Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 to end with Norfolk State

So, look.  Norfolk State is another low-ranked team from a low-ranked conference.  But we saw before Christmas that BG didn't play very well and let Alabama A&M hang around in a game where that should not have happened.  And this Norfolk State team is probably better than Alabama A&M.  What remains to be seen is whether BG responds with a stronger performance after a game in which they were clearly frustrating their head coach...and then a long break to think about it.  Or not.

Norfolk has had some quality teams over the past few years.  In 2012 they made their first NCAA tourney appearance.  They beat Missouri in a 2/15 game before losing to Florida in the second round.

They were 17-17 last year, but have won 20 games in 3 of the last 5 years.  Also, in 3 of the last 5 years they have had an RPI under 200.

They were picked 3rd this year in the MEAC.  In common opponent land, they lost @Evansville by 19 and BG lost @Evansville by only 3.

They lost some big players, however, and aren't off to a great start.  They are 3-10 and they are 1-10 in D1 games.  Their kenpom is 310.

Looking at their stats, there are no surprises.  Teams that are 1-10 have 1-10 numbers.  They are #311 in scoring and #272 in defense.  They play at a below average tempo, so the overall effect of these numbers is muted a little.

The biggest issues for the Spartans on offense are shooting and rebounding.  That's just a really poor EFG% and offensive rebounding.  They are about average taking care of the ball.  They aren't great at getting to the line, but they are about average as FT shooters.  They are are not a 3FG driven team...they are #295 in % of the 3FGs taken and #263 in making them.  They making only 41% of their 2FGs, which is a disaster for a team that relies on them.

Here, they have the normal deadly combo of not creating turnovers and being easy to shoot against.  They allow 51% on 2FGs and 41% on 3FGs.  They are average on the offensive boards and a little worse than normal allowing teams to the line.  But remember, this team has played 3 top 100 teams, and BG has played none.

Scoring wise, the Spartans are a one-trick pony.  They have only one double-figure scorer, which is Jonathan Wade, a 6'4" R-JR G.  He was a JUCO player and only started twice last year.  This year, he's had some good success.  He is averaging 19.5 PPG on 47% shooting, 39% on 3FG and 5.8 RPG.  JR Zaynah Robinson is scoring 9.9 PPG, but on 36% shooting.  They also leads the team with 2.6 assists per game and a 3.5:1 A/T ratio.  Other than Wade, their leading rebounder is 6'8" So Alex Long, who also averages 5.8 RPG.  He's also blocked 20 shots in their 12 games, which is tops in the MEAC.

There is no way BG should lose this game or it should be close.  Having said that, the possibility certainly exists.  Over the last year and a half, the Falcons have had a worrisome tendency to not bring energy all the time.  Last year Coach Huger said he had to coach effort a lot.  That was attributed to the coaching changes, but it has persisted into this year, even by Coach Huger's admission.  This is something that he will need to figure out how to fix.  It will lead to the same results BG got last year in MAC play.  Right now, BG is looking pretty much like the team we were picked to be.

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