Friday, February 17, 2012

Morehead State Comes to BG.....

Now we take a little break--a little peek into the outside world--and take on someone new(ish) as part of the Sears Bracketbuster game.

Morehead KY was not named
for Bewitched star
Agnes Morehead
We have been assigned Morehead State...and let us just stop now and reflect in the fact there is a college named Morehead.  It is located in Morehead, KY, and wikipedia says Morehead was named for the first native-born Kentuckian to be Governor of KY, James Turner Morehead.  It was not named for Agnes Morehead of Bewitched (and Citizen Kane, according to Wikipedia) though I know a lot of you think that, and it was not named based on a primal wish of the 20 men who founded the town.  It was named for James Turner Morehead.  (He practiced law in Bowling Green, KY, according to Wikipedia).
The grave of
James Turner Morehead.
(not buried in Morehead KY).

Morehead is a team who we have busted brackets with before...well, we have played them in the bracket buster, the bracket has been traditionally safe from our Falcons, sadly.  Morehead, however, did at least crack the bracket last year when they entered the Big Dance as a #13 seed and beat #4 seed Louisville before losing to Richmond in the second round.  It was a huge victory for the OVC and for Morehead--they had previously only won play-in type games.

That Morehead State team had a guy named Kenneth Faried on the team.  He scored 17 points a game last year and led the nation with 14 rebounds per game.  This year, he plays for the Denver Nuggets.  Their second leading scorer was Demonte Harper at 15 points per game and 3.5 assists.  I don't know where he is playing this year, but it isn't Morehead State.  Both guys were seniors.

So, this isn't that Morehead team.  These dudes are 15-13 with 3 non-D1 victories.  Just like BG, they have beaten Austin Peay (they have done it twice) and Ball State.  Like BG, they lost to Kent in Kent.  Their quality wins are over a good Princeton team on a neutral floor, and @Norfolk State.  They have some marquee losses but they also lost at home to South Dakota and Jacksonville State and at SIU-Edwardsville.

They are 8-6 in the OVC and are in 5th place.  They have won 6 of their last 8 so perhaps they are rounding into shape.

The first thing this game will be about is pace.  All stats below are based on Morehead's OVC games, since it gives us a much cleaner view of the kind of team they are, eliminates those non D-1 teams and the marquess loses.  Morehead is averaging 58 possessions per game in their conference season, which the absolute slowest in D-1 basketball.  (for perspective, EMU is doing 59.5 and BG, hardly an uptempo team, is doing 63.7.

And BG struggled in a down tempo game with EMU...there may be a couple of differences though.

Sometimes you see a team that is very deliberate on offense, but scores efficiently on those possessions.  This is not that team.  They are 9th (out of 11) in the OVC in offensive efficiency.  (The actual number is 99.6, which would be 7th in the MAC).  They are 8th in EFG%, 11th in turnover percentage (24.5%) and 8th in FT Rate.  They are 4th in offensive rebounding, which means the Falcons will need to have shored up that part of their game following the rebounding collapse in Athens on Wednesday.  They try a lot of 3s, though they are 9th in their conference in actually making them...but teams have been mysteriously getting hot against BG from beyond the arc and I would expect the Eagles to test BG on the 2-3 zone.

Interestingly, they are 4th in the OVC in defensive efficiency at 101.5, which is OK but would only put you 7th in the MAC.  With that dichotomy in mind, they are 4th in Effective Field goal defense, 2nd in forcing turnovers, 4th in offensive rebounding percentage but 9th in allowing free throws.  In other words, they appear to be a good defense in the OVC, which is a most offensively minded conference than the MAC.

Their top player and scorer in non-conference play was G Terrance Hill, but he suffered a season-ending injury and has not played in weeks.  The slack has been picked up by Drew Kelly a 6'7" (and refugee/transfer from the Oxford-based lair of the evil genius) who is scoring 12.7 points and getting 5.7 rebounds, both team highs in OVC play.  Senior G LaMont Austin is getting 3.8 assists per game.

This local media story makes the point that the Morehead Coach, Donnie Tyndal, might be doing a better job coaching this team then he did last year.  You lose your top 2 scorers to graduation and then your best player this year to injury and you are still competitive.

Morehead does have 6 road wins this year.  A couple of things.  Obviously, beyond just being competitive, this game doesn't mean much.  However, a winning season would be nice and this is one you need for that to happen, and you'd like to see the guys get their mojo back heading to Akron on Wednesday.  I think this is a game BG should win at home.  Let's hope that's what we see.

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