Friday, February 18, 2011

Penguin Preview

So, the Falcons head to Bracketbuster land to play the Youngstown State Penguins.  As we discussed earlier, this is not an attractive match from BG's standpoint.  Not that it is a sure win....the way we are playing, it is far from a sure thing...but you would just like to get some diversity in the schedule through the Bracketbuster and we could probably play these guys anytime we wanted and they have already played enough games against MAC teams to almost qualify for the tourney.

Some points:

  • BG is 8-2 against the Penguins all-time and 6-0 since 1980.
  • We had them already once in the Bracketbuster.
  • They are tied for last in the Horizon conference.


As I said, that does not mean we have to win this game.  In one sense, I think it could be important.  BG broke its 1-8 streak with wins against FIU, UT-San Antonio and Manhattan, all teams with current RPI over 200.  Still, I think it showed the team how to win, and set the state for that run through St. Louis and the first trip through the MAC East.  In that sense, BG has the opportunity to get its confidence back Saturday after the awful night Tuesday.

Youngstown State is 8-18 for the year.  They lost all 13 road games, but are 8-5 at home, where this game will be played.  However, two of those wins were against non-D1 competition.  Those wins are also over a number of weak D1 opponents, with the exception of Buffalo, which is the program's premier win this year.  They have lost their last 9 D1 games, and they are 2-2 against the MAC, beating UT and Buffalo.

This next part might be some PTSD back for Falcon fans after the Akron game, but YSU is among the more prolific 3-point shooting teams in the US, based on conference play.  They are 11th in D1 in 3s made, 9th in attempts, and 32nd in the percentage of their points coming from 3.  Their percentage is nothing special, so these guys have to bomb a lot to compete.  They play an upbeat 70 possessions per game, are 10th in the Horizon in overall FG shooting and consequently are 293rd in the nation in offensive efficiency.

They are 321st in the nation in offensive rebounding %.  If this team is getting offensive boards against us, run for the hills.

Bottom line...this is a great opportunity for the Falcons to show that their perimeter defense learned something on Tuesday.  This is, in total, a poor offensive team, but if they get open looks, it could prove to be a bad matchup.

On defense, the story is not much better.  They are 209th in the nation in the conference defense, allowing 1.1 points per possession, which is a lot.  They don't get very many turnovers (18%) and allow opponents to shoot 46% from the field.  They give up a lot of free throws, as well.

Chart is for all games.

Individually, they are led by Senior Lithuanian Vytas Sulskis, who has a team high 13 points per game, and 5.4 rebounds (second on team).  He's one of those Eastern European 6'7" guards that can create a matchup problem just for their size and agility.

Their second leading player is Damian Eargle, who is from Warren and transferred home from UNC-Greensboro, where he was SoCon all-freshmen and he is scoring 10.2 points and leading the team with over 6 rebound a game.  He is also 12th in the country with 3 blocks per game.  He is also 6'7".

They have a freshman on the point--Kendrick Perry.  He's also got some potential, as a freshmen he leads the Horizon in A/T ratio.

Finally, Devonte Maymon, who had more than 10 double figure scoring games early in the year, has been injured.  His 2 minutes in their last game against Detroit was his first action after missing six games with an injury.

So, by and large, this is a very winnable game for BG, if the Falcons can turn around the things that have been afflicting us over the past few weeks.  But if BG does not guard the perimeter and fails to score even against this defense, this Penguin team is certainly capable of taking the Falcons down on their home floor.

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