Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Zips Continue to Exert Their Will Over BG

Akron continued their mastery of the Falcons last night with an 83-68 win over the Falcons.  The Zips are just too much for BG.  Their shooting is ridiculous from 3FG, and when they get tired of that they have the ability to go into Johnson and Forsythe and we have no one in the post who can touch those guys either.

The Falcons battled, made a couple impressive runs, but just could not sustain the level of play that would be needed to beat Akron, who simply have the superior team.

BG started off great.  The Zips were having trouble getting shots to fall and BG led 20-9 with 12 minutes left in the first half.  Less than three minutes later the game was tied and with 5 minutes left in the half Akron was up 8 and then up 14 with a minute left.  That right there is an 11-minute 32-7 run.  That's an astounding amount of points to give up in 11 minutes.

BG hacked it down to 9 by half and then came out hard in the second half, tying the game about five minutes in.  A 10-1 run put them back up 9 with 11 minutes left.  BG was still battling and got it back to 2 with 8:23 left.  From there, Akron closed the door.  They went on a 24-11 run over the last 8 minutes...with BG again allowing 3 points per minute and getting more or less locked down on their end.

The difference for the game was 3-point shooting.  Akron set a Stroh Center record by making 16 and with ridiculous efficiency...a straight 50%.  That helped them to a 1.19 points per possession, which is well above their average in MAC games.  It wasn't just that, Isaiah Johnson was 6 of 7 before leaving with what was reported as a sprained ankle that Dambrot called "not good"  Meanwhile, BG shot decently at 48% overall...the 33% from beyond the arc isn't great, but basically BG had an average shooting night that was nowhere near good enough.

In fact, BG finished with .98 points per possession, which is below average.  BG did manage to goose the tempo a little bit to almost 70 possessions, which is faster than Akron likes to play.  It is amazing.  Early in the game, they were perfectly willing to pound the ball until the clock was down to 6 before running any offense at all.

BG took good care of the ball, nobody did any offensive rebounding, but BG was especially weak, and nobody really got to the line either.  The game came down to Akron's ability and they have it.  If you are wondering about BG's defense, there were certainly times where Akron landed contested looks.  They were also plays where they had open looks.  The are excellent passers...they look like the Spurs...they would get dribble penetration and kick out to the corner.  BG would close out on it and there would be one more pass to a player on the wing who would be wide open.  Great team basketball, how it was designed to be played.

Individually, Spencer Parker had a big night for the Falcons.  After a game where BG was struggling to shoot and he took only 6 shots, this time he was assertive and strong.  He scored 23 points on 6 of 12 shooting and 8 of 11 from the line.  Rasheed Worrell also had a nice game, with 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting while operating in the presence of two huge human beings.  He's an important part of BG's future and he has been in double figures three of the last five games and it would be great to see his game continue to grow from here until the end of the season.

Zack Denny had 7 rebounds to go with 7 points.

Last thing, there were only 1,554 in the Stroh last night and that can't make anybody feel good.  BG has lost their last 5 home games...have not won at home since January 6.  This season was expected to be a struggle and while BG exceeded some early expectations, they've now lost 4 straight and 6 out of their last 7.  BG has an RPI of 220 which is 10th in the MAC, ahead of only Miami and WMU.  BG is currently one game out of where they would have to be to get a home game, and we play that team on the road.  In BG's last 7 games, they play Akron once and Buffalo twice and at Kent.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Akron Juggernaut Rolls Into Town

So, this sentence has been bad news for BG over the past, oh, 10 years or so:

We're playing Akron.

Bad news.  Like, 21 out of the last 22 games have gone to the Zips.  Except for one game in 2009 when Brian Moten hit a wild 3 to put BG in position for its only regular-season title in the post-Dakich era...except for that, Akron has rolled over BG with merciless efficiency over the past 22 games.  The last two at the Stroh have been close, one of them a 1-point deficit and another a 2-point deficit.  But, the record is pretty pure.  I doubt BG has a similar losing streak to any team in its long history.

