BG's 2016 struggles continued Sunday at the Stroh, as they lost by their biggest margin of the year--16 points to Green Bay in a home game.
The first half was deadly slow...26-25, with BG shooting awful and Green Bay shooting worse. BG came out of the locker room and scored the first four points, taking their first lead since early in the game. Over the next 3:30 or so, Green Bay outscored BG 16-0 to take a 13 point lead, 42-29. BG did battle back, shaving the lead to 1 with 11:21 left (44-33, so a 14-2 run for the Falcons). However, GB absorbed that run and went on a 10-0 run to go up 11 with 7 minutes left and BG never got it closer than 9 for the remainder of the game.
The problem is pretty clear to me. (See below the chart for what Coach thought). BG just doesn't make enough shots. The Falcons had .8 points per possession, which is really tough to win with. In fact, this chart even underestimates the problem. BG shot 38% overall and 29% from 3FG, both of which are pretty disastrous numbers. What makes it even worse is the FTs...the chart below compares FTA/FGA to develop the rate...so BG got to the line less and then made 47% of their FTs. Essentially, anything having to do with putting the ball into the basket was the problem. BG finished -11 on FTs in a 16-point game.
The Falcons did have other issues. They accomplished very little on the offensive boards and turned the ball over too much as well.
On defense, GB didn't have a great game, but it was good enough. They had 1.01 points per possession, which is average. They shot 44% and 32%, which are not great numbers, but they were better than BG. They also made 90% of their FTs...to go with too many turnovers. BG did an excellent job on the defensive boards.
Interestingly, Coach Huger focused on BG's defense and not on the offense as the source of the defeat. He was exhibiting strong frustration after the game, telling The Blade this:
“We can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over,” Huger said. “We do that and we expect different results, and we can’t do that. And it’s the same people — some of our key people. We have to correct that to get better.”
That's a pretty big statement. Later he said that we will get the offensive side sorted out, which is also interesting, because it doesn't look like that to me. Anyway, the issue with the defense was the second half, when Green Bay shot 64% and 6 of 9 from 3 on their way to scoring 51 points in the half. I make that about 1.31 points per possession, which is dreadful for your defense.
The big picture thing is that I begin to worry a little bit. I understand we have a talent deficit we are trying to remedy and that we have a couple guys out, but it is the second year in the system for most of these guys and the fact that, as he says, the same mistakes are constantly being made worries me from the program's standpoint--as in, after the first year, the off-season and the Italy trip, you'd think we'd be executing that part better.
BG was led by Antwon Lillard, who is continuing to turn into a really good player. He had 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting. He made all of his 2FGs. He also had 6 rebounds. Zack Denny was BG's only other double figure scorer, with 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting--he nailed 2 3FGs after being blanked Saturday. Damajeo Wiggins is just really struggling on the offensive side of the floor and you can see his frustration. He was 1-6 shooting and 4-8 from the line. He did have 10 rebounds. Ish Ali improved on a poor UMKC game with 4 assists over 1 turnover. Alcegaire shot 4 of 11 with 4 turnovers and Worrell was 2 of 5 shooting and had 3 turnovers.
Both Dylan Frye and Rodrick Caldwell got their most minutes since the Oakland game, which was the game with the suspensions. Caldwell got a shot down and had 3 assists to go with 1 TO in 18 minutes and Frye had 16 solid minutes. Both guys are going to need to be big parts of the future if BG is going to turn around what is a struggling program.
Monday night is Murray State. The Racers beat Green Bay on Saturday and then surprised everyone by losing by a big margin to UMKC. Would be great to see BG get off the schneid before the holiday. Having said that, I think the team is hampered badly by a lack of offensive playmakers, errors and poor defense in spots. We just don't have anybody consistently making shots and we can't play good enough defense even on our very best day to paper over that.