Wednesday, April 08, 2020

BG Football Lands Additional '20 QB

So, BG has landed another QB for the '20 class.  His name is Kody Sparks and his last port of call was Oakland HS in Murfeesboro TN.


As a junior, he lived in Fishers, IN.  He was off to a good start, with over 1,500 yards and 63% completions before he had a leg injury and missed the last 5 games.  The family moved to TN before his senior year, where he joined Oakland, who needed a QB and had won the state title the year before.  Oakland plays a wing-T and I'm not sure how much he threw the ball.  I found one game where there were 11 passes and one with 139 passing yards.  Just saying that his senior numbers probably didn't reflect his performance or potential.

Anyway, the story above had him list as a 3-star recruit at 247 and he's a 2-star today.  Kent offered him, as did UT-Martin and Northern Iowa, which is a top FCS program.

Strock is 6'4" or 6'5" and 219 pounds, which is something you have to like.

He will join a QB room with Matt McDonald, Tucker Melton, Riley Keller.  Depth matters and he could easily be a diamond in the rough.

Welcome to the Falcons, Kody.




New Falcon Football Verbal


Today's verbal is Chris Phillips from Boca Ciega, FL, which is just south of St. Petersburg.  He's a RB, 5'7" and 153 pounds.  No stars yet, but had offers from Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Iowa State, Southern Miss, Toledo, Tulane and USF.  For sure to get 3-stars.

He was injured with an ankle sprain during his junior year and missed a game and then had a couple of games where he wasn't at his best.  When he was back in form, he ran for 300 yards and 5 TDs. The next game he went for 192 yards and 2 scores.  He was third-team All-State in 6A, the third-largest classification in the state. 

He's fast.  To quote his coach:

“(Phillips) is the fastest player in the county. He runs a 10.8 100-yard (dash). That’s proven. That ain’t no iPhone stopwatch 40 time by a buddy. So he can fly."

For perspective, that time--posted as a sophomore in HS--would have put him #8 in the MAC in men's track at the 2019 championship.

 Elsewhere, his Coach says he's a great receiver as well, and if you keep following the story, the Coach gives a description of his ability to create misses in tight space that might remind you of Travis Greene.

Welcome to the Falcons, Chris.



Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Falcon Football Player Enters Transfer Portal


Rivals is reporting that BG LB Torrian Hampton has entered the transfer portal.  He will be a grad transfer.

He was mostly a special teams player at BG, playing 28 games and starting 2.  He made 30 career tackles in 3 years of action.

Wishing nothing but the best for Torrian... 

Falcons with new football verbal



BG picked up its second 2021 verbal yesterday, this one from right in the home territory.  Alex Padgett is from Avon Lake, OH.  He is an OT, 6'6" and 310 pounds...and he's not a senior in HS yet.

He had offers from Akron, UB, EMU, Liberty, UT and Youngstown State.  There are no star rankings yet for him, but that often changes.

Typically, there isn't a ton of information on o-lineman. He was second-team all-Ohio in Division II.

Avon Lake is a good program.  They were 11-1 last year and lost in the regional final to Avon. The school is located in eastern Lorain County...They have won a title.

Also, their Head Coach was an All-American at Mount Union.

Welcome to the Falcons, Alex.

Monday, April 06, 2020

A time for nature?

So as long as we have time to contemplate the larger truths in life, here's our annual visit to the Wood County courthouse of our favorite nesting Falcons.  There are two eggs there today...keep watching to see life-giving nature at work as an escape from the deadly, virulent nature we battle.



Sunday, April 05, 2020

BG Football Continues to Add Players

Our numbers problems are well documented.  One way to dig yourself out of that is to do a good job with players who are recruited to walk on.  


It's not easy.  In fact, it's the hard way.  BG has turned walk-ons into starters--I give you Konowalski, Burbrink...there are probably others.  Schweiterman.

Point being is that these players don't count against the limit of who you bring in every year.  And if you have an eye for talent and you can develop players, you can certainly create starters.  You can also create special teams players and depth keeps pressure on the starters.  And there are injuries.

But you have to find guys who were overlooked.  You have to project and see things others did not.

I give you two players.

