Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flash Preview

As the season begins to wind to a close, BG is now in a tight struggle with relatively small stakes.  Right now, realistically, they are looking at somewhere between finishing 5th and 7th, all of which require a first round game at the Stroh against one of the lower ranked teams.  Kent, on the other hand, is in a tight struggle with huge stakes.  They are in a 3-way tie for a bye into the semi-finals of the tournament and cannot afford to take on any more water after they lost their last conference game @Miami.

Kent is one of the MAC's perennial powers.  A 20-win machine, they simply don't (or haven't) had off years.  Stars graduate, coaches leave, and Kent keeps producing winning teams.  This year, of course, is no exception.  They are 19-8 on the year and 9-4 in the MAC.  They beat West Virginia to start the season and they beat a decent UAB team along the way.  Their RPI is 106.

The reason they are just tied for the semi final bye is that they have not been as good winning on the road as Akron has.  In fact, Kent is only 7-5 on the road for the year.  After WVU, the best road win was against EMU.  The Flashes have yet to win a MAC East game on the road.

Kent beat Morehead State by 20.

These two teams played in January in Kent in a game that was an unusual shoot out.  The Flashes won 92-87 in what was the Falcon's worst defensive game of the year.

In case you forget, BG was down 18 at the half and then came out and had 60 freaking points in the second half.  BG had 9 3s in the second half of that game.  The game was not as close as the score might indicate--Kent led by 10 inside of a minute and BG nailed a couple of 3s in the last :15 to narrow but not close the gap.

In the end, Kent had only 8 turnovers and BG 16, and Kent shot 29 free throws.  BG did have an incredible game on the offensive boards, grabbing 56% of the available missed shots.

Scott Thomas had 23 points and Oglesby had a double double for BG in that game.  For the Flashes, Greene had 23, Porrini 19 and Holt 17.  Guyton added 10 assists.

Kent certainly did light BG up on offense, and that's not surprising.  They lead the MAC in offensive efficiency, effective field goal %, 3-point %, and turnover %.  They are 5th in FT Rate and 8th in offensive rebounding %.

When you are highly efficient on offense and you don't turn the ball over and then you are good at making your shots--that's a potent combination and one you don't see too often.  BG is simply going to have to play better defense than they did in the first game and than they played against the Zips in our last game.

Now, given Kent's record, it doesn't take too much deduction to figure out that they are not the world's best defensive team.  They are, in fact, 8th in the MAC in defensive efficiency.  They are 6th in turnover % and 7th in effective FG% defense against.  They are not good on the defensive boards (11th) but don't give up very many free throws (2nd in MAC).

It would be great if BG brought its home shooting shoes and lit things up like they did against Morehead.  Even so, I think defense is the key.  We can't afford to play "tag" with these guys.  That's their game.  And, of course, when the game hits crunch time, the Falcons need to be the team making the key play--the key steal converted to a basket--that can put the game away.

This is the most experienced team in the MAC, with 8 Jrs and Srs.  Reigning MAC POY Justin Greene leads the Flashes with 15.7 PPG and 6 Rebounds.  Randal Holt is scoring 14 points a game and Chris Evans is scoring 10.7.  Michael Porrini is averaging 9 points per game to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.  Carlton Guyton averages 4 assists per game.

This is a very good team that has not played well on the road and lost their last MAC game to Miami.  They have a lot to play for.  As I noted yesterday, BG has only beat a team that is currently ahead of them in the standings once this year, meaning that the Falcons have (pretty much) beaten who they should and lost to who they should.  The Kent game is the opportunity to change that trend and pick up a very key win.

Not to be depressing, but all 3 games BG has are tough, and while only one is on the road, 1-2 or even 0-3 are not out of the realm of possibility.  You have to win a game like this to keep it from happening.

No comments :