Belmont, Vanderbilt, Lipscomb Players Named To Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Watch List

Nick Muszynski and Liam Robbins. Photos: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics and Minnesota Athletics.

College basketball players from Nashville schools continue to get national recognition as Belmont’s Nick Muszynski and Vanderbilt’s Liam Robbins have both been named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year watch list. Lipscomb’s Ahsan Asadullah was also one of the 20 players to be named to the list.

Muszynksi has been one of the Bruins best players over the past three years, helping lead the program to an NCAA Tournament win in 2019 and a conference tournament win in 2020. He became the first Belmont player of the program’s NCAA Division I era to earn first team all-conference honors as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Muszynski averaged 15.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game on 59 percent shooting as a junior. The 6-11 center has 77 career double figure scoring games and is on pace to challenge Evan Bradds’ NCAA Division I era career scoring record (1,921 points). Muszynski was the second-fastest to 1,000 career points in Belmont’s NCAA Division I era and ranks as the program’s career blocked shot leader.

A 7-foot center, Robbins graduated from the University of Minnesota in business and marketing education this summer, and joins the Commodores after a breakout year with the Gophers and two seasons at Drake University. Robbins led the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation in blocks last season. He averaged 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while shooting 44% and starting all 23 games he played. He also ranked 11th in the conference in rebounding and seventh in offensive rebounding. In two seasons at Drake, Robbins played in 64 games. He started all 34 games as a sophomore in 2019-20 and led the Bulldogs with 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He set a school record with 99 blocks— the third most in Missouri Valley Conference history.

Asadullah was Lipscomb’s lead scorer, rebounder, assister and blocker averaging 14.1 ppg, 8 rpg, 3.4 apg and 16 blocks. He led the ASUN in total field goals made (165) and defensive rebounds (157). Asadullah is a two-time All-ASUN First Team and will be the key for the Bisons success this season.

In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award will be narrowed to 10 and then in late February to just five. In March, the five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee where a winner will be selected.

SEC Unveils Logo For Women’s Basketball Tournament To Be Hosted In Nashville

The Southeastern Conference unveiled the logo for the 2022 Women’s Basketball Tournament which is set to be hosted at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena from March 2-6. This is the seventh trip to Nashville for the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, previously hosting the event in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2018.

In celebration of the return of the tournament to Nashville, Adventure Science Center, AT&T Building, Bridgestone Arena and Nashville Grand Hyatt will light up in SEC blue and gold tonight. The Korean Veterans Bridge will be awash in SEC colors on Oct, 20 as reserved ticket books go on sale.

A reserved ticket book for the tournament is $130, containing seven tickets–one for each session–which allows one person to attend all 13 games. Tickets can be purchased at TicketMaster. Single session tickets will go on sale in February.

College Corner: OVC & Southland Conference, TSU Basketball, Lipscomb Hall Of Fame

OVC And Southland Conference Announce Football Scheduling Alliance

The Ohio Valley Conference has made a football scheduling partnership with the Southland Conference. This alliance comes after Jacksonville State, Eastern Kentucky University, Austin Peay and Belmont announced its departure from the OVC.

This collaboration will see institutions from each conference fill non-conference dates in the next two years with a focus toward competitive balance and reasonable travel.  In addition to providing quality Division I FCS non-conference matchups, the alliance will allow increased visibility, exposure and branding for each Conference.

“Our Presidents, Chancellors and Athletic Directors have enthusiastically supported this alliance,” says OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche. “We are delighted to work together to promote one another and provide a quality student-athlete experience. This partnership strengthens not only both football leagues, but the FCS overall with quality non-conference matchups. Given the changing Division I landscape, this demonstrates ways that conferences can collaborate to support one another.”

“We greatly anticipate the possibilities of a beneficial partnership with the Ohio Valley Conference,” says Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett. “The Southland presidents and athletic directors have found this to be an exciting competitive opportunity with their OVC peers, and we all look forward to some outstanding and meaningful FCS crossover games during the next two seasons. We all appreciate the strong level of interest and cooperation between our two leagues.”

More specific details, including game matchups in 2022 and 2023, will be announced at a later date.



Tennessee State Drops 2021-22 Basketball Schedule

Tennessee State University (TSU) has dropped its schedule for the 2021-22 season, which will feature 13 home games and big ticket matches against Nebraska, Lipscomb and Georgia State. TSU opens its 41st basketball season against Alabama A&M in Huntsville on Nov. 9; followed by a neutral-site contest in Atlanta against MEAC Champion Norfolk State on Nov 13.

