Saturday, February 23, 2013

The last Mastodons in North America

American Mastodon on Right.  Extinct.
When Thomas Jefferson met with Lewis and Clark before sending them on their expedition, he had no idea what they were going to find.  He had ideas fact, one of the things that Jefferson thought they would see were mastodons.  In fact, Jefferson had a mastodon fossil at Monticello which had been found in Kentucky, which is why he thought they might be roaming the wild west.  Anyway, President Jefferson was only off by 11,000 years, which is when wikipedia says that the Mastodon became extinct.

This is all relevant because BG is in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fictional home of Frank Burns (or, maybe, the home of the fictional Frank Burns), to play the IPFW Mastodons.  This is the final bracket buster game ever, and someday in the next couple of seasons IPFW will head over to the Stroh Center and finish the deal.

When we found out we were playing IPFW I recalled the day's events, which included an epic Dan Dakich meltdown, a MAC reprimand and a bunch of little kids chanting a reminder to coach on what to do after games.  We haven't played them since.

IPFW plays in the Summit League where they are in sole possession of 6th place.  It isn't a bad conference...North Dakota State played Akron in the bracket buster last night and they're in 3rd place. In fact, based on RPI, the Summit League is the #16 league and the MAC is #17.

IPFW is not having a great season.  They are 13-16, which is not bad.  Two of those wins were against non-D1 competition and 10 of them were against teams with RPI over 200.  Their marquee win was against Oakland, the team that ended our season last year.  This isn't a great Oakland team but it was a nice win--in Ft. Wayne--for the Mastodons.  They have won 3 in a row entering Saturday's contest.

Their RPI is 289 and their strength of schedule is 322, which makes it one of the 50 weakest in D1.  Their kenpom is 256.  They lost by only 11 to Valpo and 12 to Notre Dame, and kenpom gives you credit for that kind of thing.

They play their games at 66 possessions per, which is about where BG plays.  They are not a great offensive team.  They score .99 points per possession, which is below average, though not awful.  They are a pretty decent team, shooting 48.5% on effective FG%, which is almost right on the NCAA median.  They are pretty decent on the offensive boards at 32.7%, (146th) and turn the ball over on 20% of their possessions, which is 149th.  They do get to the line....they are 95th in the nation in free throw rate but they are an awful FT shooting team (64.6%).  They shoot 34% on 3FG and 29% of their points on 3s, both of which are slightly above average but not incredible numbers.

On defense, they allow .98 points per possession, which is slightly above average, though not dominant by any means.  They don't defend the shot well...they allow 50.8% effective FG% which is 279th.  They are, however, excellent on the offensive boards, allowing their opponents only 25% of the available missed shots, which is #7 in the country.  Their turnover percentage (20.7%) is about average and teams do get to the line against them, though not as often as IPFW gets to the line.

IPFW does feature a marquee player, and that is Frank Gaines.  The 6'3" Senior guard is averaging 19.2 PPG this year, which is 22nd in the country.  He was first-team all-conference last year Last year, he averaged 21 PPG.  He takes 31% of their shots and is relatively efficient for a big scorer...he shoots 42% from the field and 34% from 3 and his offensive rating is 104.  He also has 4 rebounds per game and (not surprisingly) about 1 assist.

6'5" JR Luis Jacobo also scores in double figures at 10 points per game and is their best 3-FG shooter.  Mario Hines (6'8") is their top rebounder with 5.7 rebounds per game and their leading assist man has only 2.7 per game (Pierre Bland).

This is not a bad team at all.  They play in a decent conference and have decent numbers in that conference.  Having said that, this is also not a good team.  They've lost 4 times at home.  Of course, BG still has just the 1 road win with 2 road games left on the schedule, including today.

BG has been playing better than they were early in the year.  It isn't an enormous jump, but they are better.  The other road game left is Kent, who is having a down year, and a win @Kent would be huge for BG.  A road win tonight might help to get BG on that track.

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