Sunday, January 31, 2016

Three Football Verbals, more to come (Updated)

From what I am hearing, this is not the full extent of new activity, but here is some recent news...

Some quick info. Jared Wyatt is a WR from Wylie East HS, which is NE of Dallas.  In Texas.  He had an offer from other info, there may have been other offers.  He caught 35 passes last season...for 25 yards a reception and 16 touchdowns, which are all pretty good numbers.  Wylie East was a good team, going 10-2.  He is 6'2" and 183.

Darrion Landry is also a WR.  He is also a nice guy for us to have.  He was a commit to UT last year out of Blinn College.  Hustle Belt (link above) said he had offers last year "from Akron, Illinois, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Southern Alabama, South Florida and Southern Mississippi," and was a consensus 3-star pick.  He had 24 receptions and 7 TDs in 7 games, which aren't great numbers, but he clearly has a good shot at being very productive in the MAC.

Tim Tanner-Blair is from OHIO!! LOL, he plays at Lakota West, HS, which is in West Chester.  He is an OT...6'4" and 275 pounds.  He had offers from Indiana State, Urbana and Davenport.    He was named 2nd-team all-area by the Journal-News.

DB De-commits from Falcons

Chips Complete Sweep

CMU completed the sweep of the Falcons yesterday at McGuirk.  BG needed to slow down CMU's shooting performance compared to the Stroh and did, but BG matched it with a poor shooting performance on its end and really didn't give themselves a chance to win the game.  CMU won 77-65 in front of a really nice crowd of almost 3,800.

It is BG's first road loss in the MAC season, and puts them at 4-4.

The first 10 minutes were closely played--if by that you mean that both teams were having trouble getting on the board.  Mid-way through the half CMU led 16-13.  They went on a 3-minute 8-2 run, featuring 2 treys (BG had 2 for the entire game) and the lead was up to 11.  BG knocked the lead back to 5, but with less than 2 minutes left a Rayson 3 put the Chips up by 12 and they led by 9 at the half.

BG has been behind before on the road and at 9 down you still had to feel like our team had a shot.  You can chip away at a lead like that, you can make a run.  What you can't do is fall farther behind.  BG's starters came out of the locker room and for 3 minutes lost every battle with CMU, which scored the first 10 points of the half, putting CMU up 19 and essentially putting the game away.

Coach Huger substituted out his entire starting five, a move I applaud completely.  The new guys did better than the starters by keeping the score from getting any worse, but they didn't make a run, either.  Eventually BG got the lead to 10 twice, and you always feel like maybe if you can get it to single digits you might have some momentum, but that never happened.

Here you can see the story pretty clearly.  CMU didn't shoot great...44% and 41%.  However, BG was awful, shooting 37% and 17%.  Not going to win many like that.  BG also did a poor job with turnovers and nobody got to the line as the officials let the guys play in a way you'd never have expected to see in today's game.  BG did continue to be good on the offensive boards but seemed to have trouble converting the rebounds to baskets.

Chris Fowler, who torched BG for 42 last year in Mt. Pleasant, this time was held to 27 on 9 of 14 shooting.  Rayson had 19, but had to work a lot harder for it this time, launching 20 shots.

Spencer Parker led BG with 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting.  Rasheed Worrell probably had BG's top individual performance, however, with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Zack Denny had 11, but he continues to struggle.  He shot 4 of 12 and 0 of 3...he also had 7 rebounds.

Down the line...Denny, Tisdale, Ali, Lillard and Fox were 9 of 31 collectively.

BG has Ball State at the Stroh.  The Cards are improved this year, but are 4-4 in the MAC and have lost 3 of their last 4.  BG needs to get well at home.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chips Redux

So the Falcons are in Mt. Pleasant for their first rematch of the season.  CMU won the opener at the Stroh.  The storyline for that game was how BG would match up with a very strong CMU offense and a weaker CMU defense.  The answer, as you can see below, was that CMU won both of those battles.  They shot almost half of their FGs from 3, made 40% and made 51% of their FGs overall.  BG shot a 2-heavy mix and made only 44%.  Really, not much analysis needed once you have looked at the shooting.

So, not to Captain Obvious, but those are going to have to turn that around.

CMU is 4-3 in the MAC, same as BG.  In addition to BG, they have beaten Akron, Ohio and @Miami and lost to @NIU, @Buffalo and EMU.  CMU has been a mystery for much of the season, which they started as the favorites, and the MAC season hasn't really resolved that.  The win over Akron is good, but getting scorched by EMU at McGuirk is not.  The exciting thing is that the MAC is wide-open and the bye structure is more friendly to late-blooming teams, so even at 4-3 CMU can still play their way to the can BG.

Looking at the stats, CMU is the most efficient team in the MAC on offense.  Just as importantly, their defense is much improved...they are about 1.08 for all games and 1.05 for MAC games.  This would be a good indicator for them as the year moves on.  FWIW, 1.05 is in the middle of the MAC pack.  So, you can see BG responds with slightly above average offense and playing slightly worse defense than CMU.

CMU does not play at a fast pace.  They just score a lot.  They are 10th in the MAC in average pace.  They have a potent combination...they lead the MAC in taking care of the ball--meaning they get a lot of shots--and they are 3rd in shooting.  The combination is so potent, in fact, that they are near the bottom in offensive rebounding and getting to the line and still lead the MAC in offensive efficiency.
A few other notes.  They are a becoming a little bit more 2-focused in MAC play.  They are "only" 3rd in the MAC in attempting 3FGs as a portion of all FGs and are 8th in 3FG%.  (Again, all MAC play).  They are, however, 2nd in 2FG and FT shooting.

CMU remains easy to shoot against.  They are 11th on this measure in the MAC.  They are 10th defending 3FG and 10th defending 2FGs.  So that's an opportunity that BG is going to need to seize this time that they did not in the first game.  CMU's defense has improved by becoming average in forcing turnovers and preventing offensive rebounds and keeping teams off the line.  They have received an additional unearned benefit in that teams are shooting the lowest FT% against them in the conference.  This is another area where BG has a chance to take advantage.

Individually, CMU is led by two studs--Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler.

Rayson torched BG for 27 at the Stroh, including 5 of 8 from 3FG.  He is scoring 17.8 PPG in MAC play, 3rd in MAC play and is shooting 46% overall and 39% from 3.  He is also 2nd in the MAC with 92% FT shooting.  He has been in double figures in every MAC game though his day at the Stroh was his best.

Chris Fowler is the other stud.  He is scoring 15 a game, though less efficiently.  He's shooting 41% and 23%.  He's very good at the line as well 83%--he made all 11 in a 21 point and 9 assist win over Miami.  Oh yeah, he is 2nd in the MAC with over 6 assists per game.  He also leads the MAC in minutes per game.

Their leading rebounders are John Simons (6 per game) and Luke Meyer (5.4 per game).

So that's how it stacks up.  BG's home court struggles have made this game pretty important as the Falcons work toward conference seeding and, at least, a home game to get to Cleveland.  I will say this...BG is an interesting team to watch.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Orange Road Warriors Win #3

You just don't expect to see an average MAC team--at 4-3--with this kind of profile.  Normally, that team wins at home and loses on the road.  Your Falcon team?   Doing it backwards.

But, hey....4-3 is 4-3, and we're talking the #10 conference in RPI as of yesterday.

I think yesterday's win was pretty notable, for a couple reasons.  First, BG battled a lot of foul trouble in the game...and Zack Denny is in a shooting BG had to have some different guys step up.  So, when you hear that you won a game and JD Tisdale had 11 on 4-6 shooting and Rasheed Worrell had 11 points and 9 rebounds (though his FG shooting was poor, he made 7 of 10 from the line), and Alcegaire had 14 points (6 of 7 shooting) and 5 rebounds and Pep Joseph had 9 points...and Matt Fox hits the game winning'd have to feel pretty good about the team's ability to have different guys step up in a key situation.

