The Byrd Cage

Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Belmont vs. Ohio

In Game Posts on February 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

Well, here we are. It’s BracketBuster time. I think I’m supposed to be excited about this thing but to be honest – its hard –  and for a number of reasons. The first is obvious and on record: we wanted Creighton.  This is no knock on Ohio but we wanted to throw the best team available into the Curb so we could really see what the Bruins were made of.

The second reason is that Ohio is really good. Like sweet 16 good. The Mont has played many games in the national spotlight and have a penchant for landing results in the bad-to-mixed range.

This is definitely not helped by the fact that Ian Clark, one of the best 3pt shooters in the NCAA and the backbone of the Bruins has gone 2 – 15 from 3 ball land over the past 2 games. I really hope this is not Ian regressing to human being levels.

That’s also not to mention that Blake seems to still not be 100% healthy, JJ aka ‘The Road Warrior’ hasn’t consistently shot well at home, and Kerron is increasingly sharing time with . . . Reece Chamberlain? Here’s to hoping the spotlight kicks everyone into gear this time around.

While the Ohio matchup isn’t quite the level of prime time we had hoped for, one Byrdcage contributor pointed out earlier this week that the bracket buster still bears some noteworthy significance for Belmont’s post season aspirations. A win against the Bobcats would put Belmont at 7-3 vs Top 100 RPI teams this season. Surprisingly, several pundits are still tossing our name around in the at-large bid conversation and a victory here would really strengthen their argument.

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Bruins vs. Tigers Tonight At Gentry Center

In Game Posts on February 14, 2013 at 10:22 am


How much does that picture rule? That’s Tech’s lil Samarrippas getting steam rolled by TSU’s Jordan Cyphers. Cyphers is a guy for the Bruins to keep an eye on tonight when they head up to North Nashville – but more on that later.

The big concern for Belmont tonight is TSU’s NBA prospect Robert Covington:


This dude is a true-blue beast and honestly we dodged a bullet in the first matchup on 1/19 as the  6-9, 204 lb Senior Forward warmed the bench due to a knee injury. Before the injury Covington was averaging 17.4 pts and 7.7 boards per game. Since the injury he’s recovered nicely averaging 12.7 pts and 6.7 boards per game (last three games). As Coach Byrd mentions in the Tennessean’s piece this morning, Covington’s ability to do it all creates plenty of opportunities for TSU’s Kellon Thornton, Patrick Miller, and Jordan Cyphers who all average double figure scoring in OVC play. In the January matchup at The Curb, Cyphers had a career high 23 points with SEVEN THREE POINTERS. With Covington back in the mix down low, Cyphers may have even more open looks in tonight’s game.

Additional Points
– TSU is 9-0 at home this year and have lost only a single home game in their past 20 contests. This does not bode well for the Bruin squad who has chalked up all of its 5 losses on the road this season.

– I’m looking for Coach Williams to try to stop the Bruins by playing tight perimeter defense, forcing The Mont to challenge Covington down low. Similar to the strategy Coach Prohm used against the Bruins last week.

– Rebounds on both sides of the ball will be tough to come by for the Bruins but look for The Mont to compensate by grabbing Patrick Miller turnovers.

– As a team, TSU is shooting the ball pretty efficiently. In their past 12 games the Tigers are shooting 45.5% from the field.  Belmont’s signature defense may have something to say about that tonight.

So good luck Bruins, you’re going to need it.

Also, good luck to all you saps ravenously checking the game on your phone under the table on your valentines date tonight. You’re pathetic. Ok, ok that’s me too.


The Byrd Cage Goes To Murray

In Game Posts on February 8, 2013 at 10:42 am


We left Nashville right after work and bolted for Murray. We were pretty excited about this game – who wasn’t? We wondered: “Could Belmont dethrone the Kings of The OVC? Could we run the conference table ?”

It’s no secret that it’s difficult to go into the CFSB and win. The Racers have only dropped 5 games at home in the past 3 seasons. On the other hand, Belmont has only lost 4 conference games TOTAL in the last 3 seasons. Needless to say we were amped.

I wouldn’t let Nick take a pit stop because an overturned tractor trailer put us 30 minutes behind on I- 24. This was going to be the biggest game in the history of Belmont Division 1 conference play: a program that consistently disappoints in marquee games. Needless to say I wasn’t going to let Nick’s infant like bladder make us late.

We smelled 8 too many skunks and drove across some sketch bridges but we finally landed at Murray 10 minutes before tipoff. While the University staff was very accommodating, ‘press row’ was less than ideal: a concourse level, semi-permanent platform tucked in the back corner of the monster arena. Thanks.

We decided to pause during timeouts to jot down our thoughts. It’s scattered but this is what we were thinking. Each blurb is a collection of thoughts and plays since the last timeout.

