The Byrd Cage

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Belmont Beats UNF 83-69: In Jenkins We Trust

In Game Posts on January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Another huge game for Blake Jenkins.  I could not be more excited at the new life he has injected into the team.  With trouble so far this year at the power forward position, Jenkins has stepped in and has grown into the role, seemingly gaining confidence with each possession and showing a great understanding of his new role in the defense for major minutes in the game.

In the past three games Jenkins has started, he has scored 41 points and gone 17-24, shooting an amazing .720 FG% .

As a Bruins lover, I cannot be more excited.  Seeing this sophomore step into that position not only gives me hope for this season, but actually gets me excited for next season (something I previously was not so excited about).

Belmont also scored 17 points from turnovers, Hedgepeth scored 10 in the first half, and Belmont forced 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.  All great things.  Belmont let things get a way a bit at the end of the game, a prime example Drew Hanlen rushing the ball down the court with 3 minutes left in the game, only to get some lip from Coach Byrd.

Overall, Belmont has come away from their USC-Upstate loss with 3 good wins against A-Sun opponents.  Let’s hope we can keep this momentum through Friday.

Post-Game Interviews (Via BelmontBruins.com)

The Good:  Blake Jenkins and 16 points from Kerron Johnson.

The Bad:  5 turnovers from Johnson

The Ugly:  Ended The Game Weak

Belmont Slips Past Jacksonville; Previewing UNF

In Game Posts on January 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm


Belmont Beats Jacksonville 85-71

If you were one of the 2,429 fans in attendance at Saturday’s game against Jacksonville you got to see some weird, wild stuff.

Maybe it was just where I was sitting but it felt like Belmont was losing the entire game. We also got to see one of the worst officiating jobs I’ve seen in a while. The only thing that was weird about it is that the refs made a lot of really good calls and missed a lot of really easy ones.  We also got to see a Rick Byrd technical in this strange game.  I have never seen Rick as emotional and animated as I have seen him this year, and I think he feels what all of us feel; talent abounds yet good basketball seems to elude whatever squad happens to be on the floor. I would love to know what Coach said to that referee to get the technical. Whatever it was, I think Vince Gill approved.

The highpoints of the game are obvious to me: Kerron tallies another 20+ game, continuing his reign of terror. I wish he would drive the lane EVERY DAMNED POSSESSION.  Blake’s 18 point performance just shines a little light on what he is capable of doing. I don’t know that Belmont has had a player comparable to Blake in the past. He could be a game-changing caliber forward and the type of interior presence that Belmont’s forwards are generally not accustomed to being.

On To the Next One: University of North Florida Ospreys

As any tenured Belmont fan should know, UNF is historically a scrimmage. However, if you watched the A-Sun Tournament last year, you know that UNF is a much different program. Let’s go to Chago’s for the analysis:

Uno Taco – UNF is 11-12 overall, 5-5 in the ASun with two wins over Lipscomb.

Dos Equis  – In stature, UNF resembles Jacksonville; nobody to play a solid C position but several 6’6” – 6’7” that will provide fresh legs off the bench. Watch for Travis Wallace (6’6” F So.)  to fill the post the majority of the night. He leads the team in rebounds per game and is second in points per game. Parker Smith is the go-to scorer for the Sea Birds. He’s averaging 12.7 per game but Belmont held him to 10 in the last contest. UNF runs a balanced attack, Belmont-esque you might say, with every player averaging double-digit minutes. However, as a team the Hawkies have a total of 359 turnovers to 286 assists. I’m calling a Kerron Johnson triple-double.

Tres Enchiladas – Oh yeah, I should mention, Belmont beat the Fish Eagles 83-53 back on January 2nd. I think we can attribute at least some of that deficit to a lively New Year’s Eve down in Jacksonville.

Quattro Margaritas – The X factor in my opinion is Matt Driscoll. He was on the staff that turned Baylor around and also coached Clemson for a spell. When Belmont jumps to the OVC next season, Driscoll will be the #1 or #2 coach in the ASun. With the Sea Hawks finishing a four game road stretch at the Curb tonight, plus coming off a big win at whatever dredge Lipscomb occupies, Driscoll will have his band of undersized miscreants fired up.

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Belmont plays Lipscomb on Friday. If you make the decision to go to that game, please make sure you hydrate before the game, avoid small children at all costs and be sure that you represent the Belmont fan base as being some of the meanest, loudest, most relentless, most clever sons of B’s in town. This may be the last time we play those postulant children for a while. May they long remember the name of the street on which they reside.

-Til I die

SNX

Belmont plays UNF tonight at the Curb Event Center.  Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Belmont Shows Up At ETSU; Previewing Jacksonville

In Game Posts on January 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Adam Barnes scored 12 points off the bench against ETSU and had 5 boards in a game where the Bruins needed a bounce-back win after a tough loss against USC-Upstate a few days before.  Barnes went 5-6 in only 16 minutes of playing time, injecting life into the guard play that Belmont had been lacking lately.

Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, but perhaps the biggest story is how Blake Jenkins tied Mick Hedgepeth for rebounds at 7.  With Jenkins’ play stepping up and him getting the start, i’m hoping some gained confidence will help in the small forward position going from here on out.

Previewing the Jacksonville Dolphins

Jacksonville comes practically limping to the Curb Event Center Saturday to play the Bruins with a cumulative 4-16 record, but we all know that this Belmont team is certainly not in any position to overlook  opponents, as one of Jacksonville’s wins this season was against USC-Upstate.

Jacksonville’s greatest weakness is their Field Goal Percentage (FGP), ranking 285th in the NCAA at .409.  Facing 49th ranked in FGP Belmont, the Bruins needs to put this game away immediately by making shots in the paint and on the perimeter.  But before we go any farther, let’s take a look at the Dolphins.

The Boys

Glenn Powell, 6-5 Junior Center, is the Dolphins’ leading scorer, averaging 11 points per game and 7 boards.  He’s had four double-doubles this year, and while his size may be questionable, he has shown that he can rebound and put points up in their losses.

Delwan Graham, 6-7 Senior Forward, averages about the same as Powell a game, 7 boards and 10.5 points, showing the Dolphins’ strength is under the basket.

My Three Wishes

1.  Hedgepeth/Saunders dominate under the basket (Double-doubles all around).

(Just because we can shoot better, doesn’t mean we only try that strategy here)

2.  Kerron Johnson gets 18 points.

(We can shoot better, and it will show)

3.  Jenkins gets 25 minutes of play time, makes 5-8 attempts with 8 boards, gaining confidence.

(Just because John Jenkins plays down the road doesn’t mean there isn’t another Jenkins ready to fill an important gap in a Nashville offense)

-bMm

Belmont plays at the Curb Event Center Saturday night.  Tip-off is at 7:15.

Belmont Gives Up 16 Point Lead to USC Upstate

In Game Posts on January 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

You really don’t need to read any further on the Byrd Cage if you want this particular game summed up. Yes, I know you aren’t supposed to say that as the editor of a blog that you actually want people to read, but it is true.

You could simply go to AtlanticSun.org or ESPN.com and click “Box Score” for the game. If you click that, then just proceed to read the boxes that state how many points each team scored in each half. The game is perfectly summed up after this 15 second search, and then you can go back to what you were doing on this lovely Monday.

If you want explanations- I do too. And let me start by saying this- I don’t have them.

The fact that Belmont gave up 52 points to USC Upstate in the second half is troubling for many reasons. Not because USC Upstate is a necessarily bad team, or that we are simply “too good” to give those points up, the point here is- we were lambasted in almost every way during the second half. Hedgepeth and Johnson scored 16 and 18, respectively, but Belmont just couldn’t hang on and gave up double-digit points to four out of the five Spartan starters.

Their starters, with absolutely no bench, played us into the ground shooting 60%.

Belmont lost 79-78.

In what could be their most revealing game of the year, Belmont gave up a second A-Sun loss this month, with another tough road test at ETSU tonight. Let’s hope we rebound with a nice win away to keep our tie atop the A-Sun. I have a feeling we will see what kind of team we really are in the next few games.

-BmM

Belmont beats Stetson 84-71

In Game Posts on January 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm


Mick Hedgepeth Goes 11-12, Scores 24 Pts
 
Belmont Dominates Second Half, Beats Stetson 84-71
 
When the Bruins went into the locker room down 31-29 last Saturday against Stetson, you had to be wondering if the Bruins were still nursing a week long Lipscomb hangover.  With ten turnovers in the first half, the same bad passing we saw in the Lipscomb game and a poor 2-11 from the arch, we were left wondering if our beloved Bruins would come back.

But the Bruins came out swinging with a full court-press and forced a bevy of Stetson turnovers that led to a gigantic point swing early on in the second half.  A frustrated Kerron Johnson, who played a severely mis-guided first half, rediscovered his role as a defender with 3 steals and 8 assists. At about the half-way point in the second half, Belmont more than doubled their first-half score and was well in control of the game.
Mick Hedgepeth, who has scored the quietest 1,000 career points in Belmont history, continued his work as one of the most underrated centers in the school’s history.  The 6-10 senior scored an outstanding 24 points while pulling down 7 boards.  What’s even more remarkable was the fact that he shot 91% from the field, pretty much making a mockery of Stetson’s post game.

An important statistic from the Stetson game was that the Bruins only made 5 threes, the fewest in almost a year, and scored most of their points inside the paint.  If Belmont can increase their inside presence going forward, this may be good news going forward as we have seen this team rise and fall with their 3-point shooting.  Hedgepeth and Saunders could be the secret weapon to Belmont finally advancing in the tournament.
-Steven Lefebvre

“Stetson: Belmont 2.0?” And; “Rick Byrd Gets Candid About the Lipscomb Loss”

In Game Posts on January 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Remember this guy?

That’s former associate head coach Casey Alexander. He’d been pointing out perimeter plays with Coach Byrd for 16 years before accepting the head coaching job at Stetson in May 2011. We can easily imagine the assistant coaching role has to be a rough one. You do a ton of the behind scenes jobs like scouting and recruiting, coordinating video exchange, charting drill performance, working with video crews, overseeing academic matters and fulfilling various administrative responsibilities and get little-to-no glory. That being said, I think we all can easily understand the impetus to leave a comfy Belmont program to be the top dog at a fixer-upper program like Stetson’s.

Keep in mind though, Casey Alexander wasn’t just any assistant coach: while at Belmont FoxSports.com senior college basketball writer Jeff Goodman ranked Alexander as the No. 5 ‘Mid-Major Assistant Coach’ in the nation. Alexander was also rated 6th in the same category by Jason Belzer of CollegeInsider.com. Needless to say, Alexander was ripe for the picking.

And picked he was. Alexander, along with 11- year assistant coach Roger Idstrom opted to break up NCAA’s longest tenured coaching staff and head down to Gulfport, Florida to coach the Stetson Hatters.  That’s right, not one, but two of Belmont’s coaches left the tutelage of the Byrd-man in order that they might spread their coaching wings and fly as mini-Byrd-men on the home court of a historically miserable conference opponent. Of course, Byrd maintains that the split was amicable – so much so that he told the City Paper he had always kept an eye out for head coaching gigs that might fit Alexander(what a freaking class act, am I right?). But c’mon . . . having your number 1 and 2 guys bounce on you like that has to be rough.

Alexander’s forte was developing guards into perimeter shooting powerhouses. With this in mind, Belmont’s less than stellar 3pt game this year begins to makes way too much sense. Think about it: Alex Renfroe, Ian Clark, Justin Hare, Jordan Campbell, Andy Wicke, etc. Just sayin.

So two coaches left Belmont to coach a conference rival.  Why stop there? To top it all off Alexander also brought along Belmont’s 5th all time point leader Steve Drabyn to be his other head coach. Fun Fact: During his tenure at Belmont from 2000-2004, Drabyn led the entire NCAA in free throw percentage as a Junior (78-82, .951). Since then Drabyn has coached at the University of the South, Lees-McRae and Carmel (Ind.) High School.

Here’s where Stetson stands: Alexander – Belmont. Idstrom – Belmont. Drabyn – Belmont.

Together they combine for a whopping 35 years of Belmont excellence (playing and coaching).

Saturday will be the first time the two teams meet since the coaching staff shift. It’s clear these three coaches will know the Rick Byrd system better than the average film-watching A-Sun opponent. While that’s initially unsettling, knowing the Byrd system is different than stopping it and we can be confident the Stetson recruits won’t quite be on par with that of Bruins. None-the-less I’ll be really interested to see how Alexander dials up his defense and whether he’ll try to force Belmont to rely on their three pt game that for the first time in 16 years, hasn’t undergone his masterminding.

Kyle Williams

Rick Byrd Gets Candid About the Lipscomb Loss

Rick Byrd was nothing if not frank at the January Hoop Hour.  Coach Byrd took the opportunity to give an honest assessment of Belmont’s shortcomings in a loss to Lipscomb that he assessed as “as bad as it gets.”  To those of us that witnessed the Bruins’ 85-74 loss to the Bison(s?) last Friday, perhaps the most glaring concern was our poor shooting and our seemingly utter lack of an inside game.  Yet Byrd highlighted an area that perhaps less seasoned observers (like myself) may have overlooked: our defense.  Granted, defense could hardly have not been a concern considering we allowed a 20+ point swing in the final minutes of the game.  However, defense as the key to the game did not cross my mind until Byrd’s sage assessment.

In too many instances, the Bruins failed to provide proper help to each other on defense.  We suffered from a lack of aggression and proper positioning.  Even our posture revealed at times a lack of awareness, lack of intensity, or at best a lack of energy.  This was due no doubt in part to exhaustion for some players, as Belmont did not see the same bench play that was one if its hallmarks from last season.  Typically reliable playmakers like Ian Clark were, by normal Belmont standards, overworked.  Still, while this may be an explanation, it is not an excuse, and Byrd did not mince words when it came to characterizing the outcome of Friday’s game.  We failed, no doubt about it.

The silver lining in all of this is that Byrd’s lackluster assessment of the Bruins’ performance means (and our record shows) that we can and should expect much more out of our boys.  However spotty the shooting game was, Byrd said that “some days your shots just don’t go in,” but when you play D like we did “suddenly an average team is better than a good team.”

We are a good team, but we beat ourselves. Luckily we have a coach who will not let these young men off the hook.  The upcoming game against Stetson is a biggie, as it decides who will lead the A-Sun.  Undoubtedly many teams would like to knock Belmont off of its high horse for its last season in the conference; Belmont undoubtedly wants to leave its A-Sun opponents with hearty servings of humble pie.  If we can count on anything, it’s that Rick Byrd does not let the lessons of this last Friday go unlearned.  Against Stetson, expect to see a Bruins team that is fired up on defense, that can play the gaps, and is more skillful with the screen.

The chip on our shoulder from the recent loss, combined with a matchup against a coach who learned everything from Rick Byrd, and you’ve got the recipe for an aggressive, tenacious game.

Benjamin William Smith

Previewing The Stetson … Hatters? – At Belmont Saturday

In Game Posts on January 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Coming off the most packed game in Curb Event Center history (going with my gut on that one), Belmont taking a big “L”, and Lipscomb running away with the Boulevard- I anticipate a “back to normal” feeling in the CEC.

This, after all, is not what I want.  But how much will this loss affect attendance?  How much will it affect morale going deep into conference play?  These questions, and more, will be answered Saturday when we play the (7-9) Stetson Hatters.

Did I just say Hatters?  Yes, I did.  And when “googling” Stetson, the first thing that comes up is a “western wear” website.  Second, is the actual university.  This is because John Batterson Stetson (pictured below) is not only the inventor of the cowboy hat, but also one of the largest philanthropists in early 1900s educational facilities in Florida (See: Stetson University and Stetson University Law School).

John B. Stetson

…so, I guess they kind of had to be called the “Hatters”.

Quick Facts

-Stetson University is located about 30 minutes from DisneyWorld, making it a “pretty cool” place to go to school, I guess

-Stetson University has about 2300 students, 58% of which are women.  BOO-YAH.

-Student to faculty ratio is 11:1 (Something Belmont still claims, and lies about- unless you are a philosophy major)

-Stetson was founded in 1883

The Game Preview

Because of their strange mascot name combined with the player’s names, confusing headlines about their wins can occur (see:  Green Powers Hatters To Win Over UNF ).  Say that ten times fast.

This article was talking about Willie Green, 6-7 Sophomore Forward, who put up a double-double against UNF.

This guy, falls on my “Players to Watch” list.  While he is not a normal starter for the team, and hasn’t played like this all season- i’m still putting him up here.  So shut it.  His “anomaly” game feels less like that when you factor in his transfer status this year and him getting used to the team.

Whilst talking about anomalies, Stetson has a serious problem with scoring.  Luckily Belmont does not, unless they are playing Lipscomb.  Stetson scores about 68.1 points a game, ranking it towards the last of the NCAA in that respect, while Belmont is still ranked 18th overall in the NCAA in scoring at 79.2.

I’m going to be honest here, guys and gals.  I played basketball.  One year.  When I was in 6th grade.  I was what you would call the “sixth” man a.k.a. the-most-important-man-on-the-team (as my Mom told me), and even I know that we need to play these kids hard below.

We need to play them down low not because they are necessarily weak on the post, or because they are tough guarding the perimeter, but because WE need to get better inside.  It was the key that lost us the game last Friday.  Other than our abysmal shooting, we just kept pumping the ball outside, lobbing up threes.  It was a horrendous sight.

But, this is a new game.  This is when the rubber hits the road.  14 games left, we need to pick up the pace.

Early Bracketology

Don’t get mad.  I almost didn’t put this up.  But I just want to talk about the “national” conversation of Belmont (there is one!).

Joe Lunardi likes Belmont.  He likes them more than ever, apparently.  If you click the word “apparently” you will see that Joe “Crazypants” Lunardi puts Belmont in a 12 seed this year.  Why?  Why did he put us in our best seed in the history of Belmont’s tournament going for this year, you ask?  I wish I knew.  But I don’t.

We won 30 games last year.  What more could you ask for?  You see, Belmont is a Mid-Major that everyone is just waiting for.  They are waiting for the signature win.  If we would have popped Duke in the mouth, gave Memphis a closer run for their money, and won 30 games again this year, I would fully expect something closer to a 10 seed.  My opinion on Lunardi’s projection this year is that he remembers us from last year.  This is a good thing.  True, we may not be the team we were last year, we may have lost to Lipscomb at home, and MTSU away- but we are carrying that “tricky” Mid-Major banner over our shoulders the whole way.

Let’s just hope we stay tricky enough in the minds of the voters in March.

 

-Brett McReynolds

Dear Byrd Cage: Going Deep Into The Lipscomb Nightmare

In Game Posts on January 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Dear Byrd Cage,

Is there something deeper than hate?  If so, what is the word?

Repulsion?  It still doesn’t seem to get close.  Repugnance?  That sounds a bit closer… but it doesn’t resonate deeply enough for what i’m feeling.  Antipathy?  Still feels like i’m beating around the bush.

Lipscomb?

I hate the word.  As I hate hell, Josh Slater, and thee.  And Slater doesn’t even play anymore.

It happened Friday night.  Belmont’s home streak dashed.  My worst fears realized.  To that team.  The one down OUR boulevard.

I guess this is why it is called a rivalry, eh?  Lipscomb played the best they’ve played all year.  They shot better, they outmatched our intensity, and we just couldn’t play them inside.  We could play with the Plumlee brothers, but we couldn’t match that Lipscomb no-name under basket.

Today’s Byrd Cage will feature different, mostly better, writers than me that are the Byrd Cage team.  They’ll each be able to give a specific view of the game to break it down into more easily digestible pieces.  Hopefully.  Enjoy.

