Belmont Men's Basketball 2012 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Belmont Bruins
Atlantic Sun (27-7, 16-2)

Just about everybody in the Atlantic Sun Conference will be glad to see Belmont move on to the Ohio Valley Conference next season. For years the Bruins have dominated the league and their swansong was no different. The Bruins won another regular season and conference tournament title and veteran head coach Rick Byrd has a very experienced and talented team…yet again.

Big Wins: 11/20 at Middle Tennessee (87-84), 12/29 Marshall (79-74), 2/25 at Mercer (62-61)
Bad Losses: 12/17 at Miami OH (61-66), 1/6 Lipscomb (74-85), 1/21 at USC-Upstate (78-79)
Coach: Rick Byrd (27 seasons at Belmont)

Why They Can Surprise:
Belmont has a prolific offense with six players who can explode for 20 or more points on any given night. The opposing defense can rarely stop the Bruins from running their offense and finding good, open looks. The only way to beat them is to outscore them. The best scorer of the bunch is Kerron Johnson. The 6-1 junior is a capable shooter, but he does most of his scoring by attacking the basket. Johnson is also the man who feeds the ball to the shooters. Ian Clark, Drew Hanlen and J.J. Mann are all very good shooters. Clark will hoist up a lot of long balls, but he also has the size to attack the basket. Hanlen is one of the best shooters in the nation. It is not an odd occasion at all when Hanlen hits over half of his attempts from beyond the arc. Mann is the sixth man and, on those rare occasions the Bruins need a spark off of the bench, he can provide it. Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders are the scorers in paint. Saunders lost his starting job late in the year, but he is a consistent scorer under the basket and will still play quite a few minutes. Hedgepeth, like Saunders, is a very experienced senior who knows his role on this team and can create space for the scorers on the wing by scoring in the paint.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The big guys are productive offensively, but this is a team that gives up quite a few points. That happens when a team runs up and down the floor, but the issue for Belmont goes beyond that. It stems from not having a shot blocking threat in the paint. Saunders is 6-10 and 250 pounds, Hedgepeth is 6-9 and 235 pounds and part-time starter Blake Jenkins is 6-7 and 205 pounds. This team has enough size, but nobody standing under the basket is going to deter an opposing wing from attacking the basket or a quality big man from backing down the Bruins frontcourt. That leads to some relatively easy buckets for the opposition and some good looks from outside when Belmont has to double team a bigger, stronger post player. The frontcourt issues are also noticeable on the glass. Belmont can hang with most teams in the Atlantic Sun in the rebounding department, but when they start running into more talented big guys in March, rebounding will be a big problem.

Probable Starters:
Kerron Johnson, Junior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 5.2 apg
Drew Hanlen, Senior, Guard, 10.9 ppg, 3.8 apg
Ian Clark, Junior, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 2.3 apg
Blake Jenkins, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Mick Hedgepeth, Senior, Center, 9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Brandon Baker, Junior, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Adam Barnes, Junior, Guard, 2.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
J.J. Mann, Sophomore, Guard, 8.5 ppg, 1.8 apg
Scott Saunders, Senior, Center, 10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.5 (4th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.3 (190, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.4 (17, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (142, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.8 (11, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.8 (38, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.7 (41, 1)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (77, 2)
Assists Per Game: 17.4 (5, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (73, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
Belmont    2011    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Wisconsin
Belmont    2009    CIT           First Round win over Evansville
Belmont    2009    CIT           Second Round loss to Old Dominion
Belmont    2008    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Duke
Belmont    2007    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Georgetown
Belmont    2006    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to UCLA

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules