Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The MAC's Unexpected Year

Just for fun, I went back to the MAC's pre-season release to look at who was picked where and who was on the pre-season All-MAC team was.  I do this not to point out that the people who did this poll--the media--are wrong or dumb, but to point out the uncertainty that is with every season and how much things can change over the course of a year.  It is one of the things that keeps us watching as sports fans, and it it was never more evident than in the MAC this  year.

To wit, in the East, where the teams who were HEAVY favorites finished 4th and 6th and a team picked to be 4th finished 1st and a team picked 5th finished 3rd.  (Yes, I know Akron lost people, that's my point).

2014-15 MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish  Actual
1. Akron – 117 points (17 1st Place)  (4th)
2. Ohio – 92 (2) (6th)
3. Kent State – 66 (2nd)
4. Buffalo – 58 (1st)
5. Bowling Green – 52 (1) (3rd)
6. Miami – 35 (5th)

The West was a little better, but no one (well, one guy) saw CMU coming.  In fact, I think that one guy got mocked.  Anyway, good call, dude.  Everyone else missed it.  Everyone thought UT would win the division, and they did finish second.

2014-15 MAC West Division Predicted Order of Finish  Actual
1. Toledo – 118 points (18 1st Place) (2nd)
2. Western Michigan – 94 (1) (3rd)
3. Eastern Michigan – 68 (4th)
4. Northern Illinois – 63 (5th)
5. Central Michigan – 49 (1) (1st)
6. Ball State – 28 (6th)

OK, and then the tournament champ.  As we can see, Toledo was the overwhelming favorite.  No one picked Buffalo at all.

Tournament Champion: Toledo (15), Akron (1), Bowling Green (1), Central Michigan (1), Ohio (1), Western Michigan (1)

Now, let's look at how they did on the players.  The post-season awards are not done by division, so they aren't direct comparable.  Having said that, it is still interesting.

MAC East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell, Sr., F, Akron  (DNF)
Richaun Holmes, Sr., F, Bowling Green (1st)
Will Regan, Sr., F, Buffalo (NR)
Kris Brewer, Kent State, Sr., G, Kent State (HM)
Maurice Ndour, Sr., F, Ohio (2nd)

MAC West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Chris Fowler, Jr., G, Central Michigan (1st)
Karrington Ward, Sr., F, Eastern Michigan (HM)
Julius "Juice" Brown, Sr., G, Toledo (1st)
Justin Drummond, Sr., G/F, Toledo (3rd)
David Brown, Grad., G, Western Michigan (2nd)

So, if you figure these would equate to the first and second teams (10 players), only 5 of the 10 ended up 1st or 2nd team.  Again, I'm not calling these players out for not making it, just pointing out how people emerge in competition when they were not expected to.

As below.  These 5 players made first or second team without being on the pre-season All-MAC team....yeah, and that includes the Player of the Year, too.

Justin Moss, Buffalo, F
Jimmy Hall, Kent State, F
Shannon Evans, Buffalo, G
Devareaux Manley, Kent State, G
Eric Washington, Miami, G

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

 And that is that.  The BG MBB season is over, ended with a terrible, blow out loss at home to Canisius.  I thought Coach Jans was very good on the post-game show.  As seen in the quote above, he said BG had fans in the house (not a ton) but that we were ready to give the team a lift, but the team never provided the opportunity.  He also said that he told his team three times that the fans had "paid good money" to watch them play.

Coach also said that Canisius was more excited to play from the very beginning--which was very evident--and he seemed very disappointed.  Todd Walker tried to get him to start talking positively about the season, but it was clear he was in no mood, saying that it would be at least a few days before he could think like that after such a disappointing loss.

I'll look ahead to next season and do some season recaps as time moves along here.  It was certainly a much better season than expected, but BG is far from out of the Orr woods as we look ahead without Clarke, Henderson and, of course, Holmes.

Last note.  Coach said Holmes has not been himself since the incident in Buffalo.  He said Holmes has been fighting with trainers and doctors to play--and I assume they medically cleared him anyway--but that he has not been 100% since the injury against the Bulls.  In addition, Delvin Dickerson DNP today.