To make matters worse, the Zips are good.  They are 19-4 and 8-2 and they have an RPI of 47, the only MAC team in the top 50.  By that measure, they will be the best team BG has played this year the minute they walk onto the floor.  UC has an RPI of 67.

The Zips have won six straight since losing to Toledo in the middle of January.

Not to be doom and gloom, but BG will need their best performance to make this one work.  But, hey, things like this happen in college sports every night.  Why not this one?

Akron has the kind of point advantage you'd expect out of an 8-2 MAC team.  They are #2 in the MAC in offense at 1.13 points per possession while allowing 1.05 points per possession, which makes them the 6th best defense in the MAC.

So, how does Akron get to those 1.13 points per possession?   Well, it is interesting.  They actually have fewer FGs than their opponents...but they make up by living and dying (mostly living) on the 3FG.  They lead the MAC by taking 51% of their FG attempts from beyond the arc, and they are 4th in converting them.  They score 44% of their points from 3FG, which is the highest in the MAC and 2nd in the country.  You are going to have to guard out there.  They are 2nd in the MAC in effective FG% and also 2nd in turnover percentage, which is a potent combination...lots of shots and you are good at converting them to points.  From there they can afford to be average, #8 in offensive rebounding and getting to the FT line.  They are also 9th in FT%.

This is far from the best defensive team Dambrot has put on the floor.  They are 6th in defending the shot, but 11th in forcing turnovers and 8th in defending the defensive boards.  They don't give up a lot of FTs--they are 4th in keeping their opponents off the line.  They are 2nd in the MAC in defending the 3FG and last in defending the 2FG, despite leading the MAC by blocking 11% of the shots against them.

Individually, it is important to remember that Dambrot spreads minutes very evenly.  Only one player on the team averages 30 minutes a game and even he barely makes it.  That said, their leading scorer is Isaiah Johnson, a 6'10" and 295 lb aircraft carrier.  He scores 13.9 PPG on 60% shooting and also gets 6.9 rebounds per game, which would be impressive enough if he wasn't doing it in 24 minutes a game.

Next is Reggie McAdams, who is scoring 12.4 PPG on 46%/42% shooting as well as 4.1 rebounds per game.  So. G Antino Jackson--who is 5'11" and from Houston--averages 11 relatively inefficient points a game.  He shoots 37% and 31% and adds 3 assists per game.  Noah Robotham is scoring 9.7 PPG on 47% and 44% shooting and 4 assists per game.  Off the bench, they have Jake Kretzer, FR Josh Williams (40%+ 3fg) and Kwan Cheatham, Jr and Pat Forsythe, both of whom average a blocked shot per game.

Look, on paper you'd expect this game to be just another in a long line of Akron wins.  They have a style that makes them hard to beat and they are very deep and experienced.  BG is playing poorly on top of that and has struggled at home.  But, hey, everything has to change sometime.  Maybe this one is now.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Falcons Continue Slide in Oxford


That was a very long afternoon in Oxford.  In a game that might have set the #maction cause back by 50 years to a day when there were laces on the ball, BG and Miami traded missed shots and turnovers in a game that was eventually decided because BG was whistled for 24 fouls and Miami was only whistled for 10.  Yeah, that's definitely going to leave a mark.

Anyway, the final was 55-51.  It is BG's 3rd straight loss and 5th in the last 6th.  This is a rough patch of the season--most times there is one.  We are seeing the team we kind of feared we might have over the past couple of weeks.  Having said that, there's still time to flip it around and not close out with a string of L's like we did in some of those awful Dakich years.

BG actually shot less poorly than Miami did yesterday.  BG shot 35% and 31%--both of which are awful--but Miami shot 31% and 20%.  It was a low tempo game (67 possessions), so BG with 16 turnovers and Miami with 14 is also pretty weak.  Miami crashed the offensive boards, (good strategy for any team that missed that much), but despite having 15 offensive rebounds, they had only 6 second chance points.  As mentioned, the difference is here to the far right.  Miami was 19 of 29 at the line while BG was 7 of 12.  That's +12 for the RedHawks and was the difference in the game.  In addition to rarely getting to the line, BG only made 58% when there.

