Saturday, November 23, 2013

Next....the Billikens....

The Cancun Challenge moves on now to Missouri....where the Falcons will take on the St. Louis Billikens.  BG has played St. Louis twice in the Orr era..each around New Year's and BG won both games, one at home and one on the road.  Both of those games were against Majerus.

The new coach is Jim Crews, who once coached at Evansville, where he won 58% of his games before being removed.  Anyway, last year he was the interim coach after Majerus passed, he went 28-7 and won the A-10 regular season and tournament and won one game in the Big Dance, the fourth appearance for a Crews team.

They lost 3 seniors, but are still picked to finish #2 in the A-10.  They are very likely a tournament team and a Sweet 16 risk anytime they hit the floor.  They are 4-0 this year without any real big wins, and beat Orel Roberts in the first round of the Cancun thing.

This is a team built on defense.  Last year, they allowed a mind-boggling .87 points per possession.  This year, they are at exactly the same.  As a refresher, 1 is average and .87 was 8th best in the nation.  The Billikens do it mostly defending the shot.  Teams are shooting 41% and 21% against them and they are forcing 15 turnovers per game, which is about where BG is counting the Earlham game.

So, the Falcons, who have had trouble scoring, are going to have to find an answer to that issue.

On the offensive side, St. Louis is scoring at 1.13, which is also very good.  When you look at the internal numbers, it is hard to see where that efficiency is coming from.  They take good care of the ball, are an OK shooting team, though they are making 78% of their free throws, which doesn't match well with what we have seen from the BG defense.

They play at 70 possessions a game, which is fast.

They are led by Jordair Jett, their PG, who is scoring about 13 with 4 assists per game and shooting 45%, which is good for a guard.  Also scoring around 13 are G Mike McCall and 6'6" F Dwayne Evans.  All three are seniors and also averaging about 4 rebounds per game.

Rob Loe, also a senior, is 6'11" and scores 8 and gets 6 rebounds.  Their leading rebounds, though, is Jr. Grady Glaze, who is 6'6" and getting 9 rebounds a game and 3 offensive rebounds a game to go with 9 points a game scored).

The St. Louis teams BG played before were usually among the youngest teams in D1.  This year, they are the 9th most experienced team in D1.  

This one is going to be a tough game for BG, especially as a true road game.  For the Falcons to compete, they first need to play better defense than they is really the only chance.  They will need to find a way to make some baskets, but priority #1 is to keep the game very low scoring.

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