It was an interesting game yesterday from Callihan Hall in Detroit, and one that says a lot about our team as it develops, even in a defeat.
Detroit came with a pressure defense. They are an aggressive team, and that is how they play. And the Falcons were clearly knocked back by it. BG shot 38%, made 10 turnovers, and scored only 22 points, six of which came from a couple early Scott Thomas 3s. In Detroit's arena, the Titans were playing their style of ball and having their way with the Falcons.
Their lead reached 20 with about 16 minutes left in the game. At that point, though, BG responded and really made a very impressive run and got themselves back into the game.
The key was guard play. As Coach Orr said in the post-game show, you have to make plays against pressure, you have to attack it, and BG found the right combination in Joe Jakubowski and Jordan Crawford. The two of them scored 28 points in the second half on the way to a team total of 47 points (a pretty unheard of total for us for a half of basketball). It is great to see Joe respond like this, and I still believe he has more to contribute as a playmaker, and Jordan Crawford is absolutely fearless and is going to be a very good player for us.
From that point when the lead was 20, BG went on a 7 minute, 22-4 run to bring the game within 2. Obviously, that includes getting it done on both ends of the floor. Detroit got one FG during that time, which is the kind of defensive stretch you need to get back in the game. During that 22 point run, Jakubowski and 9 points and Crawford 7.
Unfortunately, BG never was able to take the lead. With 1:56 left, BG had it down to 3 and got a stop and had what was one of one a couple possessions where BG was within one score of tying it up. BG was unable to convert with a basket, Detroit took the rebound and ran a fast break and got the transition basket, were up 5 with a minute to go, and that was all they needed.
On the statistical front, the most of it was pretty even, as you can see, with the exception of offensive rebounds. In the post-game presser, Coach Orr mentioned this a lot, and it clearly hurt us. One of the things Coach always says is when you get the other team to miss, you need to reward yourself by getting the rebound. Anyway, that was clearly a factor in the game.
Beyond that, however, I do think there are positives from this game. I think we might see some roles starting to evolve for the team. We saw Crawford continue to emerge and got a big half from our PG. Most of all, our identity as a gritty team that keeps working and grinding is starting to gell, and that was the kind of thing that served us well last year. BG has won 4 out of its last 5, and while a comeback victory would have been nice last night, I do think there are parts that showed we are making progress.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention, however, that the team did get to the line 28 times and make 67% of their free throws, which is a significant improvement and without which BG would not have even been in the game. Otis was 7-9!!! Go Otis!
The team now takes a long Christmas break before coming back with the Temple Owls, which will be a very tough game. They will following that with @Towson and St. Louis, and then the real season starts.
I remain confident that we will develop into a competitive MAC team this year, and more importantly, that our program remains on an upward trajectory.