Jan. 19, 2006
It's more than a rivalry this time around.
When Belmont visits Lipscomb's Allen Arena Friday night at 6:30 for the first engagement in this season's "Battle of the Boulevard" third place in the Atlantic Sun Conference will be on the line. Both teams enter the game, which will be televised live by CSS, with 6-2 conference records.
"I hope we play like we are supposed to play," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "If they play like they play and we play like we play I will take my chances. I'm not saying we are going to win, but I will take my chances.
"It should be a great night. All of a sudden the stakes are a little higher with both teams in the upper echelon of the league. We will find out what happens Friday night."
It's only one of 20 Atlantic Sun games on the schedule, but this one brings in a full house of fans, media and dignitaries. Anytime Belmont and Lipscomb meet in men's basketball it is news.
"Belmont does a lot of different things defensively," said Sanderson. "Our focus is 90-10 defense-offense. Their focus is 90-10 offense-defense. We have to be able to throw different things at them, but we can't outsmart ourselves. They are going to punish us for our mistakes defensively. We will need to be able to adjust."
Every game has been a challenge this season in the A-Sun with Kennesaw State, East Tennessee State, Belmont, Gardner-Webb and Campbell all playing well.
"Our staff will tell you we have been through exhaustion almost trying to get ourselves prepared," said Sanderson. "The effort, energy, the focus and the understanding have been there. I can't ask any more from our guys with what they have done. They have zeroed in and we have to do it again Friday night."
The Belmont game is the first in a string of key A-Sun games for the Bisons. They play Florida Atlantic twice and Belmont again.
"The next four games are obviously critical," said Sanderson. "A lot could happen here in the next couple of weeks.
"I would do anything to be on top. But if we are not there I can totally live with it."