Sunday, February 26, 2017

Flashing into town....

So next come the Falcons, as the season draws to a rather interesting close.  Here's the thing.  BG has a shot at a home berth.  They pretty much need to win them both coming home and certainly need to win 1 and this is the more likely of the two to get.  It is still going to be tough.

The opponent is Kent State.  BG beat the Flashes in OT at the MACC earlier this year in a crazy game in which BG erased at 4-point deficit in the final :14 of overtime.  There are no bad road wins.

Since then, Kent is playing great basketball.  Their very next game after that was not good.  They lost by 20 to Toledo and at 5-7 it was starting to look like the Flashes were driving off the side of the road.  In fact, you have to wonder how secure Senderhoff is over there, though I have no idea of his contract status.

Anyway, since then things have turned around.  They have won 4 straight, including @Akron, @Buffalo and Ohio.  Those are the 3 best teams in the MAC, and they've beaten them and won two of them on the road.  This is a team that is playing really well and appears to be a threat to win the tournament.

Looking back at the first game, I suspect Kent regrets mostly their inability to take care of the ball against BG...especially at the end of the OT.  The rest of it was pretty even and even favored Kent a little bit.  Jaylin Walker led the Flashes with 18 points and Jimmy Hall double-doubled though he also had 8 turnovers.  Matt Fox had 18, Wiggins 16 and 8 rebounds and Caldwell had 16 as well.

So, for the year we can see that Kent is about even offensively and defensively.  That's 9th in offense and 5th in defense.  BG has been getting stops the last two weeks.  During their winning streak, Kent has basically just tweaked this formula a little bit.  They have been a little better on offense and even better on defense.

Kent has not been a great shooting team this year.  They are 8th in the MAC in shooting.  They also turn the ball over a lot...they are 10th in the MAC in turnovers.  If anything has really improved in their run, it has been turnovers, which have been under 15% in all four wins and under 8% in the win at the JAR.

Their strength is now and has been offensive rebounding.  They are just really good on the offensive boards.  That's the best number in the MAC.  They also don't get to the line much, though they make 73% when they do.  They are 10th in shooting 3FGS and 7th in 2FGs.

Flipping it around, Kent gets their strong defense not by doing any one thing really well but by doing nothing badly.  They are 5th in EFG, 5th in turnovers, 6th in OREB% and 6th in FTR.  They are #3 in defending the 3-pont line.  As you can see, their offense and BG's defense are pretty similar.  Reminder, BG is 11th in offense and defense in MAC play.  (Frankly, and this is a topic for another day, but BG's 7 wins are clearly out-performing what you'd expect from these numbers.)

Kent is led by Jimmy Hall, who is a MAC POTY candidate for sure.  He's scoring (all games) 19 PPG and adding 9.6 RPG.  He shoots 53%.  He's a handful and first-team All-MAC and there's no doubt about it.  Perhaps their better-kept secret is Deon Edwin, who is scoring at 14.8 PPG with 6 rebounds per game.  He had 20 and 18 against OU Saturday and scored 21 in the Akron win.

He and Hall are both seniors and actually are the top assist-men on the Flashes as well.

Their other top scorer is Jaylin Walker, who scores an inefficient 15 PPG on 38% shooting.  FWIW, Kevin Zabo, a 6 PPG scorer had 17 in the first game against the Falcons.

So, this is going to be interesting.  The Flashes are playing really well, have two strong seniors and are in the hot running for one of the byes.  BG is playing well and will be at home.  It will be a good test for our guys.

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