College Corner: Rick Byrd, Vanderbilt Basketball Olympics, MTSU Basketball Schedule

Rick Byrd To Be Inducted Into Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame

Rick Byrd. Photo: By Bronte Lebo/Courtesy of the Belmont Vision

Former Belmont Coach Rick Byrd will be inducted into the Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame later this year. This is Byrd’s latest addition to his impressive list of inductions, including the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, NAIA Hall of Fame, and the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. He will also be formally enshrined into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this November in Kansas City.

Byrd retired from Belmont in 2019 after 25 years of coaching, taking Belmont from NAIA to NCAA Division I and winning 805 career games, ranking him 12th all-time among NCAA DI coaches. He led the Bruins to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and won 17 conference championships. Two players from his program, Ian Clark and Dylan Windler, also went on to reach the NBA.

Byrd will inducted into the Class of 2021 alongside current Miami Marlin pitcher Richard Bleier from Florida Gulf Coast University, former basketball player Ben Smith from Jacksonville State, volleyball star Stefine Pease from Lipscomb, and two-time National League Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom from Stetson University.



Former Vanderbilt Basketball Stars Darius Garland, John Jenkins Invited To USA Olympic Team

Darius Garland. Photo: Courtesy fo Vanderbilt Athletics

Former Vanderbilt basketball stars Darius Garland and John Jenkins have been invited to join the USA Men’s Basketball team for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra will serve as head coach of the USA Select Team.

Jenkins, who twice led the SEC in scoring and set an SEC record with 134 made threes as a junior, was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in 2013. A member of Bilbao Basket in Italy, Jenkins played for Team USA during the November 2019 World Cup Qualifying window and the November 2020 AmeriCup Qualifying window, helping Team USA to a combined 4-0 record.

A native of Nashville and the fifth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Garland recently completed his second season with the team. In 54 games last season, he averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 45% from the field and 40% from 3-point range.

“This USA Select Team continues the legacy established by previous Select teams of helping prepare our USA National Team for the Tokyo Olympic Games,” says Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director. “With all the uncertainty of how many of our Olympic Team members will be available for the USA training camp because of the overlap with the NBA Finals, we chose a USA Select Team consisting of many of the top young NBA players and four players who not only own international experience, but who played recently for USA Basketball in important national team qualifying competitions. If we need to add players to fill out our roster for any of our exhibition games, we feel this USA Select Team has an excellent variety of skilled players to choose from.”

Additional members of Team USA include Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Jayson Tatum and James Harden among several other NBA All-Stars.



MTSU Men’s Basketball Team Announces 2021-22 Conference Schedule 

Photo: by Carina Eudy/Courtesy of Belmont Vision

The MTSU men’s basketball team has released its schedule for the 2021-22 season with the new and updated Conference-USA formatting.

The difference from past C-USA schedules prior to the 2020-21 season (which was changed drastically due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols) is the divide into East and West divisions. This new format will see each team play their divisional opponents at home and away while facing only six of their seven cross-divisional foes, three at home and three on the road.

MTSU opens the conference slate on Dec. 30 when it hosts UTSA in Murphy Center before welcoming UTEP to town on New Year’s Day. The 2021-22 Conference USA Championships will be played on March 9-12 and will return for the fifth consecutive year to the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Here is the full conference schedule for the Blue Raiders:

TSU’s Roar City Meet & Greet To Feature Eddie George, Brian Collins, More

Tennessee State University fans will get a chance to meet and hear from TSU’s football, basketball, and track coaches from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29, as the Tigers Alumni Association host Roar City.

First year head football coach and Tennessee Titans legend Eddie George will be at the Meet & Greet event as well as men’s basketball head coach Brian “Penny” Collins. They will be joined by women’s basketball coach Ty Evans, track & field coach Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, and TSU Athletic Director Dr. Mikki Allen. The night will be hosted by the “Voice of the Titans” and 2021 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame inductee Mike Keith.

There are three tiers of tickets available for fans. All purchases will act as donations to the Nashville Chapter of the TSU Alumni Association. The Bronze donation is worth $19.12, Silver is worth $191.20, and Gold is worth $1,912.

The Tigers will kick off their football season on Sept. 5 at Grambling State and host their first home game of the year at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 18 against Kentucky State.

TSU Athletics Legend Teresa Phillips To Be Inducted In OVC Hall Of Fame

Teresa Phillips

Former Tennessee State University women’s basketball coach and athletic director Teresa Phillips will be inducted into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame. Phillips was the first African-American female student-athlete at Vanderbilt and went on to win the Lady Commodore Athlete of the Year. She graduated from Vanderbilt in 1980.

As head coach of Lady Tigers basketball program from 1989-2000, Phillips guided the team to back-to-back OVC regular season and tournament championships in 1993-94 and 1994-95. During this time, she was also named OVC Coach of the Year twice. The 1993-94 squad won the OVC regular season and tournament crown and made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Overall she won 144 career games as head coach.

Phillips transitioned into the role of Associate Athletics Director in the 1999-00 season before being hired as the full-time Director of Athletics in April 2002. During her tenure, Tennessee State won 12 OVC Championships–five indoor track and field championships, three outdoor track and field championships, two volleyball titles and one women’s basketball championship.

She also had the distinction of being the first woman ever to coach an NCAA Division I men’s basketball team en route to being named one of the 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports by Sports Illustrated in 2003. During the 2014 Women’s Final Four, she was named as a one of 10 Legends in Women’s Basketball in Tennessee. Philips was recognized as the Second Most Influential Woman in Sports in Tennessee by The Tennessean newspaper.

