When the Belmont Bruins lost longtime head coach Rick Byrd, they could have gone outside of the program to fill in the spot. Instead, the Bruins replaced the coaching legend with a familiar face on Wednesday. Former player and assistant coach Casey Alexander is the new coach to continue Belmont’s run toward an elite status in college basketball.
Alexander has become the 10th coach in program history. Byrd remained on the sidelines for 33 years, so this was one of the best decisions a mid-major program can make. More importantly, Alexander proved he has been able to build a program on his own merit in recent years.
“Casey embodies everything we are looking for in our next head coach,” Belmont AD Scott Corley.
Over the last six years, Alexander has been the Lipscomb Bisons head coach in the Atlantic Sun. He led the Bisons to three straight 20 win seasons, including their only NCAA Tournament berth in 2018. However, it wasn’t an easy ride for Alexander early-on.
He earned his first head coaching gig with the Stetson Hatters in 2011. The Hatters haven’t had a winning season since joining the A-Sun in 2001. However, Alexander transformed a (9-20) record in his first season to a (15-16) record in year two. He was so successful in almost turning the program around, Alexander took the Lipscomb job in 2013. Yet, it was another rough beginning for the rising star in college basketball.
When Alexander joined the Bisons, they only amassed one 20-win season since joining Division 1 in 2003. Although the Bisons had six winning seasons under Scott Sanderson, the basketball programmed dipped below .500 before Alexander arrived. Yet, it still took Alexander three seasons before earning a winning record with the Bisons.
Once he did, the program really took off in the last three seasons. He finished with a (113-84) record. The Bisons were (72-31) over the last three years. The record includes the aforementioned NCAA Tournament berth in 2018, as well as the NIT run into the championship game this season. He lost the game to the Texas Longhorns in what turned out to be the last contest with the Bisons.
Now, Alexander has a different challenge on his hands. He doesn’t have to build a winning program. He must learn to sustain a program with a winning culture. The Bruins have won at least 20 games for 9 straight seasons. They haven’t sniffed a losing season since 2005. Therefore, everything is in place for Alexander to succeed immediately. Furthermore, the Bruins have earned eight trips to the NCAA Tournament since 2006. They even earned their first at-large bid this season. The Bruins also won their first NCAA Tournament game this year.