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Bisons ready for the "Battle of the Boulevard"
Adnan Hodzic
Adnan Hodzic

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It’s a game that still means one win or one loss on the record of each team just like any other game. But the emotions surrounding every meeting between the Lipscomb Bisons and the Belmont Bruins make it much more than a game.

Monday night at 8 at Allen Arena the Bisons and Bruins will meet for the 125th time in the series known as the “Battle of the Boulevard”. The game will be televised on CSS Nashville Channel 27. It will be simulcast live on ESPN 360 .com and ESPN Full Court.

“It is more about how I coach them,” Sanderson said. “They are going to feed off me and what I do and what I say. They are going to feed off how I act and react.

“I don’t think I can overemphasize the game. Everyone else is going to do that.”

Sanderson, when he served as an assistant coach at Colorado, remembers that football coach Bill McCartney would always write the game with Nebraska on the schedule in red. And every year Colorado struggled against Nebraska.

“McCartney was a great football coach there, a better coach than I ever thought about being,” Sanderson said. “But he made such a big deal over that game.

“A lot of how I approach a game depends on the mood of our team. It is not what I say, but how they hear what I say.”

The Bisons, Bruins, ETSU and Campbell are all tied for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference with 4-1 records. The Bisons are 7-7 overall. Belmont is 9-6. The Bisons have won their last three games in row. The Bruins have won their last two games.

The Bisons have a 69-55 edge overall in the series. Belmont has a 5-3 advantage since the two teams moved to NCAA Division I.

“We are both at the top of the league,” Sanderson said. “It is an important game. It is a home game for us.

“It probably elevates the game a little more because we both want to stay at the top. It is still early in the conference season. It should be like all of other Lipscomb-Belmont games with a great atmosphere.”

Junior guard Josh Slater is scoring an average of 15.3 points per game. He has grown up around the hoopla surrounding the games between the two schools. He admits that emotions do get in the way.

“As a player it is a rivalry game so there is more emotion to it,” Slater said. “It is obviously early in the conference race, but we have a chance to get up on them one game. Every win is important.”

The Bisons could be playing without junior forward Brandon Brown for the second straight game. Brown is averaging 12.5 points per game this season.

“It will be a game time decision,” Sanderson said. “We have a deep team and some of the guys who come in if he doesn’t play will do some things that he doesn’t do quite as well. We will make up for Brandon not playing by committee.

“It is a team effort. We have to keep playing. I just feel bad for him. I know how much he wants to play. It will be a game time decision.”

Junior center Adnan Hodzic continues to lead the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game and rebounding with 7.8 per game. However, in his last two games he has barely reached double figures with 10 against Florida Gulf Coast and 11 against USC Upstate.

“It is more about Adnan getting himself ready and knowing what to do,” Sanderson said. “I have always felt like our league teams know our strengths and weaknesses. He has to be able to adjust and he will."

Also averaging in double figures for the Bisons is sophomore guard Jordan Burgason with 11.3 points per game.

The Bisons expect Belmont to bring a different game plan to the table than in previous years.

Belmont is led in scoring by freshman guard Ian Clark with 13.9 points per game. Sophomore forward Mick Hedgepeth is averaging 11.9 points and a team-leading 5.9 rebounds per game. Senior forward Keaton Belcher is averaging 10.9 points and sophomore center Scott Saunders is averaging 10 points.

Belcher and Hedgepeth are both 6-foot-9. Saunders is 6-10.

“They have a few new faces,” Sanderson said. “They have a lot of size inside. They try to go inside with the ball a lot. They haven’t shot as many threes as they have in the past.

"I wouldn't know how to act if it wasn't another close game. It will be just another great game against Belmont with a great atmosphere."

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations