Editor’s Note: We like to laugh here at the Byrd Cage and we hope you do too. That’s why we’re happy to announce the return of Mort & Hugs. Our two in-house professional gripers/comedians who’ve never met a D1 athlete they weren’t scurd to anonymously mock on the internet.
Posts Tagged ‘Murray State’
“Good coaching facilitates overachievement.” –Adrian Branch, ESPN OVC Title Game Broadcast
The OVC championship featured two very different coaches. One remembers a time when there was no three point line and one remembers the ‘old’ three point line. One wears a sweater vest and one wears neck ties at awkward lengths. One built a program from nothing while one inherited a mid-major Maserati. You have to search long and hard for any similarities that Rick and Coach Prohm share. This was never more evident than what we witnessed on Saturday night in one of the most drama filled games in Bruin history, and we have Prohm to thank. Read the rest of this entry »
The last article I wrote, I made some bold predictions about the Murray State game and they came back to haunt me. I should have known better, Belmont has choked at every opportunity to move out of the small D1 schools with a basketball team into the mid-major contender category. You know, that category of school that you hear the name and regardless of what great advancements they’ve made in the arts, sciences, and humanities you think, basketball. That’s the stuff TV contracts and NBA players on your roster are made of. Read the rest of this entry »
We left Nashville right after work and bolted for Murray. We were pretty excited about this game – who wasn’t? We wondered: “Could Belmont dethrone the Kings of The OVC? Could we run the conference table ?”
It’s no secret that it’s difficult to go into the CFSB and win. The Racers have only dropped 5 games at home in the past 3 seasons. On the other hand, Belmont has only lost 4 conference games TOTAL in the last 3 seasons. Needless to say we were amped.
I wouldn’t let Nick take a pit stop because an overturned tractor trailer put us 30 minutes behind on I- 24. This was going to be the biggest game in the history of Belmont Division 1 conference play: a program that consistently disappoints in marquee games. Needless to say I wasn’t going to let Nick’s infant like bladder make us late.
We smelled 8 too many skunks and drove across some sketch bridges but we finally landed at Murray 10 minutes before tipoff. While the University staff was very accommodating, ‘press row’ was less than ideal: a concourse level, semi-permanent platform tucked in the back corner of the monster arena. Thanks.
We decided to pause during timeouts to jot down our thoughts. It’s scattered but this is what we were thinking. Each blurb is a collection of thoughts and plays since the last timeout.
Just in case you forgot:
Thank the Lord for pot stirring ‘Adult Steve’ (who got a shout out from Troy Machir this morning at NBC) because, frankly, I’m nervous about this game. I know, I know – Murray so far has been a bit of a disappointment this year. But I just can’t shake the nervousness when we’re favorites away in a must win game (-4). The expectations from last year were definitely high, about as long as the line to Coach Prohm at OVC Media Day at the beginning of the season. But you know how we do. The Byrd Cage was in there – and we were able to get three questions out before the OVC realized they let us crazies in and hastily hurried us out. Ok, that’s not true. The OVC people were wonderfully generous. Read the rest of this entry »
Adult Steve ‘Stirs The Pot’ With Some Fight’n Words
Monday, this was The Byrd Cage’s official response to ESPN’s Bracketbuster announcement:
“THIS EMAIL CALLS FOR ALL CAPS! WE GET THE 90TH RANKED TEAM IN THE RPI IN A “BRACKETBUSTER” GAME WHEN ONLY OUR BRACKET CAN GET BUSTED. THIS IS A NO WIN SITUATION. WE WIN, BIG DEAL, THEY WERE RANKED 90 IN THE RPI. WE LOSE AND WELL, WE LOSE. AND HOW DOES MURRAY/SDSU GET THE PRIMETIME SPOT?!?! WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW??”
-One Cager, Who Shall Remain Anonymous
Needless to say, we’re upset. We deserve better. Matt Sherrill did a brilliant job summing up how heartbreaking this whole situation is in his article yesterday.
If you think we’re biased about how good Belmont is, don’t take our word for it. Talk to Jerome Boetcher at the City Paper, David Climer at The Tennessean, or Myron Medcalf & ESPN.com’s National Panel - just to name a few.
