Biddle’s Beat: Wed., Nov. 30, 2011

JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: July 7, 2013 (Image 1)

Belmont's Curb Event Center was alive and rocking Monday night.

No, there was no Republican presidential candidates debate. There was no country music star performing.

Belmont basketball was back in town and one of the more energetic student fan bases showed up in force. The freshman class was there and hopefully they caught the Belmont basketball bug.

Cheerleaders threw T-shirts and miniature basketballs into the stands. Music played. The crowd was announced at 2,004, one of the largest for a game that didn't include Lipscomb.

There was a time when Trevecca, Lipscomb and Belmont games were as exciting and competitive as any in town. They were all members in the NAIA and stocked with a lot of local players. They had old cracker-box gyms where you could smell the sweat when you walked in and the local fire marshal was always on alert.

Belmont and Lipscomb moved to the NCAA while Trevecca remained NAIA. This was the first meeting between the two teams since 1997.

Belmont withstood Trevecca's best shot before winning, 86-61. It was Belmont's 17th consecutive home win.

But the game was only part of the story. At halftime Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher went on the court and called Belmont's biggest fan, country legend Vince Gill, out there to join him.

The music played and Dr. Fisher started to dance. He tried to encourage Gill to do the same, but feigning embarrassment, Gill pulled his hoodie over his head and walked toward Belmont's locker room. Fisher went on solo until a swarm of students joined him and showed him what dancing was all about.

You can excuse Dr. Fisher for his rather awkward be-boppingmoves. You must remember Belmont was a Baptist-affiliated school for years and dancing and Baptists don't really fit together.

My, how times have changed at Belmont. It was fast times at Belmont.And, why not?

Belmont is coming off its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. Its national presence is growing. Byrd was last year's Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year and interviewed for the coaching vacancy at Tennessee.

Interesting enough, former Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton was at Monday's game.

My opinion? Rick Byrd is ever bit the basketball coach new Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin is, and that is no slight to Martin.

Byrd's Bruins lost at Duke, 77-76, in the EA Maui Invitational and Martin's Vols lost to the Blue Devils in Maui, 77-67, in what was arguably Tennessee's best performance thus far.

Byrd's team went 30-5 last season in which he used a 12-man rotation, a first for him and unheard of in today's game.

Ten of those 12 players return this season and nine players are averaging 12 or more minutes so far this season. To accomplish that, you have to have unselfish players who unite as a team and don't seek the personal spotlight.

They are now No. 6 in CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major national poll. That is ahead of Butler (14), Murray State (19) and Oakland (21) before Oakland upset Tennessee this week.

The Bruins have beaten MTSU in double overtime on the Blue Raiders court in a regional Maui Invitational game.  They now have three straight home games, against Kennesaw State Thursday, Mercer and Tennessee State before going back for a rematch at MTSU.

The Bruins are fun to watch. If you like fundamentally sound basketball, you will enjoy this team.

Hopefully, the Belmont students will make it a habit to be at the Curb Center for home games. In the past they have shown up for rival games and stayed away for others.

It was an electric atmosphere Monday night. It should be that way every game.

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