Tom Bradley officially out at Penn State

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Tom Bradley officially out at Penn State

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley is officially leaving Penn State. The veteran assistant under former coach Joe Paterno wasn't expected to be retained by new Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien. On Friday, Bradley posted on his Twitter account that he finished packing up his office late Thursday night. "Walked out the doors proud with a lot of great memories and friends and a better man," Bradley wrote. O'Brien named six members of his new Penn State staff on Thursday, with more announcements possible Friday. O'Brien retained two veteran assistants under Bradley from the previous staff, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden. Among the newcomers to Happy Valley is assistant head coach Stan Hixon, the former receivers coach with the Buffalo Bills. The leader of the Linebacker U. defense since 2000, Bradley had served as interim head coach the season's final four games following Paterno's dismissal on Nov. 9. Penn State defenses under Bradley were typically one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the country. Bradley worked 33 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He interviewed to become Paterno's permanent replacement, but his future became cloudy after Penn State tabbed O'Brien on Jan. 7. In an emotional statement released after O'Brien was formally introduced, Bradley wished Penn State's new boss well and pledged his full support to the school. "This is forever my home and forever my family. It is important that we come together to support our players and our university," Bradley said. "Now is the time to demonstrate that we are -- and always will be -- Penn State." Bradley is expected to be replaced by former Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof. An open recruiting contact period begins Saturday, a 16-day window in which the new coaches can try to shore up previous verbal commitments while trying to entice other high school prospects who might be intrigued by Penn State's new direction under O'Brien. He's finishing up his duties as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and the position coach for star quarterback Tom Brady. O'Brien has committed to remaining with the Patriots through the NFL playoffs. New England hosts Denver in an AFC divisional game Saturday night.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”