Another reason I felt the way was notable was that BG was outplayed most of the way.  Basketball is a game where you have to at least stay in touch...and BG was down 10 in the first half but got it back to 5 at halftime. WMU got the lead up to 7 in the second half, but BG kept the game within reach, which gives you a shot at the end.

Finally, BG had a strong close to the game.  With about 3 minutes left, BG had made a run to get the game tied and then there was one of those exchanges...WMU hit a couple FTs, got a steal and nailed another basket to go up 4 heading into the final minutes.  I marked that point in my head, because that can set the tone for the road home.

Except it didn't.  The game was still a 4-point deficit with about 2 minutes left when BG turned the table...Ali lay up, get a stop, Worrell 2 FTs and the game was tied with 1:23 left.

Next possession, BG catches a break as Haymond, a career 73% FT shooter missed both ends of a FT situation and BG came down and Matt Fox nailed a 3FG with :53 left to put BG ahead by 3.

BG got a stop and Worrell cleared the board.  There were :39 left and WMU oddly decided to play for the stop.  It ended with a foul and Worrell on the line with :11 left.  He's very solid at the line, but this time he missed them both and WMU had a chance down 3.

BG did the right thing by fouling before they could launch a 3FG and Wilder made the first and missed the second on purpose (there are :04 left) and Parker rebounded and was fouled.  He hit both FTs in clutch time to put the game away.

So, after that exchange with 3 minutes left which often leaves a team chasing until the end, the Falcons punched back, got stops, cleared the boards and then Matt Fox--WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY??--nails the winning trey.

Numbers wise, BG won the game by generating more possessions, taking care of the ball and being strong on the boards.  The shooting for the game was equal--remember, it was a one-point final, but BG took 65 FG attempts and WMU took 51.  That came from BG doing an excellent job taking care of the ball--the game had 73 possessions, so relatively up-paced--and winning on both sides of the glass...which was great after struggling in two straight games.  That was enough to offset the +12 WMU had at the FT line.  The Broncos made 75% of their 36 attempts, which is a huge number when you are not being fouled in the last minute...and BG made only 63% of their 24 attempts.

Individual stats are above, except for Ish Ali with 5 assists over 2 turnovers, including an assist on the Fox game-winner.

So, BG is 4-3 and heads now to CMU where they will test out the road court advantage again, this time against CMU, who are also 4-3 and beat BG at the Stroh.

The MAC continues to be a circus...UT lost at home to OU last night (though they erased a 20 point deficit) and Akron got a big home win over NIU.  It is very entertaining this year and the MAC is (as mentioned) currently the 10th ranked conference.  Enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Falcon Football Verbal, Texas Style

If you follow the recruiting sites, we're working Texas pretty hard, which makes total sense in the available time frame.  Also, there's plenty of good football players in Texas, we'll take as many as we can get.  Coach Jinks and his staff can demonstrate their mettle developing relationships around here for next year.

My curiosity was peaked when I saw this on Twitter.

Then I googled what the 832 was and found it was Houston.

The most recent offer to Houston was to Cederick CJ Pickrom...who had some telling retweets (the world we live in) and then eventually this was on his profile.

He is a decommit.  He was originally committed to Texas State, who also changed coaches this year.  In fact, this blog indicated that he was contacted after the dead period and was a solid Texas State commit with a 1/29 official visit (if you don't say OV you can't sit with the cool kids).  I believe he visited BG on 1/22 and now this is on his profile.

He's a DB...he played safety but the blog article above says he can play some corner and has a reported 4.5 and 4.6 time.  He is 6'1" and 183.  My guess at BG is that he's a CB, but what do I know.  He says he has played both zone and man.  He started playing as a FR, which is something, and he also ran track.

Rivals has him listed as a 2-star recruit with an additional offer from UTSA, where he possibly ran across Coach Eliano.

Two last things.  I assumed Reagan High School was named for Ronald Reagan, NO!  It is named for John H. Reagan, who was the Postmaster of the Confederate States of America.  Whoever it is named for, Reagan looks to be sending seven players to FBS ball next fall.

Monday, January 25, 2016

WMU Preview

So after a tough week on home floor, BG takes on an even tougher assignment, which is two straight road games.  Of course, BG has a couple road wins under its belt, but that's not something you'd like to tempt.

The opponent this time is WMU.  The Broncos are off to a tough start this year, which was hijacked before it began by the loss of Conner Tava.  They are 8-11 this year, 6-11 in D1 games and 2-4 in MAC play.  Their big win was over NIU in K-zoo....and they beat Buffalo at home, too.  They have lost to Kent and Ball State at home and @Akron and @OU.  BG won in Athens but lost to Kent on its home floor.

WMU has played three of the toughest teams in the conference, which impacts their record.  In their last game, they beat Buffalo by 20.

BG has won the last 4 games between the two teams, including 2 on the road.

Looking at the stats...and from here on in we are using MAC-only stats, you can see what I have been talking about, which is BG's sliding defensive production, which is about .1 points per possession lower than it had been earlier when BG was playing a relatively soft non-conference schedule.  On the plus side, BG has been scoring.

WMU has pretty much the stats you'd expect.  They are sub-par on both sides of the ball, a little bit worse on defense.  They play slightly up-tempo at 70 possessions per game.  This would be a good chance for the BG defense to get healthy after playing some of the better offensive teams in the MAC.

Looking next at the inside stats, WMU's biggest issue is that they struggle to make shots, at #11 in the MAC.  On the other measures they are good...they take care of the ball, get decent offensive rebounds and get to the line effectively.  They are only average at 72% from the line.  Their biggest problem is that they only make 43% of their 3FGs, which is the worst in the MAC.  They are average in attempting and taking 3FGs.  The biggest threat to BG here is offensive rebounding.  WMU typically has a pretty physical team and BG has been weak on closing out with a defensive board of late.

Flipping things around, WMU is very good on its own defensive boards.  However, they are 9th in the MAC against the shot, don't force an especially high number of turnovers and give up a lot of FTs.  The opportunities for BG are to put together a game where they shoot effectively for 40 minutes and also where they convert some FTs.  BG is 8th in FT%.  Also note that BG's offensive rebounding is pretty good...that number is 2nd in the MAC.  WMU is 7th in the MAC defending the 3FG.

Individually, WMU is led by Thomas Wilder, a 6'3" SO and one of the top young players in the MAC.  He's scoring 20 PPG and adding 4 rebounds and about 2 steals per game.  He's efficient, too, shooting 48%.  Tucker Haymond is their 2nd leading scorer at 15.5 PPG, but in reality he is slumping in MAC play, shooting only 35%.  He is a 6'6" JR.

Anthony Avery JR. a 6'8" SR is their leading rebounder at 6.1 RPG.

So, that's how it stacks up.  BG has a tall road ahead with 3 home losses already, and this game is the kind you need to climb out of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BG loses Centennial Game on the Boards

The Centennial Game was an excellent event.  Falcon fans got the opportunity to walk down memory lane with an excellent representation of former Falcon players, especially from the Dakich and the Larranaga eras.

The only thing that would have finished it off was a victory.  BG battled hard and gave a representative performance, but ultimately lost its third straight home game, something you cannot afford to do in MAC play.  BG has 3 of the next 4 on the road and while BG has played well on the road, you don't want to try and feed the family that way.

In the end, BG had no answer for Jimmy Hall and no answer for the Flashes on the offensive boards.  Hall was especially decisive.  Kent fed him the ball consistently, and every time he got it, it seemed like he was in a mismatch.  He scored 26 points on 11 of 25 shooting and had 16 rebounds, nine of them offensive.  He was simply dominant and Kent rode him without mercy.

The game was tied at 14 about 10 minutes into the first half.  Obviously, that's not much offensive production.  Kent then found a spark, scoring 11 points over the next 5 minutes while BG did not score at all, on their way to a first half where they shot a brutal 20%.

Kent led by 11 at the break, 30-19.

BG shot much better in the second half (57%).  And it showed, as BG began to pressure Kent.  BG chipped away at the lead, getting it to 3 with 10 minutes left and again with 9.  With 6:36 left they cut it to 1 and BG tied the game at 51 with 5:52 left.