2012 Bruins: Comparing the 30 Win Team of 2011 to Now

by: Steven Lefebvre

As I sat in the packed Curb Event Center Friday night I found myself, along with the rest of the people in my row, extremely heartbroken with the outcome of a complete meltdown against Lipscomb.  Furthermore, at the end of the game, we, the Bruin faithful, found ourselves longing for more of the magic from the 2011 season.  However, after removing myself from the emotions of Friday night’s loss and actually looking at the numbers, I have to quote the infamous Denny Green, ‘they (the Bruins) are who we thought they were.’

Let me explain.  For starters, the Bruins of 2011 lost only 4 games, one of those games was to a much better Vanderbilt team (away), two were on the road against a mediocre Vols team, and only one of them was a bad loss, at Lipscomb.  However, as we all know, games against Lipscomb are always inconsistent and weird.  So far this season Belmont has lost six games.  Two of those games the Bruins were expected to lose but hung tough (at Duke, at Memphis) and we should be proud of their effort.  As for the other four games this season, two of the losses came on the road against two teams we have also beat this season: the best MTSU team and the best Marshall team either program has seen in decades.  Granted, we did have two bad losses.  One was to Miami (OH) on the road and the other was Friday night’s heartbreaker (again consider wildness of the rivalry).  The Bruins have a far tougher schedule this year and are meeting expectations.  Actually, I’ll take it one step further, the Bruins are playing above their expectations!
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of this 2012 team is that, yes, Belmont returned 7 of last year’s 9 players, but that still means Belmont needed to replace 2 roster spots and they really haven’t.  Last season 9 players averaged somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes.  This season only 7 players average between 18 and 29 minutes again.  The Bruins’ depth is really nothing remarkable this year and they are tired.
Take Kerron Johnson, for instance.  Last season, Johnson was one of the best defenders in the entire country.  But with him playing more than ten minutes per game, he is stealing the ball less per game (from 2 to 1.6) and his 3 point shooting is at an abysmal 23% (compared to last year 43%).  Another example of the effect of Belmont’s player fatigue is the increased role of Brandon Baker.  With the departure of Forward Jon House (my favorite Canadian), Baker’s presence has increased almost 5 full minutes per game to 17.8 minutes per game.  If you factor in the 19.1 minutes House played last year, the Bruins are essentially replacing 7 whole minutes of their lineup with a 37% shooter (compared to House’s solid 49%).  The Belmont Bruins are not as deep as last year, therefore they aren’t as good.
In conclusion, the 2012 Belmont Bruins are not the 2011 Bruins, and they never should have been expected to be.  The sooner we can end our whimsical day-dreams about Bruins past and take the expectation monkey off the back of this current team, the more we will appreciate and be grateful for the team that is playing basketball in the present.  In terms of all-time Belmont teams this squad ranks among the best.  However, one expecation remains the same: the fifth and final A-Sun title!
__________________________
What Your Eyes May Have Missed: The Numbers

by: Nick Broadhead

Factor One: Effective FG Pct. (Field percentage giving the 3 point shot extra weight)

 In traditional Lipscomb fashion, they waited until the battle to have one of their most effective nights from the floor. The Bison’s(s?) shot a blistering 58.3% percent effective from the field. This was 8.1% higher than their season average and 10.3% higher than the Belmont defense season average. So far this season, Belmont had been holding opponents to only 48.0% percent for the season. This output was highlight by Bisons Deonte Alexander and Jacob Arnett, who was on everyone’s scouting report. Right?

Offensively, Belmont could only muster 49.2%, nearly 4 percentages lower than their season average. Belmont also relied on 52.7% of their points from behind the arc. This is an astonishing 20.6% higher than their season average. The large disparity in point distribution can be attributed to the early foul trouble Saunders ran into and the 7 blocks dished out by the Bison’s(s?) defense…

 Advantage: Lipscomb.

Factor Two: Turnover Pct

 This is the one statistical category that Lipscomb did not dominate the Bruins. In a game that had 73 possessions, both teams turned the ball over 15 times. This means each team had a turnover rate of 20.5%. This statistic will not tell us much at face value, however, after an inexcusable foul by Ian Clark on a three-point shooter, Drew had back-to-back turnovers that sparked the Bison’s(s?) on a 21-0 run over a 6 minute span- The deciding run that ended the Bruin’s hopes. While the percentage is the same..

Advantage: Lipscomb.

Factor Three: Free Throw Rate

Lipscomb made it to the stripe at a 28.3% clip while Belmont only managed 22.7%. This was well below Belmont’s season average of 39.1%. With Scott Saunders on the floor for only 16 minutes due to foul trouble (being benched with 11:33 to go in the first half with two fouls and not being seen until the start of the second, questionable, but for a later discussion) and the 36 three point attempts produced only 15 FTAs. The Bruins simply settled for too many deep shots and did not take advantage of an undersized Lipscomb roster…

Advantage: Lipscomb

Factor Four: Offensive Rebound Percentage

While looking at the offense rebounds in your average box score, you will see that Belmont had the edge, 14-10. Things are finally looking up for the Bruins from a statistical standpoint, right? Well.. no.  Although Belmont had the raw advantage, while looking further we see the percentages favor Lipscomb. The Bruins put up 6 more shots than the Bison’s(s?) and missed 4 more free throw attempts. This gave the Bruins more offensive rebound opportunities than their opponent. Lipscomb grabbed 34.5% of the offensive rebounds available while Belmont grabbed only 31.8%. This is not an overwhelming advantage, but…

Advantage: Lipscomb:

The Mathematical Edge

This translates into an incredibly efficient offensive night for Lipscomb scoring 1.16 points per possession. The Bruins have been holding opponents to 0.98 points per possession, just below the national average. It is difficult to win a game allowing your opponent to be that efficient.

Lipscomb forced the Bruins into too many three point shot attempts. While traditionally a deadly shooting team, poor nights from J.J Mann and Kerron Johnson (combined 2-17 from deep) overshadowed a spectacular performance from junior Ian Clark (28 pts). Belmont’s abandonment of the post up game and lack of attacking the rim cost the Bruins.

Untimely turnovers by the usually steady Drew Hanlen sparked the Bison’s(s?) on the game-defining run. The Bruins reached the 68 points at the 8:45 mark in the second half on a Mick Hedgepeth lay in. They did not get a bucket until an Ian Clark three ball coming at the 2:00 mark, a 6 minute 45 second drought for those of you counting at home. In the mean time, Lipscomb put home 21 points securing their regular season tradition of being a nuisance and minor blip on the screen for yet another promising season for the Bruins.

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The Sights and Sounds

by:  Kyle Williams

The 2011 Battle of the Blvd stands as a prime example of the unpredictable and heartbreaking nature of this storied rivalry.
Save the initial sloppy start, Belmont remained in control of the majority of the game.  Then a cataclysmic 6 minutes and 45 seconds of 21-0 basketball splattered all over  the Curb Event center floor leaving thousands of perplexed Belmont fans shamefully walking to miles of parked cars along the Blvd asking, “WHAT????” “This is unheard of, right???” “Can this ACTUALLY happen in rivalry games – against the home team???”
If you’ve been to any number of these Blvd brawls you know that home court advantage is pretty crucial.
So what gave on January 6th at the Curb Event Center? It certainly wasn’t the size of the crowd. Without a doubt, Belmont hosted the most people I have ever seen at the Curb Event Center for a basketball game (5,227) – and I’ve seen more than I care to admit. For those of you who weren’t there, we’re talking no empty seats and shoulder to shoulder standing room encompassing the circumference of the mezzanine surrounding the arena – and yes, having that many people at the Curb IS A HUGE DEAL for Belmont Men’s Basketball.
The one home-court related problem that stands out in my mind was the fact that for it’s shear size, this crowd was awful.
Save a few standout moments – for instance when Malcolm Smith slung Brandon Baker(?) onto the court for an off-ball technical foul,  the crowd could have really had Belmont’s back in some of the less ‘encouraging’ streaks of the game. Don’t hear me dish the blame for this tragedy onto the crowd here but a classically organized MOB/student section could have been a deal breaker when Belmont was spiraling into the abyss.
My point is that home court is half familiarity and comfort for the home team and half soul crushing crowd presence suffocating the away team. Apparently, this equation was, in my opinion, off-balance that night.
Another thing I’d like to remind us all of here, is that this Belmont team doesn’t seem to shine in tense situations. With exceptions like the harrowing  performance at Cameron Indoor Arena to kick the season off, or the double overtime victory at MTSU this year, I somehow get the feeling that these guys get rattled by fan presence. Whether it’s for or against them, it seems to get into their heads.
Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I feel pretty strongly about this. So maybe a more loco-fied student section would have further inhibited the team. I guess we’ll never know. In time I’m confident the students will rally around this awesome basketball program and this incredibly frustrating rivalry.
I can see it now, organized chants, choreographed celebrations, color co-ordinated face-paint and uniform hair coloring, ear blistering volume, bigger arena screens and a legitimate sound system . . . but  I digress.
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I hear your groans, Bruins.  I feel your pained longings for a Cinderella.
It will come.
Stay tuned.
-Brett McReynolds

Voices of Belmont Alumni: Reflections on The Battle of the Boulevard

In Game Posts on January 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm


Brian Dunn, Belmont 08′, Finance, Belmont 09′, MACC

” So now that this could be our last year with our heated rival Lipscomb, one word describes how I feel for them. Hatred.  My feeling of malcontent probably has something to do with the overall arrogance (which is not deserved) Lipscomb portrays. From the fans to Adnan Hodzic and Josh Slater, it never ceases to amaze me on how a win against Belmont warrants a rushing of the court.  

I think at the end of the day, pride is on the line for both schools.  For Lipscomb, this game determines success or failure and in their eyes some type of “validation” to their institution’s stature against Belmont. For Belmont, it’s putting that younger jealous brother in its place for wearing purple and staying out past their curfew once and for all.