First, we have Nate Damron of Elyria Catholic.  The linked article tells an interesting story.  Nate was a role player his junior year, which probably stunted his recruiting.  (He was playing behind Griffen Davies, who signed a scholarship at OU). 

He broke out as a senior, making all-state first team in Division V, earning 109 tackles, including 26.5 for a loss, and 11.5 sacks as a D-End.  In the story, he talks about his willingness to be a role player.,.something that you would need if you were going this route.  His coach says he's a little "thin in the hips" to project to D-End in college, but he's 6'5" and 200 pounds.

So you know what Scot Loeffler sees:  tight end.  Everyone looks like a TE.

I kid.

Anyway, the report is that BG projects him at TE.  Like most good players at a small school, he played both ways.  He did play some TE but moved to RB.

Key thing here is that he would appear to be a natural-born football player.  Which is what we need.

Great story.  They were way ahead and he ran out of bounds at the 1-yard on a sure score.  That was so the team's senior kicker-- Sadie Hutsenpiller--could score a touchdown.  They are not dating.

The other young man is Cole Lakatos of Franklin, MA.  He's a WR who is 5'8" and 160 pounds.  You don't see a lot of stats on him, but if you google him you see news stories where he is scoring a TD.  He's a coach's kid--you know how much recruiters love that--the Dad coaches secondary at Bryant and has coached at Georgia.

Anyway, there's no idea what's going to happen this Fall.  But, at FalconBlog I am keeping my eyes open.  We all need diversions.

Welcome to the Falcons, Nate and Cole.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Falcon Football has first verbal



So, the first verbal is in for Falcon Football.  As you can see above, it's a QB.  Just to review, the stated plan is to take one QB in every class...and as it relates to the rules about recruiting our home area, as Coach said, "we'll go anywhere for an arm."

Which in this case is Jacksonville, FL.  The young man's name is JaCory Jordan and he plays for Trinity Christian.  He's 6'2" *and a half* and about 180.  (Rivals has him as 6'4". Some places online list him as a dual threat QB and some as a PRO QB.  He's not rated on 247 yet but that will change eventually.  He had offers from FIU, USF and Western Kentucky, in addition to Valdosta State, the DII national champions.

There are not a lot of stats on him.  He played as a sophomore and a junior and he is mentioned in media stories with TD passes and his team made the state playoffs.

Program-wise, Trinity Christian is a 7-time champion in Florida 3A.  A teammate of his is headed to Clemson.

One note:  he's a 2021 recruit.  Assuming everyone stays, at that time the QB room will feature Matt McDonald, rSr., second-year players Riley Keller and Tucker Melton, and Jordan.  This assumes there is football this Fall.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jacory.


Friday, April 03, 2020

Tayler Mattos enters portal

And now it's 2. l Tayler Mattos has entered the transfer portal and apparently won't return to BGSU.  I know players can return from the portal, but you don't see it happen very often.  My guess would be he finds a school closer to home, which is in New Hampshire.

Mattos played two years at BG.  For one year, he backed up Demajeo Wiggins and played about 4 minutes per game.  As a sophomore, he started every game but ended up playing only 15 minutes per game, averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds per game, which isn't awful for that amount of playing time.  He scored in double figures four times, including a career-only double-double in the first Miami game at 18-11.

For what it was worth, I thought he was improved in his second year and could have developed into a solid but not spectacular MAC player.  BG entered the season with Mattos as its only true 5, but then signed Dylan Swingle as a transfer.  BG applied for immediate eligibility for Swingle and was shocked when it was granted.  Swingle then played only 128 minutes--making you wonder why they bothered with the waiver at all--and you'd expect that he'd be the plan in the post for BG.  The Falcons also lost Marlon Sierra, leaving only Swingle, Plowden and Kulacovsis (and Gadsen?) in the post rotation, unless BG finds a post guy to fill what are now 2 available scholarships.  BG played a smaller lineup most of the year last year and clearly had a good year, but did suffer from the lack of a rim protector against teams who committed to attacking the basket.

Who knows what when we will see college athletics again...but here's some news for now.  Best to Tayler for his future.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Men's Hoops Recruits by Year

I've been running this list for years.  I started it to illustrate a point...that our program struggled for 20 years partly because of a lack of recruiting a consistent critical mass of playing talent.  You need to hit on most of your players--and you need consistent, quality starters every year to keep your program near the top.  You can see plenty of years in this list where that didn't happen...and then toward the end you see things start to shore up and you begin to get a critical mass of talent in the program.

