Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Falcon Pre-MAC Review

OK, wrapping up the pre-MAC reviews, we'll take a look at our own team.

Here's the thing that has to shade the overall discussion of analysing BG's pre-season performance.  BG played a soft schedule.  All the rankings we look at here are MAC rankings, and obviously everyone played a different schedule, so the key thing to know is that BG played the 9th strongest D1 schedule in the MAC.  So, the schedule should be working for us...in other words, our rankings might be lower against even an average schedule.

With that in mind....

BG was tied for 5th in tempo, which reflects a pretty good pace for a team without a bunch of offensive stars.  Those teams usually try to go slower.  They're not racing, but there is some pace to the play.

BG has been playing  very solid defense, and that's been the best part of their success.  They are 5th in the MAC in defensive efficiency.  They build that from the fundamentals up.  BG defends the shot and the boards well.  BG is 3rd in EFG defense and 5th in preventing offensive rebounds.  BG also keeps teams off the line, being 3rd in FT rate allowed.  The only area they are average is turnovers, but you can get away with that if you are good defending the shot.

Offense has been the issue.  BG is last in offensive efficiency.  This is one of those weird situations where the sum is less than the whole of its parts.  BG's offense should not be this bad.  They are 8th in EFG, 8th in turnovers, 12th in offensive rebounding and 5th in Free Throw Rate.  Those numbers should not add up to being last.  One factor is that while BG is 5th at getting to the line, they are 10th in FT shooting, so those FTs are not being converted to points.

Anyway, somehow in that mix, BG has struggled on offense, probably if nothing else just because they aren't above average in anything.

I think the lessons are pretty obvious.  When the season started, we were certainly worried about where BG would find scoring, and that's clearly been an issue and one that will typically get tougher in the conference season.  At the same time, BG has a strong defensive team and that is something you can build on.  If the Falcons can figure out who to grind more points out of a few of the players (Lillard and Alcegaire seem to have upside potential to me), then they can combine that with good defense and become tougher to beat.

They have an "opportunity" to start the year, hosting Miami and CMU at the Stroh.  Miami is not a strong team and CMU is certainly been disappointing.  The good side--the chance to win a couple games to get the ball rolling.  The bad side--you lose them both, or even one, and it looks like a long year from the beginning.

One last thing.  BG has 3 road wins.  Not against world-beating teams, but a young team finding its identity like the Falcons often cannot find wins on the road against anyone.  That's a positive to build on as well.

Kenpom projects BG to be 7-11 in MAC play.  I think a home tournament game is a good goal for this team....

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