Team: Belmont Bruins
Conference: Ohio Valley
Current Record: 12-1
Coach: Casey Alexander
Coach Profile: Casey Alexander is now in his 2nd second season at Belmont and it looks like he was the perfect successor to the Bruins previous coach, Rick Byrd. Alexander both played and coached under Byrd for nearly 20 years. He then became a head coach at Stetson and later at Lipscomb. He took Lipscomb to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and then in 2019 he led Lipscomb on an impressive run all the way to the NIT Championship game (lost to Texas in the championship). In his first season at Belmont, the Bruins won the OVC Tournament, but of course didn’t get to participate in the NCAA Tournament due to COVID.
What Makes Them Special?
They still play the same brand of basketball that’s made them successful for years, even through a coaching change. That’s because of the coach they hired already having extensive knowledge and experience in the same system and keeping that style of play that Belmont is accustomed to playing. The Bruins can be a lot of fun to watch; they share the ball (led the country in assists last year, 52nd this year). They get high-percentage shots too; they are in the top 50 in effective field goal percentage and 8th in the country in 2-point field goal percentage.
I’m not sure they are quite as good this year as they were last year yet, but they are off to a 12-1 start and 6-0 in conference play. However, their strength of schedule is ranked 335th in the nation so that could be a concern. Their best wins are over Murray State, George Mason and Lipscomb.
The Bruins talented 6-11 center Nick Muszynski is the go-to-guy down low. He’s the leading score and the highest usage player on the team. In the backcourt, all-league returnee Grayson Murphy may be the next most important player. Although he’s the fourth leading scorer, he leads the team in both rebounds and assists. Luke Smith is the Bruins’ premier shooter; he’s made 41 3’s this season. The next highest total on the Bruins has only 14. That player with 14 is JaCobi Wood. He’s a freshman who comes off the bench and can provide that needed scoring punch.
Belmont is a team that’s had quite a run of NCAA Tournament appearances lately and they’ll be in the mix again in 2021. They’re tough to guard because they move the ball and take smart shots. They don’t jump off the page in any one area, but they are a well-coached, disciplined and fundamental team. There are going to be questions around the poor strength of schedule, but nevertheless they’ll be a team to have your eye on.
Belmont Bruins 2020-21 Player Stats