Friday, March 20, 2015

CIT Part 2 Preview: Canisius

The Golden Griffins of Canisius will be BG's second round opponent in the CIT and are making their first trip to the Stroh.  The GGs did play BG in a home and home in the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons, with each team winning on the road. The match-up was created by the now-dead bracket buster, which mostly busted BG.

For review, Canisius is over by Buffalo and named for the guy to your left, who is Canisius...Petrus Canisius. He was the first Dutchman to join the Jesuits. Really.

He led the efforts to restore the Catholic Church in Germany after the reformation.  And he looks like a total bad ass.

Also, you can see his shoes.

Enough Canisius. Or at least that Canisius.

The GGs are 17-14 on the year, with an RPI of 175 and a SOS RPI of 188.  They were 11-9 in conference and 7-7 for the year on the road, which is pretty good.  Their biggest win was at home over Iona (RPI 50).  Their biggest road win was @Lehigh (170).  They lost to Buffalo by 15 on a neutral floor.  Of their 17 wins, 13 came against teams with 200+ RPI.

They were knocked out of the MAAC tournament by Monmouth and then beat Dartmouth by 13 at home in their first CIT game.

They are a defensively oriented team.  They allow .97 points per possession, which is in the top 70 in D1.  They get there the way most teams do, which is to be hard to shoot against.  They allow teams to shoot 41% and 33% and force turnovers on 21% of possessions, which is also very good.  When you start with 21% blank possessions and then add in that kind of shot defense, you are going to be tought to score against.

The only thing that keep them from being impossible to score against is that they are a little below average on offensive rebounds (allow 32%) and allow a decent amount of free throws.

They appear to play very physically.  A lot of fouls for them and the opponent.

On offense, they are not so good, or they would have a better record.  Their efficiency is 1.01, which is below average, and they shoot worse than their opponents do, even with the great D.  The GGs shoot 41% and 32%.  They do try a lot of 3s, but have not been terribly successful making them.  However, given that teams have hit 3s against BG, the Falcons need to be prepared for that.  They do not commit a lot of turnover at 18.6%.

They are good on the offensive boards, getting 34% of available rebounds and don't get to the line particularly well.  When they do get to the line, they make 72%, which is pretty good.

Individually, they are led by Zach Lewis, a SO G who scores 12 PPG on 34% shooting.  Let's be clear though...that's on an incredible number of 3s...224 in fact, which is 45th in the country.  He shot 33% on 3FGs.

The also have a 6'9" Sr. Big named Josiah Heath.  He scores 9.5 PPG and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Jr Jamal Reynolds, who is 6'5", scores 6.8 and rebounds 6.5.  Phil Valenti gets 2.5 assists per game to lead the team and Lewis gets 2.3.  They are the 76th youngest team in D1 out of 350 or so.

BG is a 6.5 point favorite and that's about right.  This is a game BG should win.  They have a bonus game on their home floor and this is a team they should beat.  I have not heard anything about the status of Holmes or or Dickerson, so that would certainly play a role as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

MAC Men's Basketball Check in...

A few updates.

First, BG is set up to play Canisius (gesundheit) on Saturday at the Stroh.

In other MAC news...

Buffalo plays Friday against West Virginia.  The Bulls are a sexy upset pick--I have them--but in general it worries me because it seems like every year the sexy upset pick that everyone tells you to take ends up losing.  Also, I think much of the public acclaim is about Hurley.  Buffalo is playing at a high level and I think they could beat WVU, though I guess WVU is getting a couple injured guys back.

Other than BG and Buffalo, only Kent remains in action.

Kent won by 12 @Middle Tennessee State.  They play @Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday.
In perhaps the worst MAC result, WMU lost by 29 at home to Cleveland State.  This is what I mean when I say that sometimes a team just doesn't feel like playing in the CIT.
EMU lost at LA-Monroe.
CMU lost in the NIT in a very tough assignment, playing at a Louisiana Tech.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Football Interlude--Offensive Coordinator Question is Answered

So Spring Practice is underway and the guys have had some great weather to play in.  This is Coach Baber's second spring practice with the team.

The last unresolved winter point was about who was going to be the OC.  As we know, BG's previous two co-offensive coordinators left for the same position with Tulsa, which has hired a fellow cult members and is going to be Hurricane Fast.