Phillips announced her retirement in October of 2019 and stepped away from her duties in June of 2020.

Jessica Holman Hired As Belmont Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach

Nashville native and Vanderbilt alumni Jessica Holman has joined the Belmont women’s basketball team as an assistant coach.

Holman grew up on Compton Ave. directly across from Belmont’s campus and attended Hillsboro High School where she was a finalist for Tennessee Miss Basketball.

“I’m excited to welcome Jessica Holman to our coaching staff,” says head coach Bart Brooks. “Growing up across the street from Belmont and competing collegiately in the SEC, she’s been deeply rooted in the Nashville community her entire life.  Jessica embodies everything that’s important to our program at Belmont; she’s an incredibly smart and talented person with the humility of a servant leader. Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from Jessica’s guidance in basketball and beyond, and I can’t wait for our alumni and fan base to meet her!”

Holman was a four-year letterwinner at Vanderbilt University where she received a bachelors degree in Human & Organizational Development and her master’s degree in education with a concentration in Community Development & Action. Holman won 102 games at Vanderbilt and was part of four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams, including Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2008 and 2009. She was also a candidate for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the attributes of NCAA Division I senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

Holman joins the Belmont women’s basketball program after spending the previous nine-plus years as Senior Director of Employee and Community Relations for Harvest Hands CDC, a Christ-centered non-profit dedicated to educational opportunities, healthy living, spiritual formation and economic development in South Nashville.

Belmont To Play In ESPN Thanksgiving Invitational Tournament

The Belmont Bruins will participate in the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, Florida the week of Thanksgiving.

The event will take place November 25-28 from HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida with all games broadcasted on the ESPN family of networks. Joining Belmont in this year’s eight-team field will be Alabama, Dayton, Drake, Iona, Kansas, Miami (FL), and North Texas.

“We’re tremendously excited to be in the ESPN Events Invitational,” says Belmont head coach Casey Alexander. “It is an honor to participate in such a prestigious event that will provide our program with national exposure. As is the case with ESPN Events, this is an impressive field comprised of programs that are proven winners. We look forward to having Belmont fans join us in Orlando during Thanksgiving week.”

This past season, Belmont went 26-4, which included 21 consecutive victories, 30 consecutive conference victories (over two seasons, including tournament), national Top 25 poll votes eight consecutive weeks and the program’s 12th regular season conference championship in 16 years.

Belmont Men’s Basketball Coach Casey Alexander Named Coach Of The Year

Casey Alexander. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont men’s basketball coach Casey Alexander has been named Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA.)

Alexander led the Bruins to one of the best regular seasons ever winning 30 consecutive Ohio Valley Conference victories and ending the season with a record of 26-4. The Bruins also had the most wins in the country tied with eventual NCAA Tournament finalist Gonzaga.

An alumni of Belmont, Alexander become head coach in 2018 replacing legendary head coach Rick Byrd who won over 800 games in 30 years with the Bruins. Since then, Alexander led Belmont to a 52-11 record, consecutive Ohio Valley Conference regular season championships, and the 2020 OVC Tournament title

Alexander was also a candidate for the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year and finalist for the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award, the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award, and the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award.

Alexander’s award comes just a day after women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks was awarded women’s Coach of the Year by the TSWA.

Belmont Women’s Basketball Coach Bart Brooks Named Coach Of The Year

Belmont women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks. Photo: Courtesy of the Belmont Vision/Bronte Lebo.

Belmont women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks has been named 2020-21 Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA.)

Brooks led the Bruins to their third Ohio Valley Conference Championship in four years as well as the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win, beating No. 5 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs 64-59. They are the first OVC team to win a NCAA Tournament game since 1990.

The Bruins’ record of 21-6 was the sixth consecutive season where they won 20 or more games. Brooks picked up his 100th win in the NCAA Tournament and he ranks 10th nationally in win percentage (.794) among active head coaches.

Brooks, a Wyoming native, joined the program in 2017 from DePaul as an assistant coach. He has become the third-fastest head coach to 100 career victories in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.

Former Tennessee Volunteer Ron Slay Joins 104.5 The Zone

Ron Slay. Photo: Courtesy of 104.5 The Zone

Former University of Tennessee basketball star Jon Slay has officially joined 104.5 The Zone’s afternoon show 3HL with Dawn Davenport and Brent Dougherty.

Slay, a Nashville native, played high school basketball at Pearl-Cohn High School followed by prep school Oak Hill Academy. He went on to play basketball at Tennessee and as a senior, was named the Associated Press SEC player of the year and a third-team All American. Slay was also named to the All-NBA D-League Second Team. After college he played professionally in Europe and around the globe for more than a decade. He is considered one of the most entertaining basketball players that the Vols have ever had.

“Our listeners have made it clear that they want us to hire Ron Slay, says Paul Mason, Program Director at 104.5 The Zone. “I am happy to say we listened and we are thrilled Ron Slay will be joining Brent Dougherty and Dawn Davenport on 3HL. 3HL is already a great show, and I look forward to seeing it go to even higher levels.”

“I am both delighted and eager to join the 104.5 The Zone and 3HL families,” says Slay. “I hope to bring joy, energy, and insight to Nashville sports enthusiasts each day. LOCK THE DOOR…LET’S GO!”

3HL is live from every week from Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 104.5 The Zone FM and on 104.5 The Zone’s website.