(Corrected with thanks to the commenter).
A small summer interlude....that is not about Jim Tressel.
One thing fans debate a lot is whether it is good for a MAC team to schedule FCS teams. One school of thought is that everyone does it...another is that we will never gain respect for ourselves if we don't play the big boys.
The occasion for the musing is that BG is playing Morgan State this year. It is our first FCS game since we played WKU in 2007, and they were actually transitional, so our last pure FCS game was in 2004 against SE Missouri.
I'm in favor of it. For the following reasons.
1. In the 12-game schedule era, almost everyone does it.
Last year in the MAC, 8 teams played FCS opponents, with only BG, UT, Miami and EMU (really?) playing 100% FBS schedules. In the Big 10, only one team (OSU) did not play an FBS opponent. For 2011, only 2 MAC teams (Ball State and Miami) do not have FCS on their schedule.
(Caveat. Temple plays Villanova, which is actually a rivalry game for them).
2. Playing an FCS opponent allows us to get a 6th home game
Being at the Doyt makes me happy. Football season goes by so fast, and, as a fan, that 6th home game makes a big difference.
An addition is that we are adding a sixth home game and it is going to be on a Saturday and when the weather is nice...
3. Playing the big boys is nice, but playing road games against very big and physical BCS teams is tough on our guys physically. If the Big 10 teams take a week to play FCS teams, why shouldn't BG?
4. We don't get any respect playing the Big Boys anyway. And, lately, the wins have been few and far between. Now, do BCS busters play a FCS opponent...did Boise? No. Again, the MAC is not realistically in that boat anyway.
5. An FCS game is not a guaranteed win. Villanova plays Temple tough, and there are FCS teams that would be very competitive in the MAC. NIU struggled with North Dakota, which has notched wins over Minnesota in recent memory. And, of course, App. State beat UM at the Big House, just as UT did. Having said that, FCS wins in games like this are few and far between.
The best counter-argument I can think of is that the MAC has so many poor teams that it is already playing a couple of games against sub-par competition, and this just makes it worse. I looked at the Sun Belt schedule, and I didn't see them playing too many FCS teams.
In conclusion, I think it is fine for the MAC to play one game against FCS competition, though not 2.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
(Corrected with thanks to the commenter).
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
@ho_chen: BGHS Head Coach Van Griffen tells Hardcore Sports Chauncey Orr will be signing to play ball for his dad Louis Orr at #BGSU
Original Tweet: http://api.twitter.com/1/heissb/status/73364216337276928
Sent via TweetDeck (www.tweetdeck.com)
Sent from my iPhone
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The NCAA has released the APR results for this year, and the news is pretty good for Bowling Green. As you know, the philosophy here is that there is no reason to trade off academics and athletics in the MAC. You should be able to win and graduate players.
For example, perhaps the biggest disappointment from the Brandon era was the APR penalties that came from having a rolling multi-year average under 925. Coach Clawson got that to 931 the next year and 941 last year. The single year rating was 965, the highest for the program since the APR began.
The Men's basketball team also posted its highest single year score of 980 for a four-year rolling rate of 928.
No teams at BGSU were punished, and 16 out of 18 retained or improved their multi-team score from last year.
Around the MAC, in football, Akron was punished with a 4-scholarship reduction. NIU has the highest rate in the conference, proving you don't have to trade academics for winning.
In men's basketball, UT took a 2-scholarship hit (this was already known--they had the 5th lowest APR in D1) and OU took a one-scholarship hit. Ball State received a post-season ban, (one of 7 schools in the country), but got a waiver based on some indication that there was progress. If they continue to struggle, the post-season ban could come into play in the future.
As I said, this is important, and I'm glad to see BG's students making academic progress and (I hope) graduating from the university.
Monday, May 23, 2011
So, every MAC season we hear about how hard it is to win on the road in the MAC. I thought, here in the frosty days of Spring, we might take a look at a couple of things....is it really hard to win on the road? Are there good road teams? Are there bad road teams? Is there something we can tell about what is separating good teams from bad teams?
These numbers are for regular season CONFERENCE games for the last 5 years.
First, the home teams has won 66% of the games over that time. That sounds like a lot, and it is. What we have shown, however, is that it is hard to win on the road in college basketball. For hot D1 on D1 action, the national average is typically in the range of 67% anyway. So, it is hard to win on the road in college basketball, and the MAC is pretty typical.
With that in mind, let's look at teams on their home court. The chart below shows the win-loss record, and then how many games above or below the league average. For example, Kent is 36-4 at home, and that is 10 games above a team winning 66% of its home games.
So, what do we see here? First, and most notably, only one team in the MAC has a losing record on their home floor over the past 5 seasons. Even UT, with the last 2 horrifying seasons, finished in plus territory.
Also, the results are a little top heavy. Only 5 teams are above average, and 7 below average, thanks to Kent, Miami and Akron bringing the numbers up.
Our Falcons are, in fact, 3 games below average based on defending the home court.
Next, the road.
Here, only two teams have winning records, Kent and Akron, and only 4 teams are above average. Both UT and NIU are really poor, averaging less than two road wins per season.
The Falcons, in fact, are one game better, relative to average, on the road than they are at home.
So, the final question is this...are there actually teams that are very good at home who cannot win on the road?
The answer is yes, two in particular. Most notably, Miami is +8 at home and only +1 on the road. If they were as consistent as Kent and Akron, they would probably have at least one more regular season title in their pocket.
OU has a five-game differential. They are slightly above average team at home (+3) and poor on the road (-2).
The other example, though less extreme, is WMU. They are +5 at home and +2 on the road, but given the weakness of the West, they could easily have another division title or two if their road play improved.
No team was more than two games better on the road then at home, relative to the average. However, Akron, BG, Ball, EMU and NIU were each 1 game better on the road than they were at home, compared to the average.
So, you can conclude that Kent and Akron are the class of this conference, and for whatever else they have going for them, they have an ability to win games on the road that is not shared by the conference brethren. Also, there are no road specialists--teams with some mystical ability to win on the road that isn't reflected in their home record. And, you can identify three teams that are good at home, and would be serious contenders if they could match it on the road.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette is one of the top basketball writers following the MAC. Over the past few years, he has written more than once about the MAC's slide in basketball, which began with the conference considered the equal of the Missouri Valley Conference and ended with the MAC being a one-big, generally one and down conference with half filled gyms. The four worst teams in the MAC had RPIs under 300, meaning they were among the bottom 10% of all teams in D1.
He notes that the MAC's two best teams--Akron and Kent--play in facilities he compares to high school facilities, and that "Similarly, the West Division has been set back by a series of unnecessary coaching changes by self-serving, greedy and simple-minded administrators." (Not sure, exactly, what that refers to--Ramsey? Patten? Thompson? Joplin?)
He has written about how that is based on investment, buying home games, upgrading facilities and paying coaches. Now, the MAC is responding to what is obvious to anyone who attends the game--the MAC is slipping even further into obscurity.
Note that the Commissioner, Jon Steinbrecher, came to the MAC from the OVC with a basketball rep. And, there haven't been any results yet.
What follows below is from Couch's article, which I commend to you in its entirety.
Essentially, the MAC is putting accountability behind the desire to improve basketball. In Couch's words, "Consequences for inadequacy." The basic idea is that the MAC gets money from the NCAA tourney, over $1.6M per year, which is currently divided in equal shares. Now, there will be a minimum payment, but teams will be able to improve their payment by doing certain things.
For example, to get a full share, teams will have to play 15 home games on a rolling two-year average. Couch calls this "ground breaking" and he is right. You want a higher RPI, win games. You want to win games, play at home. BG played 14 regular season home games the last three years, so adding one will be do-able, especially as the Frick Endowment kicks in.
Here is what Couch wrote...
This is the beginning of forcing the hand of those unwilling to properly bankroll the second-most visible college sport in this country. This means buying in at least a game or two every season — as WMU did with Eastern Illinois last December at a cost of $45,000.Other performance measures will include:
“A portion will be distributed straight out and a portion will distributed through an incentive plan, which you pick up units based on things you do throughout the year,” Steinbrecher said Friday. “So if you win the tournament, you win the regular season, you pick up more units.
“You’re in the NCAA tournament or NIT or CBI or CIT, you pick up units. Nonconference winning percentage at a certain level, you pick up more units. If your RPI is at a certain level, you pick up more units.”