BELMONT TIL I DIE. “

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Fatima Karwandyar, Belmont 09′, Public Relations

 “I remember attending the game at Lipscomb and sitting next to Vince Gill and he gave me a high five…”

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Kyle Williams, Belmont 08′, Music Business

Some awesome signs Ben, Steve, and I made at an away Battle of the Blvd two years ago:

“Bisons is a malapropism”

“Lipscomb’ sounds disgusting . . .”

“The parking here is terrible”

“At least Baptists can dance: 2006, 2007, 2008″

and finally . . .

“Tim Tebow can’t read” (so ahead of it’s time, I know)

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Caroline Adams, 10′, Religion and the Arts

“We were such dorks freshman year, and I definitely wasn’t the crazy, college type- this story will show you.  I remember the first Battle of the Boulevard I attended.  We won, and my friends and I got so excited about the win.  I remember vividly, we were driving down West End to get something to eat afterwards and saw a Lipscomb car with students getting out.  We rolled down our windows and yelled at the top of our lungs, “AREN’T YOU PAST YOUR CURFEW?!”  It was pretty crazy of us to do.  I swear we talked about that for 6 months afterwards.”

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Ben Smith, Belmont 08′, History

“I dressed up as a bear one time at the Battle. Full body suit, head to toe. A little girl came up and hugged me. Creepy though it may seem, it was clear from this symbolic act that the Belmont Bruins had the endorsement of that which is pure and beautiful. By contrast, no one wants to hug a bison. Who tucks in their little child at night with a stuffed bison? A bad parent, that’s who.”

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Andrew Baker, Belmont 07′, Music Business

“There are many memories about the Battle of the Boulevard. I went to every game between 2003 and 2007, but the one I remember most is the one Battle during that period that didn’t occur in Nashville. The 2006 A-Sun Championship win when Justin Hare carried Belmont over the line in OT was one of the greatest moments in Belmont history. I remember is so specifically because it was Spring Break and I was probably the only person still in Maddox hall. I didn’t have the money to go to the game, but being able to run through the halls screaming about the victory with no one around was something that I will never forget. It was a pretty surreal.”

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Klay Kelley, Belmont 09′, Music Business, Belmont 10′, MBA

“I remember freshman year being in Student Government and working with the SGA President on the creation of the sign.  It was a great experience being able to work with such a great rivalry and have a hand in that part of that tradition.”

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Steven Lefebvre, Belmont 08′, Music Business

“The majority of Belmont students hate sports and this hatred is only matched by their hate for all things Lipscomb.  They are the anti-Belmont, when we build a nursing program, they make a school of pharmacy.  When we get the presidential debates, they get Tim Tebow.  They are the annoying little brother who can’t sit still and the Belmont nation cheers for their demise.”

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Molly Smith, Belmont 08′, Education

“I remember when we first introduced the Battle of the Boulevard sign, we ended up winning that night.  It didn’t even have a stand yet, and the SGA President, Daniel Shumate was running around with it jumping up and down like crazy!  I’ll never forget that.”

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Jonathan Pollack, Belmont 09′, Business

“Why does Battle of the Blvd mean so much to me?  Why do I hate “Lip-scum” so much?  It’s because this game is a home-grown rivalry.  Most rivalry’s in sports are based on past playoff games.  This one is not.  Both schools sit on the same street: Belmont Blvd.  Keep in mind that the street is named after the dominant college.  This game is for pride.  It’s for bragging rights.  You have to defend your street.  It’s not “Lipscomb” Blvd, it’s Belmont Blvd.  It feels like I’m in “West Side Story” or something.  Maybe one day we’ll meet half way and start snapping.  You have to do whatever it takes to defend your honor.  That means showing up to every Battle of the Blvd game.  Belmont games are never sold out,  so when this one comes along, get ready.  The noise, the intensity, the energy.  There’s something special about it.  Hope to see you there.  Look for me, I may be snapping along…”

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Ryan Hurd, Belmont 09′, Economics

2011:  Lipscomb carpooled over to the Curb Event Center and lost by a heaping 36 points to a Belmont team that nearly swept the conference. The win tied for the worst Lipscomb loss in the NCAA era. It was more than fantastic. It was certainly abnormal. I was even a little embarrassed for Slater and Hodzic until I shook off my beatdown high and realized that I wasn’t. And Belmont would have run the conference table but for Allen Arena on January 25. Lipscomb rallied in the second half on the backs of Slater and Hodzic, who no one in the conference ever had an answer for, and knocked off Belmont with a 9 point win (padded by free throws in the last minute, it was closer than 9). Sometimes the other guy has to win in order for your rivalry to be worth a damn. 

