The Byrd Cage

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Fly Like an Eagle

In Game Posts on January 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

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The Bruins enter the fifth weekend of OVC play on an eight game winning streak. The Ohio Valley has shown Rick and the boys great versatility early in conference play. We have seen apathy (UT Martin), potential (Morehead), and bloviation (Dinunno/Neubauer combo) all in a month’s time. Regardless of what each team brings to the court, the Bruins just keep winning. They are beating conference opponents by an average of 18.1 points per game (22.7 at home). There have been 6 blowout games (greater than 19 point margin) in the OVC this season; the Bruins have been on the winning side in half of those contests. Conference opponents have turned the ball over on 26.7 percent of their possessions. This statistic can be attributed to great Bruin defense or opponent incompetence. I’ll let you decide. Moving on, if I haven’t clearly articulated the Bruins early season OVC dominance, then chew on this: The Mont has played sixteen halves of basketball and only lost 3 of those stanzas. All of this has led to a two game lead in the stronger East division while holding the tiebreaker over second place EKU. The Bruins are on track for a top seed in the OVC tournament which would mean a bye straight to a Friday semifinal played in Nashville. Wait, what? A conference that does not make their top seeds play road games to go dancing? What a great idea (take notes ASUN)! But this season is far from over.

Morehead State Eagles @ Belmont Bruins – Curb Event Center -Thursday, 7:00 P.M.

The second half of conference play kicks off at home against a Morehead State team that had Belmont on the ropes just 7 days ago. The Bruins were down by as many as 14 points in the second half before a rally capped off by a couple three balls from the Road Warrior J.J. Mann  resulted in a one point victory. The pressure defense of the Eagles forced the Bruin point guards into 9 turnovers. Unfortunately, we’ve see this often from the 2012-2013 version of the Belmont backcourt. You know what else we’ve seen before? Missed free throws. The Bruins were a dreadful 11-21 from the foul line. That’s almost a full 20 percent off their season average. The Bruins were also handled soundly on both sides of the glass grabbing only 10% of available offensive rebounds while the Eagles pulled down nearly 38% of their opportunities. While I don’t expect to see a repeat of that FT shooting performance, it is realistic to expect similar turnover and rebounding numbers. To prevent another unreasonably close game with the Eagles, Kerron must play within himself. That not only means valuing the basketball from a turnover standpoint, it also means taking better, more intelligent looks at the bucket. Another key will be the front line of the Bruins and their ability to keep big 6’ 11” Chad Posthumus off the glass. In the Bruins first matchup with Morehead, ‘The Other Big Chad’ had double digit rebounds making it the fourth time in conference play he had reached that plateau (19 boards against SIU-Edwardsville!!).

Tennessee Tech @ Belmont Bruins – Curb Event Center – Saturday, 7:00 P.M.*
*Homecoming, if you’re into that sort of thing

The second game of the weekend will feature whoever 6’ 5” senior Jud Dillard can bring to play with him. Tech has struggled all season and currently sits at the bottom of the East Division with only two wins. In the first matchup against the Golden Eagles (please don’t confuse them with the regular Eagles from Morehead), the Bruins opened the game on a 26-3 run. The Road Warrior J.J. Mann and Ian combined to go 10-14 from deep and quickly ended any hope of a competitive contest. I really have nothing more to say about that game. I expect the second time around to be slightly more competitive. I know that’s not exactly a bold statement considering the game ended in a 31 point blowout, but the Golden Eagles have some guys who can play. The aforementioned Jud Dillard and big man Dennis Ogbe will come to town looking for a little redemption and reputation repairing. Dillard is averaging 20.3 points a game in conference play and uses over 30 percent of his team’s possessions. He put up 21 in the first meeting. Expect more of the same. Ogbe will be the beef down low and try to keep Tech possessions alive. He is grabbing just over 2 offensive rebounds per game (11.3 OR%) and likes to throw that 220 pounds around. This game will hopefully be played in front of a packed Curb which always makes it more fun. Homecoming always brings people out of the woodwork.

Gambler’s Corner: In the first meeting with the regular Eagles of Morehead, the Bruins were favored by 9 points and failed to cover. Against the Golden Eagles of Tech, the Bruins were 12 point favorites… and… well… covered comfortably. The Bruins are 9-9 against the spread on the season and 5-3 against the spread in conference play. What does that all mean? Not a darn thing. Good luck!

-Nick Broadhead

Belmont Byrd Cage Running Diary: Richmond Edition

In Features on January 28, 2013 at 12:01 am

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Jono’s first Bill Simmons impression went so well that we asked him to do another!

