The Byrd Cage

What We Learned In Alaska

In Game Posts on November 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

Facing severe cold and daunting elk herds, the Belmont Bruins left Alaska with a third place finish at the Great Alaska Shootout. The Bruins defeated Division II Alaska-Anchorage in the opener then dropped the semifinal match up with the Colonial Athletic Association’s Northeastern.  The Bruins rebounded (despite being grossly outrebounded) Saturday night to beat the Golden Eagles from Oral Roberts in the consolation game. If you were not able to stay up all night to view the action, some of us did and this is what we learned.

Some of it might be painful.

We Have Bench Problems

One of the big takeaways from the weekend was the bench being unable to produce points. The second unit for the Bruins lacks scoring and play-making ability. In the final two games of the tournament, the bench only managed 12 points while only scoring 5 in the loss to Northeastern. The most noticeable dip in production is in the backcourt. When Kerron is off the floor (in foul trouble or struggling) the Bruins lose their ability to find open shots. The Bruins, at times, refuse to give the post touches and try to run a weave motion out front with guards who cannot penetrate. With no Kerron on the floor, this starts to look like a clogged toilet. We have seen play making signs from freshman Craig Bradshaw and hope to see him progress. If not, the backcourt bench minutes will continue to be unwatchable.

The Glass

The Bruins lost the rebounding battle in all three contests by an average of about nine boards a game. With the current roster, we knew this would be an issue. The lack of height has allowed teams to control the offensive glass against us leading to high foul rates and too many attempts from the foul line. The Bruins allowed Oral Roberts to pull down 21 offensive rebounds while only grabbing three of their own. Let that sink in. 21! On the season, Bruin opponents are bringing down 44.6 percent of their offensive rebounding opportunities making the Bruins one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country. This is a problem that cannot be ignored. The Bruins must clean up the glass despite their lack of height.

Ian Clark Is Good At Basketball

In the loss to Northeastern, those of you who stayed up to watch this one were treated to one of the best shooting displays you will see, EVER. Ian decided to make nine of his 11 three point attempts en route to a 10 of 13 night from the floor and 29 points. This was not a game where the opponent was playing poor defense or unaware that Ian can shoot. Northeastern was fully aware even throwing ‘junk’ defenses to slow him down and were still powerless. Whether there was a hand in his face or he was standing 28 feet away from the rim, it did not matter. Everything was falling. He is currently the top three point shooter in the conference knocking down 54.3 percent of his attempts and leads the nation in made three pointers with 25. He did all of this while chasing down Northeastern’s best scorer. Ian has been doing it all. And it is fun to watch.


The Bruins are back to forcing turnovers at a high rate. The Bruins finished last season forcing their opponents to turn the ball over 21 percent of the time. Early this season, the Bruins have forced opponents to turn it over 28 percent of the time (10th highest in the nation).  That was on display this weekend as the Bruins forced 56 turnovers over a three game span. Defensive savant J.J. Mann led the charge with 5 steals in the opening game! How often do we get to say that? Now if we can keep teams off the glass and off the foul line, this defensive unit will have a great year.

What it all means

While losing to Northeastern was tough, this team is showing their potential game by game. While it was a slow start to the tournament for Kerron, he bounced back nicely in the final game and Blake showed just how great of an offensive player he can be. Trevor has been solid down low (has anyone noticed how many charges the Hay Bailer has been taking?), but again, controlling the defensive glass is what will make or break the Bruins this year. @2sicksideburns, I am talking to you.

Gambling Side Note (Degenerate Gamblers Only)

One of the most painful covers in preseason tournament history occurred on Wednesday night. Belmont was favored by 16.5 points against Alaska-Anchorage. The Bruins had built a 17 point lead in the last minute until some little bench guy from Alaska decided to nail a three with 37 seconds left to cut the lead to 14. After the bucket, the Bruins dribbled the clock out. Tough sequence for all you people who had Belmont to cover. Also note that Belmont was favored in all three games and failed to cover in all three games. Just keep that in mind moving forward.

-Nick Broadhead


Belmont’s next matchup is a tough one against VCU on Saturday.  Stay tuned for a preview of one of Belmont’s biggest games of the year.

  1. Leave my sideburns out of this

  2. Causing turnovers will typically get us the extra possessions we need to level the rebounding disadvantage, however 21 offensive rebounds is pretty absurd. Can’t have a -18 in that category and only have a +4 in turnovers. Good thing we shot nearly 60% against ORU.

  3. There seems to be a lack of post presence. Although I haven’t seen them in action this year, I would say they miss Scott the most. He took over where I was most successful, which was on the boards and running the floor well. Belmont seems to have good offensive action from their “post” players, but nothing on the boards. I wish I could go back in time and give them a big man to go to inside and get the job done.

    I wish the Bruins the best this year, and hope to catch them at the Curb sometime!


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