Friday, January 04, 2019

MAC Season Begins at Kent

So, BG gets a real road test, right away.  They play @Kent on Saturday night.  They are 11-2 and are the best team BG has seen since leaving Richmond.  The Flashes won @Vanderbilt, and @Cleveland State (without Walker) and @Detroit, both teams that beat BG, and won @Oregon State.  Their losses are Liberty and Louisville, both top 100 teams.

FWIW, BG has won 2 of the last three at the MACC Center and the last 10 games between the two schools have been split evenly.

They are coached by Rob Senderhoff, who is now the winningest coach in program history, passing Jim McDonald, the longtime Bob Nichols assistant as well as BG grad and assistant.  Senderhoff has stayed longer than most Kent coaches, but I was shocked to see it. 

When looking at this game, the key matchup is how BG defends.  They have defended well at home against inferior opposition of late, but now have to show they can defend against a good team on the road. 

Kent is the #82 most efficient offense in D1 and for the year BG is nearly right on the D1 average.  BG is going to have to bring the energy on the defensive end for all the possessions.  If they do, history has shown that the team will make shots and take advantage of a below average Kent defense.  Note also that the Flashes play at 69 possessions per game, which is slower than BG and can most likely be adjusted with missed shots are rebounds.

What will that look like? Well, Kent shoots the ball well.  They are #53 in the country from 3FG, something that has caused BG problems in the past.  They try 41% of the FGs from 3, which is above the national average of 39%.  Their 2FG shooting is not great, at 49%.  So BG is going to need to defend that part of the Kent game.  The Flashes also take good care of the ball, and as you can see will provide an interesting battle on the offensive boards.  Lastly, they are top 50 in the country in getting to the line and make an excellent 73%.

BG is #23 in the nation in 2FG defense.

On the other side, Kent is not nearly as strong.  They are pretty much average on defending the shot and on creating turnovers, but poor on the defensive boards and in allowing FTs. They are very good at defending the 3FG and not so good at 2FGs.  

So, individually, you start with Jaylin Walker.  He is having himself a season.  He missed the first 5 games of the season due to a suspension for a university policy violation and is now scoring 24 points per game.  That would be #8 in the nation if he was eligible.  He's also making 52.3% of his 3FGs, which would be #3 in the nation.  He makes 88% of his FTs and averages 5 rpg.  Right now, he's a clear player of the year candidate.  By the way, he never starts.

Jalen Avery scores 13 ppg, but way less efficiently, shooting 36% and 34%.  He has 52 assists and a 5:1 A/T ratio.

JUCO transfer Antonio Williams is scoring 12 PPG on 48% and 44% shooting.  He also average 4 RPG.

Philip Whittington, a USC-Upstate transfer, is leading the team with 7.8 RPG.

Kent has been on the front end of the transfer movement.  They have 7 players who started their career at another institution of higher learning.

This is a very good test for BG.  Again, to win BG is going to need to play its best possible defense.

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