A New Way To Play: Breaking Down Bellarmine’s Success

Bellarmine is unique. Their brand of basketball is unlike any other that the college basketball world has ever seen. They have gone viral on the internet since their 67-66 win at Louisville because they seemingly don’t dribble. That sounds crazy. In the age of ball screens and isolations, Bellarmine has managed to run an offense successfully that is based on one core principle: pass the damn ball!

Bellarmine transitioned from Division 2 to the ASUN before the 2020-2021 season. The Knights finished 14-8 in a COVID shortened year—this finish was wildly above expectations. After all, this was Bellarmine’s first year playing Division 1 basketball with an offense that looked straight out of the 1920’s.

The Knight’s second year in the ASUN was even better. They finished 20-13, placed third in the conference, and won the conference tournament. Since new Division 1 programs are not allowed in the NCAA Tournament for four years after their transition, Bellarmine did not qualify for the Big Dance.

Despite their postseason ban, Bellarmine has still managed to bring in good players. How most people define “good players” is different than how Bellarmine defines good players—most teams will judge based on pure athletic ability and scoring, but Bellarmine judges players on how well they fit into their offense. And that’s the magic of Bellarmine basketball.

The Knights won’t be eligible for March Madness until the 2024-2025 season. Until then, we can speculate on how they will perform in the Big Dance. It will be a lot easier to evaluate them after they play a great opponent. Fortunately for us, they will face off against Clemson, Duke, UCLA, and Kentucky this year. In fact, they face all four in the month of November. It’s going to be a fun stretch—and season–for Bellarmine basketball.

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