Friday, May 30, 2008

Fanblogs on potential MAC expansion

Fanblogs has a report from the MAC meetings in Chicago that says the MAC is considering adding Temple as a FULL member and Western Kentucky as well.

Interesting stuff. The MAC has long had reported interest in both of these schools, so in a way its not much of a surprise. On the other hand, I don't think anyone really thought Temple would move their vaunted basketball program down (and that's what it is) to join the MAC, and WKU seemed kind of forgotten after it joined the Sun Belt.

I like both of these schools for different reasons.

Adding Temple hoops to the MAC would do lots for our conference and right away. They have a top-flight program, and would be in a position to be in the Big Dance right away. It also would probably raise our overall level of play, just as Marshall did in football. And, Philly is a great market for the MAC, and it is a decent geographic fit.

I don't know what exactly Temple gets out of this. I mean, wouldn't they take the old "don't buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free" Dear Abby thing? Wasn't the time to negotiate this BEFORE we let their football team in?

I also think WKU is a good fit for the MAC. They are about our size, in the right region, and would also upgrade MAC hoops. They have less glamor and don't bring the major media market that Temple does, but still a good fit for us. I'm for it.

And, we could have an even number of teams playing football. No really. I kid you not. C-r-a-z-y.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is this a new Orel Hershiser??

Heard Orel Hershiser on the ball game last night using all kinds of big words and trying to sound like a bio mechanics expert? Seems like he specialized in academic ineligibility while he was a Falcon!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Football Offensive Reviews Part 1

As we fill in the long off-season, I wanted to begin a review of the Falcons 2007 season. Let's begin with the overall perspective...we were 8-5 and made a bowl game. And, based on who is coming back, we can expect to be favored (or among them, at least) to win the MAC this year. And, we have had a long drought since we have won the MAC. Let's remember, the Brandon/Meyer era has yet to net a MAC Championship, and has netted only one division title.

The best way to understand our offense for 2007 is to look back at some comparisons to year before. 2006 was a long and painful season, and one in which our offense was simply brutal. We did bring it back somewhat in 2007, but that needs to be kept in perspective, too. In former years, we were simply the best offense in the MAC. We are now among the better offenses in the MAC. There's a difference.

Let's look at a few key measures. The first number is 2007 and the other is 2006. (Note: all stats are conference games only. It provides, in my opinion, the cleanest measure because it weeds out disparate out of conference games).

Points (33.9) (20.8)

This one, it goes without saying is the most important. The purpose of your offense is to score points. If you are doing it well, than that matters. Sometimes you can have some things buried in the numbers (like a reliance on opponent turnovers or big plays which are partly luck and might not be relicable), but scoring points is a nice measure.

And we scored 13.1 more points per game, third in the MAC. But, Central Michigan scored a full ten points more than us, and their devastating QB is back again. My point is that there is still room for this offense to improve, and we need to. I don't think we will win the MAC at 33.9 per game.

Yards Per Play (5.8) (4.8)

In my view, the most reliable measure of offensive success (that is, the least related to luck and the most likely to indicate future success) is yards per play. When you look at running and passing stats, you have to be careful. Teams might not pass a lot because its so easy to run, and vice versa. But yards per play measures the whole deal. If I had the data, I'd really rather have MEDIAN yards per play, but I don't.

Anyway, from our grim 2006, we did get another yard per play, which means about another 70-80 yards per game. Looked at another way, it represents, 21% more offense per play. And that has to matter.

Passing Efficiency (140.6) (113.2)

As Coach Brandon often says, we are a passing team. Except, in 2006, when we were a running team because we thought we had to be. We started with Anthony Turner in his first year as a starter, and he never gave us what we wanted, and we slotted in Tyler Sheehan who was a true freshmen.

So, we had to improve in 2007, and we did, and this is the key reason why we scored points again. This is a significant improvement, but it is not an ending point. Tyler had four good games, and then four weak ones when he was hurt, and then four good games when he was better and AT got the running game going a little.

We probably will need some additional production here, too. While we were much better, three teams in the MAC were better. CMU and BSU (with the best individual QBs in the MAC were better) and Buffalo led the conference. There is still room to improve, and we will need it if we are going to get near CMU's scoring.