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Murray State’s Coach Prohm Speaks to the Byrd Cage

In Game Posts on February 7, 2013 at 7:05 am


Just in case you forgot:

Thank the Lord for pot stirring ‘Adult Steve’ (who got a shout out from Troy Machir this morning at NBC) because, frankly, I’m nervous about this game.  I know, I know – Murray so far has been a bit  of a disappointment this year.  But I just can’t shake the nervousness when we’re favorites away in a must win game (-4).  The expectations from last year were definitely high, about as long as the line to Coach Prohm at OVC Media Day at the beginning of the season.  But you know how we do.  The Byrd Cage was in there – and we were able to get three questions out before the OVC realized they let us crazies in and hastily hurried us out.  Ok, that’s not true.  The OVC people were wonderfully generous. Read the rest of this entry »

Murray State: The Game of The Season For All The Wrong Reasons

In Game Posts on February 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Adult Steve ‘Stirs The Pot’ With Some Fight’n Words


Monday, this was The Byrd Cage’s official response to ESPN’s Bracketbuster announcement:


-One Cager, Who Shall Remain Anonymous

Needless to say, we’re upset.  We deserve better.  Matt Sherrill did a brilliant job summing up how heartbreaking this whole situation is in his article yesterday.

If you think we’re biased about how good Belmont is, don’t take our word for it. Talk to Jerome Boetcher at the City PaperDavid Climer at The Tennessean, or Myron Medcalf &’s National Panel – just to name a few.


Moving on…

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Bracket Bust

In Game Posts on February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Bracket Bummer

When the Bracket Busters matchups were announced on Monday night, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth among the ByrdCage crew. One Cager, who shall remain anonymous, even resorted to an all-caps email. It was intense.

I was upset. I still am. The best possible matchup for Belmont would have been Creighton. A win over Creighton would have greatly bolstered Belmont’s case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. A loss to Creighton would not have been so detrimental as to unseat the Bruins from their position comfortably atop the OVC.

But ESPN owns the show and ESPN doesn’t care about Belmont’s RPI. Frankly, ESPN could not care less whether Belmont comes close to the NCAA Tournament. Let’s be honest about who ESPN is. The Big Four Letter is an entertainment company. ESPN’s goal is to get viewers, listeners, page views, clicks, shares, likes, etc. The more they get of all those things, the more they can charge advertisers. ESPN has no obligation to us or any other fan of any other team to provide the best sports matchup (see: the BCS).

A couple weeks ago, Belmont faithful were elated about the possibility of a Bracket Busters matchup with Creighton. The Twitterverse of media members in the know in mid-major basketball foresaw the matchup as the hands-down best Bracket Busters game. However, almost overnight, the mood changed. The sentiment went from hopeful to almost decidedly bitter. Matt Norlander, college basketball writer for CBS Sports shared in this negative outlook. (you’ll have to click it – sorry)

Twitter 1

Should we be mad at ESPN for the snub? Should we boycott a tip off set for 9 PM on a Saturday night? No. Regardless of who Belmont plays (or when or on what cable channel) the need to win hasn’t changed.

Since the 2006 season, the expectations of fans of Belmont’s basketball program have risen dramatically. Ten years ago, Belmont would not have been considered for a weekend primetime game on ESPN. Belmont would not have been featured in multiple national news stories in late January and early February. Belmont would not be on a nine-game conference win streak. So much has changed about this program and for those of us who have been along for the ride it’s hard to see those shifts.

But one thing still hasn’t changed and probably never will: Belmont has to win. It’s that simple. Belmont has to win to move from the Atlantic Sun to the OVC. Belmont has to win to get into the NCAA Tournament. Belmont has to win to get better players. Belmont has to win to get more media coverage. Belmont has to win to get more butts in seats at the Curb. Belmont has to win and for the past seven years has been winning. But winning doesn’t earn Belmont a seat at the big boy table. Belmont has to win all the time. Belmont has to win regardless of what name is on the jersey of the players at the other end. Be it Creighton, Ohio, Murray State, Wisconsin, or Georgetown: Belmont has to win.

A Byrd Cage Exclusive: The Trevor Noack Interview

In Game Posts on February 4, 2013 at 8:37 am


This is the second installment of our 2013 Bruin Interview series we’re calling ‘Byrd Brains’. Get it? You get it. 

At this point in the season we all feel like we’ve got a good grasp on the identity of the 2013 Bruins. They’re a defensively minded, pick and roll, shoot the lights out team. With that in mind, the enduring  story here at Belmont is Coach Byrd’s sustained ability to make seemingly less-than-ideally constructed teams run like a hemi. 

