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Preseason Preview: Belmont

Marquette Madness has come and gone. The season is so close, we can taste it. Marquette fans know who we will battle but might not know anything about our future opponents. To remedy this, Paint Touches is taking an in depth look at each of Marquette’s opponents, both conference and non-conference, to see what we have to look forward to. These will be released in order of what Paint Touches believes to be the easiest matchups to the toughest. The creamiest of cupcakes all the way to the most unbeatable of opponents. Next up is Marquette’s first opponent of the 15-16 season, the Bruins of Belmont.
Belmont Logo
Opponent: Belmont
Mascot: Bruins
Conference: Ohio Valley
14-15 Record: 22-11 (11-5) (Lost in 2nd round of NCAA tournament)
14-15 RPI: 105
14-15 KenPom: 135
Coach: Rick Byrd (30th Season)
Date: 11/13/15
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center

Departures from 14-15:
Reece Chamberlin: Starting PG: 31.2 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.0 apg 1.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .338 3P%
Holden Mobley: 2nd off Bench: 10.1 mpg, 1.1 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .333 3P%
Spencer Tuner: 3rd off Bench: 9.2 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .298 3P%
Caleb Chowbay: 4th off Bench: 8.4 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .471 3P%
18% of Scoring, 23% of Rebounding, 49% of Assists, 35% of Steals, 8% of Blocks, 16% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Kevin McClain: Two star PG, Ranked #36 prospect in state of Florida by ESPN
Michael Benkert: Two star SG, Unranked
Dylan Windler: Two star SF, Unranked
Seth Adelsperger: Two star C, Unranked
Alex Martin: Two star SF, Unranked

Probable Starters:
PG: Craig Bradshaw: 6-3 210 SR: 31.7 mpg, 18.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.4 bpg, 3.1 tpg, .423 3P%
SG: Taylor Barnette: 6-3 185 RSJR: 29.7 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .391 3P%
SF: Evan Bradds: 6-7 205 JR: 28.1 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .385 3P%
PF: Nick Smith: 6-8 220 JR: 15.1 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .392 3P%
C: Amanze Egekeze: 6-8 220 SO: 20.0 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .338 3P%

Probable Bench:
Kevin McClain: 6-2 180 FR PG
Michael Benkert: 6-4 195 FR SG
Jeff Laidig: 6-4 210 SR SG
Mack Mercer: 6-9 225 SO PF
Tyler Hadden: 6-10 240 RSSO C

Probable Benchwarmers:
Dylan Windler: 6-7 185 FR SF
Seth Adelsperger: 6-11 215 FR C
Austin Luke: 6-3 185 RSSO PG:
Burton Sampson: 6-4 195 RSSO SG
Josh Lester: 6-6 225 RSSO SF
Alex Martin: 6-6 185 FR SF

Quick and Dirty Analysis: Belmont has been one of the most consistently good mid majors in the last 10 years. Since the 2002-2003 season, Belmont has finished 3rd or better in their conference. Belmont has taken seven trips to the Big Dance during this 13 year stretch, including last season when they upset then #25 Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship game. Last year’s Bruin squad was one of the top three point shooting teams in the land. As a unit they shot 38% from downtown while making 10 deep balls a game which was good for fourth in the nation for 3PM a game. Belmont also ranked as the 25th best team in D1 for assists per game. Those numbers may take a hit for Belmont this year as they lose their star Senior PG, Reece Chamberlin. The Tennessee native averaged 6.0 apg and his ability to find open shooters was a big part of the success of Belmont’s long range assault. Moving forward, veteran coach Rick Byrd will either rely on true freshman Kevin McClain to run the point, or slide star wing, Craig Bradshaw over to the 1. Whether he’s on the point or the wing, Bradshaw will be the main threat for opposing defenses next season. The senior averaged 18 ppg last season while shooting over 42% from deep. Bradshaw will be surrounded by shooters like Taylor Barnette (84 3PM on 39% 3P shooting in 14-15) and Nick Smith (58 3PM in only 15 mpg last season). All these weapons together will make Belmont one of the most potent offenses that Marquette will face all season.

By the end of the season, Marquette will be the better team. The Golden Eagles simply have too much talent and athleticism not to be. At the beginning of the season however, Belmont may have the advantage. As demonstrated by the scrimmages in Rome, Marquette struggles with defensive rotations and closing out on shooters. Belmont will start five players who can shoot the three and their bench will all be able to stroke it from deep. Unless they have an off shooting night, Marquette’s defense is going to be eviscerated by three pointers. Fortunately, Belmont’s defense, size, and depth are not at the level of their offense. Belmont has no one on their roster who can match Luke, Henry, or Heldt’s size, and the only ones who are close will be back of the rotation players. Coach Byrd also lost most of his bench during the offseason and will be relying on true freshmen and very low usage players to sub in for his starting five. If Marquette can ramp up the tempo, it may wear out their shooters enough to give them the win. In short, Marquette will have no answer to Bradshaw and Barnette and Belmont will have no answer to Ellenson and Fischer. It will be a very close matchup.

Early Prediction: Belmont takes an early lead after starting very hot from deep. Marquette keeps it close but doesn’t retake the lead in the first half. The uptempo pace of the game wears down the less athletic Belmont as the game goes on. Wojo declares it to be winning time with about seven minutes left and Marquette surges ahead to steal a four point victory from the Bruins.

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Categories: Home, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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