Nashville Sports Talk Station 104.5 The Zone’s Kevin Ingram spoke with the Byrd Cage about the Lipscomb rivalry, expectations of this Belmont team, and his favorite memory of the Belmont squad.
Kevin Ingram joins the Bruin Sports Network for his 10th year as The Voice of the Bruins, and is co-host of 104.5 The Zone’s Wake Up Zone. He also does sideline reporting for Vanderbilt football and has play-by-play duties for the football radio broadcasts.
The Byrd Cage is grateful for the chance to interview Ingram as his experience with Belmont basketball is unparalleled in the profession.
Brett McReynolds: Thanks for agreeing to answer some of the Byrd Cage’s questions, Kevin. If you wouldn’t mind, tell us a little bit about your experience in the Belmont/Lipscomb rivalry.
Kevin Ingram: I think Friday will be my 17th game to call in the series, including the 2006 A-Sun final. It’s really an honor to be a part of, always a great atmosphere and a fun matchup. One of those games where it’s cool just to see the two teams on the same floor. Intense and hard-fought games, but typically cleanly played and with good sportsmanship. It is interesting to me how in many of the games Lipscomb’s won, the formula has been similiar…. Bruins open a first half lead, Bisons claw back and get within single figures by halftime… then Lipscomb locks things down defensively in the second half. The 2011 blowout by Belmont was stunning to watch, never thought I would see a Boulevard Battle that lopsided.
BM: What did you see specifically in our last match-up that really stood out?
KI: The first 2012 meeting at the Curb Center was especially disappointing for Belmont. It looked like the Bruins were in control with 8 or 9 minutes to play, but Lipscomb played great defense, made all the plays and hit everything down the stretch. I have a feeling Belmont is going to play well the second time around, especially with the emergence of Blake Jenkins. Allen Arena is a tough place to win… the crowd is right on top of the floor, and I would imagine the lighting can be a challenge for shooting if you’re not used to it.
BM: Do you think Belmont’s move to OVC will hurt the rivalry? Do you see Lipscomb taking the jump to the OVC soon?
KI: From my conversations with the coaches and others, it sounds like the rivalry will continue even with Belmont going to the OVC next season. Scheduling non-conference games is so difficult, a home-and-home would make a lot of sense. It will lose something with the teams no longer being in the same conference… that dynamic has certainly made it interesting. I do hope they will schedule the games when students are in, as the atmosphere loses something otherwise. Not sure about Lipscomb going to the OVC. I also hope Belmont can keep playing ETSU, they’ve been a good rival in the A-Sun.
BM: At the beginning of the season, some bracket experts had Belmont projected as high as an 11 seed in the tournament. The latest brackets project Mercer in the NCAA tournament. How do you see Belmont now versus your preseason expectations? What do you think has been Belmont’s greatest weakness?
KI: Belmont has lost more games this season than we might have expected, although last season spoiled us and raised expectations to ridiculous levels. Those one-point games are the ones that keep coaches up at night. If Belmont wins the conference tournament, they’ll likely have in the mid-20′s in wins… probably looking at about a 14. At least that would be my guess…. they’re better than a 15, but who knows when it comes to seeding.
BM: Give us one memory from the Belmont/Lipscomb rivalry that really stands out to you.
KI: As for a favorite memory in the Belmont-Lipscomb games I’ve been a part of… it’s hard to come up with anything better than the 2006 conference championship game. Every part of that day was intense… from the silence of breakfast with the team, to the hard-fought first 40 minutes and overtime… so many plays by different guys… Justin Hare’s 3-point play might have been the biggest in the program’s history, certainly in the NCAA era. In the end, everyone on the Belmont side was thrilled to win and make the Dance for the first time, but knew that it could have just as easily gone the other way, and the Bisons would be celebrating.
Belmont plays Lipscomb at Allen Arena on Friday. Kevin Ingram will be calling the game. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.