Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flash Preview...

The Falcons finally return home tomorrow to the Stroh Center to take on Kent State, one of the perennial powers in the MAC.

In a lot of ways, Kent is the model program in the MAC.  Coaches come, coaches go, players come, players go--and Kent is still competitive every year.  Since 1998, they have won 20 games every year except 1, and that year they won 19.  Except for that year, they have won no less than 60% of their games in any season.

That's where you want your program to get...to the point where you just chug along, players replace players, coach replace coaches, and you are competitive every season.  Kent hasn't played in the Big Dance since 2008, but have 5 trips during this run since 1998, and once in the Elite Eight.

There are some people who think Rob Senderhoff might have been the move that breaks the string...that remains to be seen.  This year they are 11-7.  Their kenpom is 114 and RPI is 170.

They beat a decent Nebraska team in Lincoln and after that their wins are pretty soft.  They have lost to some good teams--Temple, Valpo, @Bucknell, @Xavier, Akron.  They are 2-2 in the MAC, losing in Kent to Toledo and Akron but winning @Ball and @Buffalo.

This is a team that is very strong on offense.  Playing the 3rd most possessions in the MAC, Kent is also third in offensive efficiency at 1.05 points per possession.  They go about this in an unusual way.  They are just ok shooting (6th in Effective FG%), and they actually turn the ball over a decent amount (10th in MAC in turnover %).

As you might expect, they are very good on the offensive boards (4th in the MAC), but their signature offensive move is the free throw.  They have an almost 40 point free throw advantage this season and they are 17th in the country (#1 in MAC) in free throw rate.  They are also top in the MAC in free throws made and attempted.  Kent is one of the 20 best teams in the NCAA at getting to the line.

This is a very physical team.  They are #1 in the MAC in fouling and in getting fouled.

They are 2nd in 3-FG%.

On defense, they 6th in the MAC, allowing .99 points per possession.  They are 7th in EFG% allowed (right behind BG) and 5th in turnover %.  They are 10th in free throw rate and 8th in offensive rebound %.  They are second in 3-FG defense.

So, you have a very physical team that can score points and while not great on defense, does not have any huge holes and defends the 3 very well.  This might very well be a tough matchup for BG.  Kent allows teams to get to the line, but BG is last in the MAC in actually getting to the line, (free throw rate), and when BG is scoring points, it is normally because they are getting some 3s to fall.

Their unquestioned leader is Chris Evans.  He is second in the MAC with 17 points per game and 3rd with 7.7 rebounds.  He shoots 49% and has the 18th highest offensive efficiency rating in the MAC, which is unusual for someone who scores as much as he does.  It is very interesting.  He is about doubling his point production from last season--his game has taken a huge jump now Greene is gone and he is the guy.  (He's 3rd in the MAC in steals, too).

Their only other double figure scorer is Randal Holt, who scores 13.8.  He's a G, however, and is shooting 33% overall and 36% from 3FG.  Kris Brewer also scores 8.5 points per game and gets about 2 assists a game to lead the team.

This is a game BG really needs.  Kent is a good, though certainly on the low end of the array we have seen over the past 14 years.  They have strong guard play to compliment Evans, and BG is going to need to score like it has in the last two games but bring a defensive performance like they were doing prior to that.  BG is one of the lesser fouling teams in the MAC, and they will need to keep the Flashes off the line as well.

BG beat Kent by 16 at the Stroh and was very competitive at the MACC.  Let's hope BG can build on that and this a win that need really badly.

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