Tuesday, February 05, 2013

DeKalb in February.....UPDATED

So, the Falcons make the long trip across the plains to DeKalb, Illinois for a Wednesday game against the NIU Huskies.  NIU is as big a mystery as we have in the MAC.

The Huskies are 5-15 this year and 3-5 in the MAC, where they are tied with BG.  They won only 1 D1 non-conference game, but they did play a decent schedule.  Losses @Valpo, UIC, @Dayton, @Washington and UMass were all quality losses.  In fact, their only two bad losses were @Seattle and @Milwaukee and those were both road games.

Then, there was the team that had 4 points at halftime @EMU a couple weeks ago, missing something like 30 straight shots and finishing with 25 points for the game.

They have won @Miami and @CMU (as part of the unusual road success this year in the MAC, as I wrote about earlier in the week) and they beat Kent at home.  They have lost to Akron, @OU, WMU, @EMU and UT--which might be 4 of the best 5 teams the conference has.

Their RPI is 276 and their kenpom is 245.  BG is 283 and 205.

They are only 3-6 at home this year.

The biggest issue for NIU is that they have a very hard time scoring.  They are 12th in the MAC and 337th (out of 347) in D1 in offensive efficiency at .87 points per possession.  You're going to guess that a team like that has a hard time getting the ball into the basket, and you'd be right...they are 345th in D1 in terms of effective FG%.  They are 6th in offensive rebounding percentage in the MAC.  (This is where tempo free stats matter.  They actually lead the MAC in Offensive Rebounds per game, but that's because they miss so many shots there are more available).

They also turn the ball over a lot (10th in the MAC) and are 9th in getting to the free throw line.

This is a very shaky offensive team.  They have been a little bit better in 3 of their last 4 games.

They are better on defense, though only average at that.  They are 6th in the MAC in defensive efficiency.  You can shoot against them--they are 10th in the conference in effective FG defense.  They do force a lot of turnovers--they are 3rd in the conference in that, as well as third in preventing offensive rebounds, both of which helps a lot.  As you might expect from a team that forces turnovers and is tough on the boards, they give up a lot of free throws--10th in pure numbers and 343rd in D1 as a proportion of the FG attempts they allow.

Individually, they are led by Abdel Nader. He's a SO who was on the all-Freshman team last season.  He's leading the team with 14.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG and he does that playing only 25 minutes per game.  (NIU's Coach, Mark Montgomery, comes from the Keith Dambrot College of Minute Allocation.  He is shooting only 35% from the field, however, and 35% from 3FG.

They have no other player who scores more than 8 points a game, not surprisingly.  6'9" Fr Sam Mader is their best shooter at 44%.

UPDATED NOTE SINCE ORIGINAL POST:  About 4:00 on Tuesday I saw on twitter that Akeem Springs, a FR G and the team's third leading scorer at 7.7 PPG has left the program, leaving the Huskies even shorter on scoring talent.  He was getting an inefficient 7.7 PPG, tho...so maybe it will help.

This is a young team.  They have 11 players averaging 10 minutes more a game and 10 of them are FR or SO.  They are the 3rd least experienced team in Division I basketball.

Which suggests to me that Mark Montgomery is doing a decent coaching job to have this team 3-5 in the MAC---same record as BG, with 4 seniors.

Having said that, if there's a better opportunity for BG to get a road win, I don't know what it is--unless it is IPFW.  BG has @OU, @Akron and @Kent left on the road schedule.

Having said that, NIU has been playing better.  BG needs to take advantage of the NIU offense by playing very solid D and you'd have to think that the rest will take care of itself.  Mostly, I'd like to see us continue to get contributions from our younger players---Orr, Sealey and Holmes, for example--while seeing if Crawford and Calhoun can continue the more focused effort we saw against Ball State.

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