The Byrd Cage

The Byrd Cage Goes To Murray

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

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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.

TIPOFF: Atmosphere isn’t as nutty as we were expecting – though I’m sure it will get there. There are a ton of folks here but it doesn’t look sold out. They’re probably scared (cue irrationally confident Murray State internet dude). If Ed’s simply magnificent ‘fro gets a block I’m not even going to be mad.

Media Timeout #1 @ 15:33 – Murray is playing the perimeter tight leaving Belmont with wide open cuts to the basket. Defensive rebounds – as expected are killing us. Luckily, Belmont has yet to give Murray many clean looks. Lots of pesky Belmont hands are beating the big men when the ball is down low. Bad news is this crowd gets loud about ANYTHING. This is what we were expecting.  Impressive.

Media Timeout #2 @ 11:08 – The Mont is clearly frazzled with terrible opening bench minutes. Murray is doing a great job of getting long arms into Belmont’s  passing lanes. The crowd noise has got the Murray State guys fired up. Luckily, JJ stops a run with an easy basket. Lots and lots of pump fakes by Trevor and JJ – someone shoot the damn ball!  Murray leads 17-10.

Media Timeout #3 @ 7:29 – Fans here are not happy with the foul calls – so goes any home crowd I guess (looking at you Vince). Stacy Wilson is fast and doing a good job of creating with his speed. Brandon Garrett is pretty excited to be here. Blake can’t finish a layup and still doesn’t look 100% healthy. This is not going to be fun.

Media Timeout #4 @ 3:34 – Bruins taking bad shots and Murray seems to be scoring on every possession. Personal note: it naturally gets quiet in here during Racer free throws making it SO HARD for me to not yell at these guys during free throws. Trevor is having a rough night from the floor. Come to think of it – Trevor has not yet scored. They have to get him involved if Belmont is going to turn this around. Murray has had 28 shot attempts against our 19. They are steering this ship for sure.

Belmont Timeout #1 @ 0:22 – When Ed comes out the Bruins are driving a little bit more liberally. Murray protecting the ball and not giving up the turnovers that Belmont loves to capitalize on. JJ coming through with a statement three after Ed blocked 54 Bruin shots in a single possession. Trevor simply CANNOT make a shot and is 0-7.

Halftime – Phew. Murray is rolling through the Mont like Zay Jackson in a Walmart parking lot. ZING. Murray shooting 43.8% from the floor. Belmont shooting a miserable 38.5% from the floor. Not much to see there.

Media Timeout #5 @ 15:28 – Ed is so BIG. No ‘fro block yet but he is just too big for the Mont to work the pick and roll – aka our bread and butter. Funny to watch Coach Prohm working as the main cheerleader. Dude frequently gets up and motions for the crowd to get loud and they do it. Can you imagine Rick doing that? No, you can’t. JJ having a good night on D by being real smart with his hands.

Murray Timeout #1 @ 12:07 – Reece just blew by Isaiah for a 3pt play (WUT?!) Belmont is playing hard but there is just no getting around the mismatch down low. Ian missed a corner three. That almost never happens and that’s not superlative (that sort of means ‘exaggerated’ for any Murray students following along).

Media Timeout #6 (including Murray’s 2nd) @ 11:49 – Shots are just not coming for the Mont with costly turnovers. Kerron drives through the woods and comes up with a basket. Still down 13. Isaiah is a master at drawing contact. Stacy Wilson is on Ian like white on rice – I hope Ian can breathe. There is plenty of time for Belmont to figure something out but nothing seems to be working. When Kerron and Reece drive Murray plays the dish leaving us with few open perimeter looks. The big hole in our offense though is Trevor who STILL hasn’t scored. Rick’s pre-season predictions of the Mont are coming true in this game. No height + no depth = utter dependence on guard game which is just not delivering tonight.

Murray Timeout #3 @ 8:34 – Holden now in for JJ who is in foul trouble. WOW, Rick. The crowd is getting loud and looking for Murray to go for the jugular – but Rick is keeping the guys in this. Craig tries to breathe some life into the Bruins with a corner three. This Murray T-shirt gun is the real deal by the way. Worth the trip alone.

Media Timeout #7 @ 7:58 – Do YOU have a Murray Jersey? Throw it on, and try your hand at a 3 point attempt. You WILL make it. Rick still refusing to let his team get blown out but Belmont is unable to shrink the Racer margin. Trevor finally scored on a transition layup followed by a Reece forced jump ball in favor of the Bruins. The crowd is PISSED and the boys in blue are feeling it. Something we don’t get to say often: A CLUTCH three by the Bakery. Belmont down by 7 at the timeout – finally turnovers leading to points. We may have something here.

Media Timeout #8 @ 3:23 – Trevor has missed so many shots it’s unreal. Then he goes and makes a three that causes a pause in action so they can fix the net. Two things the CFSB needs to fix: press row and the nets.  This sets up Belmont to press on the inbound play, allowing Reece to force a turnover. Reece immediately drives and dishes to Ian who DRAINS a 3. The Mont cuts it to 4. This is spectacular.

Final Sequence (Hang on!)

Great cut by Trevor with a lay-in over ED. Should have been a foul. No call. Blake missed a high hard pass from Ian under the bucket. Then Blake does what Blake does and immediately hacks Isaiah who is money at the line tonight. Ian responds with a cold-blooded three with 1:16 left. We are down by 3. Reece forces a steal with a minute left. Ian DRAINS yet another three to tie. This is fun. Isaiah responds with the exact same thing. Ian and Isaiah are having a very cordial conversation and Ian goes to the pine for HOLDEN. Ian comes immediately back in. Ian drives around a screen on the perimeter and loses the ball out of the bounds. The game is over.