This is the second installment of our 2013 Bruin Interview series we’re calling ‘Byrd Brains’. Get it? You get it.
At this point in the season we all feel like we’ve got a good grasp on the identity of the 2013 Bruins. They’re a defensively minded, pick and roll, shoot the lights out team. With that in mind, the enduring story here at Belmont is Coach Byrd’s sustained ability to make seemingly less-than-ideally constructed teams run like a hemi.
“About Last Night” is a weekly feature where no good tweet goes unpunished. Mort and Hugs serve up their weekly opinions on all tweets, links, and viral blunders relating to Belmont basketball… loosely.
The theme of this week’s About Last Night with Mort AND Hugs is “If you need to ask what the theme of this week’s ‘About Last Night with Mort and Hugs’ is then you are a mouth-breathing idiot who clearly accidentally stumbled across this page while looking for World of Warcraft forums or for sexy dudes (like Mort and Hugs) to pin to your ‘Hottiez w/ Bodiez’ board on Pinterest.”
It’s March Madness and this is a basketball blog, you dummy. Thus, this week’s column is devoted (almost) entirely to all things tourney. I need to give a shoutout to our D.C. Doppelgangers, @CasualHoya. They are classy guys with a great blog who are willing to engage in some good-natured, competitive repartee during the week leading up to our matchup. That said, Mort and Hugs would like to go on record as saying that Casual Hoya and all of their brood can go die. Anyone who is not a Bruin or Bruin supporter is in our eyes, for at least the next 48 hours, a festering pile of human garbage. But more on that later.
FIRST, allow me to explain why I’m fairly certain that Nashville will be one of the first cities to perish in burning sulfur under God’s righteous judgment (that’s what the movie 2012 was about, right?). I would like to direct your attention to the screenshot below:
This was taken at around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night, mere hours after the selection show. TWO Nashville teams are in the tournament, and there was not a single reference to Belmont, Vanderbilt, Bruins, Commodores, NCAA, or March Madness (unless that’s what The Announcement refers to. The world may never know). The only overtly basketball-related topics were Magic Johnson andThe NIT, which of course stands forNobodygivestwocrapsaboutyourInsignificant Tournament. I just about lit my own house on fire out of bewildered anger tinged with the sadness that comes from acknowledging societal decline. Topics that were somehow MORE relevant than the biggest Nashville sports news since Matt Hasselbeck (not a high bar, I know) include:
(More after the jump)
A 13 seed- again. How wonderful would it be?
I have made it to every Selection Sunday celebration at Belmont University. The Beaman Student Life Center is packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, camera-to-camera, Sodexho hot dog-to-Sodexho hot dog. Sodexho brings out their semi-best catered food, and news crews crawl around the campus. It is like a second, less sniper-rifled version of the Presidential Town Hall Debates. In fact, CBS will be here according to Belmont’s official basketball website. So, come one, come all Sunday. Festivities start at 4 p.m.
But what would it really mean for Belmont to draw a 13 seed in the NCAA tournament this year? Last year we drew the 13 seed and were up against a Wisconsin team that many eyed to be out in a first-round upset. If my memory serves me correct, Dick Vitale even chose the Bruins in his bracket upset. But it was not in the cards. And as you will read below, Wisconsin and Belmont are in a similar position as last year. Below are the 4-seed possibilities.
The Four Seeds
Maybe teams should be ranked by two of the following stipulations this year: have you played Kentucky? Did you beat Kentucky? Tom Crean’s Hoosiers did actually play Kentucky this year (satisfying the first stipulation), and not only did they play them- they beat them (the second stipulation). No other resume in college basketball boasts this quality win, and Indiana proudly stands at 11 on the RPI. But in their first Big Ten tournament win in years, Hoosiers’ Senior Guard Verdell Jones III crumpled to the floor on an awkward jump stop. The knee injury wasn’t good according to Crean, and the 25 minute, 7.5 points a game senior won’t see the Hoosiers through the tournament because of a torn ACL. But while Jones’ injury is a tough one, freshman Cody Zeller is the story of the year for the Hoosiers. This 6-11 forward posts over 15 a game with 6 boards and ranks 15th in the NCAA in FG% at .629. The freshman is a beast and causes problems for any opponent inside. The third most efficient offensive team in the nation, the Hoosiers combination of size and offense will guarantee a tough matchup for anyone.