Things are OK at this point, the crowd is getting involved.  Kent was up 3 with about 2 minutes left when the game's key sequence occurred.  Kent had the ball and BG needed a stop, but Hall drove into the lane and nailed a jump shot to go up 5.  BG came downcourt and took a 3 which missed and Kent came down and Hall scored again, giving him two baskets in 26 seconds and making the lead 7.

The last minute was typical MAC crazy-time.  Not crazy time like at Ball State and EMU, but crazy time.  BG chipped it to 3 with :28 left.  KSU made 2 FTs with :27 left.  Amazingly, Kent was still only in the 1-1, and they missed a front end.  BG got it back to 3 with :09 left.  Kent missed another front end and Kent fouled BG before they could shoot the 3.  Now there are :04 left.  Ali (also in 1-1) made the first and missed the second on purpose, but Kent cleared the board and BG fouled.

The Flashes made 1 of 2 to still only be up 3.  He missed the second one and BG tried to lob the ball up court but Kent knocked it out of bounds.  Now with .9 left, BG got the ball in the corner to Denny.  Zack didn't get a shot off...he was way off balance and there certainly appeared to be some contact, but the ref swallowed his whistle and that was that.

Again, remembering what we expected for this year, I think BG is playing competitive ball and I'm encouraged.  The next thing is to see them continue to improve and win a couple of these close ones.  Their big struggle--in my view--is consistent offensive production.

Rarely does this graph so accurately tell the story of the game.  Nobody shot well.  Kent was 38%/21% and BG was 38%/27%.  Collectively, the teams were 7-29 from 3FG.  All the Kent players not named Hall were 14 out of 41.  Turnovers were similar and offensive rebounds were clearly the difference.  BG even kept Kent off the line.  The one thing you don't see here is that BG had another poor game shooting FTs, hitting only 13 out of 21.  The Falcons are in the lower third of D1 for shooting FTs.

In the end, it was Kent with .95 PPP and BG at .9 in a 65 possession game.

Spencer Parker and Wes Alcegaire led BG with 14 points.  Parker got it on 4 of 7 shooting and 6 of 7 at the line with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.  Wes made 5 of 7 3 FGs and has been playing well of late.  It was not Zack Denny's night...he missed all 7 shots, though he did add a team-high 6 rebounds.  Wiggins added 5 boards and Ish Ali had 6 rebounds over 3 turnovers.

After the game, Coach said that the team needs to get everyone producing on the same night, and that would certainly help.  He also said that our game plan needs defensive boards to create offensive opportunity and that has been an issue.  For all games this year, BG is only losing 29% of the available defensive rebounds, but in MAC play that is up to 33%.  It isn't terribly surprising given BG's lack of a true 5, but it is going to be an issue.  BG was forced to play a zone to protect the middle against Kent, and that didn't make it any easier.

Great crowd, second straight over 3K.  Would be great to reward one of those big crowds with a win, but for now we're going to have to be content with progress and potential.

And a Harold Anderson bobblehead.  Like anyone ever expected to hear that sentence.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kent State Preview

So Saturday afternoon the Kent State Golden Flashes come to town.  The Falcons have now lost 2 straight conference games at home and this is going to be a tough one to break the streak on.  Kent, of course, is one of the MAC's more consistent programs, and they are 4-1 so far this year and a first place team.

Kent as 13-5, 12-5 in D1 games.  They don't have a lot of great wins...their top win was @Penn State.  They have 7 wins against teams with an RPI over 200 (non-MAC).  

They have the same "Huh" game everyone in the MAC has, with a home loss to Buffalo.  Their MAC wins are over Ohio, Miami, @Ball State and @WMU.  As such, they have yet to face any of the MAC's top teams, so they might well be punching above their weight at this point.

Kent plays at a pretty much average tempo. They are a good offensive team but less good on defense, though not awful.  As BG hit the conference schedule, the defensive efficiency has steadily crept up, which we might have expected.  BG has played some high-powered offenses, but it seems to me that our best shot at winning is to get some stops and take the pressure off the offense.

Kent gets their strong offense in a slightly different method than most teams.  They are a good or average shooting team, but they are excellent on all the other measures.  They protect the ball, they are very good on the offensive boards and get to the line a lot.  For BG defensively, the challenge is going to be on the boards and not giving up FTs.  The Falcons are not really dependent on turnovers on defense.  They are not a strong 3FG% shooting of the 30 lowest percentage of points coming on a 3FG.  They shoot 51% on 2FGs, however, and they are about average on FTs at 68%,

Remembering that BG and Kent were very close on efficiency, the numbers below are not a surprise in that they are pretty evenly matched.  The key difference is at the line, where BG tends to get some shots but would need to make them.  Kent's defense defends the 3 effectively, as well, so BG is going to have to get inside to win.

Individually, they are led by Jimmy Hall, who's 6'8" and is actually only a junior, which is less than comforting.  He is scoring 15 PPG on 50% shooting and grabs 6.7 RPG per game.  He leads the team in scoring and rebounds.

Kent loves transfers, and their 2nd leading scorer is Xavier Pollard, a transfer from Maine.  He is scoring 13 PPG--17 in MAC games--and shooting 48% and 40%, which is good for a 6'4" G.  Their third leading scorer is Kellon Thomas who scores 13 PPG on 42% shooting.  He's their PG, without a huge number of assists but a really nice A/T ratio.

Finally, Khaliq Spencer and Chris Ortiz are averaging around 5 rebounds per game.

It will be interesting.  I'm expecting a pretty good crowd for the Centennial celebration and it would be a great time for BG to reassert on home floor.  Kent is a strong team but they have been feasting on the weaker part of the MAC, so let's see if BG can expose them with a win at the Stroh.

Falcon Football Verbal: Eric Sherkel

With signing day looming on the horizon,  BG has a verbal commitment from an "athlete" from Pennsylvania.  His name is Eric Sherkel.  He's 5'10" and 190 pounds and played at Moshannon Valley HS in Montour, Pennsylvania.  That's in the middle of the state, kind of between Pittsburgh and Philly.  You already know how I feel about guys from PA.

He was a very productive HS player.  Very.  And two-way.  He was named the area's player of the year, as well as a Pennsylvania all-stater and ICC all-star.  His team was undefeated this year and made a playoff run.

Check this out....

The biggest reason for the success of the Black Knight offense was dual-threat quarterback Eric Sherkel, who rewrote the record books during his time running the show. In 2015, Sherkel gained 1,843 yards on only 176 carries, good for a 10.5 average per rush, and he scored 25 rushing TDs. He also threw for 764 yards and five more scores against three interceptions and caught 22 passes for 387 yards and another five scores.

Ten of those receptions came in a Week 4 showdown against Mount Union when he collected 236 receiving yards and three scores to help the Knights to a 42-28 win. The total number of receptions and receiving yards are single-game records for Mo Valley.

On defense, Sherkel had a Progressland-best seven interceptions, returning two for TDs, and an area-high 11 passes defensed. Also a threat on special teams, he had two kickoff returns for touchdowns to help him to a Progressland-high 214 points scored.

Sounds like a guy we could use to me.  He had an offer from Columbia, so I assume the academics are strong, too.  He said Army was recruiting him hard, same deal.  He was considering walking on at Pitt or Penn State and had other MAC interest.

He played in a national all-star game---the Blue-Grey Game--in Florida.  They played him at slot and DB and I would assume that's what BG has in mind as well.

Welcome to the Falcons, Eric.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rockets Win Fifth Straight over BG

Look, the football winning streak is one thing, because while BG has lost 6 straight to UT, the Falcons have won 2 Championships in that time frame, while the Rockets have not even played in the title know, it feels like a little more of a fluke.

There's no mystery to this basketball thing.  UT has had a better team than BG each of the last 5 years. That's true today.  The early signs are that we have the right coach to turn that around--to rebuild the program to be back to a place it really hasn't been since Michael Huger was in HS--but for now, UT is just better.

