Updated: Nov 2
This season marks the beginning of a new era for Belmont men’s basketball.
The Bruins will look different than years past after a heavy roster shuffle over the offseason.
One of the biggest challenges this season will be figuring out the team’s identity while competing in its debut season in the Missouri Valley Conference, head coach Casey Alexander said.
“It’s going to be a new challenge, but I think it’s one that we are ready for. I would feel better if we had a little bit more experience coming back, but each season is different, some teams are loaded with upper-class guys, and some have a lot of new faces like this one.”
Fresh faces on the Belmont roster includes six freshmen and two transfers – forward Drew Friberg from Princeton University and guard Keishawn Davidson from Tennessee Tech University.
“They have stepped right in like veterans, it feels like they’ve been here for years,” Alexander said.
Davidson, who plans to start for the Bruins, is excited to show Belmont what he is all about.
“I’m ready to come here and bring the experience I had in the past and help these guys, playing new teams in a new conference,” Davidson said. “It’s going to be an exciting time for our program and for the university.”
Coach Alexander believes there’s something to be excited about with every new face taking the court this season.
“I think collectively they’re going to give us what we need them to,” Alexander said. “It’s the job of our team and our staff to figure out how to put all the pieces together and give ourselves the best chance to win.”
After earning a 25-8 record in the 2021-22 season, which concluded with an 82-71 loss to Vanderbilt University in the National Invitation Tournament, the Bruins will pick back up against Ohio University for their home opener on Nov. 7.
“They’ll be good, they’re a proud program from the MAC and we know that we’ll have to be ready to go,” Alexander said.
Following the first game of the 2022-23 season, Belmont will face Furman University on Nov. 11 before heading down Belmont Boulevard to face heated rival Lipscomb University on Nov. 14.
On Nov 18 – 21, the Bruins will travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and compete in the Paradise Jam tournament against schools like Boston College, the University of Buffalo, George Mason University and MVC rival Drake University.
Alexander knows early tests will serve his team well as the season progresses.
“The months of November and December are great months of preparation for our team and should get us ready and help us to find who our rotations are and help us better understand what we can do and what we can’t do,” he said.
Following Paradise Jam, Belmont heads to Atlanta as it faces Georgia State University on Nov. 27 before gearing up for its first home MVC game against Valparaiso University on Dec. 1.
Illinois State University will serve as the Bruins first conference opponent on the road on Dec 4. From there, Belmont will play three consecutive games in Tennessee.
Samford University will be Belmont’s final regular season non-conference opponent on Dec. 21.
Coach Alexander knows the Bruins will have their work cut out for them before conference play starts.
“We’ve got a really tough non-conference schedule with a lot of games on there that are 50-50 kind of games, and our program has historically won a lot of those games, but it’ll be a challenge to say the least,” Alexander said.
The Bruins were picked to finish sixth by MVC coaches and media in its preseason poll, and they’ll dive into conference play against Bradley University on Dec. 28.
Belmont will play 18 consecutive conference games with several marquee matchups included.
Among their highly anticipated games, the Bruins will face Drake University, who was picked first in the preseason poll, at home on Jan. 29 and on the road on Feb. 19.
Former Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State University – who also switched to the MVC with the Bruins – will come to Nashville on Jan. 17 before the Bruins travel to Murray, Kentucky on Feb. 1.
Reigning MVC champion University of Northern Iowa will pay a visit to the Curb Event Center on Jan.14, with its rematch occurring in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Feb. 26 to close out the regular season.
The Bruins know they’ll have to prepare for higher level teams in the MVC.
“The Missouri Valley Conference is a really tough league and it’ll be a challenge we haven’t faced before when you talk about conference play, so we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then,” Alexander said. “Every season presents a wealth of opportunities, and that’s what’s in front of us right now.”
Davidson knows what’s on the line for Belmont men’s basketball this season.
“It’s a very prestigious league, with challenging teams and teams that have been to the tournament and won games in the tournament, so that’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Davidson said. “We’re ready for it, this is a good step for this program and I’m excited to play a good brand of basketball.’
PHOTO Senior guard Keishawn Davidson at the Bruins practice.
Landen Secrest/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Landen Secrest