The Byrd Cage

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In Features on November 7, 2013 at 9:11 am


“It’s that time of the year again.”

It is one of the clichés that we use over and over again. What does that mean for a Belmont basketball fan? It means it’s time to pry yourself from your favorite college football team and focus on what’s important in your sporting life, Belmont Basketball. (We all know that you’re not doing that, but let’s pretend. Do it for Rick.) The off-season was filled with professional contracts being signed, Ian Clark hijacking the Belmont Basketball twitter feed, white guys dunking , and Rick Byrd doing Rick Byrd things. It would be fun to rehash all these items but we have more pressing issues to cover.

The season is just days away and there are some things you need to know.  Time to talk basketball. Roster turnaround is a constant concern for basketball fans. Some years the turnaround impact is minimal. Some years its significant. This year’s roster changes will undoubtedly be placed in the significant category heading into the 2013-14 season.  It appears to be a year with a tight rotation, something we seemingly say every preseason, and Rick never agrees. Let’s take a closer look.

Young Guns

The Bruins will be replacing 5 seniors with a bunch of freshman. I would love to be able to give you a rundown of these young guys and what they all bring to the table but let’s be honest, grainy YouTube highlight clips against Lipscomb (the university) quality competition can only tell you so much about a player. It is safe to say that between Austin Luke (red shirt?), Evan Bradds, Tyler Hadden (red shirt?), Nick Smith, and redshirt freshman Caleb Chowbay, Rick is going to need production somewhere from this group. Chowbay will need to contribute in a backcourt that lacks high level ball skills while the height of Bradds and Smith will be needed on the back end of the defense and on the offensive glass. Let’s keep freshman expectations low and hope Chowbay can handle the ball – and is fully recovered from his offseason injury.

Give Us Something

The success of a roster turnaround starts at recruiting and moves through to development. Rick is one of the best at taking his recruits and getting every ounce of talent out of them. However, Rick went through a period where he brought in the exact same player with seemingly every commitment. The most dynamic of this bunch is Craig Bradshaw. We saw great production last season with even more potential. His athletic ability and selective defensive energy will certainly see the court more often. What makes Bradshaw most entertaining is his unwavering confidence. He never backs down – for better or worse. The other returning role player tasked with contributing more is newly elected captain Reece Chamberlain. It will be interesting to see how Reece is used, especially to start the season. He struggled mightily in the non-conference schedule last season before finding a groove in conference play. Let’s hope Reece can  keep that up, we need it.

The Show

The bulk of the offensive production must come from the three seniors on this roster. And it has to come in bunches. JJ Mann was selected to some preseason all-conference something or other. Sounds cool enough. But we know what JJ is: an average shooter with limited ball skills. He has never excelled at creating offense for himself or others.  We will need to see a new gear from JJ that I am not sure exists. As his name creeps higher on scouting reports his looks will become more challenging.  Blake Jenkins has been a big contributor on this team since he was inserted into the starting lineup at ETSU a few years back. He has always been a great offensive rebounder and finisher around the bucket. We can only hope that he has added a few feet of elevation to that dangerously flat jumper. His ability to stretch the floor while playing the 4 will be crucial. The final piece (and potentially most important) is Drew Windler. Drew had to sit out last season due to the fascist oppression of the NCAA, when he transferred in from Samford. He is the Belmont version of a ‘one-and-done’. Drew has the all skills needed to be a big time player. Don’t believe me? Watch and enjoy this! This is our guy Belmont fans . . . for one year (thanks NCAA). Good luck, Drew.


Who do you think will be the starting five?

Time to put your college football down Belmont fans, it is the most wonderful time of the year!


  1. Boomer returns to play every position on the floor.

  2. Good entry. Will be following throughout season. Thanks y’all

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