The Bruins received high honors in the Ohio Valley Conference coaches and sports information directors poll, as both the men’s and women’s teams were picked to finish at the top.
Along with the team accolades, senior Bruin Ellie Harmeyer was named Preseason Player of the Year and added to the preseason all-conference team alongside teammates Maddie Wright and Maura Muensterman.
Men’s sophomores Grayson Murphy and Nick Muszynski were added to the preseason all-conference team but Austin Peay University junior Terry Taylor was named Preseason Player of the Year.
Even with the absence of players like Dylan Windler and Darby Maggard, the hype around Belmont continues to grow around teams with young talent.
Harmeyer was the clear frontrunner for OVC Preseason Player of the Year, as she averaged 16.9 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game and shot 48 percent from the field.
Seniors Muensterman and Wright also had great seasons, making them the new premier scorers on the women’s team. Muensterman averaged 10.6 points per game and shot 47 percent from the field and 49 percent from three. Wright added height to a team that had lost Sally McCabe the year before. Wright averaged 9.8 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
Though all three have proven they can shoot from outside the perimeter, Bruin fans can expect more scoring from inside the paint than they have seen before.
Behind Belmont in the poll were University of Tennesee Martin in second and Tennessee Tech University in third. Martin and Tech both received first place votes, the Skyhawks with nine and the Golden Eagles with one. The Skyhawks lost to the Bruins in the 2019 OVC Tournament Final 59-53. Tennessee Tech lost to the Bruins in the OVC Tournament semifinal but upset Belmont in the Curb during the regular season, breaking the team’s conference win streak.
The men’s team has more to prove than the women’s team as the Bruins’ first-year head coach Casey Alexander will need to build a team around young stars Muszynski, Murphy and graduate transfer Tyler Scanlon.
Muszynski is coming off a Freshman of the Year season where he averaged 14.7 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game and shot 60 percent from the field. Without the presence of Windler and Kevin McClain, Muszynski will need to be the team’s top scorer and may even be in the running for OVC Player of the Year.
Murphy gave the Bruins a relatively smooth transition from Austin Luke at the point guard position. He averaged 9.6 points per game and 6.5 assists per game, offering stability to the offense as a rookie.
Austin Peay’s Taylor is the clear Preseason Player of the Year after posting an average of 20.5 points per game and shot 53 percent from the field. He will most likely be the most difficult player the Bruins will play against in conference.
But even with a player like Taylor, Austin Peay was only picked to finish in fourth behind Jacksonville State University and Murray State University. The Racers have won the OVC the past two seasons but are without NCAA All-American Ja Morant; however, they do have 2019 preseason all-conference players Tevin Brown and Darnell Cowart.
The Bruins will face both Murray State and Austin Peay twice in the regular season for the first time ever while in the OVC.
Belmont will kick off its season at Illinois State University on Nov. 6.
Photo by Carina Eudy.