We’re just better. That’s all. And for what it’s worth, I”ll be right for at least 4 more years until they catch up. But by the looks of it now, my guess it that I’ll be right for many years to come. But despite their shortcoming, the school that shares the street truly is a great rival. 
Start the bus.”
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Jeff Simpson, Belmont 09′, Political Science
“I’ll always remember going to my first Battle of the Boulevard.  I hate everything about Lipscomb. I hesitate to admit that at first the hatred stemmed from jealousy. How did they have such a big and organized student section? It looked a lot more fun over there. Did I choose the wrong school? Absolutely not. As the game went on, I began to make a few observations. First and foremost, they’re all idiots. I’m all for giving the refs grief and being partial in my opinion of what is a foul and what is not. However, there is a limit to this partiality that borders idiocy. They all crossed that line. Every whistle.
Second, the “leaders” of this student section clearly thought they were more important than the actual players. One kid in particular couldn’t get enough of himself, and to make things worse he was fat, and a ginger. I have nothing against fat gingers. Except that they’re fat. And gingers. Somehow, he got into a non-verbal exchange of words with our student section. It was obvious that this moment in time, receiving attention from his section and ours, was going to be the best moment of his life. He clearly had no real friends, absolutely no athletic talent, and likely no particular academic strengths. I bet he chose Lipscomb so he wouldn’t feel so bad about sitting alone in his dorm room at night and weekends, since everyone else was forced to follow the curfew as well. Somehow this moron ended up on the front row of their student sections all four years I was there. I feel bad for his parents. There are at least a dozen other examples of why I hate Lipscomb, but those were the first.

Another memory, in the midst of a Belmont comeback run during the 4th quarter, the Belmont fans became exceptionally rowdy. For reasons I’ll never fully understand, a Lipscomb fan and father of two young children found it necessary to turn around and yell some choice words at our student section. Why an adult, in front of his young children, would ever turn away from an ongoing game to engage in discourse with a group of hostile students is beyond me. I remember making eye contact with him and yelling “Your kids are ugly!” In my defense, it is unlikely that he or the kids heard me. Also, it was a true statement, and judging by their father the kids didn’t have much of a change after puberty either. They’re probably some of the meanest words I’ve ever uttered, but I’ve never regretted them.”

 

The Battle of the Boulevard: The Last A-Sun Battle, Part 1

In Game Posts on January 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Remember that year, 2006?  I know I do.

What a wonderful year.  Belmont’s first NCAA tournament berth, the first year of the Sign, freshman hi-jinks on the grounds of Lipscomb in the early morning hours, and realizing that they do blast “contemporary Christian” music at 3 a.m. like some sort of communist propaganda being pumped into a communist occupation into that dreadful place.

2.4 miles.  2.4 miles is what separates Good from Evil, happiness from shame, and the “Christian institution with a strong Baptist heritage” and “that weird Church of Christ one”.

We are the closest geographic rival in the NCAA Division 1 sports.  The next being Cincinnati and Xavier, at 4.4 miles.  And we’ve all seen what that kind of distance can do in a rivalry.

(We don’t need fists, we prove it on the court)

What a tremendous claim in a rivalry, being the closest geographically. And what a history it has been between us.  In what will be the 129th installment of the Battle of the Boulevard, Lipscomb leads the series 72-56.  This is an unfortunate fact, but while they may lead in the rivalry, our successes as an institution since joining NCAA lead them like the Star led the Wise-men.

“Why the journalistic bias?”  You may be asking.  The reason is, I hate Lipscomb.  I once lived closer to it than Belmont one year and my soul was sucked out little by little.  It was like living next to Azkaban.

But, in all seriousness, I hate Lipscomb.  I hate the fact it tries to act like us and that it is so much worse than us in every way- except the whole Amy Grant thing every Christmas.  Oh, and they had Tim Tebow speak one time.

I hate Lipscomb’s colors, I hate their grammatically incorrect mascot name, I hate their stupid fans, and their stupid band, and… well.. everything.

Before you start getting all mad, its important to note that I have friends who went or currently go to Lipscomb.  It happens.  And how those very few that have Lipscomb and Belmont stickers on their car don’t have to whip themselves in penance at night boggles my mind.

Lipscomb is Belmont’s arch rival.  And with our victory lap around the Atlantic Sun conference this year, I find myself growing quite sappy at the thought of us not being in the same conference as the Bisons next year.  It actually deeply saddens me.

You see, I went to a small high school.  No football team.  Then I went to Belmont, no football team.  I loved sports, but quickly found many around me just didn’t care.  But Belmont basketball was the thing.  It was OUR thing.  It was a great thing.  Belmont basketball had a profound history.  It had great potential.  It was early Mid-Major magic before my eyes, with the very possibility I was watching a Cinderella.  I fell in love.  And I have always hated her foe.  Lipscomb.  I will always.

But the very thing that makes me love Belmont basketball is Lipscomb, you see?  It’s a strange sort of symbiosis.  It’s the underlying plot theme in every great story ever written, in every great movie, in every great life.  Good and evil.

And, I fear, as we put away our Atlantic Sun warm ups, change the website logo, delete, add, edit, and move on- I feel like we will realize what we left, in a sobering moment.

Alcoholics call it a “moment of clarity”.  The religious call it “divine inspiration”.  Whatever its called, it be will a deep feeling of sadness.

That awful school down the road with which we’ve practically held hands with through the NAIA to the NCAA will not be beside us this time.  Like embattled brothers forced apart, we will realize, only apart, that the very same lifeblood that courses through our veins, courses through theirs.

And we will be gone.

I may hate the crap out of you Lipcomb, but I respect you.