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.

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