Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Name North Dakota Preview

After a rather pleasant trip to Tampa in December, the Falcon men's basketball team now gets paid back by a late December trip to North freaking Dakota for a game against a team with no name.

Just to catch people up, the NCAA has been trying to get rid of Native American mascots and depictions.  You could get permission from the tribe or change it, and so you have the Miami RedHawks and the EMU Eagles...CMU got dispensation.  In most cases, it went pretty quietly.

Not in North Dakota.  Their teams have been known as the Fighting Sioux for a very long time--they had a logo not unlike the Chicago Blackhawks--and there was a lot of pride over the issue.  The University realized they had to comply with the NCAA, like it or not.  What happened next was that the issue turned into an incredible controversy that involved all levels of state government.  After the State Board of Higher Ed dropped the nickname, the State Senate passed a law requiring the University to keep it...a law they repealed later that year.  Then, petitions were passed (I swear to God) to put this issue on the statewide ballot...and, two-thirds of North Dakotans voted to "retire" the logo and nickname, showing themselves to be infinitely wiser than the people they elected to represent them.

North Dakota law prohibits the school from choosing a new nickname until 2015...(presumably this was written into the law by people who still think that as long as a new name hasn't been picked they could still reverse the decision) and therefore, the Falcons play a team without a nickname.

On the court, their men's basketball team has struggled this year.  They are 2-8, and both of those wins are against non-D1 opposition.  They are #288 on and their RPI is 346.  They have lost to 4 pretty good teams (Kansas State, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State) but also to very poor Hawaii, Southern Utah, Northern Colorado and Missouri-Kansas City teams.

They are 0-2 in D1 games at home.  BG and North Dakota have never played.

They play a pretty uptempo pace, at 67 possessions per game.  On offense, they are scoring only .96 points per possession, which is 239th in the country.  Their effective FG% is 46% which is 267th and still 2% better than BG's.  They turn the ball over on 20% of their possessions, which is not especially good and only get 29% of their available offensive rebounds, which is below average and tough for a team that misses a lot.  They don't get to the line very well, however, they are among the top 100 FT shooting teams in the country.

As for the longball, they are right on the national average for shooting the 3, however, they get 31% of their points from the 3, which is a lot.

On defense, they allow 1.01 points per possession, which is slightly below the national average.  They are allowing an effective FG% of 48.8%, which is also below average and give up 33% on the offensive boards, also below average.  They do force turnovers on 20% of the possessions, which is good but not great and they do a pretty good job of keeping teams off the free throw line.

One small reality check...those numbers are helped by the two non-D1 games where the opponents scored a combined 83 points.  UND has given up 70 points in every single D1 game it has played.

They did play a significant part of that schedule without their top scorer--Troy Huff--who broke his jaw in the first game and didn't play again until the most recent game.  He is scoring 13 PPG but shooting only 33% on almost exclusively 2FG.

Aaron Anderson is scoring 12.6 PPG and shooting 35%, though he leads the team in 3 attempts.  At 6'7" Alonzo Traylor leads the team with 5 rebounds and Jamal Webb and Anderson lead the team with 3 assists per game.  Webb also gets 2.4 steals per game.

They have only one true big big guy, Mitch Wilmer, who is 6"11 and averages 3 fouls in 18 minutes played.  Like a lot of teams, they have a bunch of 6'8" ish guys on the roster.  Their top five players in minutes are 6'4" or shorter.  They seem to rotate their bigs to get around 18-20 minutes per game.

They have only 3 seniors and none plays more than 18 minutes per game.

This is a game that the Falcons should be able to win, on paper.  The effort that we showed in losing to MSU and to USF would produce a win in this game.  Still, the game is on the road and coming off a long break you always wonder how the team will respond.  The best case would be for the team to get rewarded with a win over those two hard fought losses, and that's what people will be looking for against North Dakota.

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