Monday, April 24, 2017

Falcons Have First '18 FB Verbal

So, the recruiting season is upon us.  The Falcons are back to work with an early commit for the '18 class.  This one continues in the '17 class tradition of being a 3-star player.

His name is Patrick Lupro of Belleville, MI, which is up in the Ann Arbor and Ypsi area.  He's 5'8 and 184 and apparently projects to be a corner, though he also played RB in HS. 

24/7 ranks him as the #20 player in Michigan and the #72 CB in the nation.  He had offers from Syracuse (yup), Toledo, (yup), UC, Buffalo and EMU.  Beyond that, if you google him you see him excelling at a bunch of camps and being on the lists for MSU.  He's not terribly tall, but maybe that's what you need to guard the slot WR and he claims to have a big vert.  He also was in track and field.

Welcome to the Falcons, Patrick.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Men's Basketball Review

The most important thing you can say about the BG Falcons and their 2016-17 season is that Coach Michael Huger is coming back for a third season.  The program desperately needed some stability.  The second most important thing is that all the plays who were here during the Orr-Jans situation are gone, with the exception of Matt Fox.

For now, everything else is speculative.  I am cautiously optimistic, but it is speculative.

The Jans situation was a huge set back for the program.  I think we felt it at the time and I think you can see it now.  To be clear, had Jans been back for his second year it would have been a tough year, much like it was for Huger, but the program turmoil caused emergency recruiting for one year and left the program with kind of a split identity for a couple years.  There was talk at one point of literally everybody transferring, and while that didn't happen, I think it is one of those things...when once you have your toe out, it is hard to get all in again.

I base this partly on observation and partly on many comments from Coach Huger over the years, culminating in a very frustrating late-year press conference.

For 2017, BG was 13-19 and 7-11 with a first round loss in the MAC tournament on a 10 seed.  The year before BG was 16-18 with a 5-13 MAC record.  The schedules were rated almost exactly the same, which yields the conclusion that BG played poorly in the pre-season and then improved in MAC play.

From a kenpom ranking perspective, BG was a little worse, ranked 230 in year one and 249 this season.  I'll take the two-game conference improvement as meaningful, however.

The pre-season play was a little disappointing.  BG had finished Huger's first year with a little tournament run and you could sort of hope that the team might be jelling and coming together.  The team also went to Italy, creating extra practices and bonding time.

These hopes were pretty much dashed.  BG ended up 6-7 in non-conference play.  They lost their first four and then won 3 out of 4 coming home.

So here's the thing.   First, BG played a very soft schedule.  There were no P5 teams and only one team from a strong basketball conference--the UC Bearcats.  The three-game Bill Frack challenge was set up to give the Falcons 3 quality home games and they lost 2 out of 3.  That includes UMKC (219) and Green Bay (190), both games you'd have thought you would win (or at least split) coming off the end of the previous year.

BG did rally to beat Murray State--their best non-conference win (199).  Other than that, BG's wins were over Morgan State (324), Detroit (302), Alabama A&M (351--they don't get lower), Norfolk State (299) and a non D1-win.

Meanwhile, after the Frack games, the losses were to UC, @Evansville (154) and @San Jose State (213).  Both of those last two losses were by one point, with the Evansville game being probably the biggest miss opportunity of the schedule.  That would have been a quality road win.

In MAC play, there were positives.  First, BG beat UT in a thriller at the Stroh, making the MBB team the only high-profile sports team to beat the Rockets in way too long.  Also, BG beat Akron and snapped the ridiculous winning streak the Zips had over the Falcons.  Third, BG won @Kent, and Kent, as you are aware, won the MAC.

There were 3 road wins--Ball State, Miami and Kent.

Perhaps the worst element of the season is that BG lost 5 homes games in conference.  That just has to turn around.  Perhaps the darkest time was in mid-January when BG lost to EMU by 28  and NIU by 17 at the Stroh in consecutive games.  Other home losses were Buffalo, Kent and Ohio, good teams, but you still have to protect home court better than that.

BG had the numbers of a #10 seed.  Maybe worse.  The Falcons were #11 in offensive and defensive efficiency (MAC games only).  This is exactly where they were in Huger's first year.

BG's primary problem in scoring comes when they have to put the ball inside the cylinder.  That's a tough thing not to be good at.  BG was 11th in EFG.  That comes from being #9 in 3FG and #10 in 2FG.  BG took an average number of 3s (#8), but if you are going to have that kind of shot mix, you have to make your 2FGS.

Free throws were worse.  BG was #10 at getting to the line and last, dead last, in FT shooting.

They did a good job taking care of the ball (#5) and a decent job on the offensive boards (#7), but those are peripheral.  They have to shoot better.

On defense, the issue is pretty much the same, only in reverse.  BG was the easiest team to shoot against in the MAC.  Everything else was good...#2 in creating turnovers, #6 in protecting the boards, and #2 in keeping teams off the line.

When diagnosing it, the answer is pretty clear.  You have observed this at the games, too.  BG is #5 in defending the 3FG, which is decent.  However, the Falcons were last in defending the 2FG.  That's a result of BG's under-developed inside game.  For his spurts of effectiveness on the offensive end, Wiggins struggles to defend in the paint and Wes Alcegaire was playing out of position at 4.  Worrell had trouble getting onto the floor and BG had two inside players injured for the whole season.  They just gave up too many 2FGs and when you can't get stops you aren't going to win.

One last thing...BG's opponents were #9 in the MAC in shooting 3FG.  Teams knew they could pound it inside on us.

Zack Denny led BG in scoring with 12.7 PPG on 41% and 32% shooting.  So, an inefficient 12.7 PPG.  He also led the team in FT% and steals.

Wes Alcegaire scored 11.8 PPG on 42% and 34% shooting, so also inefficient.  Demajeo Wiggins scored 10 even on 49% shooting (even that should be higher) while leading the team with 7.8 RPG.

The BG freshmen were the most encouraging part.  Frye (MAC All-FR team) shot 44% and 40% (compare to Denny) and moved into the starting lineup.  Rodrick Caldwell made 12 starts and also looked to be a guy who can handle the point into the future, especially under the tutelage of Coach Huger.

So those top two scorers will not be back.  PG Ish Ali also graduated, and Malik Hluchoweckyj and Rasheed Worrell both left the team.

This all highlights the point that has plagued the Falcons since the last time they had a truly outstanding team, which was the year before WVU.  BG simply doesn't recruit enough quality players.  There have been a few here and there, but never the critical mass it takes to win in this conference.

The entire list is below.  You can scan it and see the point.

So, what is the state of the program?  I think we are on the way back, but I am only cautiously optimistic.

Here's the reason for optimism.

So, that's not an OFFICIAL ranking.  For much of the time, there were no such things.  Still, BG has an excellent recruiting class coming in.  Also, Uju and Turner will return after injury redshirts.  Add that to Caldwell, Frye, and Wiggins (and Lillard, who leveled off in SO year), and you can see where you are starting to get the players assembled.

So, why cautious?


First, recruiting rankings are recruiting rankings.  Wins are another thing.

Second, we have yet to see what Coach Huger can do with a team that isn't under-talented and half-in half-out.  That cuts both ways.  We don't know.  I feel like he will be good, but we have to see it first.  He hasn't had a fair test, yet.  And remember, if we are talking a MAC title, we're talking about better than Akron, better than Kent, better than OU, and consistently.

Now, the last year could be another struggle.  BG just has a very young's what they will show on the court when the season opens.
  1. Wiggins (Jr)
  2. Caldwell (So)
  3. Frye  (So)
  4. Turner (R-Fr)
  5. Lillard (Jr)
  6. Uju (r-Jr)
  7. Fox (Sr)
  8. Cummings
  9. Gaden
  10. Koch
  11. Plowden
  12. Kulackovskis
That's a really young team.  Seven players with essentially Zero D-1 playing experience.

Who knows?  But, I would say that patience will be required for one more year, in my view.

Falcon Hoops Recruiting Scorecard, Updated April 2017

Stephen Wright--Productive player, left prior to his senior season.
Ron Lewis--Two productive seasons, no junior year. Prominent Big 10 player.
Raheem Moss--26 games, two starts, 66 career points, left program. Contributed at Cleveland State.

Chris Hobson, 28 games, 51 points, left program.
Austin Montgomery 56 games, 189 points, transferred.
Reggie Harwell--Nada.
Matt Lefeld--A contributing senior and a true warrior. Academic All-American
Isaac Rosefelt--24 minutes, two points. Left Program for stellar DIII career.
John Floyd--Played 59 games averaging 8.4 ppg. 247 career assists Left program.