Falcon Hoops Recruiting Scorecard, Updated Spring 2020

02-03
Stephen Wright--Productive player, left prior to his senior season.
Ron Lewis--Two productive seasons, no junior year. Prominent Big 10 player.
Raheem Moss--26 games, two starts, 66 career points, left program. Contributed at Cleveland State.

03-04
Chris Hobson, 28 games, 51 points, left program.
Austin Montgomery 56 games, 189 points, transferred.
Reggie Harwell--Nada.
Matt Lefeld--A contributing senior and a true warrior. Academic All-American
Isaac Rosefelt--24 minutes, two points. Left Program for stellar DIII career.
John Floyd--Played 59 games averaging 8.4 ppg. 247 career assists Left program.

04-05

Scott Vandermeer, 60 points and 40 fouls. Transferred, contributed at UIC where I think he ended up as a pretty good player.
Moon Robinson, Left program after sophomore season. Transferred.
Mawel Soler, completed eligibility. Effective player, even good in spots.

05-06

Jeremy Holland--left program after one practice
Nick Wilson--left program without playing a game.
Lionel Sullivan--Sayonara. 30 minutes, 6 points.
Dusan--Minor contributions. Left program prior to Junior Season.
Erik Marschall--Injury-plagued career ended with effective senior season.
Daryl Clements--Good contributing player, played strong D, stable presence, and probably underappreciated player.
Brian Moten--MAC sixth man of the year in junior season and all-MAC HM as a senior. Good player at this level, had game-changing shooting potential.
Martin Samarco--2nd team All-MAC, finished career.

06-07

Ryne Hamblett--Contributing player, but kicked off team prior to senior season.
Brandon Bland--Left the program.
Marc Larson--Averaged 17 minutes a game for his career.
Otis Polk--Productive starter.  Left as BG blocked shot leader and led MAC in offensive rebounding as a senior.  Career: 5.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG.
Ryan Sims--left team early in Junior year. Made little contribution.
Nate Miller--All-MAC First team. Great player, carried team into post-season.
Chris Knight--Transferred following two seasons at BG. (Technically, he was a Dakich recruit).

07-08
Joe Jakubowski--Four-year starter, among the program's career leaders in assists and steals.
Cameron Madlock--Transferred out.

08-09
Dee Brown--1,000 point scorer.
Scott Thomas--Third team All-MAC as senior. 1,000 point scorer. 10th in career assists, 10th in career rebounds, 6th in career 3-pointers.
Au'ston Calhoun--Two-time Second-team All-MAC, 19th all-time leading scorer @BGSU.
Adrion Graves--left before appearing as a Falcon.
Darion Goins--Played sparingly, left team in first season as a Falcon

09-10
Jordon Crawford--Honorable mention All-MAC.  1,000 pt scorer, 4th in career assists, 5th in steals.
James Erger--Averaged 10 minutes per game as a Senior.  Role player.
Luke Kraus--Started 25 games as a senior.  Scored 4 points per game.
DaVon Haynes---Left program without playing.  Averaged 12 points and 7 RPG for Ark-Pine Bluff.
Danny McElroy--Left program. Ran afoul of the law.

10-11
Anthony Henderson-Made 73 starts, scored 6.4 PPG for career.
Cam Black--Finished in Top 10 in program history in rebounds.  Also 3rd in blocked shots.
Torian Oglesby--Juco. Solid role player. Set NCAA record for most consecutive FGs.
Craig Sealey--Was a career role player at BG, injured in senior year.

11-12
Jehvon Clarke--Made 40 career starts, 7.7 PPG for career.
Chauncey Orr--Transferred following his father's dismissal.
Desmond Rorie--Left program without appearing in a game.

12-13
Richaun Holmes--All-time leader in blocked shots.  First-team All-MAC, MAC Defensive POY, now in NBA.
Spencer Parker--1,000 point scorer.

13-14
Zach Denny...scored 1,000 points, 7th all-time in 3FG and #9 in steals.
JD Tisdale...Left program before his senior year
Garrett Mayleben..left program before senior year
Josh Gomez....Rarely used.  Left during senior season.