Watching Nathan Boothe play is a pleasure.  He's so elegant, there is no wasted movement and yet he has incredible basketball skills...a soft shooting touch, he's a great passer, handles the ball well.  He's just pretty to watch and a very accomplished player.  I admire that he has taken his game beyond just being fact, he's the kind of big man you used to see in basketball but have grown extinct.  Hats off to him.

The game flow was pretty simple.  UT was up 9, BG pushed it back to being tied at 16 but about 2 minutes later UT was up 10 again.  BG rallied again to tie the game at the half after trailing by 12 with about 6 minutes left...BG actually led early in the second half and the game was tied with 11:31 left when the Rockets went on a 10-0 run to build the lead BG could finally not erase.

The Falcons did get the deficit down to 2 with about a minute left, but Boothe was fouled, nailed both free throws to go up 4 and then BG failed to score on the other end, followed by another Rocket FT and at that point you're in desperation mode.

I give our guys credit.  They fought hard and are ahead of schedule.  They just don't have the offense to win a game where they aren't getting stops, and UT was too good on offense for BG to get those stops.

The game was relatively fast-paced, at 72 possessions.  UT scored 1.12 points per possession, which is what they came in at (about) and BG had 1.02, which is less than their season average.

The key was shooting, in a couple ways.  UT shot 49% and 54% from 3FG, both of which are just tough numbers for a team like BG to beat.  BG shot 44% and 36%, which is an average night by D1 standards.  BG actually got a few more turnovers than you might have expected and no one was doing any offensive rebounding.  The other difference was FTs.  UT shoots them well, and they did last 77%.  BG was OK for the game at about 70%.

Zack Denny and Spencer Parker continued to pace BG on scoring.  Denny had 19 on 7 of 15 and 2 of 6 shooting and Parker had 16 points on a slightly less efficient 6 of 16 shooting.  Denny had 7 rebounds and Parker had 5.  Wes Alcegaire had 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting (2nd straight game in double figures) and Ish Ali had 11 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 25 minutes.  Demajeo Wiggins had 9 boards and bodied Boothe a couple of times.

Also, really nice crowd for the game...I have a feeling that Huger is bringing back some lost fans and will help to create the kind of atmosphere the team needs.

Kent is next Saturday for a heavily promoted Centennial Game.  That's another tough assignment, but BG has rarely played two bad (or "bad") games in a row, so let's bring home a big Saturday W.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rivalry Night at the Stroh

And here come the Rockets.

What has turned into a very interesting MAC season--for everyone, and for BG in particular--plays out another act this week.  Coming off two road wins, BG now has 2 straight on the Stroh Center floor, and these will be tough tests.  First, the UT Rockets and then the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday for the Centennial game.  As with the whole thing, we will learn more about the team as we go through it.

Toledo has won 4 straight...including one absolute heart-breaker.  They lost a ton to graduation last season...they are 11-6 this year and 10-6 against D1 opponents.  They haven't played a terrifically tough schedule...their average RPI win is 227 and they have 4 wins over teams with an RPI over 320.

Having said that, they are 2-2 in MAC play.  They have beaten Akron and Miami and lost to NIU and Ball State.  They have 1 MAC road win (Miami) and are 3-3 overall on the road this year.

The Rockets have been very competitive under Tod Kowalcyk and they continue to be.  They have always played an offensive style of ball and this year's team is no exception.  They are going at about 71 possessions/40, which is a touch above the overall average, and as you can see below, they are scoring very efficiently.  That's a top-50 offense.  They are paired with a pretty good defense as well...that's partly schedule-aided and partly some good players they have, two in particular.

The offensive production comes pretty much the best way possible...they combine really good shooting and taking really good care of the ball.  They don't have great rebounding and they don't get a ton of FTs, but they are top-50 in FG% and top-20 in turnover%.  Their shot mix is slightly more 3FG oriented than the average NCAA team and they are a good FT shooting team.  When they go shoot 3s, they are in the top quarter of the nation in making them.

As you can see, BG is used to doing better in both shot defense and in turnovers, so that's where a significant part of the tension is going to come.  BG is going to need to defend the shot to have the best chance at winning this game.

When you flip it around, things are a lot more closely-matched.  BG has been playing better offensively lately, so if this is on an upward trend, this could be a good chance.  The biggest gap is on rebounding, where UT is great and BG is average but rebounding really well of late...and FTs, where BG is used to getting to the line and UT is among the top 30 teams in D1 at keeping teams off the line.  

Offensively, the Rockets feature one of the top players in the MAC and a MAC POY candidate, if not the leader, and that's Nathan Boothe.  He's leading the MAC with 19.6 PPG, 2nd in rebounds at 8.8 RPG, shooting 54% (8th), 6th in assists, 10th in FT%,  and 12 in 3FG%.

They also have Johnathan Williams who is scoring 18.9 PPG on 47% shooting, which is very good for a guard.  He makes 39% of his 3FGs.

They are also getting production out of SO G Stuckey Mosley, who is scoring 11.4 PPG.  He shoots 44% and 42% from 3FG and is 2nd on the team with 5.2 RPG game.

With the way things are going, I'd expect a pretty decent crowd at the Stroh tomorrow.  Would be awesome to see BG turn around the Rocket series and continue to point the record up.  In fact, last season feels weirdly like last year, right now.

One other thing.  For the first time in a long time--honestly, I don't know when--BG has a coach who doesn't have to ask someone about the rivalry.  He's played in it, he knows what it means.  I have a pretty high degree of anticipation for this one...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Chaos Reigns in the MAC

MAC Men's basketball is known to be pretty competitive.  Even by those standards, this year strikes me as being off to a pretty crazy start.  Usually there's some structure, some idea of who can beat who, some notion of a favorite...not so far anyway.  There are really no bad guesses.

If you are a fan, this is really good.  If you are a coach...well, you're going to sleep a lot less.  

To wit:

Northern Illinois3 - 1
Ball State3 - 1
Bowling Green3 - 1
Kent State3 - 1
Akron2 - 2
Eastern Michigan2 - 2
Buffalo2 - 2
Central Michigan2 - 2
Toledo2 - 2
Ohio1 - 3
Western Michigan1 - 3
Miami (Oh.)0 - 4

EMU beats @CMU, CMU beats @BG, BG beats @EMU.

Ball State beats Toledo by 18 and UT beats Akron.

You start to believe in NIU, and then they lose to a winless WMU.

What about Kent.  We can believe in Kent, right?  Except they lost @Kent to Buffalo.  (Note: Kent has played only 1 road game--against WMU so far).

Akron has only played 1 home game but lost @CMU and @UT, both main competitors for the MAC title.

Ball State is 3-1.

Settle in kids....

BGSU Keeps Rolling, Tied for First in East

Dan Dakich once said this:

There are three things you remember in your life.

When you get married.
When your kids are born.
Road wins.

The order depends on who you beat.

So, yeah.  There was a lot to like about yesterday's win over EMU.  There was also a period of about 10 minutes that was not to like.

But ultimately, BG hung on for the win and got the road win.

And who doesn't love that?

BG was in control pretty much from the beginning.  They were up 8 with about 12 minutes left and went on a 3-minute, 7-0 run to go up 15.  From there, BG kept it up, leading by as much as 17 and then leading by 13 at the half.

Much as the did at OU, the Falcons continued the run after the break, pushing the lead to 20 before the first media timeout.  Don't know about you, but I wasn't feeling like it was over at that point.  EMU made a run to get it to 12 but BG punched it back up to 17 with 9 minutes left.

And then things changed.

EMU scored the next 15 points over 4 minutes, aided by a combination of missed BG shots and turnovers.  The Eagles had turned the pressure up and it really flummoxed BG, who at one point turned it over on 3 out of 4 possessions.

Mysteriously, EMU then pulled off the pressure once the game with within one score.  Honestly, I think they'd have been hard-pressed to lose if they kept it up.

BG poked the lead up to 6, but EMU scored 6 straight to complete the comeback and tie the game with 2:35 left.

