Jan. 11, 2007
Friday may be Jan. 12 on the calendar, but it is going to feel like March on Belmont Boulevard.
The Lipscomb Bisons visit the Curb Event Center tonight at 6:30 for the first round of the "Battle of the Boulevard" for this season. The game is being televised live on CSS.
The last time the two teams met on the court the Atlantic Sun Championship was on the line. The Bisons fell short in that game by a score of 74-69 in overtime. Belmont claimed the A-Sun's automatic NCAA berth. The Bisons were invited to participate in the National Invitation Tournament.
But this is a new season and a new game. Lipscomb assistant coach Hubie Smith has scouted Belmont and he has concerns.
"We've to make sure Belmont doesn't get open 3-point shots in transition," Smith said. "We have to out-rebound them. They have out-rebounded teams by about four a game. We have to make sure their post guys don't hurt inside because they are bigger than we are."
Smith stressed the Bisons have to be patient on offense.
"We have to make sure they guard us," Smith said. "Belmont is solid. They don't give up a lot of easy shots."
The Bisons are 4-2 in the conference. Belmont is 6-0 in the A-Sun
As in most A-Sun games the best defensive effort will probably be rewarded with the victory.
"With teams like Belmont that are complicated offensively you have to guard all five spots," Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said.
"Eddie, Trey and Brian are the three guys we count on every game," Sanderson said, "If two of those guys have a good night the chance of winnings pretty good. If all three have a good night we have a really good chance of winning. If only one of them has a good night and our role players don't step up then we have tendency to struggle."
Sanderson has met with the seven players he is counting on in addition to Ard, Williams and Fisk.
"We got those seven guys together individually, and as a group," Sanderson said. "We explained their roles to them. The roles are very difficult. Their margin of error is very small. And it is hard to play when your margin of error is every small.
"Our role players have to do the right things defensively. They have to make their open shots. They have to be able to rebound the basketball. They have to do something that is productive. They can't afford to make a couple of mistakes and stay in the game.
Guard LaKory Daniels is coming off of a 14-point, five-rebound game, both career highs.
"LaKory is getting back to the form we saw late in the year last season," Sanderson said. "He is playing a lot more time and playing with a lot more confidence. We have started him the last two games."
Guard Michael Lusk is also coming off a career high 17 points against Stetson, but he t
"People don't understand the value of Lusk because he is so good defensively, but offensively he has taken a back seat to Eddie, Trey and Brian. Lusk has to attack the basket, shoot the open threes and play with confidence."
"Michael Teller can jump up and make threes," Sanderson said. "And he is a good rebounder."
Sanderson also wants to see improvements in the team's defensive statistics.
"Our team defense, as good as it has been, has room for improvement," Sanderson said. "Our goal is to hold teams below 40 percent.
"Teams are shooting 42 percent against us. Some people might say that's not a lot of difference. But every game in our league is a one or two point game. Forty-two percent instead of 40 percent is like three extra baskets for the opponent. If we hold people below 40 percent we have a chance to win a lot of games."
Ard has been the hottest player offensively for the Bisons. In his last six games he is averaging 22.8 points per game. He has 25 points in two games in that string and 24 points in three.
"We are seeing the Eddie Ard of old," Sanderson said. "The amazing thing about it is he had 25 points against Stetson on 12 shots. He had 24 against Mercer on 12 shots. A lot of times for a player to get that many points he has to shoot 18 or 19 times.
"He is getting quality shots. The thing is we need to get him even more shots. If we can get him five or six more good shots he might get 30 a game."
The No. 1 goal for the Bisons this season is win the league. Two years ago the Bisons had to win four games in a row at home to qualify for the conference tournament. Last year we had to win the last two games at home to win our league and we did.
"This year our team has its back against the wall again a little bit. We really have to focus on one game at a time. We can still control what is going on, but we have to win."