The Byrd Cage

The Weekly Wrap: Jono Talks Kentucky

In Game Posts on December 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm
Julius Randle ate our lunch.

Julius Randle ate our lunch.

With another loss, this time at the hands of national powerhouse Kentucky, Belmont finds itself in the midst of a number of different realities. First of all, the Bruins are experiencing their worst losing spell since the 2010 season (the team finished 19-12). Another reality is that the Bruins, as each successful year passes, face growing expectations (maybe that’s just from the writers on this blog and not the readers…). But the most important reality facing the Bruins is that they are still only in the midst of their “preseason” and seasons at Belmont are built on the conference schedule. So lets try to put these realities in context.

Lets address the last note first – and really, its one of the most important things to remember. Belmont Bruin basketball seasons are made in February and March, not November and December. Sure, the signature wins are nice and if we ever find ourselves in a situation like we did last year where an at large bid was a serious consideration, wins against the likes of North Carolina would be great. But if you’re a mid-major, serious about an automatic bid, you can’t lose games to the likes of South Dakota State and Denver, despite their generally strong reputation as mid-major contenders and your temporarily depleted Bruin team. But let’s get back to the point. Everything happening at this point in the season is meant to prepare this team for the Ohio Valley Conference. While we can bemoan the losses, we should keep in mind that the idea at this point to keep players healthy and find a general rhythm as the conference season starts. Belmont’s performance in the OVC will determine its tournament fate.

Dealing with expectations is a funny thing. The other problem is that it’s all relative. As a program, Belmont has earned the reputation of a high level mid-major capable of doing damage against larger programs. However, you would’ve had a hard time finding anyone associated with this blog that had high expectations for this year’s team. But, when you beat North Carolina, no matter the situation, things change. And as those changes happen, stretches like this are harder to stomach for Bruin faithful.

But have no fear; this team is not going to lose 12 games. Unless the OVC took a massive step forward in competition that we don’t know about, this team will compete at or near the top of the conference and position itself for an automatic birth. So, yes, while the recent struggles blow, the season will be made starting on January 2nd.

Hear are some random thoughts to chew on from the Kentucky game…

1) We lost to Julius Randle. Yes, I’m a myopic Bruin fan, but that guy did whatever he wanted and caused so many defensive breakdowns by the Bruins that it wasn’t even funny. Which reminds me, why does Rick feel like Evan Bradds and Jeff Laidig should be matched up against that guy in any one-on-one situation. I found myself frustrated that Blake didn’t play more. And its not like he was in foul trouble. He was clearly our strongest defensive option and yet he was often subbed in favor of people who couldn’t guard Randle even a little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE Bradds fan and am convinced that he will be one of the best at Belmont before he leaves, but Randle is on another level.

2) I really dislike John Calipari. Really dislike. On Saturday, former Bruin Matthew Dotson summed up what we pretty much all feel via Twitter: “Rick Byrd = Coach, John Calipari = Recruiter”. On some level, you have to admire his willingness to coach 7-8 brand new 18 year olds every year, but lets be real, Rick coached circles around Cal on Saturday.

Lastly, the Bruins get the week off before completing the 2nd half of an in season home and home with Indiana State on Saturday the 28th. Belmont fans should have fond memories of the first meeting where the Bruins rallied from a big halftime deficit to beat the Larry Birds in Nashville. Winning in Terra Haute will be a different proposition and should provide a good test for the Bruins heading into the conference schedule. The player to watch for the Sycamores will be senior guard Jake Odum. In the first meeting, the Bruins held him in relative check until a late game flurry and a similar effort will be required to prevail this time around.

Keep your heads up Bruins fans. All is well.

– @jonolee25

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  1. Teams with big dudes dunk on us and we loose.

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