#69 Belmont Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Belmont Bruins
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #69
Conference Rank: #1 Ohio Valley
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The Rick Byrd era came to an end with yet another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Byrd was at Belmont for 33 seasons and took the Bruins to eight NCAA Tournaments over the last 14 campaigns. Casey Alexander will take over the program after spending the last eight years at Stetson and Lipscomb, where his team won at least 20 games in the last three years. Despite the new face on the sidelines, this is a program that will remain strong and starts right now with a talented group ready to make a push for the top spot in the Ohio Valley Conference.
2018-19 Record: 27-6, 16-2
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Casey Alexander
Coach Record: 0-0 at Belmont, 137-120 overall
Key Departed Players:
Dylan Windler, Guard/Forward, 21.3 ppg
Kevin McClain, Guard, 16.8 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Nick Muszynski, Sophomore, Center, 14.7 ppg
Grayson Murphy, Sophomore, Guard, 9.6 ppg
Caleb Hollander, Sophomore, Forward, 7.0 ppg
Nick Hopkins, Junior, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Seth Adelsperger, Senior, Center, 4.8 ppg
Michael Benkert, Senior, Guard, 4.4 ppg
Adam Kunkel, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Derek Sabin, Sophomore, Forward, 1.8 ppg
Tate Pierson, Sophomore, Guard, 1.0 ppg
Key New Players:
EJ Bellinger, Freshman, Guard
Rilee Epley, Freshman, Forward
Mitch Listau, Freshman, Guard
Tyler Scanlon, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Boston U
Ben Sheppard, Freshman, Guard
Michael Shanks, Freshman, Forward
Luke Smith, Junior, Guard, DIII Transfer
Losing Dylan Windler and Kevin McCalin will hurt, but Belmont has a long history of finding the next player or two who are ready to emerge as the stars of the team. This year a trio of sophomores will likely fill that role. Grayson Murphy had a superb freshman campaign, averaging 9.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Nick Muszynski and Caleb Hollander will benefit from Murphy’s playmaking abilities. Muszynski, a 6-11 center, averaged 14.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks as a freshman, while forward Hollander added 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds. The Bruins will also get a big boost from Tyler Scanlon, a transfer from Boston U who averaged 13.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals last season with the Terriers. Replacing all of Windler’s production will not be easy, but Scanlon is a perfect fit. That leaves a hole at the shooting guard spot that could be filled by junior Nick Hopkins. He is the most prolific returning three-point shooter, but will get help from Michael Benkert and some of the freshmen. This group has less experience than some of the recent teams that Belmont has had during their six OVC regular season titles over the last seven years, but they have more than enough talent to win the conference again.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 86.9 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 73.9 (244, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.8 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (96, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.4 (14, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (47, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.7 (74, 3)
Rebound Margin: 3.3 (71, 2)
Assists Per Game: 19.5 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (50, 1)