I am 100% in favor of these moves. I love football, but the MAC can make a much larger impact in basketball, and the conference's slow decline has been pretty obvious. There is no reason for us not to compete, we just need the investment. MAC basketball has been evenly-matched and entertaining because of it recently, but the level of competition has to go up for teams to compete.
Also, I 100% applaud the rule about home games. I contend that it is difficult for fans to bond with their home teams when they never play at home during the November-December portion of the schedule. That effects the fan support when the team plays conference games. Also, the timing matters---at BG, it seems we play a lot of home games during breaks. Perhaps that can improve if we were buying the games.
The league has a long way to go. However, it has been done before, and I believe there are good coaches right now in the MAC. There is no reason for things to be as bad as they are, especially at the bottom of the league.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I had the chance to answer some questions on Falcon Football from College Football Zealots, and he posted the results today. Check it out.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
So, one of the off-season projects is to look at different ways you can measure offensive efficiency...and whether there might be some diagnostic tools that can be indicators of whether an offense is likely to be productive.
The first question? Diagnose what?
The first idea is this: teams that gain more yards per play should score more. If they don't then, is there something we can learn about two things...did they make key plays or did they stop drives by turning the ball over.
To do that, we look at 3rd and 4th down conversions, red zone efficiency, and turnovers.
A few notes:
- What you see below are rankings for each team in the MAC, conference games only.
- I use 3rd and 4th conversions combined because it makes sense to me to use the terminal down in the series. If a team might go for it on 4th down, they play differently on 3rd down. And, the key thing is to make the first down.
- Red Zone efficiency is not the percentage you usually see, but rather, a measure of points per trip. I calculate 7 for each TD and 3 for the FGs and divide by the number of red zone trips.
- The idea is if a team scores more points or fewer points than you would expect by their yards per play, you look at the other stats for possible clues.
So, some observations:
- Miami is a perfect case in point. 4th in the MAC in yards per play and 7th in scoring. Why? Here, we can conclude the poor 3-4th conversions and poor red zone scoring are the culprits.
- Bowling Green is another good case. BG was, in fact, LAST in the MAC in yards per play and actually scored a little better than that. Why? BG was very efficient in the red zone (perhaps due to a complete lack of confidence in the kicking game, but BG was efficient, nonetheless).
- NIU is a good case...pretty bullet proof right across.
- Kent presents a reasonable approach--their lack of turnovers allows them to overachieve slightly.
- CMU underperformed slightly, probably because of turnovers.
- OU was helped slightly by being the best red zone team in the MAC.
Now, there are some other views that are not as clear cut.
- Ball State is inexplicable. They outperform their offensive production by 3 spots, but they do not excel in any specific area and turned the ball over a lot. (I checked...they were -6 in turnovers for the season).
- Western's relatively weak red zone and turnovers numbers were not enough to bring down their overall productivity.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Last week we looked the players who transferred out of the MAC for other, hopefully greener pastures. Hey, but for some people, the MAC represents greener pastures. Below are the D1 players coming into the MAC...these are guys who will be eligible to play at some time this year.
In general, people like to talk down transfers, but I was impressed at the potential represented in these players. None of them were proven great players at their previous schools, or they probably would have stayed where they were. But, a number of them were huge HS players who would have been considered strong MAC recruits right from the beginning.
Note, too, that three of the traditionally strongest MAC programs (Kent, Akron, Miami) are the ones getting transfer help this season.
Gillam is 6'5" who is transferring from University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He played two years there and did have some success, though that is a much smaller conference--America East. He averaged 13.3 points and 3.7 rebounds as a sophomore. As a freshman, he averaged 10.9 points and 4.4 rebounds and was named the league's rookie of the week four times.
Walsh is a potential difference maker for the Zips. He's a 6'4" guard who was highly recruited out of HS, and then went to Xavier. He did not make a mark there, played behind Jordan Crawford, and then felt that Chris Mack had his own guys. On paper, he certainly would appear to have a shot at big MAC success.
He is a 6'5" SF Indiana boy who was recruited to Wichita State where he played one year, battled some injuries and did not make a big impact. He was a lead player on a very successful HS team and would appear to be the type of guy who could make a nice impact in the MAC. Ball State does have a pretty strong front court.