I do give BG credit here.  Obviously, the previous 9 minutes were a dumpster fire.  However, having been punched in the nose, they stood their ground and did not yield.

Spencer Parker scored and then Raven Lee made 2 free throws and the game was still tied with 1:54 left.  Then, Antwon Lillard followed a Zack Denny miss and BG was up 2.  Raven Lee--who spent most of the second half making shots without conscience--missed a 3FG and Lillard had the board and BG had the stop they really needed.  Parker was fouled and split a pair of FTs with :53 left and BG was up 3.

Lee missed another 3FG and Pep Joseph cleared the board and Denny was fouled.  He split the pair and BG was up 4 with :30 left.

Lee was fouled and hit both FTs. with :21 left and the lead now 2.  Pep was fouled and he split the pair and EMU had their shot.  Working without a timeout, they got the ball to Lee who launched a potentially game-tying 3 but (according to the description of Todd Walker), the ball was practically down but it popped out again and BG cleared the board and had the win.

Again.  Road win>road loss.

It was a relatively high-paced game at 71 possessions.  BG had a very good offensive game at 1.19 points per possession and have a little more trouble on the defensive end, allowing 1.12 points per possession.  The difference in the game is in the first and most important category, which is shooting.  BG shot 48% overall from the field, which is good, and then 12 of 23 from 3FG (52%) which is just flat out unstoppable.  EMU shot 44% and 22%.  BG had a +7 advantage in 3FGs and that's going to make you hard to beat.  BG also had a very good game on the offensive boards--they hardly missed at all and when they did they got the board.

And yet....

BG had trouble with turnovers but the main (near) equalizer was free throws.  Both teams committed 23 fouls and BG tried 26 FTs and EMU shot 25.  BG made a poor 16 and EMU made a scorching 22.

Anyway, out of all that BG had enough for the win.

Individually, Spencer Parker continued to play well.  He had 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.  That's his second straight game over 20 points and he is starting to rebound more.  Typically he has played like a 3 but his is starting to produce more like a 4 in the last few games.  If he develops some consistency, it is huge for this team.

Zack Denny also scored 20 for the second time in MAC play.  He made 7 of 15 and 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.  Wes Alcegaire had 17 points on 5 of 12 shooting and 4 of 9 from beyond the arc.  It was his first double-figure game since the Drake game on 12/5.  He also had 7 rebounds.

Most games this year, Ish Ali has been BG's more productive PG, but Joseph had the key yesterday with 7 assists and 9 points on 3 of 6 shooting.

So BG is 3-1 and tied with Kent atop the East.  There's another post about how the MAC is following exactly zero patterns so far this year.  I have preached caution when evaluating BG so far this year.  Certainly, two road wins in a week moved the needle...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Eagle Eye: Preview

And the beat goes on...

Next up is a road game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles from Ypsilanti.  The Eagles are always interesting, because they play the most non-D1 teams in the MAC.  You know my theory, which is that you can play 1 every year, but they play 4 and some might be non-NCAA teams.  Anyway, it was a little controversy when he ripped the "media" because he has no money to schedule D1 teams at home.

Anyway.  Overall they are 10-6 with a 6-6 record in D1.  With that in mind, they have an RPI of 75 (D1 games only), which is 2nd in the MAC.  Their average RPI win is 106, which is the best in the MAC.  They have wins over Vermont, and Detroit, non-conference, both in Ypsi and at Nebraska-Omaha.  None of those are stellar wins, both all are in the top half of D1.  They have only one garbage D1 win, over #302 Coppin State.

Point is, they played a lot of non-d1, but at least the D1 teams they did play were good.

They are 2-1 in MAC play, but who isn't?  They beat Buffalo at home, won in Mt. Pleasant and lost to NIU in DeKalb.  FWIW, NIU is starting to be taken seriously and CMU is playing well and won at the Stroh.

In past years, EMU was known for being a very strong defensive team that used a Syracuse 2-3 and did not spend much time worrying about scoring.  This year's team has evolved from that.

Note that the stats below include the non-D1 games.  EMU is playing at about 71 possessions, which is on the fast side, though certainly not crazy fast.  They are scoring about 78 a game (scoring seems way up in the MAC this year), which equals out to 1.07 points per possession which is good and above average.  On defense, they are still good--if not as good as in the past.  More on that in a minute.

You can see right there why this will be an interesting game.  Those nice spreads in both column sets indicates a shot for a game where every possession can be interesting.

So what does EMU do well on offense?  The answer is, actually, nothing really, but they also don't have any holes.  They are not great on the shot but not awful, take decent care of the ball, are slightly above average on the offensive boards...and they get to the line a lot.  They make almost 70% of the FTs, which is just a bit on the plus side of average.  They are not a 3-dependent team...they are 293rd in terms of the contribution of 3s to their scoring.

The calling card of the EMU defense used to be defending the shot.  And while that remains a strength, it isn't a claustrophobic can't shoot type thing.  They are now more of a turnover team---they force turnovers on 24% of possessions, which is a big number.  Typical of a team that's running around and trapping, they are poor on the offensive boards (which was an unusual BG strength in Athens) and they don't foul much, especially for a team getting turnovers.  They don't defend the 3 well and teams take a lot of 3s, but it will remain to be seen if BG can capitalize on this.

Individually, they are led by James Thompson IV, a true freshman who is on track to be MAC FR of the year.  He's scoring 15 PPG on 71% shooting...(90% in MAC Play) to go with a conference-leading 11 rebounds.  He recently tied Torian Oglesby's record for consecutive made FGs.  He's 6'10" and all the way up from Baton Rogue.  With that kind of size and obvious ability, he's going to a handful in the MAC...BG's inside game has been better than I expected but this will be a challenge.

Their next leading is Raven Lee.  Lee was suspended early in the year and has made only 3 starts.  He has played extensively in the MAC games, however, and is producing.  For all games, he has scored 15 PPG on 42% shooting, which is solid.  He is a 78% FT shooter.

The impressively-named Willie Magnum IV is also producing.  He's a JUCO transfer, 6'1" G.  He's scoring at 14 relatively inefficient points, shooting 39% and 31%.  He also has 25 steals.

Brandon Nazione is also scoring 9.9 PPG on 57% shooting and adding 6.4 RPG.  He's a 6'8" Sr who was with the Eagles last year but is a JUCO guy before that.

Other highlights, G Ty Toney and Tim Bond are both averaging about 3 assists per game and have 22 and 30 steals, respectively.  Bond is also 6'7".

Just as a note, EMU has 8 players on their roster that started their college careers elsewhere.

Final note...LaMonta Stone II is a walk-on for EMU.  As you know, his Dad was an assistant at BG and he played at BGHS until the end of the Orr regime.  He plays sparingly for the Eagles right now...

Jinks Talks to The Blade

With the staff completed and recruiting now in crazy mode, Mike Jinks sat down with The Blade to talk about the state of play right now.

I'm not going to steal their thunder, so head over to The Blade, read the story and then come back and I've got some comments.


There are a couple of things I would point you towards.

First, recruiting.  Coach Jinks talked about his experience at Texas Tech with fast recruiting when you just got a job and how it didn't work out.  Coach Babers said much the same thing after his first class and we've seen it in basketball as well...those guys you pick up that you don't know very well often times don't pan out.

A couple things from this.

It shows a guy who has been learning at the college level.

It should also serve notice to the Falcon Nation that we might very well bring in a class that leaves some scholarships on the table for this year.  If we do, that's because we're making a conscious decision to keep the scholarships for the kinds of long-term players we need and not hastily acquired guys who don't fit.

So, on signing day I don't want to hear everyone bitching that we only had 16 signees, if that happens.  It was a conscious choice, which will be evaluated over time...the challenge you pick up with that is going out the next year and getting better guys with the saved scholarships.

He talked about some other things--his staff hiring process, for example, and what they are doing to open Ohio and Florida up and put Texas into our recruiting base.  Anyone who reads here knows that I have questioned both his hire and (even more) his staff.  I keep hearing "you just have to talk to him" and I keep thinking, "what is that going to show?"

