Dan Dakich used to talk about the value of a win before Christmas. He used to describe the two kinds of holidays you could have....you could enter on a win and have a good holiday where you were relaxed, or you could enter on a loss and spend the whole holiday with that on your mind.
So, the Falcons should have a good Christmas.
But not too good. This is still a team that is struggling and in some trouble. At this point, I would worry about MAC play. As far as this game goes, this is a team (Alabama A&M) that has an average loss of 27 points and BG only won by 13. Coach Huger talked after the game about BG's inability to string together even consecutive minutes of effective basketball. He talked about it in the context of two good minutes and then the team relaxes. RELAXES. Oy. And Coach said, "I'm tired of it."
How this team gets the feeling they can relax is not exactly clear to me. Ultimately, it is a coaching issue. The program is not going to consistently succeed until we play like Akron does...which is 40 minutes of cut-throat, ruthless basketball that does its best in the last 2 minutes. I think the recruiting is promising for Coach Huger and I think he can get us there, but at the same time I'd like to see more progress on the competitiveness--much like Coach Jans did--in advance of getting the talent shored up.
Anyway, I'm not sure given the last couple weeks how ready for MAC play BG is. Perhaps they will surprise me. Young teams can come together quickly, but right now (as evidenced by Coach's frustration) we have mostly the same.
They will, however, head to Christmas on a win.
So remember, Alabama A&M is the worst defensive team in D1 basketball. Against the Falcons, they had their best game of the year on defense. BG had only 1.02 points per possession, a full .2 below the Bulldog's average It was the best they have done against any opponent this year. T
BG did keep them off the scoreboard. A A&M scored only .84 points per possession, which, while far from their worst this year, is still a very low and generally unwinnable number.
Anyway, here are the numbers for the game. That's just average shooting for BG...against the nation's worst FG defense. BG did take good care of the ball, but didn't take advantage of a poor A&M defensive rebounding and didn't get to the line effectively.
On the plus side, BG did defend the shot well and turn the Bulldogs over. BG has its second straight poor game on the defensive boards and put the Bulldogs on the line.
The big worry here is the same as it has been all year. BG's attack is not consistent. A A&M is a team others have scored on with success, and yet BG...on its home floor...provided only an average night.
BG led for 30 minutes of the game, so I don't want to make it sound like the game was really ever in doubt. It just seems like BG produced less against the Bulldogs than other similar teams did.
A positive thing is the ongoing performance of BG's young players. FR Dylan Frye led the team with 16 points on 6 of 11 and 4 of 7 shooting. He honestly appears to be the real thing. Demajeo Wiggins double-doubled at 10/10. Antwon Lillard had 7 points on 3-6 shooting with 5 assists and only 1 turnover. Rodrick Caldwll shot poorly but had 2 assists over 0 turnovers. And Justin Turner made his Falcon debut with 5 points in 12 minutes.
They were supported by BG's upperclassmen. Wes Alcegaire had 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, Denny had 11 on 5 of 12 shooting (1 of 5 from 3FG) and Ish Ali with 6 assists over 1 turnover.
Rasheed Worrell had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.
So, BG takes their Christmas break. In the week between the holidays, they will take on Norfolk State, who are 3-10 and 1-8 in D1 games and #308 in the country.