The Byrd Cage

Belmont Basketball: Uh-Oh.

In Features on December 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

It’s been a while, I know.  I apologize to my myriad readership around the globe on my absenteeism, but life’s been crazy.    There also may be something big in the works, but-i’m going to keep that on the down-low until something actually happens.  But that’s not what this site is about- this site is about the Belmont Bruins.

Bracket-Busting Bruins?

Oh, the Bruins.  I last left us previewing Kennesaw State.  We were 3-2 at that time, with a close loss at Duke and an impressive win against MTSU and the WORLD was our oyster, right?  Well that was then.

This is now.

At that time we were ranked 8th in the NCAA in scoring- it seemed like nothing could stop us.

Christmas was ahead and there were some legitimate non-conference match-ups that needed to be won in a dominant fashion before the conference match-ups in the New Year-

And, well, this December hasn’t felt very full of that Christmas cheer if you are a Bruins fan.

Here is a quick glance at what December has looked like for the Bruins;

  • 4-3 record with losses at MTSU, at Miami of Ohio, at Marshall
  • We have actually improved in our 3 point shooting percentage from 31.8 in November to 37.1 in December
  • We have barely out-rebounded opponents, 225-214.  (Not much of a change from first 5 games, 175-172)
  • Brandon Baker has improved his shooting tremendously, from November (FGM-FGA  1-17, and 3PM-3PA 0-12 to a rather respectable 20-44 and 11-29 respectively in December).  That’s huge.
  • Ian Clark’s FG% has dropped from .526 in November to .368 in December.  UH-oh.

I could go on and on here with statistics-but they aren’t really proving anything, other than our depth looking a little better than it used to.   Which is good.  But it also show’s our guard play dwindling.

Ian Clark’s numbers tell the story here, I think.  While Kerron’s numbers haven’t drastically changed liked Ian’s, our drive-to-the-hoop mentality that was scarce at the beginning of the season-really just isn’t there anymore.  Our game is our 3 now, and our big men are not dominating against the teams that they really should (see: Memphis in contrast to Towson and MTSU).

Multiple sources online after the Marshall loss last night declared Belmont officially out of the at-large bid competition after the loss to Marshall.  But- anyone who knows anything about Belmont knows we were out of the at-large bid competition when we lost to Duke and Memphis- but that’s beside the point.

This Belmont team was projected for the big times this year.  As far as Mid-Major programs, it wasn’t strange to hear Belmont’s name mentioned below Xavier, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s programs as being a legitimate bracket-busting team to watch.  But with losses to teams that we shouldn’t lose to, and this Belmont team playing the toughest out of conference schedule that I have ever seen, the spotlight has started to look elsewhere, and the steam in the NCAA train has suddenly been lost.

Before you start shouting at me for being so damn hard on these guys, i’m just stating the facts.  This Belmont team is not playing to its potential.  However, the season is not lost.  In the A-Sun, the Conference Tournament matters, and Belmont will be looking to improve on all sides of its game to gain that bracket-busting steam back just in time for the tournament.  That being said, it’s time to look ahead and what Belmont needs to do to get back on that track.

30 Win Season?  Let’s Win the Conference Tournament First

Belmont now has a 7-5 overall record, 2-0 against the A-Sun.  It’s time to be realistic.  This team has problems with the inside game and our three-point shooting is not going swimmingly.  It doesn’t take a professional basketball analyst like myself to tell you that this equation does not equal wins.

Let me write it so you mathematicians can understand better.

Rough Inside Game +Mediocre Outside Game = Bad Games

That one is easy because you don’t have to deal with tricky exponents!

But seriously, its time for a new segment-

Byrd’s Prescription

I like to picture my Rick Byrd as a Pediatrician.  He is smiley and genial in most situations, but on game day he has a steely reserve that could scare the purple out of Don Meyer.  He is a pediatrician because he is kind and kids like him and respect him.  Kids aren’t worried about going to the doctor with him because he has suckers and Highlights magazines, but he secretly is the most genius doctor in the world-yet he loves working with kids so much he didn’t take the job he was offered as the Director of Stem Cell Research at MD Anderson where he could make billions of dollars.  You know?  He knows exactly what to prescribe because he is a genius, but he isn’t too disconnected from kids to meet them on their level.  That’s how I imagine my Rick Byrd.

Without further ado, here is what I picture Dr. Rick Byrd’s prescription for the rest of year;

  • A strong dose of discipline at night before bed.
    • This team has looked sloppy, giving up silly turnovers and forcing plays when ahead, losing control of games at critical times.  It’s time to go back to the beginning, run games with confidence.
  • A double dose of hard, drive-to-the-rim plays.
    • Belmont’s lack of a being a legitimate three-point shooting team (ranked 147 in the nation in 3P%)  so far this year should lead to a different strategy.  At the beginning of the year I was skeptical on this front, and now I stand by my conviction.  Saunders is big enough to compete under the rim.  We need to use him more.
  •   A small dose at all three meals of controlling the pace of the game.
    • No, Belmont is not Wisconsin.  But we can control the game.  We even showed signs of that at Cameron Indoor this year.  Belmont’s maturity is the thing we need to utilize more in our game.  Speeding up the game to try to command the floor and making sloppy turnovers breaks confidence, and when away, shows the game can be lost just like that.  Belmont can and will control the floor throughout the rest of the season to win their games.
And that does it for Byrd’s Prescription this week.
I’d like to know what you think Byrd’s Prescription should be.  Let me know in the comments!
We still have a long season ahead of us, and I know the Bruins can turn it up and turn it out.
Until next time,
BELMONT, BELMONT, GOOOOOOO BELMONT!
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  1. After that super weird MTSU 2OT game in the boro, I said to myself, I says, “Kyle, the bruins just aren’t the same this year.” My comrades doubted my pessimism saying that the bruins just needed to get used to their new line up. . . I’m still not seeing it though. BUT what the heck is missing? Jordan Campbell and Jon House were great don’t get me wrong – but is their absence really making this big of a difference? There’s no way. So what gives? Ian’s 3pts shot needs to click. Blake needs more confidence, Barnes needs to take a freaking shot, we need to find better ways to get Mick and Scott the ball down low, and again Ian’s 1st half 3pt shot needs to be ressurected. If it does we win out.

  2. I’ve been saying it all year, our inside game is terrible. That being said, we looked somewhat improved last night, but it’s still no excuse for how this team is playing. It brings me back to the 2008-2009 season, when we were an experienced squad (only lost Hare), picked to win the A Sun and go to the tourney. What happened? Average play, no focus and we came up way short of expectations.

    I am going to play devils advocate and suggest that maybe Byrd only knows how to motivate/coach teams predicted to underachieve and his squad can’t handle the expectations. I hope this isn’t the case, or we are in for a long season.

  3. a few things….

    We really really miss jordan campbell and jon house. We have absolutely NO ONE who can play the 4. Baker is the Bakery and Blake just seems to disappear out there even though he has talent.

    Can we please STOP the Kerron Johnson I’m hurt routine? If you are so hurt that you start to cry and then can’t walk off the floor and they are looking at your knee, and then they take your shoe off so they can look at your ankle, then you are too hurt to hobble back on the floor to finish the game. Byrd needs to leave this guy off the floor when that happens. It hurts his team and it makes Kerron look like a baby.

    Last, Marshall was a HUGE win. It was tense and Byrd did a great job of coaching his guys up. He didn’t call a timeout to settle them down, he let them walk through the fire and they made it out (barely) the other end. Congrats to the Bruins, lets go win a conference.

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