14-15
Delvin Dickerson.  Played 15 MPG for BG after JUCO transfer.  Fouled out 6 times.  Left when Jans did.
Jovan Austin:  Played 16+ MPG for BG after JUCO transfer. Had 87 assists in 33 games, which was 6+/40.  Left when Jans did.
Rasheed Worrell--Left program after R-SO year.
David Joseph--Made 59 starts for BG

15-16
Ish Ali--Graduated, 247 assists in 2 years.
Wes Alcegaire--Graduated, averaged 10.9 PPG for BG.
Antwon Lillard--Successful player, played 121 games for BG, 8.6 PPG
Demajeo Wiggins--All-MAC player, averaged double-double last 2 years
Malik Hluchoweckyj--Left program after playing 21 games.

16-17
Dylan Frye--Career 3FG leader
Jeffrey Uju--Solid Role player
Justin Turner--Two-time All-MAC, #7 leading scorer
Rod Caldwell--Transferred to Ashland

17-18
Nelly Cummings--Transferred to Colgate
Derek Koch--Transferred to Ashland
Daeqwon Plowden--2nd team All-MAC as JR
Joniya Gadson--Played sparingly to date
Matiss Kulackovskis--Battled injuries, role player as JR

18-19
Michael Laster--Contributing bench player for 2 years
Tayler Mattos--Starter in SO Year
Caleb Fields, Consistent starter for 2 years
Marlon Sierra--Contributing role player for 2 years

19-20
Davin Zeigler--Made 4 starts as a FR
Chandler Turner--Played 68 minutes as FR
Trey Diggs--Averaged 7 PPG as a JUCO transfer
Dylan Swingle--Transfer, average 5 minutes per game as FR

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Justin Turner Enters the Transfer Portal

While I can't say it's a surprise, the news is jarring.

Justin Turner has entered the transfer portal and will play elsewhere as a grad transfer.

I wish him nothing but the best.  He's been here four years, he's graduating, he's been an all-MAC player and one of our top scorers in history.  It's his life and he should be able to do what's best for him, just as any of us would.

I always thought grad transfer was more likely than entering the draft.  I hope he finds a good situation--other MAC players have done this and not really gotten minutes.  Wherever he is, I'll be rooting for him. 

So, it turns out when we watched him that last time on Senior Day...it was the last time.  REALLY the last time, not just the last time at the Stroh.  Who knew?

He finished with 1,595 points in 94 games....a 16.9 scoring average.  That leaves him the #7 scorer in our team's history and #10 in scoring average.

The six in front of him are Anthony Stacey, Keith McLeod, Howard Komives, Antonio Daniels, James Darrow and Charlie Share.  On that list are 2,415 NBA games, the NBA's first-ever draft pick and then add in 9 years for Anthony Stacey overseas.  It's a good group to be on and with another season he had a good shot to top the list.

He's also #7 in career 3-pointers.

He will be remembered for his clutch finishes to games.  It was such a thrill to watch the Falcons go to the high one-four and watch Turner go to work.

He is not only a great player, but by all accounts a great person as well.  (I have only met him to shake hands, but many people have commented on this).

Thanks for the memories Justin and thanks for being a Falcon.  You're a Falcon Forever.

He joins Frye, Laster, Sierra and Good as players who are graduating and moving on.  BG has three players signed to replace the three who were expected to go and the Falcons now have one spot open to go out and add a player.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

It's Over


And that, as they say, is that.

Hard to put what I am feeling into words.  I've not been this disappointed in a long time.  Don't get me wrong, I understand and support what is being done.  When you are trying to slow the spread of the virus, eliminating mass gatherings of thousands of people is a pretty obvious first step.  Even playing in front of empty stadiums is tough to justify when you can be pretty sure at least one of the players in the tournament (any tournament) is infected.

Even in perspective, this is so disappointing.  I feel so badly for our players and coaches.  Fans are one thing, but these men and women (including our staff) have woken up every morning for a year with a singular focus on getting to tonight.  They worked out early in the morning, lifted weights, pushed tractor tires, god knows what else.  They dealt with the pressure and the games and the travel and the losses and the setbacks.  All with the goal to win three games this week.

And it isn't like they failed.  They never found out.  It might be 10x worse.