The co-OCs will be Mike Lynch and Sean Lewis.  Lynch coached RBs last year and this year is coaching RBs and the O-line, which is an odd combo.  Seems like we are still down one guy.  Anyway, he was at EIU before Babers got there and Babers kept him on.  It is unclear if he counts as being in the cult or not.

Lewis is coaching QBs.  He coached WRs last year.

Andrew Sowder, who was Director of Player Personnel and Recruiting, will now coach the outside WRs.  Kim McCloud, who was DC, is now coaching the inside WRs.

Of course, Coach Babers calls the plays anyway, so not sure how strong these distinctions are.  This sort of arrangement has been considered likely for a while, as the hiring season came and went without BG hiring any outside coaches besides the new DC.

Falcons Break 40-year Cherry

The Bowling Green Falcons MBB team broke a 40-year drought in post-season play last night with a hard fought 67-64 win over the St. Francis Red Flash in PA.  While that might have been unexpectedly close, it is important to know that BG played without Richaun Holmes and Delvin Dickerson, both of whom did not play due to injury.

On the road, under those conditions?  No bad wins.

As you can see below, it was a close game from start to finish.  With 2:12 left, the game was tied and 100% in the balance.  Pep Joseph nailed 2 free throws to put BG up 2 and then from there the game locked into a non-scoring phase.  In fact, no one scored again until there were :17 and that was a Josh Gomez layup that put BG up 4.  Except for a last-second buzzer beater, SF did not score for the last 2:30 of the game.

Shooting for the game was almost exactly even, with SF shooting much better 2FG (53% to 41%) but BG shooting better 3FG (40% to 27%).  That netted out to +1 for the Red Flash on field goals.  There were hardly any turnovers, but SFPA had 3 fewer than BG, but then BG had an enormous game on the offensive boards and got to the line one more time than SFPA, but finished with a +4 due to a 90% conversion rate.

Anthony Henderson continues to play at a high level for BG.  He scored 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting and 4 of 5 from 3FG, both of which are just ridiculous levels of efficiency.  Jehvon Clarke struggled a little more, with 12 points on 4 of 12 shooting, but with 8 rebounds and 4 offensive rebounds.

And Josh Gomez?  He had 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting and 7 rebounds...in 28 minutes.

Spencer Parker also had 8 rebounds.  BG went very deep onto the bench, with Lyshe and Tisdale both getting minutes.  In fact, Lyshe started.  Austin had 5 assists in 19 minutes.

With the win, BG has now made the second round of the CIT.  Rumor is that game will be at home on Saturday at 1 pm.  We will see who we play after the games are played tonight.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Red Flash Preview

So BG heads off to play in a post-season game as part of the CIT.  They are playing the Red Flash (not Flashes) of St. Francis.  It is the second CIT bid for BG, the first one ending in a  defeat at Oakland.  As I have already covered, BG has lost every post-season game for the last 40 years.  This is a chance to right that wrong.

This is the first ever meeting with St. Francis.

St. Francis is in the Northeast Conference.  They were 16-15 on the year, and 10-10 in conference play.  They have an RPI of 183.  The game will take place in their gym, and they were 10-2 at home so that makes the assignment tougher.

Their biggest win was over Albany, an RPI of 104, who made the NCAAs.  They won @Duquesne and @Rutgers.  On the negative side, they lost to Wagner (295), Central Connecticut State (342), who won only 5 all year.

Let's take a closer look at the Red Flash.  First, we are using all game stats here.  Second, BG played a tougher schedule, which gives context to the numbers. The first thing I would notice is that they are pretty similar to BG in a lot of ways---not in terms of record, but in terms of style of play.  First, they played this year at 64 possessions per game, which is exactly the same as BG, so there should not be any tempo issues.

As you can see below, they have the numbers of a .500 team, meaning they are scoring slightly more than they are allowing.  They are a below average offensive team and an above average defensive team.  Meanwhile, BG is a better on both defense and offense and against tougher competition.

It is a little tough to figure out why St. Francis doesn't score more efficiently.  They only shoot 44% overall, but they attempt a metric f***ton of 3FGs.  They are in the top 20% of the country in attempting 3FGs.  They aren't great at making them---34%, 207th in the country--but it balances out to a decent EFG%.  Their turnovers are not great but not awful.  They don't do any offensive rebounding and get to the line OK, if not great.  That all somehow equals out to an above average offensive output.  Given BG's struggles defending the 3FG late in the season, I would say that should be the top priority for Tuesday's game.