Scott Vandermeer, 60 points and 40 fouls. Transferred, contributed at UIC where I think he ended up as a pretty good player.
Moon Robinson, Left program after sophomore season. Transferred.
Mawel Soler, completed eligibility. Effective player, even good in spots.


Jeremy Holland--left program after one practice
Nick Wilson--left program without playing a game.
Lionel Sullivan--Sayonara. 30 minutes, 6 points.
Dusan--Minor contributions. Left program prior to Junior Season.
Erik Marschall--Injury-plagued career ended with effective senior season.
Daryl Clements--Good contributing player, played strong D, stable presence, and probably underappreciated player.
Brian Moten--MAC sixth man of the year in junior season and all-MAC HM as a senior. Good player at this level, had game-changing shooting potential.
Martin Samarco--2nd team All-MAC, finished career.


Ryne Hamblett--Contributing player, but kicked off team prior to senior season.
Brandon Bland--Left the program.
Marc Larson--Averaged 17 minutes a game for his career.
Otis Polk--Productive starter.  Left as BG blocked shot leader and led MAC in offensive rebounding as a senior.  Career: 5.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG.
Ryan Sims--left team early in Junior year. Made little contribution.
Nate Miller--All-MAC First team. Great player, carried team into post-season.
Chris Knight--Transferred following two seasons at BG. (Technically, he was a Dakich recruit).

Joe Jakubowski--Four-year starter, among the program's career leaders in assists and steals.
Cameron Madlock--Transferred out.

Dee Brown--1,000 point scorer.
Scott Thomas--Third team All-MAC as senior. 1,000 point scorer. 10th in career assists, 10th in career rebounds, 6th in career 3-pointers.
Au'ston Calhoun--Two-time Second-team All-MAC, 19th all-time leading scorer @BGSU.
Adrion Graves--left before appearing as a Falcon.
Darion Goins--Played sparingly, left team in first season as a Falcon

Jordon Crawford--Honorable mention All-MAC.  1,000 pt scorer, 4th in career assists, 5th in steals.
James Erger--Averaged 10 minutes per game as a Senior.  Role player.
Luke Kraus--Started 25 games as a senior.  Scored 4 points per game.
DaVon Haynes---Left program without playing.  Averaged 12 points and 7 RPG for Ark-Pine Bluff.
Danny McElroy--Left program. Ran afoul of the law.

Anthony Henderson-Made 73 starts, scored 6.4 PPG for career.
Cam Black--Finished in Top 10 in program history in rebounds.  Also 3rd in blocked shots.
Torian Oglesby--Juco. Solid role player. Set NCAA record for most consecutive FGs.
Craig Sealey--Was a career role player at BG, injured in senior year.

Jehvon Clarke--Made 40 career starts, 7.7 PPG for career.
Chauncey Orr--Transferred following his father's dismissal.
Desmond Rorie--Left program without appearing in a game.

Richaun Holmes--All-time leader in blocked shots.  First-ream All-MAC, MAC Defensive POY, now in NBA.
Spencer Parker--1,000 point scorer.

Zach Denny...scored 1,000 points, 7th all-time in 3FG and #9 in steals.
JD Tisdale...Left program before his senior year
Garrett Mayleben..left program before senior year
Josh Gomez....Rarely used.  Left during senior season.

Delvin Dickerson.  Played 15 MPG for BG after JUCO transfer.  Fouled out 6 times.  Left when Jans did.
Jovan Austin:  Played 16+ MPG for BG after JUCO transfer. Had 87 assists in 33 games, which was 6+/40.  Left when Jans did.
Rasheed Worrell--Left program after R-SO year.
David Joseph--Made 59 starts for BG

Ish Ali--Graduated, 247 assists in 2 years.
Wes Alcegaire--Graduated, averaged 10.9 PPG for BG.
Antwon Lillard--7.9 PPG and 4.2 RPG as a SO.
Demajeo Wiggins--10 PPG and 7.89 RPG as a SO
Malik Hluchoweckyj--Left program after playing 21 games.

Dylan Frye--Made MAC All-FR team
Jeffrey Uju--JUCO transfer, injured, redshirt
Justin Turner--Injured, redshirt
Rod Caldwell--Made 12 starts as FR.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Briggs on Jinks

The Blade's Dave Briggs is in with a column today about Coach Jinks.  There's nothing really new here that Jinks didn't say to the Sentinel in late December.  Here's the basic idea.  Falcon fans fell in three camps on Jinks.  First is that he had to go.  Second that the cupboard was bare.  Third was that the team was overrated but the problems were made worse by the coaching staff, which was the position taken by me.