Rushing (4.3) (4.0)

This might be the key stat of all. In 2006, we ran the ball because we had to. Its hard to run the ball because you have to and do it well, and, in fact, while we brag about leading the conference in rushing that year, yards per carry was nothing impressive. In 2007, we improved our running while ALSO improving our passing. Because we had options, teams had to defend us differently, and that opened some holes. And, we did it without Eric Ransom and Willie Geter (for much of the year), our two top RB threats. As the passing increases, we hope to see production in this area improve some--into the high fours or even five, which can be done with our offense spreading out the D.

You will note a theme. Offense better, but not good enough yet. You'll see when we look at the D that there is reason to be concerned on that front, and we have lost some guys, too. So the offense has to get better. Here are some areas where it didn't and could.

Turnovers (14) (12)

We had two additional MAC game turnovers than we did the year before. Really, though, this is a wash. We only turned the ball over 12 times in the previous year because we were so distrustful of ours QBs that we rarely threw anything but bubble screens. So, this year, we took a few more chances, and, yes, turned it over a little more. If we can get back to 12, we'll be as good as any team we are trying to catch.

3rd Down (39.4) (40.5)

In my opinion, football is all about third down. If you can perform on third down and you keep their defense on the field, you are going to have a good shot at winning. I say that, of course, without benefit of any actual statistical data. In 2007, we obviously had about the same 3rd down conversion that we had the year before. Given that we had better yards per play than the year before (and better rushing), we should have done better here than we did. The Rockets were nearly at fifty percent.

One note: success on third down is partly a reflection of what you are doing on 1st and 2nd down. We made more yards per play, but I obviously don't know how that was distributed per down. But, no matter how it was, we should have been better than this, and will need to for more points to be scored in 2008.

Red Zone (4.4) (4.38)

Plays in the red zone are key. You simply have to score when you get down there. Now, this stat is a little different. I don't believe in using red zone percent because it counts FG and TDs the same. I like to look at points per red zone opportunity, because it rewards teams that score TDs. The Falcons were, in fact, again, about the same as the year before. CMU was only 4.6, so we're in the ball park there. Difference is, CMU got there 11 more times (more than once a game) than we did.

See above, right?

I got more, which I will write later. That's enough for now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Losing GMAC?

Storm clouds approach on the bowl game front. Just as the MAC added what could be a conditional fourth bowl game (The Congressional), there is now word that the GMAC may be looking to add a new conference tie-in, possibly to replace the MAC.

The next GMAC game is the last with the MAC-CUSA tie in, and the GMAC is exploring its options and will "probably make a change." You can't blame them, really. If they can upgrade to a higher ranked conference, than all the more credit to them. That community really supports that bowl, and they deserve whatever they can get. They are upgrading the stadium, in fact, at City expense.

It would be bad for our conference, however. The GMAC is probably our best bowl tie-in, and if we lose it that would be too bad. You get a true bowl experience there--lots of activities and first class treatment. Here's an interesting little tidbit, by the way...

The GMAC Bowl nearly pulled an SEC team through a loophole in its contract with the MAC last year. That clause allowed the game to choose an SEC team that went 7-5 and was not selected to fill one of the league's tie-ins. Steve Spurrier's South Carolina squad was 6-6 and not invited to a bowl game. An appeal to the NCAA to waive the 7-5 requirement was rejected, so the GMAC Bowl was unable to invite the Gamecocks to town with their legendary coach and legions of traveling fans.


So, we might well have not ended up there after all. Well, this all has to play itself out, but I think the GMAC is the first choice of our players and coaches, and being left with Motor City and International as our bowl tie-ins would diminish the overall offering.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is Brandon on the Meyer Trail?

Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com thinks Brandon might be the next hot coach in the MAC.

In my opinion, we'll have to wait and see on that. In a way, I'm for it, because he'll have to generate a pretty good year or two to make that happen--and that's what we want, right?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Falcon Basketball Meets Statistical Analysis

I am, I confess now, a big fan of sabremetics. I have read Bill James since his earliest days in the 1980's, and I firmly believe that statistical analysis can help to yield revelations into the game that are missed even by those who participate. What makes baseball so perfect for it is that there are so many wonderful, discrete events that can be counted.

I wondered if anyone was doing similar work for college basketball. I found there was...though it does appear to be more on the team side than the individual side.