To that end, I will say this:  the Mike Jinks in this story is a guy who clearly knows what he is about and sounds to me like he knows what he is doing.

The results, of course, still have to be achieved, but that would have been true regardless of who we hired.

Based on twitter, he and Eliano are sprinkling defensive offers across Florida.  They also visited Falcon verbal Jean-Charles Shemar.

Anyway, here's what I will say.  This is going to be worth watching.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Football Update--All-Star Games and new Assistants

Some more updates on the football program...

First, two additional assistants have been named.  The first is Benny Morrison, who will be the LB coach.  Like most of the new staff, he has never been a D1 assistant.  He was a defensive graduate assistant at South Florida last year and before that he was the graduate assistant FOR THREE YEARS at Texas-San Antonio, where he worked with our new DC, Perry Eliano.  As such, he has the longest post-graduate career in the history of education, unless he by some chance is beginning work on a dissertation.   He played LB in college at Drake.

Matt Brock will be special teams and defensive assistant. He worked with the defensive line this season after serving as the Red Raiders’ interim inside linebackers coach during the 2014 season. He was also a defensive quality control coach for Texas Tech in 2013.  There's no record of him working with special teams.

On the more upbeat side, BG has six players will play in post-season all-star games designed to showcase players for the NFL.

Three Falcons will play this Saturday in the new Topic Bowl.  The game is in Miami and there apparently is no TV.  Derek Lee, Ryan Burbrink and Zach Colvin will play in that game.

The following Saturday, three-time All-MAC guard Alex Huettel will play in the East-West Shine Bowl.  The game is at 4 pm on the NFL Network and is played in Tampa.

Finally, Matt Johnson and Travis Greene are playing in the NFLPA game, which will be played on January 23 at the StubHub Center in California.  The game is at 6:00 pm on ESPN 2.

This is huge for everyone involved.  These games--and the practices leading up to them--are great chances to show the NFL what you can do.  In addition, this is great exposure for the program when recruiting players.

One final not...Gabe Martin was promoted from the Cardinals' practice squad to the active roster for the playoff game this weekend.  No idea if he will be active, but the possibility is exciting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Crazy Night in Athens: Said Everyone, All the Time

Well now, that was one of those nights in Athens...not one of THOSE nights, but you know what I mean.

A crazy game ended up with BG taking a very solid road win , a game in which they played as well as they played poorly against CMU.  I think it provides optimism that the team might be ahead of schedule.  Of course, time will still tell.

Having said that, it could not have started worse.  OU got out to a blazing start, hardly missing anything...they led 10-2, 21-10 and 29-15 mid-way through the first half.  That many points in ten minutes is just a lot.

They were still leading by 14 with 4 minutes left to go in the half when things just simply changed for BG.  No idea how or why this happens, but the game did a J-turn right then.  The Falcons closed the half out on a 10-1 run to trail by 5...usually, the halftime breaks that kind of momentum but this time it didn't.  BG had the game tied at 44 and then took a 46-44 lead with 16:26 left and the Falcons did not relinquish it yet again.

BG kept rolling, taking a 9-point lead with 12:40 left.  It never got closer than 4, and BG was up 8 with 3:54 left when the game's crazy and big moment occurred.

We're going to get to that, trust me.

However, a point needs to be made about that.  Certainly the results of the melee went in BG's favor, but for the 18 minutes before that BG had outscored OU 51-29.  So, if you're going to suggest that somehow BG didn't deserve to win because of the technicals, well, BG had badly outplayed them for a significant portion of the game and had the win in sight already.

Oh, yeah.  The melee.  So Ish Ali nails a 3-ball right in the front of the BG bench.  And he's fouled.  The two of them tumble to the floor.  BG's guys are celebrating and they kind of engulf the OU defender, who is lying on the floor.  His teammates come rushing to his aid to extract him and that went south and there was a lot of pushing and shoving.  It seemed to be taken care of and then the OU players seemed to be behind the BG bench and it got a little more heated and a ref got a bloody nose and then everything was calmed down.

The refs went to the video screen and watched the replay.  And watched.  And watched.  They took a reported 20 minutes to determine what happened--and it was tough, with so many people in such a tight scrum.  When it was all sorted out, OU got 3 technicals and BG's JD Tisdale got one.  The report was that the OU T's were for entering BG's bench area.  No idea what Tisdale's was for.

Look it worked for BG and who's going to complain.  On a holistic level, I don't see how they did anything three times worse than we did.  I think you had to call something, but I thought it did seem out of proportion.

If you are curious, here is what Saul Phillips had to say.

Anyway, Ali had the "and-one" from his 3FG and then 4 FTs on the technicals, of which he nailed 3.  BG had the play and Zack Denny made an old-school 3 point play, making it a 10-0 run on one trip down the floor.  At that point, BG was up 15 and it never got closer than 13.  Phillips was T-d once as well.

Long night for the Bobcats, who have been struggling to beat BG lately.

Once again, the game was not fast-paced, just marked with good shooting.  There were 67 possessions, which is about the NCAA average.  BG ended up with a crazy 1.31 points per possession and OU ended up with 1.08.

As you can see here, OU actually outshot BG for the game. However, BG combined that with taking better care of the ball, a huge offensive rebounding advantage and obviously a big differential at the FT line.  BG was 22-30 from the line--a really good 73%--while OU was 12-21, which is unusual for a team that was 10th in FT% in the nation.

The offensive rebounding thing was huge.  BG had also as many offensive rebounds as OU had defensive rebounds and that never happens.

Spencer Parker was just unstoppable in the second half, with 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting, second half alone.  Overall, he had 22 on 8 of 15 shooting and 8 rebounds.  As an observation and not a judgment, I think it is fair that Parker has tended to be inconsistent during his Falcon career:  one big game, one invisible one.  This is his 4th game over 20 points this year.  If he can string success together over several games, BG becomes a much better team.

Ismail Ali had 19 points, 3 assists and no turnovers.  He was 9 of 11 from the line.  He got 26 minutes and I believe is our most energetic and effective PG.

Rasheed Worrell had 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting and 5 rebounds.  I continue to think he can be a really good player and he seems to be gaining.  He's got a soft shooting touch on a mid-range jumper and can play physically.

Zack Denny double-doubled at 12-10.  He did not make a 3FG but only tried 2 and still contributed to the win.

Finally, Antwon Lillard--who is also growing every game--had 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting and 5 rebounds.

I honestly thought that the OU game would be a very tough assignment for BG, but you have to be impressed.  Furthermore, BG got their doors blown off early and stayed with it, went on a long period of extended domination even before the fight and then closed it out from there.  That's a very nice win for BG, especially on the road.

The Falcons continue to exceed what I had expected and it has been and will be fun to watch them continue to grow.

Monday, January 11, 2016

OU MBB Preview

It is no secret to anyone that OU is one of the MAC's traditional men's basketball powerhouses, regularly shooting coaches up to higher levels, including John Groce (Illinois) and Jim Christian (BC).  They brought in Saul Phillips from North Dakota State to hold up the banner, and last year they had an uncharacteristic bad year, going 10-20.

This year, they appear to be back in the conversation, if not completely in competition for a league title.  They are 10-4 to date, with 9 wins against D1 competition.  Their RPI is 103, which is very good.  They had no huge wins--the best is over Marshall--but they have no bad losses either, with a 9-0 record against teams with an RPI over 170.

In the MAC they have held serve, losing to a pretty good NIU team in DeKalb and beating Ball State in Athens.  In common opponent land, they defeated Cleveland State and Florida Gulf Coast, just as BG did.  They are 8-0 at home this year.

Much like CMU, OU is a very potent offensive team.  They are scoring 1.13 points per possession, which should again provide a contrast to BG's most successful defensive style.  Hopefully, BG will be able to get more stops than they did against CMU.  When BG has the ball, the matchup appears to be more evenly matched and you have an idea what to expect.  BG will have to perform better on offense...and OU is much better on defense than CMU is.