What Jinks is saying in both of these articles is that the third one has truth to it.  He says they were obstinate to change defenses when it wasn't working.  In the Sentinel article, he also acknowledged the youth of his coaching staff and that he shouldn't have spent time with Texas Tech before their bowl game.

Then and now, I give him credit for the candor.  Note that he has been talking this way since before he signed the big recruiting class.

He also said this to the Sentinel:

If you go lose by 70 in two out of the first four weeks, we’re lucky to still be coaching here." (emphasis added).
So he gets it, fans.

So, as I wrote in December, much as it was unnecessary to break in a newbie in college coaching, that's the path we are on.  I think we will be better but I think that overall it would be good to have reasonable expectations for this year.  The schedule is very tough and pointing to those three wins at the end of the year as progress is pretty tough to sell.  BG could be much better and go 6-6.  We won't really begin to get an answer about whether Jinks is a championship coach until year 3.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Chris Jans Update

Well, earlier last week we thought we had located Chris Jans' location for the next season.  Today, it was learned that he is heading back into head coaching at New Mexico State.  Most of the commentary is the same as before....Jans is a proven winning coach at non-D1 schools and that is important to me.  And then, of course, every mid-major would take what the Shockers have going.  And he did a great job with the BG program during his one year at BG.  Now, on the other hand, I'm not sure that first recruiting class was going anywhere, so that probably counts in the opposite direction.  This is a pretty good opportunity for him.  The Aggies have been successful, winning the WAC in 5 of the last 6 years.  The job came open when the former coach was hired by arch-rival New Mexico.

As I said when he was just thought to be returning to the bench in Wichita, I am rooting for him and I do think he will be a successful coach at D1.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter to the Falcon Nation

Happy Easter to the Falcon Nation.  Regardless of your religious faith, we can all unite around the idea of committing ourselves to a new beginning, letting the mistakes of the past go and embracing the chance to be a better person in the future.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Update on Former BG Head MBB Coaches

Both of BG's last two MBB coaches are now back in of them in a surprising place and one in a predictable place.

Let's start with the easy one.  To no one's surprise, Chris Jans is back as the Associate Head Coach with Gregg Marshall at Wichita State.  That's where he came from before he came to BG and he had been working as a "consultant" for the Shockers for two years and was seen on the sideline by sharp-eyed Falcon fans during the NCAA tournament.  According to the article, he was promised the first open job, which has now happened.

I'm rooting for Jans.  What BG did was the right thing as it related to that incident, but one incident doesn't have to label someone for their entire life.  Even better, he seems to appreciate the second chance:

“I am indebted to Coach Marshall and the whole WSU administration for bringing me home,” Jans said. “They’ve been unbelievable to me and my family and we’re thankful and grateful for them believing in us and being there when we needed them most.”
The other is a little more interesting.  Patrick Ewing has hired Louis Orr to be on his staff at Georgetown.  This is very interesting.  First and foremost, those schools HATE each other and Orr was a lead player in the drama for the Orangemen. It would be similar to Chuck Ealey coaching the Falcons...or Bob Nichols...or Anthony Stacey being hired to coach for UT (wait...but wait, see what I mean?  That's how it feels).

It also might be the most NBA-experienced staff in college basketball history and depending on who else they hire might be the tallest staff in D1 history.

I wish Louis well, too.  I know it didn't work out at BG...that happens in life...but he is a man of integrity who always represented BG well.  I'll be rooting for him.

As a side note, Chauncey Orr finished his career with a lot of honors at the DII level.  You might remember that he transferred to Hawaii Pacific where he scored 19 PPG and 55% shooting.  He was all-conference, the tournament MVP and an honorable mention All-American.

Note:  Chris Jans is now going to be the Head Coach at New Mexico State.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Two Players Sign Football NLI

So, with the spring signing period, the Falcons inked two additional young men to national letters of intent.

One of them is Josh Crolsen, who we posted about recently.  The other is James Carolan, who we had written about back in late December.  To refresh, he is from the school Jinks coached at in Texas, he's very highly ranked and was committed to MinnesotaHe's the #3 long snapper in the country and would be slated to be long-term player at that position.

Welcome to the Falcons, Josh and James.