• Lillie Burke

Ezell’s squad ready to ascend to next level

As far as Belmont athletics are concerned, there’s no doubt that basketball is king. The men’s program has earned postseason tournament invitations in seven of the past nine years, including a berth in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven years.

But as the old saying must go, “Every king must have its queen.”, This year, the women’s basketball team has more than risen to the occasion.

This past weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams hosted Tennessee State and record-breaking crowds for the season. The only problem was that the men’s tally was still over three times that of the women’s team.

While the women’s team is having a great season, hardly anybody is there to see it. The men’s team is able to utilize a home court advantage with a boisterous student section while the women’s team has to win games out of sheer grit.

This team is more athletic and agile than the previous years in the Ezell era, and they’ve got the record to prove it. At 7-1, Belmont holds the best conference record in the entire Ohio Valley Conference, not just the Eastern Division. Their only loss was to fellow division rival Tennessee Tech on the road.

Despite this record, the Bruins are not a team that’s going to blow out their opponents like their male counterparts.

Aside from three-point shooting from junior Molly Ernst, this is not a team that will overpower you with offense. Instead, they rely on a strong defense, which has allowed them to lead the conference in scoring defense, three-point defense, field goal percentage defense and defensive rebounds.

Transfers Jordan Coleman (Vanderbilt) and Jordyn Luffman (MTSU) have both played key roles in building the team’s defense, averaging 10.2 and 5.7 rebounds per game, respectively. The two have brought a higher level of athleticism and a stronger work ethic to the team.

In Ezell’s third season with the Bruins, the team already has as many wins at this point than they did in all of last season. And the best part is they still have at least nine games to go.

Speaking of Ezell, I think a large part of the team’s success this year has been due to her enthusiasm of the game. Enthusiasm is an intangible – a person can’t be taught to play the game wholeheartedly; they have to want to win. Now, she’s gotten her team to be not just enthusiastic, but also cohesive on the court.

Watching this team’s growth the past couple of years has been exciting, and if you haven’t gone to see them play, it is certainly not too late to do so.

They may not have earned their crown just yet. But they have certainly taken diamonds from the rough; when that crown comes, they’ll be ready.

#2012womensbasketball #KatieGreenecolumn #sportscommentary #womensbasketball

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