Is 6'6" and from Brooklyn. He was pretty highly touted in HS, and went to Rutgers, where he played in all his games and started about half, though he did not rack up big numbers. He was their leading player in their tour of Spain and the Canary Islands (no, really). He is expected to split time with Justin Manns at PF.
These two young men are grouped together because they are both players who followed Kowalcyk from UWGB to Toledo. As such, you have to assume they know what they are getting. Pearson is a 6'3" G and Smith a 6'7" forward. Pearson played 16 minutes as a FR and Smith played more sparingly. That was a pretty good team, and I think it is clear they are both upgrades for the Rockets. As for whether they are competitive players, that remains to be seen.
Buckley is from Romulus originally and is transferring to UT two years at Iowa State. He did not make a huge mark with the Cyclones, but given his all-state HS career in Michigan, I'd wager any team in the MAC would have been happy to have him.
Curtis Dennis (mid-season eligibility)
Dennis will be eligible after transferring from New Mexico. He is 6'5" and started the season with the Lobos with some decent games before deciding to move to Toledo. He is from the Bronx, where he had some very strong numbers (18/8), a performance he replicated in prep school, where he played for two seasons, which is a little odd.
6'6", he went to Penn State, where he played and occasionally started as a Freshman. That sorts out to about 16 minutes a game. He was a huge player in Middletown, Ohio, earning all-state and regional-level POY honors. Again, coming out of HS, any MAC school would have been happy to get a guy like this.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Well, it is off-season, and the epidemic of basketball transfers has been ongoing. Based on this list, there are 10 total players who are leaving their MAC schools...what follows is a quick look at who they were and what if any impact their might be.
Here's the important thing, in my opinion, about transfers. You look at a guy who is leaving--like Clifford, for example--and you think, there's a guy who they won't miss. At the same time, it represents a failure of something--recruiting or coaching--when a player can't find his way into the lineup after two seasons. There are certainly times when the best thing for everyone is to part ways. So, with that in mind...
One last observation...there seem to be a lot of 6'7"-8 players on this list. Not sure what that is about....except that they probably have more transfer options...
Mike Clifford, 6-7, F, Soph., Buffalo
Clifford was ineligible his first semester of his sophomore year and never averaged more than 3 minutes a game at Buffalo. He was a reasonably highly touted recruit and looked like he might be a steal because his HS career was hampered by a broken leg.
Jay Copeland, 6-7, F, Fr., Ball State
Copeland was a very highly touted recruit heading to Muncie. He played in 7 games as a freshman. His stated purpose for transferring was to be closer to his home in Virginia. (Interestingly, the Cardinals have had trouble keeping recruits from far away.)
Dakotah Euton, 6-8, F, Fr., Akron
Euton's departure was listed on the Akron media blog as good news for Coach Dambrot. He was once committed to Kentucky, and on paper should have been a force in the MAC. However, when Brett McKnight was back from suspension, he lost his playing time and apparently his motivation. He played 6 minutes during the conference season.
Note: Cvetinovic is returning for his senior year.
Maurice Hubbard, 6-6, F, Jr., Ball State
Hubbard is also transferring to be closer to home. He played 17 minutes a game as a freshman, but then that fell to 10 minutes last year. This move was announced mid-season last year.
Chris McHenry, 5-11, G, Jr., Miami (Ohio)
McHenry is a JUCO transfer who is looking to find a place where he can play his senior year. He played 17 minutes a game last year with 5 points and 1.5 assists per game, but according to this from the Dayton Daily News, the RedHawks have an incoming Fr. PG (Brian Sullivan) who they are really high on and McHenry saw "the writing on the wall"--the wall written on by the evil genius.
DeAndre Nealy, 6-6, F, Jr., Kent State
This is kind of a surprise. He came to Kent from Mott Community College as a highly regarded forward that they had big plans for. However, when you come from a JUCO and you don't play your junior year, you might think you should transfer down and at least get something out of your senior year. He played only 6 minutes a game and Kent brings almost everyone back plus a Big East transfer.
Darius Leonard of Kent is also transferring. He is 6'8" from Charlotte. He played only 6 minutes a game as a freshman, and was at a position where Kent is pretty deep. Senderhoff wanted him to redshirt, and Leonard decided that if he was going to sit out a here, it might as well be somewhere else.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
following interview with Coach Orr in which he goes, player by player, through his roster, and talks with candor about what is needed for the Falcons to compete for a title next year. Regardless of you feel about Coach Orr, it is interesting and compelling listening.