I watched the game...I felt like that was a string of weak calls at one point but in general I thought BG was getting out of position and did commit a lot of fouls.

Individually, Demajeo Wiggins led the Falcons.  He had 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting and added 9 rebounds while playing only 20 minutes.  Spencer Parker had 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting and 5 rebounds.  He also had 4 turnovers and this was a game where you might have liked Parker to manage more than 6 shots for his struggling team.  Antwon Lillard had 10 on 4 of 8 shooting.

BG's relative position didn't change...BG is still in the 9th spot in the MAC, although it was previously a tie and now the Falcons have it all to themselves.  BG has two games with both of the top teams in the MAC remaining, so it won't be easy coming home, starting Tuesday with Akron at the Stroh.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Miami Part Two Preview

So BG makes the trip down to Oxford to play their second game of the year against Miami.  BG won the first game 73-62 at home...their only home win of the year.  The chart below shows the stats for the game...BG had an average shooting night while Miami was absolutely awful.  BG took good care of the ball--Miami likes to force turnovers.  The Falcons were very poor protecting the boards, and shot 18 FTs in the last 2 minutes as Miami tried to climb back in.

Zack Denny scored 20 for BG in that one.  Lillard had 16.

To date, Miami is the worst team in the MAC.  They are 1-8 in MAC play, their only win coming (oddly enough) at Millett against NIU.  In their last game, EMU beat them by 25 in Ypsi.

They have the stats of a last place team.  They are last in the MAC in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency.  They also play at the MAC's slowest pace.

The beat continues on offense.  They are the worst shooting team in the MAC and 9th in turnovers...and they are last in getting to the line.  Their one strength is offensive rebounding, where they are 4th.  They are 10th in the frequency of trying 3FGs and they are 10th in making them.  They are 11th with 43% on 2FGs.

On defense, they are also worst in defending the shot.  They are 3rd in forcing turnovers--their sole strength--and 9th in allowing offensive boards and 9th in allowing teams to the free throw line. The key to beating them is to take care of the ball and then take advantage of a team that is easy to shoot on.  They are last in the MAC in defending the 3FG as well.

Their unquestioned leader is G Eric Washington, who is scoring 17 per game in MAC games.  He's shooting 44% overall and 46% from 3FG.  He adds 2.8 assists to that.  His fellow G is Geovannie McKnight, who has 13.6 ppg on 46% FG shooting and 86% FT shooting...along with 2.7 assists.  Their top rebounder is Chris Bryant at 4.7 RPG....which isn't a lot but he has played only 20 minutes per game.

FWIW, says Miami has a 50% chance of winning this game...and then projects them to lose out for the remainder of the season.  This is certain to be John Cooper's last year in Oxford. As bad as they are, they will graduate their top three scorers.  Much like the football program, this is a proud historic program in our conference that is circling the drain.  There's no reason a new coach can't turn things around.

On the other hand, Kenpom only projects a couple more wins for BG. As noted, if the MAC tourney started today BG would be on the road.  If that's going to turn around, you just have to have this one.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

National Signing Day Recap

OK, so the dust has settled and National Signing Day is now done.  Let's recap....

First, I think BG did as well as they could do given the coaching change.  They kept 11 of the Babers recruits and picked up some players who appear to be good in the short time they had to work with.  The rankings were among the lower in the MAC (that I have seen), but I don't worry about that too much.  Recruit classes sort themselves out in years, not today.

You can read the official release here.

I watched the Coach Jinks presser.  He said he wasn't going to reach in this time frame, which I applaud. There's always time to get the right guys next year once we get acclimated.  In the meantime, there isn't much Jinks can say.  Every coach in America is going to say he is high on his class, got playmakers and good character guys...

Coach said that there could be some more JUCO guys, though I thought he sounded cautious on the idea.  He recognizes the possible downside, especially since the more qualified JUCO guys sign mid-year like Skattebo did.

He talked about how recruiting as a Head Coach was different than as a position coach.  That's something that has concerned a lot of us, but that's the course we've charted, top to bottom.

