The Byrd Cage

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

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