From a scanning of the Internet, it would appear that the primary trend in statistical analysis is to look at team stats in a tempo-free fashion. (This data is from kenpom.com, which I am hoping I am not stealing). For example, Buffalo runs an up-tempo attack. Accordingly, they led the MAC in scoring. But, does that mean their offense was the best? Conversely, a team that slows things down (such as Miami and BG), among others, won't score as many points as Buffalo, but does need to maximize each possession.

What does this mean for our Falcons? Well, let's remember, first of all, where we stood based on the usual statistical suspects....(offense first for today).

Offensively, we just had lots and lots of challenges. We were:

  • 10th in scoring, 12th in FT%
  • 8th in 3FG%
  • 11th in 3s made
  • 8th in assists
  • 11th in turnover margin
  • tied for 9th in offensive turnovers
  • 8th in offensive rebounds

The new analysis tells much the same story, if with different. words. First, on the matter of tempo, or pace. BG's tempo/pace was ninth in the MAC, with 65.4, which is less than the average for the nation as well (note: I don't exactly know what the unit of measurement is here, but it doesn't really matter, either).

The next question is about offensive efficiency--which means how many points we would expect to score over 100 possessions. This removes an up-tempo or down-tempo team from the equation and puts everyone on the same footing.

Here we find a team that was tenth (precisely where we were for scoring, in fact), with 97.5, which was four points below the national average team.

But what about the diagnostics? What's causing these problems. Well, look at it this way? If our team is going to play down tempo, it makes sense that we have to make every possession count. We have to maximize each possession by limiting turnovers, making shots, and making free throws. And, if you can make some threes, that surely helps.

At this point, we can introduce a concept known as the effective field goal %. This is the same FG% you grew up with, but a 2FG counts as 1 and a 3FG counts as 1.5, thus rewarding teams that make three's and giving a clearer idea of production per shot.

We were sixth in FG% and 8th in 3FG%, but 11th in threes made, which really matters here. And we were eighth in the conference in effective FG%. (Other studies say this is the most important stat in college hoops offensive analysis).

We were also 10th in terms of % of possessions in which we turned the ball over, and 10th in terms of the ratio of free throws made to field goal attempts. (Which measures both ability to get to the line and ability to make free throws).

Did this reveal anything really new? I guess I don't think it did. We're a down tempo team that shot 2s OK, but didn't make enough 3s or take care of the ball well enough or get FTs enough to compete. I suspect we all would have been able to figure that out.

Maybe the defense will reveal something different. I do like the tempo-free analysis, and it is an interesting way to drill deeper into the performance of a college offense.

Here, if anyone cares, are links to the data compiled from the website for the MAC teams only, but all games.

Offensive data
Summary Data

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

President Ribeau Leaving

Reports on WTOL are that the BGSU community was informed this morning that Dr. Ribeau is leaving for "a position" at Howard University.

Interesting times will be ahead. Many positive things happened to BGSU under Dr. Ribeau's reign, though I don't think he always earned the adulation he got from his board, but I think on balance it has been a positive. Only met him once....but good for him.

Update: The Blade now reports that Dr. Ribeau will be President of Howard University.

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's Here


Football Season Ticket Renewal Form----and you know the form is in today's mail....

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Basketball Recruiting Scorecard Updated

For a while, I have tracked out hoops recruiting because I contend that the current malaise of our program is the severe shortage of quality players we have brought in and/or kept since Dan's little trip to WVU. For the sake of the record, here is an updated report....

Falcon Hoops Recruiting Scorecard, Updated May 2008

02-03
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. Contributing at Cleveland State.

03-04
Chris Hobson, 28 games, 51 points, left program.
Austin Montgomery 56 games, 189 points, transfered.
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.

04-05

Scott Vandermeer, 60 points and 40 fouls. Transfered, contributed at UIC.
Moon Robinson, Left program after sophomore season. Transferred.
Mawel Soler, completed eligibility. Effective player, even good in spots.

05-06

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--appears to be legit but injury plagued.
Daryl Clements--Contributing player, sometimes better.
Brian Moten--MAC sixth man of the year in junior season.
Martin Samarco--2nd team All-MAC, legit D1 player. Finished career.

06-07

Ryne Hamblett--Contributing player, but kicked off team prior to senior season.
Brandon Bland--Left the program.
Marc Larson--Gets minutes, may be more valuable than his stats indicate.
Otis Polk--Improving force in middle.
Ryan Sims--has potential, little playing time in Orr regime.
Nate Miller--All-MAC honorable mention. Great get for the program.