I thank our team.  It was a great season.  They did a great job.  It's unbelievable to be here.

And for our quest to make an NCAA tournament...our first real shot in 18 years...and then there's no MAC tournament and almost for sure no NCAA tournament anyway.  Of all the ways to not make it.  I just cannot believe I am typing these words.  I feel like my heart's been ripped out of my chest.

The good news is, the sweep over UT stayed intact.

He says with dark humor.

The sun will come up tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Quarter-Final Preview and other things

Well, there's certainly a lot to talk about.

Let's start with the biggest thing, which is closing the tournament to outside spectators.  That's a huge decision and one I am sure was not taken lightly.

I echo many of the thoughts I have heard...this is incredibly disappointing to me as a fan.  I have been pointing to seeing this team in Cleveland since the end of the Buffalo game last year and more so as the season went on.  I'm incredibly disappointed.

Yet, I think it had to be done.  I know not everyone agrees with that but I do think it had to be done.  If you want to see why, I'd encourage you to find video of Gov. DeWine's Health Director explaining the impact we can make by limiting the spread of the disease as it relates to saving lives and keeping more people healthy and working.  (Their chart is below).


Also, this since I posted...


And the NCAA went along for all first round games.

They might be over-reacting.  We'll never know for sure what would have happened if they had done nothing, and if it works everyone will say they it proves it was nothing to worry about.  That's how it goes.  For good reason and good science, they are trying to limit the spread of the disease as early as possible.  (Note for you people who say it's just flu:  NIH Director Fauci just said it is 10x more deadly than the season's flu).  I suspect that they suspect that the disease is already churning through communities, which actually makes limiting gatherings even more important.

Again, possibly this is all an over-reaction, but people who know what they are doing think this has to happen.  (Special note to David Briggs, who inserts his own opinion while saying "I am not a doctor," the understatement of the Century).

And....important note...the cool thing about science and nature is that it goes ahead even if you don't believe in it.

So, the next step for BG is to play UT at an Arena with a name I will not be mentioning.  There's no point in a big preview, we have seen each other twice.  In both games, it was a wild battle, the last one at the Stroh coming down to the final seconds.  BG is playing poorly and UT is playing well.  You're trying to beat your rival for the 3rd time in one year.  And you're introducing a rivalry into an already stressful situation.

BG has played it cool on the rivalry.  They were quoted in the paper as saying that they just view it as another game.  In fact, they downplayed the rivalry in general.  Meanwhile, the UT players seemed to take some glee that they would get another shot at BG.  I get that...in their shoes, I would love for BG to spoil their season, strictly out of spite.

Napoleon once said that "you might not have an interest in war, but war might have an interest in you."

Similarly:  "You might not be interested in the rivalry but the rivalry might have an interest in you."

BG beat UT twice because UT is a decent matchup for us because they don't play defense, and that has worked well for us.  The UT games were BG's 2nd and 3rd best offensive games of the season and our 2nd and 4th worst defensive games of the season.  The Rockets have defended much better since then and BG has been defending worse.

So, on the positive side, of all the things that might have to happen for us to get to the tournament for the first time, maybe it will take beating UT a third time in an empty arena.

We are certainly capable of beating UT, who nearly lost to WMU in the first round.  And who we have beaten twice.  That extra dynamic works to their side.

But this is what you have to do to be a champion.  BG has to win 3 games.  Next loss and they are done for the year (note:  the CBI has been canceled).  Last time, BG arrived playing poorly as well, and put together two winning games and one good-but-not-good-enough game.  They will need to do it again.  You'd prefer to be playing well, but apparently, it isn't imperative.

Last thing.  The All-MAC teams are out today.

First, the POY was Loren Christian Jackson.  It's deserving.  We love Juice, but Jackson had an incredible year.  Lead the MAC in scoring, 3FG% on high volume, shot 49% of 2FGs, #2 in FT% and #4 in assist rate.  He completely deserves it.

The Coach of the Year was John Groce.  I feel a little bad for Coach Huger, who has done a COY-worthy job with this program.  Last year, when he was picked to finish 6th he was beaten out by UB due to their incredible excellence.  This year, when Akron was picked to finish 5th and wins, it goes to Groce.  Two things...Groce has done a great job rebuilding their program and they did win it.  If BG had won the regular season, I would hope it goes to Huger.

