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Bruins Earn Significant Respect in NCAA Tournament

jhareduke.jpgMedia, Duke Team Praise Belmont Performance
Though the Belmont Bruins men’s basketball team endured a heart-breaking loss to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament last Thursday evening, the team earned new fans around the country with its impressive performance and competitive spirit. In addition to the responses shown below, Belmont University represented eight of the top 100 most frequent searches on Google last Thursday, including holding three of the top 10 spots.
Belmont-Duke Postgame Quotes:
“We played against a team that played an amazing game. They’re a very good team. We were ready to play. You won’t hear any of our players say that we overlooked them. There’s no way. Watching them on tape, they looked really good. Watching them in person, they’re even better. They played with a great verve, and they’re just real difficult to defend. And I thought they played really good defense against us. I’ve coached in 89 of these games ByrdCoachK2.jpgnow, I told the guys as far as game pressure goes, this had to rank in the top three or four, and hopefully, the people at Belmont take that as a real compliment because they should be complimented.”
Mike Krzyzewski
Duke University Basketball Head Coach
Basketball Hall of Famer
“When you’ve got shooters like that one through five, it spreads the floor, it opens it up, and they’ve got some guys who can put the ball on the floor. They did a great job of keep playing, keep fighting. We tried to extend the lead a couple of times, but they deserve a lot of credit for either making a play either with a three or getting to the foul line. They’re a great team.”
Greg Paulus
Duke Point Guard
“Belmont’s a heck of a team. They run their offense really well. They’re real precise and sharp with their stuff, and they play hard. They took us to the last seconds; I commend them for the game they played.”
Gerald Henderson
Duke Small Forward
tothenet.jpg“I think Belmont would have given most anybody in the country trouble the way they played tonight. Moving without the basketball and playing together; Belmont played the game of basketball very, very well tonight.”
Bob Knight
Winningest College Basketball Coach in NCAA History
ESPN College Basketball Analyst
Basketball Hall of Famer
“For those in the know, those in the coaching community, this is no surprise. Rick Byrd is an outstanding coach; just go look at the track record. They’ve beaten some name programs in the past, and he puts his players in positions to succeed. Ask anybody in college basketball about Rick Byrd, and they’ll tell you, he’s a known commodity.”
Steve Lavin
Former UCLA Head Coach
ESPN College Basketball Analyst
“Mr. Hare and company should be commended, and Mr. Renfroe for attacking the basket; they were sensational.”
Dick Vitale
ESPN College Basketball Analyst
BUgill.jpg“It tells you everything you need to know about this NCAA first-rounder that after the game, Belmont wasn’t sad or depressed about missing the upset. The Bruins were flat-out angry that they let one slip away. And they should be. Belmont was the tougher team. Belmont took it to Duke, sometimes right down the gut or on slippery backdoors. The Bruins schooled and exposed the Blue Devils’ defense, and they put a searchlight on all the warts and worries that have dogged Duke all season. Put simply, the Devils and all their ACC heft and national titles and mystique and aura and NCAA tradition couldn’t guard the Bruins. ”
Dana O’Neil
ESPN.com
“Make no mistake: Belmont coach Rick Byrd had a winning game plan, and his players executed it almost perfectly. The Bruins had no fear of the so-called Duke mystique, and they were able to penetrate as well as shoot the three.”
Grant Wahl
SI.com
“A Belmont victory would have done far more than mess up a bunch of peoples’ brackets; it would have been immeasurably gratifying to the numerous Duke ‘haters’ of the world. While the game won’t be remembered in tourney annals the way it might have had the Bruins prevailed, but Belmont’s players will remember it the rest of their lives.”
Stewart Mandel
SI.com
“Duke got lucky. The Blue Devils didn’t beat unheralded Belmont on Thursday as much as they survived it. They were outgunned. They were outhustled. And they were outplayed. But this night did not belong to Duke or (Gerald) Henderson. It belonged to Belmont, the 15th seed in the West Region and a nobody that came within seconds of pulling one of the biggest tournament upsets in years.”
Clark Judge
CBSSports.com
offenseduke.jpg“Thank god for Belmont, the little school that almost could, the kind that puts the mad in the first round of March Madness. Belmont darned near gave us the whole package — monster upset, Cinderella, etc. — and if the Bruins fell one point short of sending the exalted Dookies home, there’s no shame in that, nor does it diminish the thrill they gave us. They’re tough and unflappable and have higher grade-point averages than just about everybody. And they give the big guys fits.”
