The Byrd Cage

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:

Westbrook/Durant?

The Bruins have been graced with one of the best backcourts in the nation. Ian and Kerron have been doing it for a long time and have put up some staggering numbers. Due to the lack of depth in the backcourt, these two have to been forced to change the way they play the game. We have all witnessed Ian’s remarkable start to the season. He is shooting 67.7 percent effective on the season which includes an unimpressive 4-15 three point performance in Orlando. He rarely misses an open three point look and has shown a willingness to move his offensive game inside the arc (64% on 2PA). You will never seen Ian throw up a high number of shots either. He shot the ball 17 times against Central Florida which was his season high. The only problem that Ian has had on offense is that he tends to disappear at times. Ian is a smart basketball player and will rarely force a poor shot which accounts for his occasional disappearance. But he also gets shut out by his running mate from time to time.

We all know Kerron is a gifted athlete that can ‘wow’ you with the best of them. However, he has limitations that often become frustrating for fans. For instance, he relentlessly goes to his left (strong hand) and takes wild attempts around the rim. The degree of difficulty on his shot attempts is outrageously high. He will get to the rim occasionally for an easy layup, but a large percentage of these attempts are hotly contested. These shots make for great highlight reels when they drop, but when they don’t? Well.. He is great at drawing contact and getting to the line. According to Ken Pomeroy’s calculation, Kerron draws about 6 fouls per 40 minutes of action. This would be great if he was automatic from the line, but sitting at 70 percent for the season makes me uncomfortable late in games. His poor shot selection has been reflected in his shooting numbers for the season (47.2 eFG%).  Using nearly 30 percent of the teams possessions when he is on the floor, Kerron needs shore up his shot selection. This is not to say the offense should not run through Kerron, he is the Bruins most dynamic playmaker. However, without an increase in his shooting percentages, Kerron needs to continue to distribute the ball and pick his spots carefully especially in late game situations.

Finding the line between aggressiveness and efficiency is not an easy task. Trying to determine the optimum number of shot attempts for each athlete is equally as tough. Just like the Westbrook/Durant debate, there is no magic formula to maximize offensive output every game. Kerron has always been an aggressive player. Ian has been more passive in his approach. Both need to take notes from one another. The season depends on this duo.

UCF- The Three Point Problem

It is always difficult to try and recap a game you did not get to watch. This sounded (courtesy of Ingram and Sage) like a game where the Bruins were physically out matched. This is not unfamiliar territory for the Belmont program. Rick Byrd has utilized the three point line over the years as the great equalizer (but refuses to fully embrace the dunk). On Saturday night, those attempts were not falling. The length of the Knights was problematic, but 26 percent from deep cannot be fully attributed to tough defense. Ingram noted as much during the broadcast. The Bruins have not been stellar as a team from behind the arc. Currently at 34.1 percent as a team, it is the lowest percentage Rick has seen in at least nine years. That percentage includes an out of body experience from Ian that has started to show signs of regression. This team is not a great shooting team by Belmont’s high standards; a problem for one of the smaller teams in recent memory. While I believe (or desperately hope) J.J and Blake’s percentages will improve, the Bruins need to be careful of becoming too reliant on a three point shot that has not been dropping.

Moving On

Overall, the Bruins should be pleased with where they are entering conference play. With a Murray State team that has shown signs of weakness and an occasional lack of offensive competence, the Bruins have a great opportunity for a special conference season. Let the real fun begin!

Gambler’s Corner

The Bruins were favored in both contests in Orlando. They easily covered the -9.5 point spread against the Terriers but failed to cover the -3 points against UCF. The Bruins are 4-6 against the spread for those counting at home.

-Nick Broadhead

__________________________

Belmont’s next game is tomorrow night, January 3, at Jacksonville State.  Tip-Off is at 7 p.m. CT.

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