The Byrd Cage

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.

______________________

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.
______________________________
I hear your groans, Bruins.  I feel your pained longings for a Cinderella.
It will come.
Stay tuned.
-Brett McReynolds
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  1. […] I have mentioned in a previous article, the 2012 Bruins are not the 2011 Bruins.  Granted, this team is still a solid mid-major team, […]

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