could be ranked next week for the first time in at least 32 years.
Pub Date: 1/24/97