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Byrd Droppings with Mort & Hugs

In Game Posts on February 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

Editor’s Note: We like to laugh here at the Byrd Cage and we hope you do too. That’s why we’re happy to announce the return of Mort & Hugs. Our two in-house professional gripers/comedians who’ve never met a D1 athlete they weren’t scurd to anonymously mock on the internet.

MORT: We’re almost halfway through the OVC schedule and it is time to dust off the obligatory weekly lampoon. Hugs and I enjoyed our column last year, but have yet to muster enough inspiration this season to spend the necessary fifteen minutes to put 350 words to word processor due to the fact that our initial excitement for entering this new conference was whittled away by the drubbing of our first 5 conference opponents by a combined 120 pts. If this conference was a movie, it would have the plot twist of a yawn and the critical acclaim of “Jack and Jill”, which sucked, but was the inspiration for the greatest movie review headline of all time: 0 out of 5 stars, laughingly unfunny. What incredible headline does this conference inspire? “Nobody watched, but no one threw up.”

For the love of Marty Dickens can someone PLEASE turn up the damn speakers in the event center? There are THREE guys sitting at the sound booth. ONE of you needs to find the volume knob and turn it up to awesome. Lipscomb’s system makes my ears bleed, and it is amazing. We are losing to Lipscomb, an inferior school with an inferior team in a barely inferior conference. Then someone needs to tell God or whoever is in charge of the karaoke selection that a.) please no karaoke, and b.) please never play that Turtles song ever again. I get it. It’s a Belmont institution. But it shouldn’t be. I think “neat fact” is as far as that haunting carol should have ever gotten, but someone somewhere in the quality assurance department fell asleep when Karaoke Turtles Song in the Third Quarter Every Game was proposed before the season began.

Also, ByrdCage column DEMAND: Spreadin’ The News with Nick. Every Belmont game, Nick tells us which team he took against the spread and why, complete with his descriptions of his disgust with our opponents’ lack of quality coaching.

HUGS: Listen everyone, I don’t have time for this nonsense; I’m not in grad school anymore.  Just kidding. But not really.

In all seriousness though, I do feel a DEEP sense of shame for my lack of commitment to our Bruins in their inaugural year in the OVC.  But it looks like they’ve been doing fine without me.  Seriously, conference opponents.  Get your crap together. The one game I’ve managed to make it to this year was the least compelling sporting contest I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m a Cubs fan.  If we are just going to run roughshod over the conference, then I have little motivation to pay close attention.  I’ll have to come up with more exciting ways to fill my time, like becoming a hockey fan or watching my 26 year old roommates rediscover Tony Hawk Pro Skater for Playstation.

I am happy for our boys though.  It’s not their fault they’re playing the Globetrotters to the OVC’s Generals. Or maybe it is.  Maybe they should start shaving some points to make these contests more engaging.  It will definitely make Nick’s gambling addiction more exciting.

What does excite me is that if we continue the current pattern, it WILL make for a very interesting Selection Sunday.  Until then, wake me up when we go to Murray State.  However, I won’t be awake for very long because IMMEDIATELY after the game I will be heading to the Murray fixture and culinary GOLD MINE that is Mary’s to eat an A-Train (steak sandwich between two grilled cheese sandwiches), which will send my organs into the most pleasant meat and cheese-related shutdown imaginable.  Stay tuned to Ian Clark being amazing.

Sweet Bruin Baller Tweets:

@2sicksideburns:  I made a wish at 11:11 and it came true!! Juwanna Mann is on Comedy Central!!!

I would like to note that this tweet was composed during the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, which also happened to be on Martin Luther King Day.  This future schoolteacher chose instead to watch Juwanna Mann.  There’s a joke here somewhere.

This confirms all my suspicions. Baker is a 14 year old schoolboy in a schoolteacher’s body.

@DrewHanlen:  Just watched Shawshank Redemption w/ my mom. Love that movie! Buddy tunneled his way out of jail w/ a small hammer. Persistence pays off!

Drew, your twitter account is the one of the most consistently inspirational things I regularly read. I admire your upbeat attitude and your ceaseless encouragement.  That said, take it down.  Just. take it. down. a notch.  This is a movie of vicious beatings, corruption, and crawling through poop. It is not an after school special.

When did Hoopin’ become the single greatest person of all time? Seriously, the dude watches Shawshank (the most inspirational movie of all time save Mighty Ducks, D2, and Bridesmaids) WITH HIS MOM. He hangs out with NBA All-Stars and counts “persistence” as a hobby. Rumor is he’s both a knight and a saint. Compared to Drew, Tim Tebow is a drunk-driving prostitute. If you wouldn’t trade lives with this guy, then put me down for an eighth of whatever you are smoking.

…yeah me too.

@Itsburgtime:  Drank so much coffee I’d fail a drug test. #BurgyProbz

Remember that one time… ? Roasted.