Flipping it around, things are pretty evenly matched.  Again, with the caveat that BG played a tougher schedule, we see that BG's scoring and offensive stats are pretty consistent with what SFPA is used to giving up.

Individually, they are led by 6'6" Sr. F Earl Brown, a first-team all-NEC selection.  He scored 15.9 PPG on 54% shooting and 8 rebounds a game.

PG Malik Harmon is scoring 9.5 PPG on 39% shooting and only 2.7 APG.  The Flash have three other players in the 8-9 PPG range.

In that sense, they are a lot like BG, in that they have one double figure scorer and it is a F who is the leading scorer and rebounder on the team.

Oh, and Ollie Jackson is their leading 3FG at 40%.  He's a senior guard.

So that's the deal.  I haven't done the full research, but if BG has had a better chance to break this post-season drought, I don't know what it is.  BG has played well on the road, this is a team that struggled in a lower ranked conference (The MAC is the 10th ranked conference and NEC is 26th).  This is a game BG absolutely should win, if they are looking to win.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

MAC MBB Post-Season Docket--UPDATE

And it looks like all the MAC post-season assignments are in.  There are 5 teams in post-season play and there would have been a 6th, but UT decided they were not going to be available for the CBI or CIT...which, if I am not mistaken Buffalo did last year.

First, in the big one, Buffalo is a #12 seed and playing West Virginia at #5.  The game will be Friday in Columbus.  Buffalo is getting some early love as an upset special and I think this is a good matchup for them.  Certainly not a gimmee, but I think a game that Buffalo could win.  They are playing at a high level right now.  Two years ago Akron was a #12 seed and then you have to go back to 08 for a seed that good.

CMU @ La Tech Tuesday (NIT)

As the conference regular season champion, CMU gets an automatic NIT bid if they don't go to the NCAA, which they obviously did not.  This is a good matchup, both teams had 8 losses during the regular season.  La Tech had an RPI of 60 while CMU has 73.  CMUs average win had an RPI of 164 and LaT was only 210 so this could be a good game.  They were undefeated at home.

BG @ St. Francis Tuesday (CIT)

More on this Monday or Tuesday but this should be winnable.

Cleveland State @ WMU Wednesday (CIT)

BG beat Cleveland State at the Stroh and WMU had the better ranking and has a good shot to win at home.

Kent @ Middle TN Wednesday (CIT)

Kent is a  lot higher ranked but the game is away.

The big problem is that you never know how much people are going to want to play in these more marginal tournaments, especially a long way from home.  All the CIT games are winnable for the MAC, but you just have to see who wants to play, if anybody.


EMU @ UL-Monroe Wednesday (CBI)

Eastern also is playing in the CBI.  UL-Monroe is a pretty good team, going 21-12 and having an RPI of 138.

List of Shame....11 teams with longer NCAA droughts than BGSU

There were 3 near misses on this year's list.  First, Yale has to be wondering how they failed to make it, because they had it all but wrapped up.  William and Mary was the #1 seed in the CAA and lost their final to Northeastern.  And St. Francis (NY) came up one shot short in the Northeast title game against Robert Morris.

So, this list threatened to get down to 8, but in the end there are still 11.  Below are the 11 teams with NCAA droughts longer than BG's.

One other note.  With Buffalo's win, BG is now the only current member of the MAC to have never won the MAC tournament.  BG has lost 3 finals in the 35 years the tournament has been played, starting with the first one.

Teams that have won in that time:  Toledo (1),  Buffalo (1), Ball State (7), EMU (4), CMU (2), WMU (2), Akron (3), Kent (5), Miami (4), Ohio (6) and NIU (1).  Just us with none...and Marshall.

Columbia: Last appeared in 1968
Tennessee Tech: Last appeared in 1963
Yale: Last appeared in 1962
Maine: Division I since 1962
New Hampshire: Division I since 1962
Dartmouth: Last appeared in 1959
Army: Division I since 1948
Citadel: Division I since 1948
Northwestern: Division I since 1948
St. Francis (N.Y.): Division I since 1948
William & Mary: Division I since 1948