The FR of the year was Jarron Coleman of Ball State...BG didn't place anyone on the all-FR team either, which is no surprise.

UB won 6th man (Renaldo Segu) and Defensive player (Jordan), both excellent players as well.  BG did not place anyone on the all-defensive team.


Here are the all-conference teams.

Justin Turner did end up first team, and I think it's certainly earned.  He has been a great player for us...one of the best in recent memory, particularly in clutch performances.  We need him at the top of his game for the next 3 games.

Daeqwon Plowden was second team, and I think that was an appropriate honor as well.  He was 6th in rebounding and 24th in scoring, but I think the coaches recognized him for the outstanding player he is beyond stat lines.  Remembering where he was even heading into the end of the season last year, Plowden has really improved and we should tip our hat to that young man.

My only gripe is Tahjai Teague.  He was 4th in rebounding and 14th in scoring but very inefficent, using up a lot of possessions to be #14 in the MAC in scoring.  He did the conference a gift every time he took a 3FG, and he took way more than he should have.  I think he's overrated.

So, that's the state of the nation.  We take the court tomorrow.  Bring on the Rockets, let's get the broom back out.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Falcon MBB: Need a reset

And that's it.  The regular season is over...just like last year, with a whimper and not a bang (but the world didn't end).  BG loses three straight heading into the tournament and plays the winner of the WMU-UT game. 

It didn't feel good last night and it didn't feel good last year.



Now, last year the Falcons did turn things around in Cleveland, beating Ball State and NIU to get to the final game before losing.  And we're rooting to see it happen again.

Last night's game was a thriller.  The Stroh has turned into a great basketball environment and I hope we can keep it going into next season.  That place is deafening and it's the home environment we have hoped to create/recreate since the beginning.  I always said that we wouldn't love the Stroh until the first time the opposing team brought the ball down the floor and the fans were chanting DEE-FENSE and the point guard was pounding the floor.

We're there. I'm going to miss it until November.

BG showed a lot of fight last night, which is better than their previous two games.  It was a rough, wild game.  The refs let a lot go (except traveling) and it was highly competitive and BG was in it swing-for-swing.  They just aren't playing well enough.

First, when you look at the 88-84 score, it is important to remember that the game was played at a wild pace.  At 79 possessions, it was our fastest-paced MAC game of the season and the next was 76  possessions.  Just an observation, but I'm not sure we have our best chance to win at that pace.  I know we say we do, but it seemed to me like we got out of control sometimes....a long pass to a streaking player who is already behind the basket, a turnover in a weird passing angle, etc.  I just felt like we might have benefitted better from half-court possessions in those cases.

Anyway, the point is that the 88 points have to be seen in the context of all those possessions.  Even at that, it was a poor defensive game for the Falcons.  We allowed 1.11 points per possession, worse than the previous two games and the worst since the UT game. 

Buffalo abused BG in the paint.  They don't shoot 3s.  They tried only 24% of their field goals from 3 in this game and the only MAC opponent who tried a lower percentage against BG was UB the first time we played them.  But, they got to the rim at will.  They shot 61% on 2FGs.  That's the second-worst of the season for BG, eclipsed only by Tuesday's Kent game.  For context, the MAC% on 2FG is 48.6%.

UB had 56 points in the paint.  Even adjusting for tempo, that's ridiculous.

From my observation, BG had really two issues.  They don't have a rim protector on the team.  I think they have a guy who will be one in Dylan Swingle, but the guys we have down there now are not rim protectors. 

And the second thing is just fundamental defense.  Coach said after the game we aren't keeping our men in front of them and it doesn't seem to me that we are rotating to help.  UB has a great interior passing game when they penetrate, they find guys open in really tight spaces, so we might get help once but at that point they've broken the defense down.  I swear they had five straight possessions that ended with a dunk at one point.

BG is not playing effective defense.  Here's the thing.  BG allowed 1.11 points per possession.  BG has won 4 MAC games allowing that kind of scoring....WMU, UT both times, and OU the first time.  BG's is also struggling to score the ball.