He also said that we went to our older haunts to get the guys we did get, which is obvious when you look.  That's Florida and Texas.  However, Jinks is committed to building relationships in our backyard.  This will be his first big test, given that he starts from nearly ground zero.  The goal is to get Ohio and Michigan guys in the future.

I keep hearing how all you have to do is listen to him talk and you'll be impressed, I haven't actually seen anything as impressive as that.  Seems like he's a pretty average talker.  Anyway, I don't really care if he can talk, but other people keep bringing it up.

We went heavy on o-lineman, picking up 4 of them.  The only other position with more was at WR, where BG picked up surprise there.  The one position I feel like we are kind of upper classmen-heavy on is RB.

One late guy we hadn't heard about or talked about was Marquis Zimmerman from Lakeland FL.  He was all-state in his division.

The day's biggest disappointment was Jordan Williams.  He was originally a UT recruit from Texas...and BG felt that they had flipped him.  It was in The Blade, there was veiled Twitter gloating, and then he went back to UT.  That's obviously not great but the young man can go where he wants.

Anyway, for today, I think things are as good as could have been expected.  Look forward to seeing what we have in the Fall!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

BG Stops Making Baskets, Loses at Home Again

And the beat goes on...the home floor disadvantage continues to haunt the Falcons, who lost their fourth straight at home in what (as we will see later) was maybe the most disappointing of all.

This is unusual.  In the 2000's, BG has only had a losing record at home twice.  We're not there yet...BG is 6-5 right now, but Akron is next....anyway.

This one stings because BG has been struggling to make shots...and came out 54% in the first half...and BG put itself in a position to win the game against a team they should beat at home...the Falcons led by 14 with 15:00 left to play in the game.

You lead by 14, you'd want to win that game.

Everything that happened after that was back to being the team we were trying to avoid.  BG scored 17 points in the last 15 minutes.  That includes THREE field goals.  BG's last FG came with more than 6 minutes left to play.  BG did not score at all over the last 2:51.

That's just a disaster.  In the post-game, Coach Huger said he felt like we were getting open looks and just not making them.  That was true outside and inside...BG missed a ton of close-in looks, especially on second chances. It was just so fast...BG was shooting well and then in one second they couldn't make anything.

You can see it right here.  Ball State shot 50% from 2FG and 3FG which left them with an eye-popping 64% EFG, while BG was 38% and 38%.  Not good.  The shooting difference was so severe that it allowed Ball State to make up for being badly out-rebounded and the fact that BG was +10 on FTs,  Yes, BG lost a game by 8 points and they were +10 a the line.  The rebounding is a good example...Ball isn't great on the boards and BG was able to get rebounds but only had 7 second chance points, which isn't much to show for all that.

The sole offensive bright spot for the game for BG was Zack Denny, who broke out of a shooting slump and scored 20 points on 6 of 13 and 4 of 9 shooting.  He also had a career-high 13 rebounds.  Alcegaire scored 12, but on 3 of 8 shooting.  Spencer Parker had an especially long night, shooting 2 of 12 with 5 turnovers.  In fact, not counting his shots, BG shot 44%.

BG has a chance to get well on the road against Miami and they need it. As you can see here, BG right now would be on the road for the MAC tourney and still has two games with Akron and Buffalo, the top two teams in the MAC right now.  (I know we might be better off on the road for the tourney, but let's not shoot for that!)

National Signing Day!! Follow it here....

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Falcon De-Commit

Never feel bad losing a young man to the service academies.  Go get 'em Josh.

Blade Reports 8 BG Commits

John Wagner of the Blade has the news on commits to BG over the weekend, with a total of 8.  I don't want to steal his thunder, so hop on over and check it out.  Some of them we had here and some I had heard about but this provides confirmation.

Look, I always say that we can't really tell about a recruiting class until they get to their senior year.  Having said that, I do think there are signs that these guys might turn into good players.  Recruiting like this after a coaching change is lose guys and meanwhile you are starting from the beginning with new guys and a lot of the players are committed.  As our staff's first test, I'd say the early scores are good.  More tests to come.

All will be revealed tomorrow.  Wagner says to expect 20 signees tomorrow.