In the middle of Nashville's Centennial Park, a green space among the growing expanse of asphalt, unending traffic, and chain stores that is the West End, stands a slice of antiquity in a modern world.
Game #9-153: Lipscomb at Belmont BruinsDecember 4, 2012 7:00 pm
Curb Events Center
It is a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, the crown jewel of the Acropolis and the pride of the Athens city-state.
Sure, it's not without its modern touches. The Greeks had no security cameras. They didn't worry about pigeons ruining the place, so no fine mesh netting in front of the frieze. And, I doubt the Athenians worried about skateboarders defiling the shrine to their goddess.
It remains a symbol of one of Nashville's many nicknames: The Athens of the South. When their version of the Parthenon was built, Nashville's people, like most in late 19th century America, revered Greek culture. Nashville's people honored and tried to exemplify Greek virtues like civility and the quest for knowledge.
Several colleges bloomed in Nashville near the turn of the century. In 1890, a small women's college opened in the stately Belmont Mansion. One year later and two miles away, the Nashville Bible College was established on land owned by its founder, David Lipscomb.
Modernity caught up with these two schools as well, as they went through periods of growth and name changes. Nashville Bible took on the name of their founder, becoming David Lipscomb College, then David Lipscomb University, then just Lipscomb University. What was known as Ward-Belmont School for Women became Belmont University when they allowed men to enroll in 1951.
In 1953, the two schools started playing basketball games against each other, and one of the best rivalries in college sports was born. Separated by a two-mile stretch of Belmont Boulevard, the schools are closer together than Cincinnati and Xavier or Duke and North Carolina. Even better, they're both on the right side of the red line.
Like the schools involved, the rivalry itself has gone through its changes as college basketball modernizes. The rivalry grew so large the schools' gyms couldn't hold it. In 1990, the game was played at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym in front of 16,000-plus, still an NAIA record for attendance. In the early 1990s the schools jumped from the NAIA to the NCAA.
The schools then joined the Atlantic Sun conference, meaning they would play at least twice a season, possibly more if they met in the postseason tournament. It happened in 2006, when Belmont earned its first NCAA Tournament berth by denying Lipscomb their first in a 74-69 overtime win in the Atlantic Sun Championship.
Modernity soon caught up with this rivalry as well. Belmont decided to move to the Ohio Valley, leaving the Atlantic Sun and Lipscomb behind. But unlike some bigger schools who allowed rivalries to die or at least be temporarily postponed after conference realignment, Belmont and Lipscomb still scheduled two games together for this season.
It was the second game of the year's series, and the 132nd overall, that I found myself at on an unseasonably warm Nashville night. The crowd wasn't quite at the 16,000 they've seen before, closer to 3,000, a little more than half-full for the Curb Event Center on Belmont's campus. I can't imagine better things to do on a Tuesday night in Nashville, but that's just me. But hey, Belmont was there, Lipscomb was there, Vince Gill was there. It's good enough for me.
At first, the game lived up to the Battle moniker. Lipscomb jumped out to an early lead thanks to defensive pressure and hot shooting. But Belmont quickly closed the gap by turning to the three pointer. Five of Belmont's first six field goals were superhoops, and the Bisons lead evaporated as quickly as it formed. Belmont made 10-of-23 three-pointers in the first half, as a late barrage of deep shots pushed the Belmont lead to 10 at the half.
After an appearance by TMM-favorite ZOOperstars, Belmont continued to build their lead by nailing another five treys and forcing 12 Lipscomb turnovers. The game quickly got out of hand, and all that was left to do was see if Belmont could push into triple-digits, which they did with a Spencer Turner free throw with 1:02 left. This battle ended with a convincing 100-66 Belmont win.
The Greek word adelphos, like most other Greek words, can be translated in many ways. Its strictest definition means brother. It's why Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love. But it can go beyond the actual familial brotherly connection. It can also mean those who have come from similar backgrounds and have undergone similar experiences.
A relationship like this is hard to break, one that can overcome constant fights and even beatdowns. It can survive changes in name, division, and even conference. Two schools in the Athens of the South have this relationship, and they continue to stay together as adelphos, hopefully continuing to play each other every season, even if means keeping a solid sibling rivalry between them. at BELMONT 100, LIPSCOMB 66
LIPSCOMB 3-4 (0-0) -- M. Smith 5-10 1-2 13; K. Sankey 6-8 2-6 15; D. Alexander 2-6 0-0 5; M. Smith 2-8 4-7 8; C. Sanderson 2-4 1-2 6; S. Hurt 4-6 3-6 11; J. Glover 0-5 2-2 2; O. Garcia 0-1 1-2 1; C. Johnson 1-6 0-0 2; T. Denny 0-1 3-5 3; J. Butler 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Ellis 0-1 0-0 0; D. Green 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-56 17-32 66.
BELMONT 6-2 (0-0) -- I. Clark 9-14 5-5 30; J. Mann 2-8 0-0 5; B. Jenkins 2-6 3-10 7; K. Johnson 3-6 10-11 17; T. Noack 3-7 0-2 8; R. Chamberlain 4-5 0-0 11; B. Baker 2-2 0-0 4; C. Bradshaw 0-0 1-2 1; J. Laidig 1-1 0-0 2; C. Lang 1-4 1-4 3; A. Barnes 2-3 3-4 7; H. Mobley 1-2 0-0 3; S. Turner 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 30-62 25-40 100.
Three-point goals: LIP 5-16 (C. Sanderson 1-2; D. Alexander 1-3; C. Johnson 0-2; M. Smith 2-5; Z. Ellis 0-1; K. Sankey 1-2; J. Glover 0-1), BELM 15-35 (I. Clark 7-11; B. Jenkins 0-4; K. Johnson 1-3; T. Noack 2-3; R. Chamberlain 3-4; J. Mann 1-5; H. Mobley 1-1; S. Turner 0-4); Rebounds: LIP 31 (M. Smith 5), BELM 44 (J. Mann 9); Assists: LIP 9 (D. Alexander 3), BELM 18 (R. Chamberlain 5); Total Fouls -- LIP 29, BELM 24; Fouled Out: LIP-None; BELM-None.