Bradford Burgess is EASILY in my top 5 players of my VCU student career; and why shouldn’t he be? He has energy like that of all the light bulbs being lit up at once on the Vegas Strip. He plays with the emotion of someone who is playing like their life is on the line during every game. Most importantly, he played for the team as a whole instead of just for himself; even though everyone on the team plays for the team. Bradford Burgess, that senior night game is one I won’t soon forget.
On February 14, 2012, VCU was taking on CAA rival George Mason at the Patriot Center with 3:20 to go, Burgess drained a three pointer to tie the game at 51-51. We were ahead with 1:17 to go after Burgess drained another three pointer to make the score 54-51. After another basket was scored by VCU to make the score 56-51, here comes GMU. With 29.9 seconds to play, Ryan Pearson knocks down a three pointer to make the score 56-54. Now with 4.2 seconds to play, VCU was in the lead with the score being 60-56 until Vertrail Vaughns hits a basket from behind the arc as well to make the score 60-59. The Patriots intentionally foul freshman at the time Briante Weber. He goes to the line for two shots since GMU had ten or more fouls. With 3.8 seconds to go, Briante Weber misses the first but makes the second to make the score 61-59. GMU got the ball back as Ryan Pearson inbounded the pass to Sherrod Wright. Being guarded by Rob Brandenberg, Sherrod Wright pulls up for an NBA three pointer and it unfortunately goes in as time expires. The final score was GMU-62 VCU-61. After the game, Burgess went over to hug Weber as he was tearing up thinking the loss was his fault. Bradford knew it was a team effort though and that no sole player should blame themselves for one loss. It was a heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day, but luckily that was the only bitter part in this bittersweet story.
On February 25, 2012, it was senior night for the only senior on the VCU men’s basketball team and that senior, was Bradford Burgess. With 15 minutes before the game started, senior night festivities were being held for Bradford Burgess including bringing his parents out on the court and being handed a framed #20 jersey from Shaka Smart. As this was being done, the GMU basketball players decided to be little punks (the language I wanted to use would have been inappropriate for this site) and ran out onto the court to warm-up during the ceremony. This action was met by a storm of boos from the already electric, sold out black out VCU crowd of 7,741 in attendance. Now the game is underway. In the first half, Big shot Brad’s highlights were outstanding. He was 80% (4-5) from the field which included going 75% (3-4) from behind the arc. He also added on two free throws to give him a total of 13 points in the first half. In the second half, the Patriots were not finished with Burgess. With 15:24 left in the second half, Burgess had a wide open lay-up and from behind came Vertrail Vaughns who swings Burgess around and throws him to the floor. This would result in a technical foul for the Patriots with the rams ahead 52-31. Now with 8:46 left, GMU is still not finished with trying to harm Burgess. Ryan Pearson wraps up Burgess to try to steal the ball from him after the inbound pass. Pearson loses his cool with the refs after a foul is called and Pearson starts yelling at the refs. They only gave Pearson a personal foul, but with continuous yelling, the refs then decided to call a technical foul on Pearson for the unsportsmanlike conduct. In the end, it wasn’t GMU who rained on Burgess’s parade, it was Burgess who made it rain from the field. He went 50% (7-14) from the field which included going 45% (5-11) from behind the arc. He also added a miraculous total of 12 free throws as well scoring a total, and a career high, of 31 points and what a perfect time to do that as well. He also managed to get four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. Big shot Brad went out of his senior night game with a bang.
Our hate for GMU has always been strong, but after what happened in these two games, it only fueled the fire to the rivalry that is VCU vs. GMU. Burgess said he wasn’t allowed to talk about his emotions as to what happened on the court during his senior night ceremony. The cool thing about this was he didn’t have to. Instead, he showed GMU what happened when you rain on his parade. Big shot Brad would just rain some bulls-eye shots on GMU in his senior night basketball bash.