So, BG hits a much easier portion of their schedule from now until the end of MAC play, with 3 of the 4 remaining games being at home and winnable. The first of these is the Detroit Titans.
Detroit is a good D1 opponent for us and we play them almost every year. There's a little bit of a different twist to this team, because they have a new coach. Former MAC great Ray McCallum coached them for 8 seasons, including 1 NCAA trip before he was fired after 3 straight average seasons.
The new coach is Bacari Alexander, who was an assistant at Michigan and often (often) rumored for head coaching vacancies. Also, a former Titan player.
I don't know how the fan base is reacting to their start, but Alexander might want to commiserate with Mike Jinks while he's in town.
They were 16-15, 9-9 in conference and lost only 2 starters.
So, this year they are 1-8, with an additional loss to Ferris State in an exhibition game. They are off to a rough start. He had some additonal difficulties...SO Paris Bass, who was the team's most productive offensive player did not return and another player was dismissed. But, it has been a long slog for the Titans.
Now, they are perfectly capable of beating BG. They went into Savage, led UT by 9 at halftime and led with inside 9 minutes to play in the game before succumbing. They lost by 10 @ Murray State...BG beat the Racers at the Stroh...but they also lost to EMU by 26, at home to a poor Manhattan team...etc. They do have some tough games on their docket, with losses to E. Tenn State, Florida State, and Illinois.
But if they win Saturday, it will be their first D1 win of the year.
Here, we see the basic issue. They are among the worst defensive teams in the country. That defensive efficiency is #310 in the country. And, as you can see, their offense is no great shakes and about equal to BG. The question here is whether BG has the offensive horsepower to exploit this lack of D to its fullest. (Note: they were better against Toledo---in fact, their best this year, but they had two awful games before that).
Looking first at the offense, it looks pretty similar...UD's output looks pretty much the same as BG's offensive opponents to date. The biggest thing is that they are very poor on the offensive boards. The shooting is just below average as are the turnovers, and the FTs are just a bit ABOVE average. They are #258 in taking 3s and only #256 in making them, so in that respect they are similar to BG's last two opponents. They are terrible at the FT line, shooting 62%.
Now, when looking to understand the defensive struggles...well, you don't have to look too hard. They are #330 in terms of being easy to shoot against, #324 in turning the ball over and #344 in allowing teams to the FT line. Yeah. That's going to leave a mark. Teams make 61% of their 2FG attempts, which is one of the 5 worst in the country. That's the key issue...their 3-defense isn't too bad but they are easy to shoot against close up. Again, though, you can see the gaps between where BG is and what they allow. The question is, can BG be good enough on offense to exploit their defense. Again, it helps a lot that it doesn't have to be 3FGs, but BG needs to make close shots, too. Nice day for Lillard to get untracked.
Their games have been at a good pace...71 possessions a game, which is above average and different from BG's last 2 opponents.
Individually, they are led by Josh McFolley, a 6'1" SO. He's scoring an inefficient 13 PPG on 41% shooting. To the extent they shoot 3s, it's him. He makes 39%. Jakeel Hogan is shooting 12.7 PPG at 56%. He's almost single-handedly responsible for their FT problems. He has tried almost 1/3 of their attempts and made 46%. Chris Jenkins, a 6'9" Colorado transfer, scores 11.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG...but a 40% FG%, which is poor for a big. Somehow, he has been allowed to launch 31 3s, of which he makes 19%. Finally, Corey Allen is FR G from YPSI scoring 10.9 PPG on 44% shooting.
This is a team that BG should beat on their home floor. And, frankly, given the way things are going, BG needs a win in this one. UD is looking like they would be a lower level MAC team, and BG is hoping to at least not be that. On our home floor after playing well but losing at Evansville, BG could convert that kind of effort into a W.