With an adjusted tempo of with 58.9, Wisconsin ranks 344th in the NCAA according to Ken Pom in overall pace of the game. Belmont averages 68.4, showing one of the key reasons that Belmont got lost last year when they played Bo Ryan’s Badgers. Wisconsin slows the game tremendously, and for the run and gun type offense of the Bruins, game plans must be changed accordingly. Senior Guard Jordan Taylor averages 14.6 points this year, down from 18 last year. And thankfully Jon Leuer (that guy who put up 22 points against us last year in the tournament) is now with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, getting this Wisconsin team this year will still not be considerably easier. The Badgers are hot, coming off a win against Ohio State and taking down Indiana on Friday, waiting for Michigan State today to prove they are ready for a deep tournament run.
What can you say about the Seminoles? They are 12-4 in the ACC with a record that shows big wins against North Carolina and Duke but some Ivy League losses to Harvard and Princeton. This seems to be the best way to really sum up this team- ”Big wins, strange losses”. Junior guard Michael Snaer puts up a respectable 14 points a game, but the Seminoles turn over the ball a shocking 1 out of every 4 possessions. They rank almost last in this category in the NCAA at 330th. But that is the BAD. The GOOD is their defense. Ranked in the top 20 in nearly every defensive ranking (efficiency, block percentage, etc…), the Seminoles are a team that can go deep or be beat based on the amount of turnovers their offense gives up. The Seminoles face off against the Blue Devils at 2 p.m. in the ACC semifinals.
The Shockers. Wichita State is called the Shockers [insert witty March Madness quote here]. And it is, indeed, shocking to watch Wichita State’s Garrett Stutz go 4-4 from the 3. Yes, from the 3 point line. This doesn’t seem like a crazy stat at first until you realize Stutz is 7 feet tall. He is a mobile 7 footer that made 6 three-pointers in a row between two games. The Shockers out of conference schedule included UNLV, Temple and Alabama and came out of it 1-2 with a 19 point win against UNLV. So what is it about this team that makes them a 4? They rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency and in the top 20 in defense efficiency. But the Shockers have some shocking (sorry) losses this year, namely Drake and Illinois State. Granted, the Drake loss was in 3 overtimes and Illinois State almost beat Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship game. The Shockers are good all around and Senior Guard Joe Ragland leads the team with 13 points per game. Ranked 5th in the nation in overall experience (2.51 years), the Shockers have the depth, teamwork, and maturity to make a legitimate run in the Madness.
The Dark Horse: Murray State
In what could make an instant rivalry, Belmont could potentially draw future Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State. This one loss Racer team is lead by one of the best point guards in the country, Isaiah Canaan. The Junior put up nearly 20 points a game this season and currently ranks in the top 20 in the nation in 3P%. He is a beast. But when you start to look deeply at this team, some people don’t think they could hang as a favorable seed. In fact, Ken Pomeroy has the Racers ranked 44th. For some perspective, Belmont is ranked 24th overall in the Ken Pom rankings. The Murray State Racers are the wild card in all the Madness. With three top-50 RPI wins over Southern Mississippi, @ Memphis, and St. Mary’s, you can argue this team either way. In trying to find a weakness for this team, I attempted to simplify things. ”I’ll just crunch some numbers in their loss against TSU,” methinks. ”Limit Canaan. That’s all you have to do.” But it is not that easy. Canaan dropped 31 points against Tennessee State in their only loss of the season.
First year head coach Steve Prohm leads a disciplined team that has done serious damage in their schedule, but has it been enough? While it would infuriate me as a fan to see my team only lose one game and even be questioned as a top seeded team, the national conversation about Murray State has placed them from a 3 seed to a 6 seed. The loss to Tennessee State showed a Racer team that practically gave up in the last two minutes. If you saw the loss, you noticed a frantic, mistake-prone Murray State team that lost its cool under pressure. Who could upset this team?
Belmont. The guard heavy, three-point efficient, experienced, ready-to-win-its-first-NCAA-tournament-game team comes in hungry. What would be better than an instant OVC showdown for the Bruins in the national spotlight? I can’t think of anything.
What do you think?