Saturday, December 27, 2014

Welcome Back! Men's Basketball Preview....DA BULLS

So BG renews an ongoing series tomorrow in Tampa as they take on the South Florida Bulls.  BG lost a crazy game down there a couple years ago--complete with a power outage and overtime.  In fact, BG should have won that game.

There's been a major change since we last saw the Bulls, which is that former Kent coach Stan Heath is gone.  He was replaced by Orlando Antigua (great name, right).  He's a long-term assistant with Calipari and I'd like his odds long-term in the Sun Dome.  It might be a little rough in the meantime, however, and for now that is our immediate concern.

USF was 12-20 last year and then had 5 players leave the program when Antigua arrived, four of them contributing significant minutes.  Only three players on the team have played D1 ball before this year and they are the 76th youngest team in D1.  They were picked to finish last in the American Athletic.

They are 6-6 this year, but they've partly set that up with their schedule.  There's one non-d1 win, plus wins over Jackson State, UAB, and Jacksonville, all with 300+ RPI.  (Jacksonville may be the worst team in D1.)  There's also home wins over Southeast Louisiana and Hofstra--probably their best win.  Their losses include quality losses to NC State, Alabama and Seton Hall, and then somewhat less quality losses to Georgia Southern and Florida State...and Detroit.  USF lost by 10 @ Calihan, a place BG won on a buzzer beater.

Last year, the Bulls beat BG at the Stroh by 14.

USF is not a good offensive team.  They score .99 points per possession, which is well below the national average--230th in the country.  Their biggest issue is that they don't hit 3FGs effectively.  Last year they were worst in the country and this year they are still in that neighborhood.  They also don't shoot very many, and overall their effective FG% is 50.3%, which is above average.  So, target #1 is protect the paint.   They also struggle getting to the FT line and they only make 64% when they do.

They do play fast--they have been netting 70 possessions per game, which is a lot.  They take care of the ball pretty well, at 21% turnovers and they are average on the offensive boards.

On defense, they allow 1 point per possession, which is better than average but not any kind of defensive juggernaut.  They defend the shot pretty well (EFG% of 47.4%, which is above average), and they are pretty much around average in forcing turnovers and on the offensive boards.  Their weakest area is common for young teams...they give up a lot of FTs...though not on that many fouls.

Individually, they are being led by returnee Corey Allen, Jr.  He's a 6'1" Senior guard who is averaging 16.9 PPG on 52% shooting, 42% from 3FG and 81% from the FT line--so that's an efficient player.  Their second leading scorer is Chris Perry, a 6'8" SO--also a returning player--who scores 12 PPG and 48% shooting and an eye popping 7.2 RPG.  The other double figure scorer is Nehemias Morillo, a 6'6" JUCO transfer scoring 10 PPG on 43% shooting and 6 RPG.

Finally, Anthony Collins is back at PG.  He played only 8 games last year--one of them the BG game--but is pulling 9 PPG and 6 assists per game...the latter number being among the top 20 in the country...remember they play high tempo, so there are more possessions to work with.

I am very interested in seeing how this game turns out.  USF is at home and for that reason has to be considered formidable.  Still, I feel like this is a winnable game for BG, under the right circumstances.  The interesting part is that these might be the right circumstances.  We are still getting to know Coach Jans, but I'm going to guess that we're not going to play the way we did in our last game and in fact will play much better.  That's not going to happen two games in a row.

That's what will be interesting to see.

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