And we’re back, by popular demand, I was told to, with the now annual Belmont Byrd Cage Running Diary. Tonight the Bruins are in Richmond, Virginia Kentucky for an Eastern Division clash ripe with the pungent odor of postseason implications. Apparently I’ve driven through Richmond before on a road trip to Indianapolis and I just didn’t realize it. My experience with central/eastern Kentucky is limited and mostly hinges on one experience: while standing in line at a Subway/gas station for a sandwich, I witnessed a teenage son open mouth kiss his mother. I left. Other than that, I don’t know much about the place.

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The Anxieties of a Belmont Fan, and This Weekend’s Games

In Game Posts on January 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

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Let me be the first to say, that as a fan, I hate this season.

Don’t get me wrong-I love the way the Bruins have been humiliating the OVC but from here on out, but the Bruins stand as the clear conference favorite and that makes me nervous.  Every game for the rest of the season is likely to bore us to sleep with a blowout or we are going to be mad as hell if we let one slip through our fingers.

Belmont is having their best season ever.  Which is surprising for two reasons;  1) No one at the beginning of the season could have predicted Trevor Noack, the Hay Bailer, would be this good as a small center.  2) Belmont is playing a typical starting five, that is, we don’t have the depth of bench we are used to and it’s actually working quite well. Read the rest of this entry »

Byrd Cage Exclusive: Interview with TSU Head Coach Travis Williams

In Game Posts on January 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

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After meeting Coach Travis Williams from Tennessee State before the season started, I wanted to put on my old basketball shoes and give him everything I had on the court.  Not that he would have wanted that- because everything I have on the court is not much, but that is who you get with Coach Williams.  Charisma, confidence, and a certain kindness are the overtones of his first impression.  I got to ask him about the win at Murray State last year and being a new head coach in the OVC.

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Lessons Learned Thus Far

In Game Posts on January 14, 2013 at 8:36 am

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As I sat in the Curb Dome and watched a complete shellacking of our new Ohio Valley Conference opponents on Thursday and Saturday, it occurred to me that a lot has changed since I sat in that seat in early 2012. Even with all those changes, there are still some things that remain the same.

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Belmont at Home Tonight; Previewing the Weekend

In Game Posts on January 10, 2013 at 7:36 am

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This might be the infamous London DJ ‘SEMO’s brand, but I can tell you it’s better than Southeast Missouri State’s Logo.

Belmont opened a historic weekend in the program’s history, winning their opening two games in the Ohio Valley conference over the weekend. With a couple of nice road wins under their belt, the Bruins return home to the Curb Event Center to open a 4 game home stand against OVC opponents. Belmont will welcome in the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State and the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks.

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Byrd Cage Exclusive: The Kerron Johnson Interview

In Game Posts on January 8, 2013 at 10:31 am

 

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Right before the Bruins jumped on the bus for the program’s first ever OVC game against Jacksonville State, the Byrd Cage picked the  brain of Kerron Johnson. As I sat there watching the end of practice the mood was almost serene. It was clear that in a few hours a huge chapter in the program was about to unfold and it seemed everyone was determined to make it right.

If you hadn’t figured it out from Kerron’s performances on the court over the years – this guy gets it. In other words, he understands what makes the Belmont program great. Naturally, we asked him to share the wealth and he obliged.

Kerron Johnson = KJ
Byrd Cage = BC

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BC: So have you read our blog?

KJ: Yeah.

{cricket chirps, tumbleweed rolls by . . .}

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Belmont’s OVC Introduction.

In Game Posts on January 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

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I cannot think of any better place for the Bruins to start their run in the Ohio Valley Conference than Jacksonville State. Incredible venue. Sterling crowd. And great production by the OVC Digital Network. The fun continued in the lively city of Cookeville. We can spend the next couple paragraphs refuting the previous statements or we can just move on- so let’s take the wins and move on. Here are some of my thoughts on the opening weekend of OVC play:

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Belmont Back Home From Orlando

In Game Posts on January 2, 2013 at 11:00 am

Nashville Skyline

As all you good Belmont fans know, the Bruins spent their weekend in a familiar place for long time ASUN fans-  Orlando.  The Bruins finished second in the UCF Holiday Classic losing to host Central Florida in the championship game on Saturday night. The Bruins were able to withstand a second half run from the Terriers of Boston to win the second semifinal matchup and put together a second half run that fell just short against Knights. Greg Sage does a great job recapping individual games so I will leave that to him. But here are some thoughts on the weekend as a whole:

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