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2020-21 Bellarmine men's basketball preview

Bellarmine Knights

2019-20 record: 20-8, 13-7 in Great Lakes Valley Conference (Division II)

Head coach: Scott Davenport

Tenure at Bellarmine: 16th season 

Career coaching record: 364-109

Home court: Freedom Hall

Starters: G CJ Fleming, G Pedro Bradshaw, G Dylan Penn,  F Ethan Claycomb, F Nick Thelen

Bench: G Juston Betz, G Alec Pfriem, G Garrett Tipton, G Bash Wieland, C Baylor Younker

Overview: Head coach Scott Davenport has built this Bellarmine men’s basketball program from the ground floor. For the past 15 years, Davenport has manned the ship and the result has been 12 consecutive appearances in the Division II NCAA tournament. Thanks to not just the success of the men’s basketball program, but the athletic department as a whole, the Knights moved up to Division I this past June and will enter this season as a member of the Atlantic Sun conference.

Bellarmine plays an unorthodox style of basketball, even for today’s standards. The Knights carry 10 guards on their roster and only one center, a sign that Davenport intends to continue with the extreme small-ball lineups that gave them so much success in Division II. Despite the Knights small lineup, they do not shoot many threes at all. Their success comes from their 52.5 percent field goal percentage, and they are not afraid to push the ball for the entire game. 

Outside of their 4.1 turnover margin, they do not do anything exceedingly better than anyone else.  They are not rebounding machines by any means without having a big man on the floor and their steals per game are not particularly impressive, but they shoot at such a high level that they are difficult to beat. Duke is by far the toughest opponent on Bellarmine’s schedule and this season will be an indicator of if Davenport’s gameplan scales to Division I basketball.

Team ceiling: It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Knights sneak into the NCAA tournament in their first year as a Division I team. They play a unique brand of basketball and the ASUN conference is not exactly a powerhouse in basketball. If they keep shooting at the clip they historically have, a tournament bid is in their future. 

Team floor: There’s a lot of pressure on Bellarmine to have some success because if it doesn't, there will quickly be doubts on whether or not the Knights should have jumped to Division I. At worst, this season results in frustration throughout the program as they finish in the basement of the conference. 

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