Fans will have an opportunity to see the Tigers at the Gentry Center play hometown rivals in the home-opener against NAIA member Fisk University in the Battle of Jefferson Street on Nov. 16. TSU is 20-3 all-time against Fisk and is riding a 12-game winning streak over the Bulldogs after a 99-65 victory on Nov. 18, 2019.

OVC kicks-off at the end of December versus Tennessee Tech on the 30th. The Gentry Center on Saturdays in January will welcome games against Southern Missouri (Jan. 8), defending OVC Champion Morehead State (Jan. 15), and Austin Peay (Jan. 22). The Tigers will flip-flop games in February with three of four games on Thursday evenings against Belmont (Feb. 3), Murray State (Feb. 10), and SIU-Edwardsville (Feb. 17). Senior day is slated for Saturday, Feb. 19 vs. Eastern Illinois.



Lipscomb Athletics Announces 2021 Hall Of Fame Class

Lipscomb University Athletics has announced the addition of four inductees into the department’s Hall of Fame.

The 2021 honorees are Ann Mullins (volleyball/2005-07), Alex Kelly Samuels (volleyball/2007-10), Jake Pease House (volleyball/2007-10) and Andy Lane (meritorious service/1984-2020).

Mullins, Samuels and House were all ASUN Volleyball Champions and have been inducted in the ASUN Hall of Fame for their success at Lipscomb and in the conference.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place on Saturday, Nov. 13 at noon in the George Shinn Event Center on the Lipscomb Campus. Tickets are $25 per person and tables of eight may be reserved for $200.

Rick Byrd Named 2022 John R. Wooden Award ‘Legends Of Coaching’ Recipient

Rick Byrd. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Former Belmont men’s basketball head coach Rick Byrd has been named recipient of the 2022 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching honor. The award will be presented along with the Wooden Award Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year in April 2022.

This marks the latest honor for Byrd, who has also been inducted in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, NAIA Hall of Fame, Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame, Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame, and will be formally enshrined into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this November in Kansas City.

“There is no coach in the history of the game of basketball that embodied excellence, integrity and humility like John Wooden,” says Byrd. “As a young man, I was certainly influenced by his remarkable coaching success, but even more so by his personal character and Christian commitment. The examples he set have stayed with me throughout my coaching career and personal life. I am overwhelmed and grateful to be named the recipient of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award for 2022.”

Byrd, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate, led Belmont to national prominence in both NCAA Division I and NAIA. He ranks 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches and retired with 805 career victories.

The Knoxville, Tennessee, native led Belmont to eight NCAA Tournament appearances (2006-2008, 2011-2013, 2015, 2019) and 17 conference championships (10 regular season, seven tournament) in his final 14 years, sporting notable victories over the likes of North Carolina, UCLA, Marquette, Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Stanford, Butler and Temple, among others.

First handed out in 1999, Wooden Award Legends of Coaching distinction is regarded as the highest honor in collegiate coaching. Former recipients comprise a veritable who’s who in the history of college basketball, including Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Summitt, Geno Auriemma and inaugural recipient Dean Smith.

NCAA To Brand Women’s Basketball Tournament As ‘March Madness’

The NCAA has announced the The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will now use March Madness marketing and branding beginning with the 2022 tournament.

This comes after a recommendation from a comprehensive external review of gender equity issues in connection with NCAA championships, including issues that arose during the 2021 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.

“Women’s basketball has grown tremendously over the past several years, and we remain focused on our priority of enhancing and growing the game,” says Lynn Holzman, vice president of women’s basketball. “The brand recognition that March Madness carries will broaden marketing opportunities as we continue that work to elevate the women’s basketball championship.”

Members of the Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee released the gender equity report on Aug. 3, expressing their desire for substantial changes. The committee unanimously supported women’s basketball adding the March Madness brand and sees this decision as one of the first steps to achieving greater equity between the women’s and men’s championships.

“This is just the start when it comes to improving gender equity in the way the two Division I basketball championships are conducted,” says Lisa Campos, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and director of athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Adding the March Madness trademark to the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will enhance the development and public perception of the sport, and the oversight committee looks forward to its work to address other recommendations through the governance structure to continue those efforts.”

