Alex Renfroe never earned the national recognition of mid-major stalwarts Kyle Korver, Gordon Hayward, or Eric Maynor. But he was damn-near close.
Renfroe was the guy who helped put Belmont basketball on the map. He was the player who made former Duke point guard Greg Paulus look like he was playing in mud. Renfroe's furious bursts toward the hoop nearly toppled 2-seed Duke in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
The next year, Renfroe put together a record-breaking season and earned several All-American distinctions. His combination of length, speed, and hops made him a triple-double threat every time he hit the floor. But Belmont couldn't repeat the previous seasons' magic -- and East Tennessee State and Jacksonville were really good.
Since then, Renfroe has been making Latvians, Croatians, and now Italians all look silly.
But Renfroe's basketball journey didn't begin within the confines of Belmont's Curb Event Center. It started four miles away at Trevecca Nazarene University where Renfroe earned first team All-NAIA honors for two years before transferring to Belmont.
The TNU Trojans traveled to Belmont for the first time since Renfroe's transfer on Monday night.
And early on, Trevecca -- appropriately dressed in all-black (#BlackLineUpset) -- showed off several of those attributes that made Renfroe successful.
Marquise Robinson displayed end-to-end speed early on, slipping through the Bruins' press for a three-point play. The score was the culmination of a 15-8 lead for the Trojans, who weren't intimidated by the large student crowd that showed up for Belmont's home opener.
(Students at Belmont are required to complete 60 hours of "convocation" prior to graduation. This usually involves academic lectures, community service projects, etc. On Monday, it included the Belmont-TNU game, which might explain the larger-than-normal crowd.) Belmont eventually settled into their game, tightened things up on the offensive end and took a 40-30 lead going into halftime.
After a "Look! It's Vince Gill! He comes to our basketball games!" moment during the break, Belmont opened things up in the second half.
Belmont point guard Kerron Johnson channeled his inner Renfroe, forcing steals, slashing to the basket, and eventually helping extend Belmont's lead to 28.
And while the outcome was imminent, TNU continued to play hard.
Bruins crowd-favorite center Chad Lang dumped in eight points, all on half-hooks, in the final four minutes of the game.
The final: 86-61 Belmont.
The game was a learning moment for Belmont - providing some solid lessons in the confines of a comfy win. But Trevecca also showed they could hang with the big boys - a boost that should help them throughout the rest of their season.
And somewhere in Italy, Alex Renfroe was probably smiling -- or dunking on somebody.
at BELMONT 86, TREVECCA NAZARENE 61 11/28/2011
BELMONT 3-2 (0-0) -- K. Johnson 6-7 3-3 16; D. Hanlen 2-6 0-0 6; I. Clark 4-8 0-0 11; J. Mann 3-10 0-0 7; M. Hedgepeth 7-9 1-2 15; S. Saunders 3-5 3-3 9; T. Noack 1-1 0-0 3; A. Barnes 1-2 2-2 4; B. Jenkins 2-3 1-4 5; B. Baker 0-1 0-0 0; S. Turner 0-2 0-0 0; R. Chamberlain 0-0 0-0 0; C. Lang 4-4 0-1 8; H. Mobley 0-0 2-2 2; S. Cavera 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-58 12-17 86.
Three-point goals: - , BELM 8-27 (B. Baker 0-1; D. Hanlen 2-6; I. Clark 3-7; K. Johnson 1-2; T. Noack 1-1; J. Mann 1-8; S. Turner 0-2); Rebounds: , BELM 36 (M. Hedgepeth 9); Assists: , BELM 18 (D. Hanlen 6); Total Fouls -- , BELM 13; Fouled Out: -; BELM-None.