Mike Celizic
Msnbc.com
“There it was, plain as could be on the overhead scoreboard, orange numbering on a black background: As the closing seconds ticked away Thursday night, Belmont was beating Duke. Throughout Thursday, the teams’ body language was telling at timeouts. Belmont’s players skipped to the sideline and were met with high-fives, pats on the back and yells of encouragement. Duke’s players (in the lead but hardly thrilled) trudged over slowly, some looking at the floor.”
Howard Fendrich
Associated Press
“They were smarter, they were better coached and they were more poised. They acted as if they had been here before, and they had. But it wasn’t his speed that almost beat the Blue Devils. It was backdoor cuts; Belmont beat them with backdoor cuts on consecutive plays in the first half. The play is as old as dust, as old as Neil Diamond. Belmont ran plays that Princeton long ago made famous. If Duke is the Harvard of North Carolina., Belmont is the Princeton of Tennessee.”
Tom Sorensen
Charlotte Observer
“Suddenly, I became the world’s biggest Belmont fan.”
Dom Amore
Hartford Courant
“No. 15 seed Belmont came tantalizingly close to stunning second-seeded Duke in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament Thursday night in a game that will most likely leave two distinct legacies.”
Pete Thamel
New York Times


bruiser.jpg“With less than six minutes left last night, a good portion of press row began Googling the words ‘Belmont University.’ They weren’t trying to make sure a player’s name was spelled right or find a three-point statistic; they wanted to know where this team rattling Mike Krzyzewski’s cage was from.”
Mike Wise
Washington Post
“Was Rick Byrd channeling his inner Coach Norman Dale? Was that Jimmy Chitwood or Andy Wicke nailing that clutch jumper from the corner. And when it got down to crunch time, would Belmont run the picket fence. The Bruins had more than a chance. They had the Blue Devils on the ropes. After that performance, Belmont — a No. 15 seed that didn’t act like a No. 15 seed — should be proud.”
David Climer
The Tennessean
“Forget Christian Laettner, Tate George and Bryce Drew. If Justin Hare’s running one-hander from just inside midcourt fell through the net Thursday night at the Verizon Center, it would have relegated all the great last-second baskets in NCAA Tournament history to second best. Not only was it launched from farther away, but it would have lifted a 15th seed to an implausible victory over a second seed and perennial championship contender. Belmont dazed Duke with backdoor cuts and when the favorites stepped back to defend, the Bruins popped in threes.”
Joe Gergen
Newsday
byrddukegame.jpg“Belmont tortured Duke all game with multiple substitutions, 3-pointers and back-door cuts and created opportunities for Renfroe, who scored 15 points and was too much for DeMarcus Nelson, Duke’s defensive stopper, to handle.”
Dick Weiss
New York Daily News
“It was hard to figure out what was more shocking on Thursday night at the Verizon Center: That No. 15-seed Belmont took No. 2-seed Duke down to the wire or that Duke pulled out the 71-70 first-round NCAA Tournament victory. The Bruins pushed the Devils away from the basket, daring them to drive and still getting a hand up on shots.”
Luciana Chavez
Raleigh News & Observer
“Three-times national champion Duke survived a heroic performance by unheralded Belmont to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.”
Reuters, Global Wire Service
bandatgame.jpg“So much for an uneventful first day of the NCAA tournament. No. 15 seed Belmont was out-Dukeing the No. 2 Blue Devils – spreading the floor, driving to the basket, passing the ball to the wings for open 3-pointers. The longer it went on, the more surreal it seemed.”
Ed Miller
The Virginian-Pilot
“In fact, during its final minutes, USC-Kansas State became the game in the way for local viewers wanting to see whether tiny Belmont was actually going to score one of the greatest upsets in the history of the NCAA tournament.”
Christine Daniels
Los Angeles Times
“Those who were aware of the Bruins basically considered them a 3-point shooting gimmick that might put up a fight for a half and fade when the long ball deserted them. Wrong on both counts.”
Rob Daniels
Greensboro News & Record
“What an eye-opener to see little Belmont — which, incidentally, is located in Nashville — hang with mighty Duke, one of the Lords of the ACC. The Bruins did it by, amazingly, by having more depth than the Blue Devils. Byrd gave 10 players meaningful minutes.”
Dan Daly
Washington Times
kidatdukegm.jpg“There was a time, not too long ago, when a team like Belmont would take the court in the NCAA Tournament against mighty Duke, absorb the predictable 40-point drubbing, then stick around after the buzzer for photos and autographs with the victors. Those days are long gone.”
Steve Politi
Newark Star-Ledger
“What had been a mostly uneventful opening day of the NCAA tournament, free of much drama or surprise, was ready to become unglued last night at Verizon Center as Belmont’s Justin Hare launched a shot from about 35 feet away with time running out.”
Bob Cohn
Washington Times