The Bellarmine Knights basketball team is 16-2 and tied for first place in the Great Lakes Valley East Division with Northern Kentucky with a 7-2 conference record. Coach Scott Davenport, in his fourth season since leaving Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville, has led the Knights to the best start in school history, including a school best #2 ranking in the NABC Division II Coaches Poll.
This week, the Knights are ranked eighth in the nation, and are in position to be ranked #2 in the NCAA Regional Rankings when the first round of rankings are released next week. The Regional Rankings are what determines a team’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament (there is no selection committee in Division II).
With the revamped structure of the GLVC Postseason Tournament, the conference regular season champion plays host to the entire eight-team tournament. Right now, that would place the men’s event at Knights Hall. To put that into perspective, since the GLVC reinstituted the conference tournament in the early 90’s, Bellarmine has never even won a game in the tournament. To put that into further perspective, that would be like Rutgers winning the conference and hosting the Big East Tournament (Knights Hall is slightly smaller than The RAC).
The keys to this team have been an incredible defense that is relentless and puts pressure on the ball at all times, as well as some of the best passing you will ever see in a college team. It is nothing for all five players to touch the ball TWICE on a given possession, and still have 15 seconds on the shot clock.
Point guard Chartrael Hall, a senior transfer from Spalding University, has been the glue of the team. Whether he is penetrating the lane to kick the ball out to an open teammate or having to guard the other team’s quickest player, Hall has been all about the team concept, letting others score the bulk of the points.
Superstar guard Braydon Hobbs should be considered the Pinkie’s nomination for National Freshman of the Year (even if you include the D-I guys). Let’s take a look at his season figures:
13.6 PPG (leads team), 90 REB (2nd on team), .409 3PT%, 85 AST (2nd on team), 6.54 AST/TO (leads nation)
It’s an incredible stat line. He has 13 turnovers in 18 games, and is on the court more than any other Knight at 31.3 minutes per game. This kid could go down as one of the all-time greats at BU, and I believe he could easily be starting at the point for Tom Crean over at Indiana (heck, maybe even starting over Sir Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee at UofL).
Playing on the road in the GLVC is an incredibly tough test, and the waters do not get any easier this week for the Knights. A date at Quincy University is on tap for Thursday night at the Pepsi Arena, site of a thrilling three-overtime 106-102 victory by Bellarmine three seasons ago where former Knights forward Matt Otte went off for 35 points, including three game-icing free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the third extra period.
This season, Quincy is 11-7, 4-5 GLVC, and is 8-1 at home. The Hawks pulled off a two-point overtime victory on Thursday at Indianapolis, but were blown out on Saturday at Northern Kentucky. Billy Baptist leads the team in scoring and on the board with 12.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg.
On Saturday, the Knights head over to Lewis University, one of the coolest universities in the GLVC. Why you may ask? Because the school has an aviation program which offers five different undergraduate majors and houses the oldest aviation program in all of Illinois! If you head up to the campus in Romeoville at the right time, you may be able to see one of their aircrafts stationed next to the athletic fields!
The Flyers are currently 11-7, 5-4 GLVC, but host Northern Kentucky on Thursday night before the Knights’ invasion. Lewis is led by Brandon Dagans, who averages 16.9 ppg, but is susceptible to foul trouble, fouling out in three contests this year. If BU can play solid defense, and maybe get Dagans a call or two early, Knights Nation could be in for a very important East Division Bellarmine victory.
The Pinkie promises to keep you up to date with the BU Knights as the season progresses, and the squad moves towards their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 18 years. Check back next Tuesday for the weekend’s results.