The Byrd Cage

Belmont vs. ETSU Tonight: All The Details You Need To Know

In Game Posts on March 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Belmont will face off against the Buccaneers from East Tennessee in semifinal number one of the Atlantic Sun conference tournament. This in state, in-conference rival has joined Belmont in owning the Atlantic Sun over the past 6 years becoming Belmont’s biggest conference rival. (In terms of competitiveness and relevance, not historicalness(?)). After the Belmont three-peat, the Bucs stepped in to grab the next two automatic bids before the Bruins reclaimed their spot at the top last season. What can we expect tonight in Macon? Let’s look back at the two match ups this season.

Monday, January 23, 2012, Memorial Center, Johnson City, TN 

Unofficial Attendance: 3,965

This was the first game for the Bruins after suffering their first conference road loss of the season to USC Upstate two nights earlier. The Bruins were looking to rebound and start a second half run. Blake Jenkins arrived in the starting lineup and the Bruins defense put forth a stunning first half performance. The Bucs were only able to muster a lousy 4 of 25 from the field producing 12 first half points. They turned it around in the second half scoring 58 and closing the final margin to 12 (82-70). ESTU relied heavily on the three point shot in the second half, sparking the offense. The Bucs produced 34.3 percent of their offense from behind the arc in this one, nearly doubling their current season average. With the slow start, they were forced to abandon the original game plan. ETSU managed to get to the foul line 25 times in the second half, however only to shoot 62.5 percent for the game. Poor shooting and tough first half Bruin defense crippled the home team.

Belmont on the other hand, put together one great defensive half and one great offensive half to secure the tough road win. Belmont leaned on the inside play of Mick who went 7 of 10 from the field for a team high 17 points. Belmont only made 5 three point buckets, 3 less than their season average. The Bruins allowed the Bucs to get back in the game by turning the ball over on 25.7 percent of their possessions. However, the Bucs only got within 9 points in a game that was statistically over at the 2:50 mark in the second half. The story of this game for the Bruins did not come in this particular 40 minutes, but what happened in the 240 minutes after…

Belmont 82, ETSU 70

Saturday, February 18, 2012, Curb Event Center, Nashville, TN

Unofficial Attendance: 3,451

After the first match up, the Bruins exploded. Going in to the first tilt, the Bruins were averaging 1.16 points per possession, a very stellar number. However, in the next six games leading up to the final regular season match up, Belmont was averaging an insane 1.31 points per possession. During this stretch, the Bruins produced numbers that are unheard of. They shot 61.38 percent effective from the field, dropped their turnover percentage by nearly 4 points to 14.7 percent, and increased their offensive rounding percentage by 2 points to 37.05 percent. To sum it up, this team was on fire.  Whether it was the insertion of Blake Jenkins into the starting line up or increased production from Drew Hanlen, the Bruins were finding their stride.

ETSU was headed in the opposite direction. While dropping two of the next six games, the Bucs watched their offensively efficiency below 1.00 point per possession.  Over this stretch, they saw a decline in virtually every offensive category. Also, the tempo with which this Bucs squad was playing slowed by nearly 7 possessions a game. This led to a long night in the Music City.

The Bruins again got off to a fast start. Belmont scored in a variety ways against various zone looks from the Bucs. Excellent three point shooting from Ian Clark and Drew Hanlen helped the Bruins secure the season sweep and a 22 point victory. The Bruins forced the action making the Bucs commit 20 fouls, 4 above their season average. Blake Jenkins and Kerron Johnson led the Bruins to line 16 times combined, making 13 of those attempts. Belmont got to the line at a rate of 59.2 percent, increasing their rate nearly 20 points from their season average. Despite great ball control from ETSU (13.8% turnover rate), no player with over 2 shot attempts converted even 40 percent of those attempts. The Belmont offense proved once again to be too much for Coach Bartow to handle.

Belmont 80, ETSU 58

Friday, March 2, 2012, University Center, Macon, GA

Unofficial Future Attendance: 13

The third match up will be a neutral site affair with everything on the line. The Bruins showed in the first two match ups why they have one of the most prolific offenses in the country. In order for the Bucs to pull of the second round upset, they must find easy buckets by forcing turnovers. ETSU is second in the country in steal percentage at 15.5 percent, over 10 steals a game. The Bucs must also be patient on offensive and realize they are most effective inside the arc. They have scored 60.9 percent of their buckets from inside the arc, 11th in the country. ETSU Head Coach Bartow must expect supreme ball control for senior guard Adam Sollazzo and for him to continue to attack the rim. Sollazzo has attempted the most free throws of any player in the conference and will need those easy points against the Bruins.

The Bruins must continue to shoot the ball with high effectiveness. It appears that Ian Clark will be ready to go on Friday and must continue his hot hand against the long ETSU zone defense. The outside shooting will force the zone to scramble and allow the best center duo in the conference to get easy buckets. With the Bruins averaging 1.21 points per possession in conference (best in-conference number in the country), offense should not be a problem. The Bruins biggest challenge will be on the defensive side of the ball, starting with rebounding. The Bruins are the top defensive rebounding team in the conference, securing 68.1 percent of defensive boards that bounce their way. ETSU thrives around the rim, as stated earlier, and Belmont must limit those easy inside looks. Keeping ETSU off the offensive glass is imperative.

That being said, in a rivalry game like this, records go out the window. Stats do not tell us the whole story. History means nothing. Forty minutes is all there is. Tomorrow night will be a clash of Atlantic Sun tournament powerhouses, for the final time.

Prediction: Belmont 76, ETSU 67



-Nick Broadhead

  1. Atta boy, Nick. I’m with you – even though we played these guys real well this year it doesn’t make me any less nevous about his matchup. GO BRUINS.

  2. Always nervous against an ETSU team. Two things you can always count on with a Bucs squad: 1.) They will be the most athletic team on the floor 2.) They will be poorly coached.

    All that said I think the Bruins should be confident heading into tonight. Solaz is ETSU’s best scoring threat and Blake and Ian have handled him well in the 2 previous matchups this year. The biggest issue is depth, though. ETSU only played 6 players last night. That’s right 6!!! One day turnaround make sit impossible for them to be 100% coming into tonight, Bruins by a bunch.

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