The Byrd Cage


In Game Posts on March 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm
Reece drives to the basket?

Reece drives to the basket?

Well here we are again, folks. After graduating FIVE seniors, Belmont has earned the regular season OVC title and is playing against a very good EKU team in the OVC championship game tonight at 6:oopm on ESPN2.

To get here, Belmont had to beat a hot Morehead State team that had just defensively steamrolled Tennessee Tech the night before. We were worried that Belmont’s turnover-prone offense would have a hard time keeping things together against a team playing with a chip on it shoulder. Instead, Belmont’s insane shooting performance (FGM-A: 27-51, 52.9% & 3PM-A 11-24, 45.8%) naturally opened up the court to a defense that was on its toes all night.

Defensively, Belmont quickly figured out it was going to have to double up on Morehead’s bigs who were flinging Drew Windler around in the paint like a rag doll. Drew would later get T-ed up for saying something under his breath  after  a weak-sauce foul was called on him. I think he was pretty frustrated from getting beat up so much.

The other big story was Belmont getting an unprecedented 28pts off the bench including 11 from Nick Smith whose three point shooting has been blossoming before our eyes over the past few games. Caleb Chowbay also hit the 3pt shot of his life that ended up sealing Belmont’s lead for the remainder of the game.

But enough of that – we have a HUGE game tonight against an EKU team that looks pretty daunting. These guys have an extremely well rounded team that get a ton of points in the paint, make the most 3’s per game(9.2) in the OVC , and run the best D in the league behind  2014 OVC Defensive player of the year Corey Walden (who was VERY impressive last night against Murray).

This is the team that was picked to win the conference early in the year by USA Today & Yahoo Sports and they have lived up to the hype. Unlike Belmont, this team is upperclassman heavy with 6 Seniors and 5 Juniors.

Here’s what I’m watching for when EKU has the ball

  • THE PAINT: Last night EKU scored  52 points in the paint against Murray. FIFTY TWO. Belmont basically has zero presence down low so look for a lot of the same. EKU got the touches last night off cuts from the high post on a TON of slipped screens and back cuts from the wing. The man to watch here is dude Eric Stutz. Homie is going to get a A LOT of touches in the paint.  Plus, now that Ed Daniel is gone, Stutz has a strangle-hold on best hair in the OVC. So there’s that. But before we move on, I want to rip on Stutz’s performance last night against the Racers. Stutz was in foul trouble most of the night and picked up his fifth foul trying to draw a charge (WHY???). After getting the left-right treatment from the rabid Murray fan base, Stutz throws his head band down and begins to cry on the bench. STUTZ, YOU GUYS ARE WINNING BY 5 POINTS WITH 2:46 LEFT!!!! WHY ARE YOU POUTING?? Ok nm, I don’t really care that much.
  • DEFENSE: Can Belmont put the heat on the big men AND stay out of foul trouble? I foresee at least one of the following guys to get in big foul trouble (Drew, Blake, Evan). Also, Belmont will have to play smart off the screens and play well in the gaps to try to limit Stutz’s touches.
  • THE LEAD: In the presser last night, Coach Newbauer quoted some stat about the colonels having a much higher winning percentage when playing with the lead. This needs to not happen.

When Belmont Has The Ball:

  • JJ Mann: Here’s what you need to know. Belmont has split the EKU series this year. The first matchup, EKU had the home court advantage and held JJ to 10 points. In the second matchup, we had home court advantage and JJ scored 34 points. We only won by 3pts. If you’ve been paying attention this year, you know that if JJ can score 15 pts we will basically win. So yeah, JJ has to be on. AND IF HE’S NOT, there is the increasingly important Nick Smith factor. If Nick can drain some threes, Eastern might loosen up on JJ.
  • Turnovers: Reece and Caleb have to protect the ball. I think we’ll see Reece driving to the basket a lot tonight so his kick-outs need to be smart. Corey Walden had six steals against Murray last night, helping the Colonels rake in 24 points off turnovers. This is not good for us.
  • CBRAD: Craig has 21 and 22 pts against EKU this year. Look for him to be a major factor.
"we look good, guys." - Nick Smith's Guns

“we look good, guys.” – Nick Smith’s Guns

What you won’t see tonight is an army of Murray State fans, which totally rules. They were INSANELY loud last night, and Belmont hasn’t exactly thrived in that kind of environment. What you will see is this lady…


..who, if you have the privilege of sitting next to, sounds EXACTLY like Macho Man Randy Savage, snapping into a slim jim.

Remember to stay loud tonight, people.



  1. Interior defense certainly was not the issue in this Championship game. Drew, Blake, & Evan showed up. Especially Evan and Drew offensively. JJ played pretty well too & sparked us offensively with some big shots. Difference was our lack of focus on the defensive end by our guards coupled with their first half foul trouble. Walden & Cosey went for 52. We didn’t make someone else beat us in an EKU jersey. Here’s to making some noise in the NIT!

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