#73 Belmont Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Belmont Bruins

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #73
Conference Rank: #1 Ohio Valley

Belmont Team Page#73 Belmont Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Belmont Basketball Tickets

Belmont wasted no time making their mark on the Ohio Valley Conference. In their first year, they posted a 14-2 record and beat Murray State in the conference championship game to reach the NCAA Tournament. The rest of the conference better get used to more of the same. Coach Rick Byrd has done an amazing job with the Bruins and has spurned offers from bigger schools. He will stay with Belmont and keep them atop the OVC standings for many years to come.

2012-13 Record: 26-7, 14-2
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Byrd
Coach Record: 272-165 at Belmont, 272-165 overall

Who’s Out:
However, this year could be difficult without Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson. The senior backcourt duo was among the best all-around guard duos in the nation. Clark led the squad with 18.2 points per game and knocked down an amazing 45.9 percent of his many attempts from behind the arc. He added 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals. Johnson ran the show, dishing out 4.8 assists on top of his 14.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals. That is a lot of production and even more leadership that the Bruins will be without this season. The backcourt also lost reserve guard Adam Barnes. The story in the frontcourt is not much better. Trevor Noack was a tough rebounder and a great shooter. He could stretch out the defense with ease. Brandon Baker was the first big man off of the bench and provided important depth and toughness to the frontcourt.

Who’s In:
Belmont has a long history of replacing great talent with new great talent. It does not always come from the newcomers, but this group will give Coach Byrd some options. The one player with experience is Drew Windler, a senior transfer from Samford. The 6-9, 215 pound forward averaged 14.4 points for the Bulldogs back in 2011-2012 and knocked down 42.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Windler may not be able to push around opposing forwards, but he will make them very uncomfortable on defense with his ability to score inside and out. Incoming freshman Nick Smith is expected to make an impact this year. He is a tough forward who could step right into Baker’s old role as the main frontcourt contributor off of the bench. Other freshmen like Tyler Hadden and Josh Lester will look to fill that role as well. Caleb Chowbay redshirted last season and now the point guard is ready to make a big splash. He is a fine distributor and defender and has the talent to step into the starting lineup at some point during the 2012-2013 campaign. Evan Bradds is a big time scoring wing who had an amazing prep career. At 6-7, his size will cause huge problems for opposing wings in the OVC. Point guard Austin Luke and walk-on Burton Sampson will likely have to wait a while before they see quality minutes.

Who to Watch:
Only three players who averaged over ten minutes per game are back. J.J. Mann is a dynamic 6-6 wing who makes things happen on both ends of the floor. Mann likes to shoot from long range and he is a pretty consistent shooter, but he can also use his size to attack the basket. Defensively, Mann averaged the second most steals in the conference. Blake Jenkins will return to his starting spot in the paint after averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He is a menace on defense, a fine rebounder and a dynamic scorer. Jenkins could be the next Bruins senior superstar who has worked his way up from a freshman who averaged ten minutes per game to a sophomore who earned a handful of starts to a junior who turned into a full-time starter. The next step is a leader. Reece Chamberlain often found himself on the floor when it mattered most even though he did not start a game during the 2012-2013 campaign. The 6-1 junior will likely spend most of his time running the point, but he could slide over to the two guard spot as well. He may not do much scoring, but Chamberlain will play solid defense and take care of the ball.

Final Projection:
Even though Craig Bradshaw, Spencer Turner, Jeff Laidig and Holden Mobley did not see the floor much in 2012-2013, they are all capable of much, much bigger roles in 2013-2014. Bradshaw tops that list of talent stuck behind Clark and Johnson. The 6-3 sophomore is a superb player on both ends of the floor. When he finds minutes, Bradshaw is going to being productive. Turner can at least turn into yet another outside shooting threat. Laidig, a 6-4 sophomore, averaged just 5.8 minutes per game as a freshman, but now the minutes are there and Laidig is an offensive talent when his shot is falling. In the frontcourt, 6-11, 275 pound senior Chad Lang can push people around in the paint. Do not be confused by the lack of minutes for the returning players. It takes something special for Belmont to play freshmen and Clark and Johnson were that special. Nobody was going to take Clark and Johnson’s minutes when they were seniors. Without those two, others are ready to step up and keep the Bruins on top of the OVC pecking order.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Reece Chamberlain, Junior, Guard, 3.6 points per game
Craig Bradshaw, Sophomore, Guard, 2.2 points per game
J.J. Mann, Senior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Blake Jenkins, Senior, Forward, 9.6 points per game
Drew Windler, Senior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.8 (15th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.5 (119, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.1 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (109, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (13, 2)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.3 (22, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.2 (50, 4)
Rebound Margin: -1.5 (240, 8)
Assists Per Game: 15.6 (21, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (185, 5)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews