The Falcons played a pretty good game on national television yesterday, as they battled the Georgia Bulldogs in a close game deep into the second half before Georgia finally put the game away.
Through these early games, you are always just trying to find out what you have....you are measuring yourself against something invisible or something you invented. Specifically, as you watch our team play, you think, can this team compete with Akron and Kent. Could they beat either team on our floor, even?
I think we will learn more next week. The three CBE games at the Stroh are going to be good tests, because we see three pretty competitive teams but at home.
So far...I don't think you can prove with the Howard game that you can compete, but a reasonably big win was what we needed to see and we did. Georgia, you want to be competitive, and I think we were. So, so far, we're not in bad shape.
For the first two games, it appears to me that we are going to have to win with an absolutely impenetrable defense, because our scoring has been pretty lackluster, and we lack a true scorer in any case--with the possibility of Calhoun, who has yet to get on track.
The Georgia game was very entertaining and I thought a very credible effort for BG. It was close for the first 12 minutes or so, but the Bulldogs went on a 13-5 run to take an 11 point lead at halftime. Coming out of the locker room BG turned the ball on the first two possessions and then Georgia had a 16 point lead in a blink of an eye, and on the road against a more athletic team, that is often where things go bad.
BG kept battling and was only down 10 with 9 minutes left. Here, the Falcons got some stops, and Georgia went 4 minutes or so without scoring and the lead was at 5 and BG had the ball. The Falcons were unable to convert on two occasions and Georgia got a little boost and with 4:45 left they were up 10 again. BG got back to 5 again with 2 minutes left, but again couldn't get the basket they needed and from there it was free throw land.
Statistically, it was a 66 possession game, which is moderately paced. BG scored only .81 points per possession, which is pretty poor. They held Georgia to .96, and while that wasn't enough to win the game, it was enough to keep the game close. BG shot only 41% on 51 (!!) 2-FGs, which is just not going to get it done, especially when you are 2-11 from 3-FG. It is one thing to say you want to shoot close to the basket, but you have to actually make those at a high percentage and right now, the Falcons just aren't.
UGA shot almost 49% from the field and had a reasonable if not great turnover rate, so its hard to figure out how they didn't score more. BG did defend the perimeter better, which has been an issue for a couple years--the Bulldogs were only 3 of 15 from beyond the arc. They did make 63% of their 2-FGs, however.
The most odd thing was the offensive rebounding. BG got offensive rebounds 44% of the time and held Georgia to next to nothing on their offensive boards. That's pretty impressive and it accounts for keeping BG in the game. BG only had 16 second chance points, however. My perception was that many of the rebounds were not close to the basket, but hustle rebounds out on the floor, and those don't always lead to an immediate put back.
Finally, at the free throw line, BG shot very poorly (46%) for the game while Georgia 11 more attempts and 10 more points from the line.
Individually, BG had some interesting patterns. Crawford was struggling (BG was -25 while he was on the court), and in fact, most of the comeback came while Dee Brown was on the point. For the second game, BG's big man have contributed no offense at all, though Calhoun did have 11 boards. Luke Kraus also shot poorly. Brown had 15 points, Thomas 11 and Sealey 10.
We continued to run our 7 man rotation, with Oglesby, Clarke and Orr getting some token minutes.
The most pleasant surprise has been Craig Sealey, who is a part of the rotation in the paint, which you wouldn't think he could do by looking at him. He and Brown were the only Falcons to shoot 50% and he seems to have the ability to make a shot when we really need it. He's going to be a very good player for us.
I believe the inside game will come around and that will help BG score more. Right now, however, it would appear that defense is going to have to carry us. On that front, I think we are much better in a man defense (predominantly). If the offense doesn't improve, we will need world-class defense to win the MAC, but if the offense can improve a little bit, that will be the kind of thing we will be looking for.
I will be very interested to see the games next week. I was certainly pleased with the effort yesterday and hope there is still upside on what we can do.