The 2022 NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Championship culminates with the Women’s Final Four from April 1-3 in Minneapolis. Details of how the March Madness brand will be incorporated into the Division I women’s basketball tournament are still being developed.

College Corner: Vandy Baseball, UTK Football And Neyland Stadium, Belmont’s Evan Bradds

Vanderbilt Baseball Drops Full 2022 Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt has released its 2022 baseball schedule and will play 55 games, 34 of which will be hosted at Hawkins Field, the complete 2022 schedule was unveiled Monday by head coach Tim Corbin who is entering his 20th season with the Commodores.

The Dores will start their season with a nine-game homestand, playing Oklahoma State (Feb. 18-20) then a weekend series against Army (Feb. 25-27), as well as midweek games against North Alabama (Feb. 22), Evansville (Feb. 23) and Central Arkansas (March 1). Vandy will take a long trip to Hawaii for its first road trip of the campaign, facing off with the Rainbow Warriors for a four-game road series.

Vanderbilt opens SEC play at home for the second year in a row, as the squad welcomes Missouri to Hawkins Field from March 18-20. The Commodores will also host league foes Tennessee (April 1-3), Florida (April 15-17), Texas A&M (April 29-May 1) and LSU (May 19-21).

The Commodores will face cross-town rivals Belmont (March 22) and Lipscomb (March 29) in neutral-site contests at First Tennessee Park.



UTK Updates Football Ticket Pricing, Additions To Neyland Stadium

Neyland Stadium. Photo: By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee Athletics has finalized plans to implement a more simplified and modernized football ticket purchasing process beginning with the 2022 season.

Many season-ticket holders, beginning in the fall of 2022, will experience a price reduction. Access to season tickets will also be expanded to more of the Tennessee fanbase, as some areas within Neyland Stadium will not require an annual donation.

Along with the ticket changes, multiple new premium areas are scheduled for construction as outlined during this summer’s launch of the My All Campaign.’Sections impacted by new planned premium areas include the lower west (sections R-W, rows 1-22) and the upper north (sections YY7-YY9). Current season-ticket holders in these sections will have the right of first refusal for seats in this revamped space. There will be increases to the per-seat gift requirements coinciding with the enhanced amenities.

“From what I’ve heard thus far, I believe our fans are excited about the upgrades taking place at Neyland Stadium and the new areas we’re introducing next season,” says Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White. “With the lay of the land changing in several sections, it’s important to me that we communicate with our ticket holders throughout this process. They’ll have the rest of this season to assess which seating options work best for them.”

Fan experience upgrades include two new videoboards on the north and south ends of the stadium, a lower-west premium club, enhanced chairback seating in multiple lower-west sections and a party deck social gathering space on the stadium’s upper north end.


Former Belmont Basketball Star Evan Bradds Promoted Within Celtics Staff

Evan Bradds. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Former Belmont men’s basketball player Evan Bradds has been promoted to a player development coach role within the NBA’s Boston Celtics organization. Bradds is the Bruins NCAA Division I era career scoring leader.

Bradds graduated from Belmont in 2018 and joined the Celtics organization the same year. Bradds served as an assistant coach for the Maine Red Claws until he was called up to be a video assistant for the Celtics prior to Boston’s 2018 NBA playoffs run.

The Celtics are under the direction of first-year head coach Ime Udoka as Garrett Jackson, DJ Macleay and Steve Tchiengang were named to the team’s player enhancement staff with Bradds.

Tickets for Tennessee, Memphis Collegiate Basketball Game At Bridgestone On Sale

Bridgestone Arena. Photo of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

Tickets for the college basketball matchup between the Universities of Tennessee and Memphis at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 18 are on sale now.

The cross-state rivals have met twice in the last four seasons, with Tennessee winning on the road in 2018 and Memphis returning the favor in Knoxville in 2019. It will stand as just the third neutral-site game to ever be played in the Tennessee-Memphis series, which dates back to 1969.

“Bridgestone Arena has long been a special venue for college basketball, and once again, we are excited to host two of the country’s premier programs in Tennessee and Memphis in December,” says Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena Executive Vice President of Entertainment and Venues David Kells. “We can’t wait to see fans from both sides of our state converge right here in Smashville for a rivalry matchup that will be sure to create an incredible atmosphere.”

