Freshman Tony Bradley was having himself a solid game in the first half Wednesday against Wake Forest. He had four points, four rebounds, and an assist in just six minutes of play. In the middle of helping the Heels jump out to a a 36-29 lead with 3:39 left in the first, Bradley snagged an offensive rebound and put it on the floor in order to go strong to the rim.
Right as he began his power dribble, his head and neck caught the body of Wake’s Konstantinos Mitoglou (link). Tony Bradley went down hard, and would need medical attention from the UNC training staff. Early in the second half, the official UNC basketball twitter account posted this tweet:
Concussion-like symptoms for Tony Bradley after hitting his head in the 1st half. He’ll be evaluated by a doctor and will not return tonight— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) January 12, 2017
Carolina went on to win the game 93-87, while out rebounding the Seminoles and scoring more points in the paint. UNC matched up well with the Demon Deacons down low, but unfortunately Carolina might be overmatched on Saturday when Florida State visits Chapel Hill. It is yet to be announced if Bradley will be out for the game, but it is more than likely that he will be based on his concussion symptoms and concerns for his safety. The long and lanky Tony Bradley not only continues to develop as an offensive threat, but he also stands as a force on defense against most team’s front court.
Speaking of opposing team’s front courts, Florida State has one of the most formidable athletes I have ever seen. Michael Ojo stands seven feet tall and weighs 304 pounds. Ojo, though a starter, doesn’t post the most impressive stat lines. He had nine points and one rebound in FSU’s win over Duke. However, without 6-11 Bradley in the lineup (probably), Carolina will have one fewer big body to combat the massive Ojo.
The Seminoles also utilize 7-4 center Christ Koumadje, averaging 11 minutes per game this season. What made the difference for FSU against Duke were points in the paint and rebounds. Without Bradley, guys like Meeks, Hicks, and Maye will have to box out and rebound effectively in order to be successful on Saturday.
Look for Carolina to go to a smaller lineup if Tony Bradley is in fact out for FSU. This might sound counter-intuitive against two seven-footers at true center. Listed as both a guard and a forward, normally Justin Jackson would play in the three slot with any combination of Meeks, Hicks, Bradley, and Maye down low.
Without Bradley, Coach Williams could try Jackson at the four position with three smaller guards in the back court. This type of lineup would allow for more movement around the perimeter, more chances for mid-range shooting, and drives/kicks for outside shooting. The Heels have shot 44% from behind the arc for the past two games. A performance like that, or better, could be key in taking down #9 Florida State, who looks like a real contender so far this season.
Tony Bradley averages eight points, almost six rebounds, in an average of 15 minutes for Carolina this season. He has high hopes surrounding his future potential, but he’s already made an impact coming of the bench as a freshman. We would love to see Tony in the lineup on Saturday for this big time matchup, but concussions are no joke. We wish him a speedy recovery, hopefully speedy enough to help the Heels beat the Noles tomorrow.