Wednesday, January 07, 2015

MAC Opener: Kent Preview

So here we go kids. Buckle in. The MAC season is about to begin.  Let's get 'er going.

BG opens on the road at Kent.  The Flashes have historically been very tough at home, although that has softened a little bit in the last couple of years, BG has lost the last four games at the MAC Center.  Overall, Kent has won 6 of the last 10, though the teams split last year.

Kent is 9-4 so far.  As noted in the MAC reset, they have some soft wins, and their best win was @North Dakota State.  Having said that, they have no bad losses....all are to a team with an RPI under 100.  So, without any big wins or bad losses, we are kind of at a loss as to how good they are.

Looking at points per possession, we can see that on an overall basis, the teams are pretty similar through the pre-season.  Kent has been a little bit better on offense but BG has been a little bit better on defense.   Therefore, both teams have a solid spread between scoring and defense, and on that basis, this shapes up to be a pretty interesting matchup.

The chart below compares the four factors for BG's offense and Kent's defense.  BG shoots slightly better than Kent normally allows, and Kent forces a few more turnovers than BG is used to making.  Rebounding is pretty even and the only place where there is a real spread is on free throw shooting.  Kent has put people on the line quite a bit and that presents an opportunity for BG, which does not typically find its way to the line a lot.

Flipping the situation, we see basically the same shooting situation....Kent is used to shooting better than BG is used to allowing.  BG is used to forcing more turnovers than Kent is used to allowing.  In this case, the biggest challenge will be on the offensive boards.  This is a point of emphasis for Coach Jans, but Kent has been at least decent on the offensive boards. 

One other thing to note is that Kent shoots 38% from beyond the arc, which is 3rd in the MAC.  They are +39 on 3FGs for the year, so BG will need to defend the perimeter effectively.

Individually, Kent is led by Jimmy Hall, a 6'7" SO who is in his first year in the MAC after transferring from Hofstra.  He's efficient, shooting a straight 50% and leads the team with 7.8 RPG, which is 5th in the MAC.  He is a poor FT shooter, so a Hack-a-Hall strategy is not outside the realm of possibility.

The second and third leading scorers are more familiar names, Deveraux Manley, a real weapon at 12.1/46% and 46% 3FG, and Kris Brewer (10.7%, but 38% shooting on all FGs and also on 3FG.  Brewer also averages 3 assists per game, slightly behind team leader Derek Jackson at 3.5.  Khaliq Spicer, at 6;9" also averages 6 rebounds per game.

Kellon Thomas played six games before being injured and has not appeared since.  He was supposed to be out a month, which started on 12/9.  Kent plays a deep rotation, with 10 guys averaging 10 minutes or more per game.

I think this has the potential to be a really competitive game, as both teams have presented similar profiles over the course of the season.  If Kent has the advantage, it is because they are at home (and giving away free tickets to fans who tweet pics of themselves in Kent gear) and because they played a slightly tougher pre-MAC schedule.  Having said that, BG has been able to play well on the road and has been very competitive.  The results of this will be very interesting and a win puts BG one MAC East road win up early.

No comments :