Monday, December 19, 2016

Squeaker in San Jose, still a loss

BG hasn't been to California to play since 1950, literally...and the might was to consider not going again until 2085 after a wild game that ended in a last second loss to the San Jose Spartans.

I can't remember a game with crazier swings.  BG started out with a 15-4 lead.  San Jose then roared back--to say the least--out scoring BG 40-14 over 15 minutes to lead by an incredible 15 at halftime.  They stretched the lead to 18 points in the first 5 minutes of the second half, making it a 29 point swing in roughly 20 minutes of basketball.  At that point, the game was 55-37.  Then, WHOA NELLIE, it turned completely around and BG went on a 27-8 run over 10 minutes to retake a 1 point lead with 5:38 left.

As the game neared the 2 minutes mark, BG had 2 blank possessions--one on a missed putback by Wiggins and one on 2 missed FTs by Wes Alcegaire.  The Spartans took a 5-point lead with 2:16 left.  BG responded with a Wiggins layup and a Denny steal and 2 Alcegaire FTs from the resulting run out and BG had it back to 1.

San Jose State got 2 FTs to get it back to 3 with 1:16 left.  Denny missed a shot and BG fouled.  SJ's Isaiah Nichols missed both FTs, and Ish Ali got the layup to get it back to 1 with :31.  BG fouled and Nichols missed them both again.  (He was 4 of 19 coming into the game).  BG came down, ran offense, had Alcegaire miss a shot and then Denny followed it up after the offensive board to put BG up by 1.

Unfortunately, the Spartans came down without a timeout, got the ball to their leading scorer, Brandon Clarke, and he converted the shot with 1 second left to take the victory home.

BG falls to 4-7.

The big issue was on defense.  As noted, San Jose State was one of the worst offensive teams in the country coming into this game, and they got well against BG.  They shot 53% on their 2FGs and 44% on their 3FGs.  That's a 56% EFG, which is their best against D1 opposition.  They made this harder by turning the ball over much more than normal but they made it much easier by getting a ridiculous number of offensive rebounds off BG.  And, they got to the line a lot and the game would not have been close had they made more than 58% of their free throws.

So, from a BG perspective, they allowed a team to have their best shooting game of their season.  BG had its worst game on the defensive boards since the EMU game in the MAC tourney during the Jans year.  And BG fouled a lot.  Overall, San Jose State had 1.1 points per possession their second best D1 offensive.  Only UC has made more success against BG then the Spartans did...and San Jose State came in ranked #304 in the country in offense.

BG had a good offensive game...with 1.08 points per possession it was their best offensive game as well, just a nose ahead of Murray State.  As you can see, BG shot well, and took excellent care of the ball against a pressure SJ defense.  However, they were just average on the offensive boards and only got to the line for 14 free throws, making 10.

This game was lost on the defensive end.  It is the second game in a row where BG was just torched in the first half of a game on defense, only to improve in the second half.  You'd certainly like to see that turn around to have a shot to compete.

The game was played as a homecoming for Ish Ali, who is from the Bay Area.  He had a good game, scoring 12 on 6 of 11 shooting with 7 assists and 0 turnovers.  Zack Denny had 16 and 7 rebounds on 7 of 15 shooting and Alcegaire had 16 on 6 of 10 shooting.  Dylan Frye had an efficient 10 on 4 of 7 shooting in 21 minutes.

BG continues to be forced to go with a small and tight rotation.  With Uju and Wilson continuing to be injured and Worrell really struggling--BG just has to play very small.  In fact, Wiggins only played 21 minutes and Worrell 15.  Both were in foul trouble.

SJ State is a long team with a lot of mid-range height, so they were well positioned to take advantage of this weakness.  Their star, Brandon Clarke, torched BG for 20 in the first half and then 4 in the last minute to go with 14 rebounds, 7 of them offensive.

Anyway, this is another road game for BG that got away.  The Falcons just don't play consistent basketball on both ends of the floor.  Their offense has been much more efficient since the Green Bay game, but they've gotten worse on defense.  This is still a young team so maybe it starts to come together.  In the meantime, they aren't going to win games without a full effort.

Except, I would imagine, this Thursday, when literally the lowest ranked team in D1 basketball arrives at the Stroh for a matinee.  This is one BG needs to win.

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