Tuesday, January 07, 2014

EMU Preview

The MAC season begins with the EMU Eagles.  EMU has been down pretty far in the MAC, but Rob Murphy has done a nice job rebuilding the program there and the Eagles have gotten progressively better.  They are 8-5 so far this year and 5-5 in D1 play.   (No excuse for a MAC team playing 3 non d1 games.)

They have played a brutal schedule. Their losses are to Kentucky, UMass, Purdue, Duke and Syracuse. They have nice wins over Cleveland State and Green Bay, both in Ypsi.  They have one road win, which was @Oakland.

There have been some changes.  Prior to this year. the Murphy teams have played at an incredibly slow pace and with an very active 2-3 zone.  Last year, they played at 61 possessions a game and the BG game had 60.  This year, EMU is playing at 68 possessions a game, which is a typical MAC pace.

The difference is that they are playing much better offense than they did in the past.  As you can see below, they are scoring 1.04 points per possession, which is slightly below D1 median and .11 more than they had last year.  As you can see, they are playing slightly less effective defense than BG, but stronger offense...both numbers should be adjusted in our minds to account for the quality of their schedule, good and bad.

As you can see below, EMU's EFG% is 49%, which is slightly below the D1 median.  Their turnovers are above average, too, as are the offensive rebounds.  They do a good job of getting to the line however (2nd in the MAC in FTs attempted), and their scoring would be above average if they were better FT shooters (65%).

You can see where BG's defensive averages are on the same measures.  The things to watch for are whether EMU's shooting% is artificially low due to playing Kentucky, whether BG can force EMU into more turnovers than they are used to and whether BG can do as well keeping EMU off the line as well as they have other teams.

Flipping things around, EMU is used to holding teams to a low shooting %, a trademark of the Murphy regime.  This stat is what I believe makes this a difficult matchup for the Falcons.  BG has played very poor offense over the last two games.  If BG is continues to shoot poorly and turn the ball over--both of which the Eagles are good at encouraging--they have almost no chance at winning the game.

There are chances for offensive rebounds against EMU and they do give up a lot of FTs...but BG would have to be better than normal on the boards and better at converting FTs than they have been to take advantage.  Add in that EMU plays a zone--something BG has struggled with due to limited outside threats--and you see that we had better get the December Falcons and not the New Year Falcons or it could be a long day.

They are being led by one of the MAC's top newcomers--if not THE top newcomer--Karrington Webb.  He's a 6'7" F who was JUCO All-American last year.  He's scoring 14 points a game on 47% shooting.  He's an outside threat, too, shooting 34% from 3 and leading EMU in attempts and leads the team with 5.9 rebounds.  He's a good player and will provide a nice test for Parker and Holmes on the inside.

Their next scorer is 6'3" Ray Lee.  Lee broke his foot early into his FR year and now he's got a medical redshirt to redo his FR year.  He's shooting 45% and 44% from 3FG.

Glenn Bryant is still around, still 6'8".  He's scoring 10.4 PPG on 61% shooting with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.

The point is run by Mike Talley, the Duquesne transfer, who has 3.9 assists over 1.7 turnovers.  Finally, they feature 7-footer DaShonte Riley who grans 5.8 rebounds per game and 3 blocks per game.

Much like BG's last two opponents, they run a deep rotation.  They have 10 players getting at least 10 minutes and no player plays more than 30 minutes.

BG has generally played well at home...though they have now lost twice at the Stroh this year.  EMU is a very solid team that has gotten progressively better and taken more than a little step this year.  BG starts the MAC season with 3 home games, and not winning at least 2 of them will put the team in a hole from the opening bell.  For any hope of having a passable season, this game is relatively important.

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