07-08
Chris Knight--Could have been MAC Freshmen of Year, except for stupid rule. Nice upside here.
Joe Jakubowski--Quality player, good addition to the program.
Cameron Madlock--Little PT, jury still out.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Basketball Statistical Review

A couple weeks ago I posed these questions.....

  1. How many major team categories did BGSU finish LAST in?
  2. What was Bowling Green's top statistical category?
  3. What was our top ranked player in an individual category?
  4. Who had a higher PPG scoring average? Bowling Green or Toledo?

I supposed I should have clarified that I was looking at the MAC stats as published on the website, and I was looking at conference games only, because that eliminates all the issues about who you scheduled and who you played.

And, I think its important to remember that we were 7-9 in conference play, and that's as many MAC wins as we had the previous two seasons combined. Some of the internal stats aren't very good--but at least we won some games. I think we saw this year a team that has a ways to go, but who I hope are on the road to turning it around.

Also, and let's not discount this, we defended our home court, going 6-2 in home MAC games. We also won a MAC road game, something we did not do the season before, though we were 1-7 on the road.

So, the answers.....

How many major team categories did BGSU finish LAST in?

(only) 2:

  • Scoring Margin (-7.5)
  • FT% (63.3%)

The scoring margin is something that is surprising, you don't expect to see a team be almost .500 and have that kind of deficit. The reason is that we had a 36 point loss at Akron and a 46 point loss at Buffalo to drag the numbers down.

And free throw %. That's just a shame, in fact. We were always good at that under DD, and we were pretty poor this year, and we needed every point we could get. We had the fewest FTs made in the MAC (186), and only two teams got to the line less than us...NIU and Miami.

What was Bowling Green's top statistical category?

Blocked shots We led the MAC with 5.69 per game.

What was our top ranked player in an individual category?

Brian Moten was 2nd in 3-FG%, 44.4%. (Otis was also ranked high in blocked shots.) The point here is that for a 7-9 team, we didn't get a lot of statistical production.

Who had a higher PPG scoring average? Bowling Green or Toledo?

Trick question...it was a tie. The much maligned Toledo offense, with its PG chased off the team, etc, etc, scored 60.9 PPG. Just like we did. (Tied for 10th in the MAC).

What does all this mean?

Offensively, we just had lots and lots of challenges. We were:

  • 10th in scoring, 12th in FT%
  • 8th in 3FG%
  • 11th in 3s made
  • 8th in assists
  • 11th in turnover margin
  • tied for 9th in offensive turnovers
  • 8th in offensive rebounds

The bright spot, we were 6th in FG%.

I guess if you want to boil it down, we could shoot OK, but didn't get enough shots because we didn't take care of the ball, and we made a lot more 2s than our opponents did, putting us a little further behind, and then add in this missed free throws and you have a team that has a hard time scoring points.

Defense was not a lot better.

  • 9th in point allowed (note a couple big games inflate this number a little)
  • 8th in 3FG% defense
  • 10th in rebound margin
  • 10th in steals.
  • 12th in turnovers forced.

and finally,

  • 5th in FG% defense
  • 1st in blocked shots
What does this mean. We were building this team on defense, and we did limit the opposition from shooting on us. However, they seemed to do a little better on 3s than on 2s, and that tells me that the inside D was good but the outside D (guards) was less good. Plus, teams got the benefit of more possessions, since we forced so few turnovers. Finally, once the ball hit the boards, they got some second chances, too.

One last thing must be noted....our team has been KILLED by fouls over the past few years.

Comically, the MAC does not publicize foul stats, probably, as I have said before, to shield their embarrassingly poor officiating. Still, the NCAA does keep the stat (which makes the MAC even funnier, almost cute, like a little kid hiding the note from his teacher), so we can figure out what was going on.

Two years ago, we fouled 23.1 times per game, (we're talking all games now, not just MAC), and only 6 teams in D1 fouled more.

This past season, we cut that to 18.3, and were 148th our of 328 teams. That's significant.

FTs overall still hurt us. We lost 3 points a game here (which is twice as good as last year). In fact, overall, we made 1 more FT than our opponents. Our entire margin is on FTs and treys. But, we fouled less, and gave up fewer free shots, and that represents improvement.

I guess my point is, you wouldn't guess we were 7-9 looking at these stats. But we were, and that's what really matters. All these numbers will have to improve, though, if we're going to win the 13 games it took to win the MAC this regular season.