The Byrd Cage

Rick Byrd on the 2013-2014 Bruins: A Tip-Off Luncheon Recap

In Features on November 8, 2013 at 9:13 am

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One of the many unique aspects of Belmont Basketball fandom is the seemingly unprecedented access to the coaches and players. Each year, I make it a point to make the Tip Off Luncheon because I love Sodexho and I love hearing Rick talk about his completely untested team. Who are ANY of these guys? Can they play the basketball? He has no idea.

At last year’s Tip-Off Luncheon, I  remember Rick languishing over the loss of Mick and Scott. He seemed downright despondent and basically told us to set our season tickets on fire. For the past several years our offense had centered around these two tenacious albeit undersized big men and now Rick was left with a tiny guard-heavy team and was forced to make Trevor play the 5. Things did not look good. At least that’s the way he told the story before the season started. But we all know what happened, Ian  & Kerron happened. Heck, Isaiah Canaan even helped out!

Needless to say, at this year’s luncheon, Rick set the bar predictably low, ruminating on the cataclysmic loss of Ian and Kerron and this year’s dearth of upperclassmen. However, where last year Rick went into depth about how much the team had lost with the departures of Mick and Scott and how Belmont was entering an unpredictable but SUPER talented OVC , this year, Rick acted like the case for support was so bad – it wasn’t even worth going into detail. Instead of the heavy handed foreboding we paid good money for, we got a lot of jokes.

Don’t get me wrong – It still ruled –  we were hangin with Rick and eating Sodexho. I just wanted Rick to demolish my bleak expectations for the year so that nothing could actually disappoint me. Instead, he just kind of left them where they were. I took a few notes that I’ve relayed to you below in bullets (keep in mind I was eating Sodexho while trying to pay attention.)

  • First-off I have to tell you that I sat down next to the sweetest woman who introduced herself as the mother of the guy who plays Bruiser. God bless her.
  • Rick started off by saying he had without a doubt coached Belmont games that had fewer people in attendance. I’m guessing there were 300-400 people there? It was actually impressive.
  • He said he’d introduce the team individually but he was afraid he’d forget their names. #FRESHMANSLAM
  • Have you seen the 2013-2014 Bruin Media Guide? It’s the best yet. Rick gave our boy Greg Sage some props for putting it together and reminisced about how back in 1986 (yes, before you were born Rick was coaching at Belmont) he had to write the bios and sell all the adds for the media guide himself. RAD.
  • Rick got things going by saying Belmont had lost some of the best players we’ve ever had and called Ian Clark ‘probably’ (probably?) the best player the school has ever seen. Even so, he reminded the crowd that there was a time when Kerron & Ian were not the leading scorers on the team. Good try Rick, but optimism does not behoove you.
  • He said it was Reece, Blake, and JJ’s turn to step up their game.
  • “I don’t know how good or bad we’ll be.” (That’s a bit more like it…)
  • Kevin Ingram asked Rick what fans could expect from the team. Rick said they would continue to be really unselfish and complimented his staff for recruiting the kind of players that believe the team is more important than their individual playing time. He went on to say that while no one is particularly scared of the team in airports – they still get complimented in restaurants and hotels for their classy ways.
  • Rick was surprised to learn that “Belmont’s 83-20 record over the past three seasons places them as one of only six programs with a .800+ winning percentage over that span (Belmont, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Syracuse).” (BU Media Guide, 13-14).
  •  Rick said Blake has practiced harder this off-season than he has in his 5 years with the team. Here’s a bit of proof from back in June…
  • Talked about how Drew Windler will be playing with a lot of excitement after riding the bench through last year’s championships. He also mentioned how NCAA regulations forbid Drew from traveling with team to Salt Lake City for the tournament. But Drew made his way out there on his own dime (ok maybe his parents’). Once there, he wasn’t allowed to stay in the hotel or even ride the bus with the team from the hotel to the game. Instead, Drew walked. In the snow.
  • Rick talked about some of this year’s rule changes regarding moving screens and hand checking  and how he thought they would actually be enforced this year. Honestly I got kind of lost here. There was cornbread.
  • Austin Luke and Tyler Hadden have elected to Red Shirt (I think I heard that right…) and will be riding the bench with University of Virgina transfer Taylor Barnette.
  • Rick is excited about Evan Brad and mentioned that he will be playing Friday.
  • Called Chowbay the ‘back-up’ PG who will play the 2 while Reece is on the court.
  • Said The Webb School’s Burton Sampson is probably the best walk-on in program history. According to the media guide Burton was a Mr. Basketball finalist for DII-A.
  • Without out a doubt the greatest part of this event was Rick (who oddly seemed genuinely excited about this) telling the audience that Matthew Dotson had recently named his newborn son… ready? BRUIN. Read that again. He has also told the crowd that MDot was using his Belmont degree to coach women’s volleyball. Whaddup Matthew!!!

So the event was awesome. Accordingly,  let this post serve as an official endorsement of any event that has food and Rick Byrd talking about basketball. It’s always worth your while if you dig BU bball. I for one have learned a great deal. See you at the Hoop Hour on December 10th.


  1. it’s my first year with season tickets, and i couldn’t be more excited. see you there!

  2. The first thing I noticed about this team last week at Meet the Bruins night was how much stronger they all appear. I mean, seriously…it looks like they spent the entire summer working out and getting stronger, which is awesome and will be important. I just hope they spent and equal amount of time working on jump shots and tres. Can’t wait for the game tonight at Lipscum. Keep up the good work, fellas. Here’s to another seasons of Bruin Basketball!

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