Sunday, March 09, 2014

Men's Basketball Season Ends With a Thud

The Falcons have been remarkably competitive in MAC play.  Undermanned to start with and then down Orr for the season and Sealey for much of it, they managed to not get blown out of any MAC game.  Through the season, I have noted their resilience and grit with admiration and pride.  They finally seem to have run out of gas and they ran into a buzzsaw in Buffalo last night.

I had said in the preview that Buffalo didn't have anything to play for, but I was forgetting that you can still win a division title.  Because the division titles don't have any bearing on anything, I don't keep track of them. Well, Buffalo had a shot to win the East title outright, so there was something to play for.

There was a huge crowd for the Senior Night, Buffalo was fired up, BG seemed tired, Javon McCrea wanted to make a statement, and Buffalo won by 23 in a game that was not close after Buffalo took a 10 point lead late in the first half.  With 2 minutes left in the first half, BG was down 5.  For the next 22 minutes, BG gave up 52 points. The blue line on the chart below looks like the Apple stock price.

It was BG's 2nd worst defensive game on the year--the worst being Wisconsin, which is a different kettle of fish.  It was a 71 possession game, which is fast, so that helped them get to 88 points.  Buffalo had only 5 turnovers in the game, which is far and away the lowest by a BG opponent this year.  So, with all those productive possessions to work with, Buffalo had a good if not great shooting night, making 49% and 36% from 3FG.  They also made 18 of 23 FTs and that is how you have a very efficient night.'

For its part, BG had a poor offensive night, even for them.  They scored .91 points per possession.  They shot the ball well, but had turnovers and didn't get to the line very much.

Javon McCrea, who should be the MAC Player of the Year, had a dominant night.  He had 34 points on 13 of 18 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.  He's a truly great player who has had an outstanding career in Buffalo.

For BG, Cam Black had a very strong game in his last regular season game.  He scored 19 points on 9 of 14 shooting.  You can add 11 rebounds and 3 assists to that.  As Todd Walker said, it is very sad that he wasn't healthy for much of his career, because he showed this year the kind of skills he has.

Pretty much everyone else struggled for BG.  Clarke had 11 points but needed 15 shots to get there and had 5 assists over 1 turnover.  Holmes only got 5 shots off and Parker only got 6 off.  Anthony Henderson was 3 of 8 from the field.

So, the regular season ends with BG at 12-19 and guaranteed to lose 20 for the first time since 2005-6.  We will have time to do all the recapping over the next few days, but for now I will just say that the team persevered in difficult circumstances, but in the end the year was pretty much what we feared it would be.

BG now gets back from the looong bus ride from Buffalo and will make the even longer bus trip to DeKalb for Monday's first round tournament game.  NIU is a program on the upswing after some very dark seasons--darker than BG has had.  I think they have a good coach and they had a good year with a very young team.  Interesting.

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