The Volunteers and seventh-year Head Coach Rick Barnes enter the 2021-22 campaign after finishing fourth in the SEC and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Tennessee men’s basketball program has made the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons and 23 times overall, highlighted by a trip to the Elite Eight in 2010 and eight Sweet 16 appearances, the most recent coming in 2019.

“We’re excited to see another great Tennessee turnout,” Barnes says. “Every time the Vols play in Bridgestone Arena, Tennessee fans make their presence felt in a big way. With the SEC Tournament moving to Tampa this season, this game against Memphis allows us to continue our annual appearance on Broadway. We love Nashville, and we know Nashville loves the Vols.”

Memphis, led by fourth-year Head Coach Penny Hardaway, is coming off a 2020-21 season that saw the program win the NIT championship and finish with a 20-8 overall record. The Tigers have reached the Final Four on four occasions, finishing as Division I runners-up in 1973 and 2008.

“We are looking forward to the matchup against Tennessee on Dec. 18,” says Hardaway. “We hope to see a sea of blue at Bridgestone Arena as we take the court in front of our Nashville Tiger fans.”

This will be the 28th all-time game between the Volunteers and Tigers, with Tennessee leading the series 15-12. After meeting annually from 2006-13, the two schools went three seasons without a clash on the schedule before reviving the storied rivalry ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.

Belmont Women’s Basketball Unveil 2021-22 Schedule

Featured L-R: Tuti Jones, Destinee Wells, Jamilyn Kinney, Madison Bartley and Conley Chinn of the Belmont Women’s Basketball Team. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

The Belmont women’s basketball team has released its 2021-22 season schedule which includes match-ups with Louisville, UCF, and Arkansas along with other Power Five schools.

The Bruins are coming off one of their most successful seasons ever, winning another Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title and then winning their first ever NCAA Tournament game against Gonzaga 64-59 in the Round of 64. This season, the Bruins have a difficult 11-game non-conference stretch comprised of six postseason teams from last year.

Four different teams who appear on Belmont’s non-conference schedule were either ranked or receiving votes in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll of the year which include No. 8 Louisville, No. 15 Arkansas, Georgia Teach and UCF.

“This year will be our most challenging non-conference schedule since I’ve been at Belmont, and I love that our players and program will have the opportunity to compete against some of the nation’s best players and coaches,” says head coach Bart Brooks. “I’m so grateful to have an administration and leadership at Belmont who are supportive of this challenging schedule. Every player who is on our roster came to Belmont to play in these kinds of games, and I’m excited by our growth and effort as we prepare to compete at the highest level this season.”

Belmont kicks off its season on Nov. 9 with a three-game road trip at Chattanooga, Ole Miss (Nov. 11) and Georgia Tech (Nov. 14). Belmont then hosts Alabama A&M for its home opener Thursday, Nov. 18 before returning to non-conference road action at UCF (Nov. 21) and Arkansas (Nov. 28), both 2021 NCAA Tournament participants. 

The Battle of the Boulevard returns after a one-year hiatus and will take place on Dec. 2 at the Curb Event Center, Belmont having won 11 consecutive games against the Bisons. The Bruins’ will face one of the most difficult opponents of the season, playing at reigning Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champion Louisville on Dec. 5. 

The Bruins will host a Power Five opponent for the first time since Dec. 12, 2013, as they take on the SEC’s Auburn on Dec. 15, making it the third SEC team Belmont will face. The game with the Tigers will be the first of Belmont’s lone three-game homestand of the year, which will be followed by a matchup with Middle Tennessee on Dec. 19 and WKU (Dec. 22) to wrap up non-conference play.

Belmont will defend its 2021 conference championship starting with road trips to SIUE (Dec. 30) and Eastern Illinois (Jan. 1) with Belmont’s OVC home opener set for Thursday, Jan. 6 against Southeast Missouri. Defending OVC regular season champion UT Martin will visit the Curb on Saturday, Jan. 29 after the Bruins visit Martin, Tennessee on Saturday, Jan. 8.

The Lady Bruins will return with nine letter winners and its entire starting lineup from 2020-21, including All-OVC First Team performers senior Conley Chinn and 2021 OVC Freshman of the Year Destinee Wells. Brooks, the third-fastest head coach to earn 100 career victories in NCAA Division I women’s basketball and 2020-21 Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) Coach of the Year, will enter his fifth season leading Belmont.