What an ending.

Press Conference

Rick starts the presser by giving himself a stern talking to about his game plan. He wasn’t pleased. Are we seeing a trend in big games for Coach Byrd? He defends his guys by basically saying the CFSB is a crazy house and that Belmont no longer gets any days off. Every team gives them all they’ve got. I ask The Byrd Man why he had Kerron on the bench down the last stretch. He said, “Well I thought we were better tonight when he wasn’t out there, didn’t you?” . . . He’s right. Rick exits.

Coach Prohm comes out and Nick asks him why he hasn’t been able to run the table in the OVC with two NBA prospects. Kidding, we didn’t ask that. Prohm just blabs about how he lost his mind in the final minutes and says his team only plays hard in big games. Guess that explains their season. Prohm exits.

Enter Isaiah. I say, “Isaiah it takes a lot to get Ian rattled up but in the last few minutes you and Ian were yapping a bit. What was said out there and what was it like being on the court with Ian tonight, with the spotlights on the both of you in the days leading up to the game?” He said after they exchanged their freak-show 3s at the end they started chirping at which point he told Ian, “I’ve been here more than you.” I’m sure Ian loved that. Canaan said some other words were exchanged that would stay off record. Nick asked him if it was the gameplan for him to be at the free throw line the whole night or if that was just what the defense happened to give him. He said he felt that no one could stay with him and that he could attack the hoop all night. That kid does not lack confidence. I think that was the takeaway here.

We finally left and headed straight to Mary’s Kitchen, ordered two A-Trains, Tiger Sauce on the side, sub Cajun fries and talked about whether Murray could repeat the freak show in Nashville.

Kyle & Nick

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  1. It looked pretty full and loud on TV, at least in the beginning. Not so?

  2. Fellas: I love the site. Great analysis of the game and write-up. Thanks for making the trek to Murray last night. We are thrilled to have the Mont in the OVC now. Instant credibility boost for this conference. Also, much respect from this Racer fan for your team. Talented, well coached and they play extremely hard for CRB. The Bruins had a solid and vocal following at the game…color me impressed all the way around. Hope these two squads meet up again in Nashville. On second thought…

  3. It got loud. At first people were still filing in. When a three drops in that place the noise is off the charts.

  4. @racerrambler thanks for the kind words and for having us. We try to stoke the fire round here . . .

  5. That game was tough. Murray owned us throughout the whole game- but it got exciting at the end. To me, it was just amazing watching Ian vs. Isaiah at the end. Two amazing basketball players. Instant rivalry.

  6. @Bmack amen. It was a real treat to see both those guys playing each other at such a high level. Home court really swung the advantage to The Racers IMO. The Mont needs to bring everyone and their dog to the conference tourney in Nashville.

  7. Several of our fans are curious about the OVC tourney and the # of fans Belmont will bring. What has been the average turnout at the A-Sun tourney in recent years by the Bruin faithful? Where is the A-Sun tourney held?

  8. The ASUN tourney was a disgrace. For years they rotated every two years. For last the four or so years the tournament was held at Mercer in Macon, GA though. So it was a home game for the 4 or 5 seed every year. Which actually makes Belmont’s run that much more impressive. First NCAA berths came @ETSU (huge rival) and @Lipscomb (even bigger rival). It is nice to play in a conference where tourney games are at a semi-neutral and the league tries to help it out its top seeds. That being said, the turn out the last couple years in Macon was not good. It’s a long haul. In fact, they were selling championship tickets for 1 dollar last year. Place was empty. Belmont fans tend to show up for big games but it is really tough to say what will happen for the OVC tourney. My guess would be a good, but not overwhelming turnout.

  9. Great article man! Nice pic of coach and ‘Sip, he ha.

  10. My loyalty to the original OVC compels me to hope for an Eastern/Murray title game (for no other reason than to avenge an embarrassing loss) but, as the fates will have it, we’ll likely see Belmont (yawn) again. . .

  11. In full disclosure I have been banned from every blog in the OVC or any that I have ever posted on ( including Racer Nation ). With that being said, I kind of like your rag.You guys got brass, I’ll give you that. You guys are new around here and don’t yet understand who’s the present and future king and rightful heir to the OVC crown.

    That is MURRAY STATE, it’s OUR CROWN. Now don’t get me wrong, every now and then a fluke happens and someone wears a FAKE CROWN,but you can rest assured,by the time it comes to defending the fake crown,it will be ripped off your head by the rightful heir. This is called the FAKE CROWN THEORY. When someone other then Murray State wears the crown it’s FAKE, When Murray State wears the crown, it’s real because we are the rightful HEIR to the OVC crown every year.

    That’s the first rule you need to learn around here. You can learn it the easy way or the hard way. It makes no difference to us, but make no mistake about it you will learn it. You seem to think Murray St. is having a down year. Up year,or down year makes no difference to us, by the time we get to Nashville, we will be ready to defend OUR CROWN.

    A last word of advice, you better get that lazyass fan base of your’s off their ass,by the time Nashville rolls around, you’re gonna need them. If you don’t have enough, you better invent some. You will have absolutly no chance if the Murray State’s fans are twice the size as your’s in your city.

  12. what a weirdo

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