Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Zipper problems, Part II

The Falcons now head to Akron to take on what has been the best team in the MAC to date, and there is really no close second.  The Zips are 11-1 in the league, and 19-8 overall with an RPI of 65.  Their only MAC loss was @Buffalo and they won their season opener against Mississippi State.  A win over Oral Roberts would give them a very nice resume...alas...

In fact, the team in the MAC that has come closest to beating them (other than the team that actually did) was BG, who lost 56-55 at Stroh.  It came right down to the end...Cam Black made a follow up and had a chance at an old school 3-point play to put BG up 2 but missed.  Then, Akron took time, set up a play and Nick Harney hit a game-winning shot in which he had a strong collision with Black that many in orange and brown felt was a charge, but no call was made (as if often is not in such a situation) and Akron went away with the win.

There is a different challenge for Wednesday, which is to win in Akron, at the JAR.  The Zips are 12-1 this year at home and 26-3 going back to last season, with only one MAC loss.  They are very solid on their home floor.  BG last won in the JAR in 2009, a game that catapulted BG into the MAC regular season title.  Akron got their revenge with a semi-final win at the Q on their way to the title.

The Zips have the most incredible statistical feat I have ever seen...I was tempted to call it an anomaly but it isn't that...anyway, Akron has 7 players who average between 7 points and 9.7 points per game.  This is just an amazing clustering of scoring, and befits a team that has big-time balance and depth.  Dambrot has always played a deep bench, and this year is no exception.  There are no double figures scorers (in conference play).  Nine Zips are averaging 15.7 minutes a game or more and the most any player is getting is 31 minutes a game.

Zeke Marshall has really come into his own...at 9.7 PPG he is their leading scorer.  He is shooting 51%, gets 5 rebounds a game (remember the reduced minutes for all these players) and 3 blocked shots per game.

Alex Abreu is their leader.  The SO PG gets their most minutes, and is scoring 8.8 PPG and adding 5 assists.  Nikola Cvetinovic and Quincy Diggs can both score, and SO Demetrius Treadwell has been effective on the boards.

This is a good team going both ways.  They play the most up-tempo game in the MAC, and are 2nd in offensive efficiency (1.08 points per possession).  That's a potent combination.  They get there by being 2nd in effective field goal%, 1st in FT rate and 2nd in FTs made.  They are 5th in offensive rebounding and 4th in turnover percentage.  On offense, this is a team without obvious holes.

Similarly, on defense, they are 3rd in the MAC at .94 points per possession.  That is being built on being 2nd in effective FG% defense and first in free throw rate, as in, not allowing them.  They don't force a lot of turnovers (7th) and they don't really need to, and they are fifth in preventing offensive rebounds.

Chart below is for all games....

This is clearly the biggest challenge any team is facing in MAC play.  BG did play them tough at the Stroh, largely through strong defense, and they're going to either need to play lock down D or not miss any shots like they did Saturday to compete in this game.  Akron is incredibly solid and well coached and they are a perennial MAC contender.  They are one of the programs any team in the MAC should be modelling themselves on...having said that, there's no reason to wait, why not now?

No comments :