OU doesn't get their points on crazy tempo...they play about average in that respect.  They shoot very well and combine that with ridiculous FT numbers...both in getting to the line, at which they are 9th in the country, and in making FTs, at which they are 10th.  They don't take great care of the ball and they are an average offensive rebounding team.

In terms of shot selection, they are just average in terms of the percentage of their points coming from 3FGs.  They are shooting almost 55% on their 2FGs, however, which is in the top 50.  So, while their results are similar to CMU's, the challenge in terms of match ups is different.

We noted they are better than CMU on defense, and that's certainly true.  OU is slightly above average defending the shot, but when they do, they are among the top 30 teams in the country in preventing offensive rebounds.  They don't force many turnovers and they are average in allowing teams to the line.  They are very good defending the 2FG and among the worst teams in the country defending the 3FG, which based on appearances makes them a tough matchup for BG.

As is often the case, OU is led by their PG, in this case Jaaron Simmons, who is a transfer from the University of Houston.  He scores 15.3 PPG on 48% shooting and a MAC-high 7 assists per game.  He does not shoot the 3, which means he is a dribble penetration guy and will present a challenge to the BG PG.   He is complimented by 6'10" Antonio Campbell, who also scoers 15.3 PPG and adds 9.1 RPG (2nd in MAC) and 58% shooting.  He does that in 25 minutes a game, which I assume is due to fouls--he has 42 in 14 games.

They have 3 other players in double.  Kenny Kaminski--6'8", transfer from MSU--who scores 12 points and gets 4 rebounds.  He only shoots 36%, but he is a very good FT shooter at 87%.  He leads the team in 3FG attempts.

Treg Setty is is a 6'9" Sr who transferred from Southern Illinois.  He scores 11 PPG on 47% shooting and adds about 4 rebounds.

Finally, FR G Jordan Dartis is scoring 10 PPG and hitting 44% of his 3FGs, and is a clear candidate for the all-FR team.

So, in general, I don't want to be a negative Nellie, but this sets up as a very tough matchup for BG.  The size of the OU team is impressive and they make shots.  They play decent defense and are very tough at home.  Hopefully BG has it together or this one could be ugly.

Lewis to NFL

To no one's surprise, Roger Lewis will enter the NFL Draft.  More power to him.  It's his life, he only gets one shot at it, and he's gotta do what he's gotta do.  He finished 2nd in the country in receiving yards, 3rd in receiving TDs, 5th in yards per game.  Historic season for us.

Go get 'em Roger.  You are a Falcon forever and a champion forever.

Football Updates....

It is the first day of classes at Bowling Green, so John Wagner is--as always--all over it.  He notes that Leonard Skattebo, a JUCO transfer has enrolled, as well as grayshirt Zack Sharp.  On the transfer and NFL front, everyone who had eligibility has enrolled.  Note, also, the non-Wagner tweet about Lewis entering the draft.

I have no idea what Lewis is doing, but enrolling keeps his options only.

The lack of transfers is good given the coaching change, though--as noted--they still have time.  Anyway, that's an update...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chips Rain 3s, Win

So, the questions coming into the game with CMU were whether BG's sometimes struggling offense could take advantage of a porous CMU defense and whether BG's usually decent defense could stop the 3-bombing machine the Chips have.

In the end, the answer was "No" on both fronts.

Not that the game was not competitive in spots.  BG led through much of the first half and led as late as with 5 minutes left and BG only trailed by 3 at the half.  The game was tied a couple times in the second half and CMU was still only up 4 with about 11 minutes left.  Then Braylon Rayson hit 3s on two consecutive possessions and just like that CMU was up 10 and as quickly as that it went from a tight game to one where CMU was in command.  The lead never got lower than 8 again and was over 10 for almost the entirely of the last 10 minutes, getting as high as 15.

The important thing is that CMU scores without a lot of possessions.  Yesterday's game had only 65 possessions, which means that CMU had 1.22 points per possession, which is just ridiculous.  BG had an average offensive game at 1.04 points per possession, but you need to have a better than average day against CMU.

CMU's shooting is just crazy.  They shot 51% overall, which is generally a winnable number.  Of their 47 FGAs, 25 were 3s and they made 40%.  Teams that shoot over 50% usually play in the paint.  Anyway, with a 62% EFG%, you will win almost all the time.  BG responded with poor shooting.  They shot 42%, which is not good, but they tried only 14 3s and made only 5.  That means they had a heavy mix of 2 FGs and they were only 19 of 43 (44%).  This has been an issue since the Orr years.  Without an outside threat, BG has to face packed in defenses.  If you are going to shoot that many 2FGs, you have to do better than 44% or you just don't have a chance.

BG did have a nice game on the boards, succeeding reasonably well on both ends.  CMU did get to the line a lot.  BG had foul issues, especially in the second half.  CMU made 78% of their FT attempts, to put even more points ups.

Individually, it was BG's front court in this game that led the way.  Spencer Parker had 15...though he shot 5 of 14 to get there.  Rasheed Worrell had a nice game, scoring 13 with 6 rebounds...5 of 8 shooting.  David Joseph had 9, as did Antwon Lillard (3 of 6 shooting).  Denny, Joseph, Alcegaire, and Ali all had difficult shooting days.  Demajeo Wiggins had 8 rebounds in only 17 minutes.

So, BG goes to 1-1.  Let me say this, though.  I am on the positive side of the meter for our coaches right now.  Too soon to be sure.  I think Lillard, Wiggins and Worrell--all FR--look to me to have a chance to be players, and they seem to be getting better quickly.  Under the Orr regime, I always felt that player development was our weakest link, so it is great to see these guys making strides.  Lillard and Wiggins were both late recruits as well.  So, while this might be a tough season--and would have been tough for Jans, too--I do look forward to seeing us develop more.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Previewing the Chips

BG has a chance to go 2-0 on Saturday with a game against CMU.  This one has the potential to be very interesting.  CMU was picked to win the MAC this year and in response they are pretty underwhelming.  Yes, Chris Fowler was injured for a few games, but even with that the Chips are not making points with anyone.  They are 7-7 with 3 non-D1 wins.  Their best win was over Howard, a team with an RPI of 266--and that was a home game.

In their MAC opener, they played EMU, a team that was 8th in the MAC in offensive efficiency, and the Eagles hung 99 on them for an 19 point win in Mt. Pleasant.  That's not about injuries.  EMU had 1.4 points per possession, which is crazy.

And that's kind of how the Chips are rolling this year.  They are among the top 50 teams in offensive efficiency and among the top worst in defensive efficiency.  They do not play at an especially fast pace, so it is all efficiency.  Anyway, I think this is going to be a very interesting game, because it the game is in BG, CMU is not playing well and the matchup is interesting.  BG is a good defensive team and a poorer offensive team, while CMU is the opposite to the extreme.

So, how does CMU get to this highly potent offense.  With just about the best combination you can get, in fact.  They shoot good well (top 70 in country) and they take care of the ball really, really well.  When you take care of the ball you get more shooting possessions and then you have a tendency to make them, that's tough.  They also are pretty good on the offensive boards and their biggest weakness is they don't get to the line a lot.

This is one of the most 3-FG dependent teams in basketball.  More than half (51%) of their FGAs are 3FGs and they make 36%, which is good if not spectacular.  Even so, that equals out to them getting more than 40% of their points from the 3-ball, 4th in the country.

In one sense, that's good, because I think BG is at a greater disadvantage when playing post-oriented teams.  Still, it is the biggest challene the defense has faced this year, and the challenge will focus mostly on defending the shot.

Flipping it around, CMU is pretty much the opposite on defense.  They don't defend the shot well, don't force turnovers and give up a lot of offensive rebounds.  They were dreadful against the shot in the EMU game, so maybe BG can bottle some of that.  BG is not typically a high-powered offense, but if there was ever a time, this would be it.

Individually, they are led in scoring by 5'9" JR G Braylon Rayson.  He is scoring 16.2 PPG on 42%/42%/79% shooting, which is really good.  Chris Fowler is their second leader scorer with 15 PPG on 43%/18%/83% shooting and he leads the team with 5.1 assists.  Rayshawn Simmons scores 13.7 PPG on 44%/26%/58% shooting.  John Simons, a 6'8" SR is their leading frontcourt man, scoring 10.6 PPG and 6.9 RPG, which is a team high.

They play a predominantly 7 man rotation and have 4 seniors in that rotation, which is a lot.  They are among the 40 most experienced teams, according to

Which just raises the question:  why aren't they better?

We will get a look in person tomorrow.  I think it will be very interesting game and one that you'd like to think is winnable for BG on the home court.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Falcons Open MBB with "W" in MAC

Men's Basketball opened up with what they really needed last night, which was Michael Huger's first win in MAC play.  Miami is among the struggling teams in the MAC, and you don't want to look at a schedule where you open up losing to them at home.

It was a tight game much of the way...even though BG also had the lead most of the way.  Miami's last lead came with 13:09 left to go in the half.  Even with that, the game was close...up 4 at half.  The game was tied in the second half and essentially a one-possession game the whole time until there was 11:36 left.  At that point, with BG up 1, the Falcons went on a 10-0 run that took 4 minutes to consummate.  As Coach Huger noted in the post-game, they key to that is the 0, not the 10.  At that point, BG was up 11 and the game was never closer than 8 points again.

One point here...Miami REALLY worked the fouling to try and get back in the game.  BG shot 18 FTs in the last 2 minutes+ of the game.  That's ridiculous.  BG made 15 of them to close the game out, which is good, especially for a team that has struggled to make FTs.  I'll tell you this...I don't know how to fix it but those last two minutes are absolutely the opposite of the kind of finish you want to a basketball contest.

Looking at the stats, BG scored 1.08 points per possession, which is really good, and allowed .92 which is also good.  We can see why below.  BG didn't shoot great--44% and 29%--but Miami shot WAY worse at 34% and 17%.  That's the key element in the game.  Miami rides their guards hard, and basically they just drive into the paint, possession after possession, and then crash the boards.  Problem is, there were usually a lot of bodies there.  BG blocked 8 shots, which is a lot.  Worrell blocked 4 on his own.

The preview identified the turnovers could be a big deal--Miami relies on forcing them--and BG handled the ball really well.  Ali is really good at breaking a press.  They let him have the ball in the corner and try to trap him and he was actually able to spin out and beat the pressure.  By not turning the ball over, BG forced Miami into a half court game, which clearly they struggled at.

The other issue was rebounding.  Miami got an absolute ton of offensive rebounds, but only had 17 second-chance points, and BG had 14 on far fewer offensive boards.  The FT stat is true but misleading, since BG essentially shot a game's worth of FTs in the last 2 minutes.

Individually, Zack Denny had a nice game, scoring 20 with 8 rebounds. Best of all, he scored the 20 on only 10 FG attempts, which is huge.  He shot 6 of 10 and 4 of 6.  If you can get 20 without jacking it up, that's big.

Antwon Lillard had 16 points on 4 of 5 shooting and 8 of 10 at the line.  Also, Demajeo Wiggins had a really nice game with 11 rebounds and a few instances of big-body post defense.  I mention those two guys because they were late gets by the Huger team as recruits, and they have both showed sparks that indicate they can develop into good players.  They are still freshmen, but they show promise for the future.

David Joseph had 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 18 minutes, which is also good.  He and Ali both struggle to shoot.  Collectively, the PGs shot 3 of 14.

So, at 1-0 BG hosts CMU on Saturday.  CMU is struggling and they gave up 99 to EMU in Mt. Pleasant, though they can score, too.  BG has played very good defense, so it should be an interesting test to see where we are.


So, a few days ago, the University of Texas-San Antonio fired Larry Coker, the coach who founded their program.

Or he retired.  Anyway, the job is open.

What's awkward about that?  Just that Mike Jinks, our new football coach, is a legend in San Antonio.  The guy who once said he would never leave Texas.  The guy that fans back home are clamoring to get back to take over that team.  The guy whose whole staff (to date) is from Texas.

And the really awkward part is you wonder...if the UTSA and BGSU jobs had been open at the same time, which would he have taken?

And look, BGSU is a better job than UTSA for almost every coach, except possibly this one.  UTSA has upside potential in that state, for sure.  BG's last two coaches have struck it big and three out of the last four have moved on to very good jobs.

We might as well put the nightmare scenario on the table...if only to say that I don't think it is going to happen...and that is Jinks jilting (how is that for a headline) BG and moving back to take on the UTSA program.  I don't believe that will happen.  I have to believe Jinks is a bigger man than that.  But I don't believe the chance is zero, either.  It could happen.  Things like that have happened.

I would acquaint you with Dan Dakich, for example.

Anyway, let's keep our fingers crossed.  For as much as I have questioned the Jinks hire and (even more) his staff, it would be even worse to start over now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Miami Preview

So, it begins.  The real season, as it were, where 12 teams play for one prize--a trip to the NCAA tournament.

The first opponent is Miami, a historically great MAC team that began to fall into hard times under the last Coles years and then have found the going rough under John Cooper.  They have won 13 games each of the last 2 years and Cooper is 35-59 in Oxford.

Even by those terms, the off-season was not kind.  He had two Australians--who would have been juniors--not return and lost a giant Moldovan post-man who was expected.

While they have seven seniors on the roster, they are still struggling. Miami is 6-7 and 5-7 in D1 games. They have a win over Northeastern at Millet, which is a quality win for sure. They also beat Wright State--a team that destroyed BG. And yeah, they lost to Xavier and Dayton, both top 15 teams, but they are only 3-2 against teams over 200, including home losses to Florida Atlantic and South Carolina State.

They are also 0-4 on the road.

Last year the teams split, each winning on the other's home floor.

The first thing to note about Miami is that they play very slow, much as they did in the Coles years.  They are going at 67 possessions per 40 minutes, which is the slowest in the MAC.  BG has played at a decent pace, so that will be the first battle.

As I noted in the review of BG for the pre-MAC season, BG has been playing good defense and struggling on offense.  Miami has been more or less struggling on both.  Their offense is just a little better than BG's and the defense is worse.  As you can see, they shoot about what BG allows, which is about 3.5% below the national average.  Defending the shot has been BG's strength, and they should be able to do it against Miami.  BG doesn't do much with turnovers and Miami takes slightly below average care of the ball.  The big battle will be on the boards.  BG has been very, very effective on the defensive boards and Miami is pretty good.  Finally, Miami does get to the line and they are very effective at hitting them---#21 in the country.

Flipping this around, the key element here is turnovers.  Miami is living on forcing turnovers.  They are just average against the shot, poor on the boards and they foul a lot. However, they are among the top 10 teams in the country at forcing turnovers--if the bulk number isn't that big, remember that they have a small number of overall possessions, so it is magnified.

BG's going to be tested with the ball.  The team has two seasoned PGs in Joseph and Ali, and yet has struggled against pressure in the past.

Finally, against a team that fouls this much, it wouldn't be a bad time to sink a few FTs.

They are led by Eric Washington.  You will remember him from last year.  He transferred in from Presbyterian and was a handful in the game in Oxford, with 16 and 6 assists.  This year, he is scoring 13.8 PPG on 45% shooting, which is good for a guard.  He hits almost 40% of his 3FGs and 85% of his free throws, with almost 5 assists per game.  His A/T is only 1.3, which is not especially good.

Geovannie McKnight, also a guard, is the only other double-figure scorer at 12.3 on 42% shooting.

Their leading rebounder is LJ Livingston, a 6'10" SR with 5 rebounds per game in 22 minutes along with a little over a block per game.  They also have 6'9" Serbian Jere Vucica, who is a graduate transfer from North Florida.  He scores 7 points in 14 minutes per game.  They also have 6'9" Logan McLane, so they do have size that the Falcons will have to contend with.

This is a depth-based team.  They play 11 players 10 minutes or more and only the two top-scoring guards play more than 30.

Here's the thing.  I don't think BG has any guaranteed wins on the schedule.  Given that, this is one you really need.