Thursday, February 24, 2011

Athens Game, Fouls and Boards

The Falcons dropped their fourth game in the last 5 as the season continues to wind down in disappointing fashion.  I wrote last night that the game was like our season....a weak start, a tantalizing middle and a weak finish.

For the first 16 minutes, OU was clearly the better team.  They were up 30-21 with 4 minutes left.  BG then got a few stops and a few baskets and scored the last 11 points of the half and actually went into the locker room with the lead.  I was beginning to have some optimism that maybe the team had found their stride again, and the first 16 minutes of the second half were nip and tuck.  With 6 left, OU was up 54-52, but then OU finished the game on a 16-8 run to sew up the win.

The reasons for the win are not too hard to discern.  BG did, in fact, guard the shot much better than they have been.  The Bobcats shot 38.5% from the field.  However, they shot over 40 from beyond the arc, and made 7 overall.  Even that was not what made the difference.

The difference was rebounds and fouls.  BG forced OU to miss plenty of shots, but BG was unable to close the deal by protecting the defensive glass.  The Bobcats captured 48% of the available offensive rebounds, and it is simply too hard to win a basketball game playing that way.  It is the 3rd worst this season, and the second time in 3 games that opponents have put up those kind of numbers.  I heard on the post game that OU turned those into 17 second chance points.  Surely seemed like more.

A'uston Calhoun was in foul trouble the whole way, and that certainly impacted our rebounding.  Beyond that, BG seemed to use an odd rotation for a team getting killed on the boards....seems like we played a pretty small lineup.  For example, we got killed on the boards, but Oglesby got only 12 minutes, McElroy 12 minutes, Cam Black 2 minutes.  Mike Dabney did get 19 minutes.  So, I don't know what Coach Orr's reasons were for this rotation--he said something in the post-game about the team needing to defend, so perhaps he was sending a message--but it seems like it was a lineup designed to not rebound.

For the season, OU gets an average 33% on the offensive boards.

Speaking of fouls, this was the other issue for the Falcons.  BG committed 26 fouls, their 2nd highest total this year (Detroit was #1), and OU went to the free throw line 30 flipping times.  They took advantage, making 23 and OU had a +15 advantage at the line. It ties the season-low for BG in opponent made free throws.

Because of these two things, OU overcame poor shooting (and little to no contribution from DJ Cooper) and had 1.13 points per possession.  BG has yet to win this year allowing more than 1.02.

BG's offense struggled as well, although at the end of the day, it wasn't so much the issue.  BG scored only .97 points per possession against an OU team that is not a strong defensive team.  From the audio call, it certainly sounded like BG was having trouble generating opportunities against the OU defense.   BG followed its normal pattern, shooting 56% in the first half and 38% in the second half.  BG did not get to the line and was about as bad on its offensive boards as it was on its defensive boards.  Certainly having Calhoun out hurt.  Without the contribution of Craig Sealey, this could have been a lot worse, see below.

Here's the story, sad but true.

Speaking of Craig Sealey, he does represent a bright spot for the Falcons.  Sealey is a freshman who Coach Orr has said is killing it in practice, but having a hard time getting playing time. When your teams is playing like ours, however, those words don't go together very well, so he got 23 minutes, and had 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting, including a spectacular slam.  He had played only 13 minutes in the rest of the MAC season, but certainly provided the offense a lift when they needed it and helped to keep the game close.  He had 4 boards, and had an offensive efficiency of 1.53.

Jordan Crawford scored 14 points and had 10 assists.  Both of these guys give me confidence for the future.

Scott Thomas had 9 points and 7 boards, and Dee Brown scored 10 with 2 of our 4 3FGs.

Luke Kraus was ejected for some video-confirmed activity in the last minute of the game.

This was perhaps a more important game than it seemed.  Yes, it was on the road.  But, the next two are against the clear top teams in the MAC, one of them on the road.  The way things are going, it is hard to see BG beating anyone, and winning one out of the last 3 is very plausible, and if that happens, BG has a good shot of hitting the road for the first round of the MAC tourney.

Alas, that is all to be played out.  I'm sure everyone is working hard to see the team get back to the play it showed earlier in the season.

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