Ron Bradley almost sat down on the wrong bench Thursday night when his Longwood Lancers took the floor against Radford University, but no one would blame him as he is very familiar with that side of the court. He spent 11 years as RU’s head coach from 1991-2002.
Bradley said he loved his time at Radford where he had some outstanding players who were good people and true student-athletes. “They gave RU much to be proud of. Terror Dome, Never-Say-Die-Highlanders,” he said.
He led Radford to a 193-124 record that included four conference titles and one berth into the NCAA tournament, and was enshrined in the Big South Hall of Fame in 2010.
Bradley tried to make RU basketball a model of excellence for its level, and is still in touch with many former players which he cherishes. “It was a great place to raise my children.”
He joined the Longwood staff in 2016 after spending 14 seasons as an associate head coach at James Madison (2002-03), Clemson (2003-10) and DePaul (2010-15). The 1992 Big South Coach of the Year and a top-10 assistant coach in the nation by Basketball Scoop in 2011, Bradley also served as an assistant coach under College Basketball Hall of Famer Lefty Driesell at Maryland from 1981-86 and under Driesell’s successor, Bob Wade, from 1987-89.
Bradley has coached teams to 10 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament appearances in his career, including five trips as an assistant at Maryland (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988), one as head coach at Radford (1998) and three as an assistant at Clemson (2008, 2009, 2010). He owns a 289-175 (.623) record all-time as a head coach, including the 96-51 (.653) record he put together as head coach of his alma mater, Eastern Nazarene, from 1976-81.
As a member of the winningest staff in Clemson basketball history from 2003-10, Bradley helped Oliver Purnell’s (also a former RU coach) Tigers to a seven-year record of 138-88 and a .611 winning percentage that remains the best mark by a head coach in Clemson basketball history. The Tigers advanced to the postseason six times during that span, including NCAA Tournament appearances in Bradley’s final three years on Purnell’s staff.
At Clemson, Bradley installed a high-pressure defensive scheme that vaulted the Tigers into the NCAA’s top 15 in steals per game for six consecutive years, including a school-record 11.0 steals per game in 2005-06 that was the second-best mark in the nation.
Bradley tried retirement briefly.
“As for coaching, I decided after trying retirement that I’d rather die on the bench as I really do love the game and coaching and the relationships,” he said.
His head coaching started at Division-III Eastern Nazarene from 1976-81. A member of the Eastern Nazarene Hall of Fame, Bradley led the Crusaders to five consecutive winning seasons following a decorated playing career in which he was a three-time NAIA All-America honorable mention selection. Bradley still holds Eastern Nazarene’s all-time scoring record, amassing 2,649 points from 1968-73 before he was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the 1973 American Basketball Association (ABA) Draft.
He wouldn’t rule out ever taking over a program again as a head coach but wonders if anyone would have him but would definitely never say never. Many major programs looking for a coach might want to check this coach’s resume.