The interview is conducted by The Blade's John Wagner and the Sentinel's Jack Carle. What follows is my summary.
You will notice some themes.
- All our players have to get better.
- Scoring and shooting consistency is mentioned for many players.
Point Guard (only position with a senior lost).
- Needs to continue to get better and be a leader.
- His stats were improved, especially A/T ratio.
- Needs to learn how to run a team.
- A good player who can score and create opportunities.
- The incoming Fr is expected to get the backup minutes at PG.
- He is a scorer. His HS team played a havoc style of ball, and he will have to adjust to playing more traditional solid defense.
- Similar to Crawford in terms of transition play and motor.
- Has good vision--finds opportunities.
- Coach expects him to make an impact right away.
- Could also play in the same rotation with Crawford.
- Senior Year.
- Finished strong on both ends of the floor.
- Was more consistent and confident.
- Improved off the dribble.
- Could be the team's best scorer.
- Have to find a way to get him involved and in the flow of the offense.
- Will back up at shooting guard.
- Best ball defender on the team.
- Could be a good shooter, needs to make open shots.
- Smart passer.
- Tough enough to be third guard in a 3-guard set
- Redshirt was a plus.
- Gained weight and strength
- A talented scorer
- Coach expects him to be one of the better scorers in the MAC.
- Best transition finisher among BG guards.
- Makes the team better next year.
- Could also get PG minutes
- His next step is leadership
- Needs to be a more efficient shooter from 3 and FT
- Also, needs to know he is appreciated even when he doesn't score.
- Calhoun took some shots that would have been his before.
- Coach noted the St. Louis game, where Thomas did not score and contributed.
- Needs to be more efficient on defense.
- As a So. benefitted from inside-out created by Polk. Could he do the same with Calhoun and Black.
- Has good size and saavy.
- Not shooting yet.
- Solid defender.
- Good weakside rebounder.
- Need to get him on the floor.
- Is learning to play 3...also can play 4
- Great basketball skills
- Great runner.
- Made huge improvement
- Had spent 2 years off competitive basketball when season started.
- Played first games on talent.
- Had breakout game at UWM and was very consistent after that
- 7 20-point games after UWM game
- FG% going up
- Learning to make plays for others when double teamed--knowing if he passes the ball, he will get it back.
- Human highlight film with dunks
- Needs to be more productive with rebounds
- Needs to run the floor better and shoot better FTs
- Can also improve as a defender--has the skills.
- Understands the game.
- Best screener
- Occasionally a good rebounder
- Good mid range shot.
- Needs more consistency.
- (My note: needs a little softer hands...has a propensity to drop the ball in traffic).
- Stress fracture in leg--severely hampered season.
- Was getting better again at the end of the year.
- At times, showed the rim presence the team needs.
- Still healing now.
- Great basketball IQ.
- Conditioning and strength are key.
- Still healing even now.
- Income freshman teammate of Clarke.
- My note--many fans are alarmed at his lack of stats in HS, especially given his size.
- Coach says that in their havoc style, his role was to play the back of the pressure set and block shots.
- They shot quick on offense...often before Rorie even got up floor.
- High upside.
Coach then turned to look at the whole team.
- He says that your shooting % should not determine your winning %.
- After the first 10 games, he contends we were a better shooting team.
- We won't win without defensive effort in every game.
- Need more offensive efficiency.
- We have a lot of players back, so do other teams, including WMU and Kent.
- It isn't enough to have guys back. They have to make a progression to a higher level of play.
- Why not us?
- Also, we apparently have no verbals. He says if we had one, we would know about it.
I think this is a very realistic assessment of what is ahead. As I wrote after the season, BG has to not just get older, they have to get better. If Black can play the post and force teams to guard Calhoun with a 4, and Brown shoots and Crawford runs the team, and all the bench guys get better, this team could be very good.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
The Orlando Sentinel has a blog...college football 360, one of the top ongoing mainstream media football blogs. They are working their way through the FBS in reverse order...it did not take them long to hit the orange and brown, at 110, ahead of only Akron and Buffalo in the MAC, and behind (somewhere) EMU.
Before you get bummed out, check there they ranked eventual MAC Champ Miami last summer