Author: Austin Rooke, firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo: Marquette Athletics.
Well, it’s here, ladies and gents. Game Numero Uno of the 2015-16 basketball season. Up first for the young Golden Eagles comes a veteran laden team in Belmont. Now, you may recall Belmont giving top seeded Virginia a run for their money last season in the NCAA Tournament. Personally, I think that Belmont was underseeded. They did beat regular season champ in the Ohio Valley Conference Murray State in their conference tournament, after all. Here’s a link to the box score from that game: http://scores.espn.go.com/ncb/boxscore?gameId=400785349
Like I said before, Belmont is chock full of returnees from last year’s squad. They return their leading scorer in All-OVC selection Craig Bradshaw as well as three other starters from the end of last season. Let’s dive into their star man a little more. Bradshaw is a 6’3 senior from Ridgetop, Tenn. He is someone that Marquette fans should concern themselves with greatly as he has shown over his career that he can take over a game. Last season he shot 42% from 3-point land and averaged 18.3 PPG. He will be on the court for most of the game, and with good reason. He is far and away Belmont’s best player. He averaged over 31 minutes per game last season and one might even expect that number to increase.
Overall, Belmont shoots very well as a team. Last year they shot 47% from the field and shot a respectable 38% from beyond the arc. However, one area in which they struggled last season was at the free throw line. They only managed to shoot 69% from the charity stripe and averaged around 12 made free throws per game. If Marquette can force this team to drive inside rather than shoot from long distance, then they might have a shot at coming out with a decisive win.
Where This Game will be Won: In the Paint.
Belmont is a team that loves to take a lot of jumpshots, and they make them at a high volume. If Marquette can force them to pull the ball down and drive inside toward their bigs, then Belmont will run into some trouble. The key here is guarding the 3-point line. If Marquette’s 3-point defense is improved from a season ago, then it will be hard for Belmont to score. On the other side, Marquette’s bigs need to get to the free throw line against Belmont’s bigs. Belmont doesn’t have a ton of frontcourt depth on its roster, so if guys like Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer can stay out of foul trouble and force Belmont’s bigs to the bench early, then Marquette could be on its way to victory. Make no mistake about it, this game will be won by the frontcourt players on both teams. Either way it shakes out, this is going to be a close game.
Craig Bradshaw 6’3 SR 210 Ridgetop, TN (18.3 PTS, 3.8 REB, 3.1 AST, 1.6 STL, 49% FG, 42% 3PT)
Taylor Barnette 6’3 JR 185 Lexington, KY (10.6 PTS, 2.6 REB, 1.3 AST, 44% FG, 39% 3PT)
Evan Bradds 6’7 JR 205 Jamestown, OH (14.2 PTS, 7.2 REB, 1.3 AST, 68% FG, 39% 3PT)
Amanze Egekeze 6’8 SO 220 Lake in the Hills, IL (5.4 PTS, 3.2 REB, 40% FG, 34% 3PT)
Nick Smith 6’8 JR 220 Bentonville, AR (6.8 PTS, 2.0 REB, 41% FG, 39% 3PT)
Marquette 73 Belmont 68
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