Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bobcat Preview

The challenge's for the men's basketball team will continue tomorrow night as the Falcons make the long trip down to Athens, OH, one of the MAC's toughest assignments to take on what is probably one of the top 2 teams in the MAC.

The OU Bobcats deserve credit.  The names Cooper, Baltic, Offut and Keely are gone--4 of their top 5 scorers--and yet OU appears to have not missed a beat.  They are 13-4 this year.  The losses are to @Ohio State, UMass, @Oakland and Akron (in OT).  I am sure the Oakland lost is something they wish they had back, but it certainly it isn't a bad loss.  OSU and UMass are really good and the Akron game was excellent and a tough home loss.

Their RPI is 72 and they are 8-2 at home this season.  After losing to Akron, they crushed Ball State in Akron and NIU in DeKalb.

They have a decent ensemble cast, with two clear leaders.  One of those is a familiar face...Nick Kellogg.  He's scoring 14.7 points per game on 48% shooting and 45% shooting from beyond the arc.  He leads the MAC in 3FGs.  That will get it done.

He is joined by 6'9" newcomer Maurice Ndour.  He is scoring 14.9 PPG on 51% shooting with 7.2 RPG and 1.8 blocks.  He's an interesting guy.  He is from Senegal, speaks five languages and was highly recruited out of Monroe JC in New York.  This was a great get for the Bobcats and he is having an All-MAC season.

Their third-leading scorer was Ricardo Johnson, but he suffered a serious leg injury and is not expected to return.  They also have Stevie Taylor with 7.6 points and 3 assists, Jon Smith with 7 points and 6 rebounds and TJ Hall with 8 points a game.

In terms of the numbers, you don't have to go much farther than this chart to see why OU is 14-3.  They are scoring 1.05 points per possession and allowing only .93.  In other words, they about as effective as BG is on defense and they are much better on offense.  Their offensive efficiency is just NCAA average for this year, but its plenty when balanced against the defense.  As you can see, BG continues to struggle offensively, although they have had a couple good nights in a row.

OU is getting there with solid shooting...that's 45% overall and 37% from beyond the arc.  They take good care of the basketball and do a credible job on the offensive boards.  They don't get to the line a ton, but they shoot 72% when they do get there.  What you have there is a portrait of a solid, average D1 offense.  As you can see, the numbers BG allows are pretty similar.  If BG can force some turnovers and defend the shot a little better than OU is used to, they will increase their chances to win.

Flipping things around, we see a team that is incredibly good at defending the shot.  Opponents are shooting 38% and 31% against them.  It is worth noting that OU holds teams shooting well below even where BG has shot for the season.  That's strong.  Combine that with a good ability to force turnovers, solid work on the defensive boards and that's where you get a team that is hard to score on.  They do foul a lot and BG has a chance to take advantage if their FT shooting is as effective as it has been in the last 2 games.

Given OU's ability to guard the shot, this one has to be worrying for the Falcons.  On the road in a tough environment, you can see BG struggling to make baskets and then the whole thing snowballing on the orange and brown.  Having said that, that was more or less who it looked when BG went into Kalamazoo and that one went OK.  I guess the point is that it will take something along those lines...something like that or something better to win the game in Athens.

BG will need to get the widespread production that it got out Sunday.  I have a feeling that teams will mimic the WMU strategy and guard Holmes hard inside, and the team has to respond to that.

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