The seniors are the first thing that comes to mind for Bellarmine sophomore Adam Eberhard when he talks about Thursday night’s regular-season finale at home against Southern Indiana.
Sure, it is easy for outsiders to look at other factors. Bellarmine, ranked third in the NBCA top 25, is taking on No. 10 Southern Indiana. Top 10 matchups are always fascinating.
Both teams are playing well. Bellarmine has won its last 11 games and Southern Indiana is on a six-game winning streak.
But there is much more to this game than national ranking. Bellarmine, 24-3 overall, is 16-1 and in first place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division. Southern Indiana, 25-2, is 15-2 in the East and looking to forge a first-place tie in the regular season.
One final factor that will add electricity at Knights Hall in Louisville, Ky., is the game, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET Thursday, will be televised on American Sports Network. The women’s game will be televised at 6 p.m.
“We think the GLVC is the best conference in the country,” said Bellarmine men’s basketball coach Scott Davenport. “I think it is a way to expose that. Secondly, it is tremendous exposure for Bellarmine University, not just the basketball program.”
Eberhard figures Knights Hall will be sold out. The Knights get a great following throughout the season.
“The Bellarmine community and the Louisville community is unbelievable,” Eberhard said. “I am biased. Everybody loves these seniors and this team. If it is not sold out, I would be surprised.”
Eberhard wants to send the seniors out on a winning note in their final regular-season home game. Al Davis, George Knott and Rusty Troutman and team manager, Austin Galloway will be honored before tipoff.
“They are great guys and great teammates,” Eberhard said. “They are guys everybody looks up to. It is a game we obviously want to win for certain implications but at the same time, we want to make it a great game for their last home game.
“They have meant everything. It is not so much an X and O thing; it is more a role model thing. We see them working hard every day and that means we have to work hard, if not harder. They set the tone for everybody. They are people I have looked up to since I have been here, showing me the way.”
Eberhard has also done his part to show how to play the game the right way. Eberhard, a 6-foot-8 forward, leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 7.1 points per game and has the most assists on the team.
“He is a true student of the game,” Davenport said. “He is a young man who really studies the game of basketball. He loves learning about the game. He takes great pride in preparation, attention to detail and obviously physically talented. He loves the nuances of the game.”
Eberhard said he simply does whatever is necessary to win the game. The only statistic that has meaning for him is wins.
“Nights I am not shooting well, we have great shooters, I can get the ball to them and do other things to help us win,” Eberhard said.
The game against Southern Indiana figures to come down to a few key possessions in the closing minutes.
The odds are pretty high that the two teams will meet at least one more time, if not twice. The GLVC Tournament is March 2-5. And both teams are locks for the Midwest Regional. Bellarmine is currently ranked first in the Midwest and Southern Indiana is second.
“The best way to prepare for postseason is to play tremendous competition,” Davenport said. “We are playing, no doubt, one of the best teams in the country. They have been all year. The only downside to it is we could play them again next week and the week after that.”
Davenport said the Knights won’t do anything different Thursday, next week or the week after that.
“Our mentality never changes,” he said. “It is to play possession by possession. Stay in the moment and just play and all the other things take care of themselves.”
Players like Eberhard love this time of the season when the games mean so much.
“It is just another level,” Eberhard said. “It is what we look forward to every year and what we prepare for. It is something we have prepared for, pretty much the whole year.”
Tarleton State plays at West Texas A&M in key South Central region game
By the time the South Central Regional rolls around in mid-March, Tarleton State men’s basketball team will be battled tested, particularly from its final two regular-season games. Both opponents have won over 20 games this season.
The Texans head into Thursday’s game at Texas-Permian Basin coming off a one-point loss at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Tarleton, 22-4 is ranked No. 1 in the South Central Region. Texas-Permian Basin is ranked third.
The Texans conclude the regular-season on Saturday at West Texas A&M, which is ranked fourth in the South Central Region. The game will be televised on ASN at 5 p.m. ET Saturday. The women’s game will be televised at 3 p.m.
Tarleton beat West Texas A&M 91-73 on Jan. 19 at Tarleton.
The games this week will determine the Lone Star Conference regular-season title. Tarleton is in first with a 13-3 record. Texas-Permian Basin is second at 12-4.