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Byrd pilots Belmont in new league
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On November 27, 2012 @ 1:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports caught up with Belmont coach Rick Byrd for its weekly Mid-Major Coach’s Diary.
Longtime Belmont coach Rick Byrd is shivering as he discusses his team over the phone with a reporter.
“Yeah, I think we…,” he starts in a Tennessean accent. “Hold on, I’m out in Alaska right now.”
Yes, while VCU and Duke were playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas, Belmont was playing in the Great Alaska Shootout in brisk temperatures. Typical.
Byrd is the Dean Smith of mid-majors, at least from a longevity standpoint. Byrd is in his 32nd year of coaching, his 27th with Belmont. He holds a 637-339 career mark and knows all about changes in a basketball program, as he helped lead the way in Belmont’s transition from NAIA to a perennial midmajor in NCAA Division I.
This year, after 10 successful seasons in the Atlantic Sun that included 10 conference titles (five regular season, five tournament), the Bruins switched to the more-competitive and more-in-the-spotlight Ohio Valley conference.
Belmont was seeking a move that could improve the team’s chances in future NCAA tournaments, a problem when playing in the Atlantic Sun. For instance, the Bruins finished 30-5 overall last year but lost in the first round of the NCAAs to Wisconsin as a No. 13 seed. And in 2008, they almost knocked off Duke before falling 71-70. So, in other words, getting to the Big Dance hasn’t been the issue. It’s been getting in a position to advance.
Bryd on the conference move and how it will benefit the team:
“I think it elevates our program in a lot of ways. And logistically, it makes sense. We’re in Nashville. Seven OVC schools are in Tennessee or Kentucky. I just really think the OVC is a great league with lots of exposure with everything that Murray State did last year.”
Byrd on the biggest difference in the Ohio Valley compared to the Atlantic Sun:
“I think it’s a different conference with different teams, but look, basketball is basketball. We’re going to embrace the challenge, and we’ve … [For more on Mid-Major Coach's Diary: Byrd pilots Belmont in new league, click here.]
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