Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frack Preview: Murray State

So, on Monday BG will play Murray State, which might well be the first team in the Frack Challenge.  We'll know a lot more about them by then, because they will have played twice as many games.  For now, we'll look at them coming in,

They were 10-6 and 17-14 last year, finishing in a tie for the Ohio Valley West crown.  They return 3 starters from that team.  Both Blue Ribbon and the OVC media have tabbed Murray State as the West Division favorites, with Belmont the overall favorite.

They are off to a 1-1 start, with a home win over a pretty good Illinois State team and then a road loss to a tough Middle Tenessee State team.

They have been playing about average tempo, but have been very efficient on offense, with 1.04 points per possession.  This is a team that loves the 3-ball.  They are #2 in the nation in percentage of shots coming from 3FG.  They get 45% of their points from 3FG, which is #9 in the nation.  They have an effective FG% of 51.7%, which is above average and good, if not great.

They also take good care of the ball, with a turnover percentage of 17.4, which is better than average.  Any struggles they might be having on offense come from their below average offensive rebounding (not unusual for a perimeter shooting team) and a below average ability to get to the line, though they are 76% FT shooters when they do get there.

They are less effective on defense, for sure.  They allow 1.03 points per possession...which comes from poor shot defense, turnover defense and defensive rebounding.  They are about average in terms of allowing FTs.  Teams don't take many 3s against them---they are #72 in the percentage of points they allow from 2FG, which probably works out well for BG.

Individually, they have a fascinating stat line.  Of their 77 points, 72 comes from only 4 players.  You never see something like that.  They average between 21 and 15 points per game.

Their leading scorer is Jonathan Stark, who is a transfer from Tulane, where he was on the all-CUSA Freshman team.  He's scoring 21 PPG on 47% and 42% shooting (very efficient) with 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game.  He's a 6'3" G and obviously getting his Murray State career off to a good start.

6'4" Sr. Demarcus Croaker is the 2nd leading scorer at 17.5 PPG and 5 rebounds per game.  He's shooting 54% and 45%, so even more efficient. Also scoring 17.5 is Terrell Miller, an honorable mention JUCO All-American who is 6'8" and plays PF.  In addition to the points, he averages 7 rebounds per game, shooting 46% and 39%

Finally, Bryce Jones who was their top returning scorer but is only getting 15.5 PPG and is in a terrible slump to start the year, shooting 27% and 23%.  After these four guys, the next leading scorer averages 2 PPG.

Anyway, this team is very solid and is probably the best team at the Stroh this weekend.  They will provide a nice test for the Falcons.  They don't play pressure D--which worries me about Green Bay and UMKC--and their focus on guards at least is better for BG than a team focused on getting to the basket.

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