The overall numbers weren't bad.  BG had 1.06 points per possession.  BG shot OK...being rescued by 3FG in the second half.  BG made only 39% of its 2FG, a lower percentage than on 3FG.  And, BG had a great game on the offensive boards and still ended up with a low 2FG shooting %.

UB does protect their rim...they lead the MAC in blocked shots and had their usual 12% or so in this game.  And where there are counted blocked shots there are also uncounted altered or not taken shots.

But the biggest issue was turnovers.  Early in the year, BG took excellent care of the ball, but I've noted on here before that it has been slipping.  It was BG's worst turnover performance in a MAC game this year.  There just seemed to be a higher proportion of them that were just lazy, careless passes and you didn't see that earlier in the year.  In fact, 12.5% of BG's possessions ended on a steal--a live ball turnover--that often UB turns into an easy basket.




Individually, I would contend that nobody had a great line.  Turner had 23 points but missed all his 2FG attempts and had 3 turnovers.  Dylan Frye had 20 with 5 assists but shot 2 of 10 from 3FG as he played his first normal minutes since he came back.  Laster had 10, shot well and had 6 rebounds, though he also had 3 turnovers.  Plowden had an efficient 11 points and 9 rebounds but added 3 turnovers.  Marlon Sierra had 9 rebounds in 14 minutes.  (Remember, those rebound numbers are impacted by fast tempo as well.)

Bottom line...this is a team issue.  And BG needs to reset itself starting Thursday, quite possibly trying for a three-game sweep against a highly motivated rival.  No one said it would be easy.

Last thing.  I know some people reached out related to the highly unusual decision by Justin Turner to take his senior night at the end of his redshirt junior year, with the guys he started with.  I'm told that's all it is and it isn't an indicator of whether he is coming back or not.  Having said that, he might or might not be back...we've known that all year.  He has options and...rightfully...wants to make the best of his opportunity.  Selfishly we'd love to have him back, but it is his life and he needs to do what's right for him and this year's injury only magnified the importance of that.  Let's enjoy the ride for now and remember that this university is here to change people's lives and that included me and it includes Justin Turner.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Spring Football Roster is out...

So, the football roster is out for spring practice.  Your intrepid blogger took some time to compare the end of season roster to the current roster.

The good news is that with the exception of one guy, there are not any new players other than the early enrollees we already knew about.  I say good because this is the time where we used to find out about JUCO players coming in...we're not recruiting that way anymore and I'm for it.

As for departures, there were 3 notable departures other than the ones we knew about...Hudson, Johnson, Dziengelewski, Loy.

The first was Konota Gaskins, a DB.  He was in the first Jinks/Loeffler transition class and played 3 games and red-shirted.

The other two are twins, Jake and Brad Papez.  They were in the full Jinks class.  Jake was a TE and Brad was on the o-line, both are from Missouri.  Jake played one game and Brad none in two seasons.

So, big picture this is a success to me.  We cannot afford attrition, but at the same time our staff has introduced a whole new level of expectations and I'm actually pleased we haven't lost more.  We aren't necessarily done.  Sometimes guys wait until spring practice is done and then see where they stand.

Anyway, all signposts on the road to getting the program back where we need to be.  It has not been easy and I'm not sure--in the words of Churchill--that we have gotten to the end of the beginning yet.

Buffalo Redux

And now we came to the end.  Hard to believe, but this is the end of the regular season.

BG matches up with Buffalo at the Stroh, where the Falcons have been very difficult to beat for two years.  Meanwhile, UB is playing for a bye.  They are currently tied for the last spot with Ball State and would win a tie-breaker with Ball State, so a win guarantees they are in.

BG won the game in Buffalo to start the series.  They were down 11 at the half, stormed out of the gate in the second half and evened that out and then gutted out the 1-point win.  It was a big win on the road for BG and a key tiebreaker helping them right up until now.

Since that game, UB is 5-3, winning over CMU, @UT, BSU, @KSU and Miami and losing @EMU, @OU and Akron.  The Akron game is notable because UB led much of the way before Akron finally caught up to them.

Clearly, this is not the UB team we had last year.  This is still a good team, though, and capable of winning in Cleveland and certainly capable of beating us on Friday.

The first game was pretty illustrative of these two teams and their games.  First, UB plays at the fastest pace in the MAC.  They are 5th in the MAC in offense and defense, while BG is 4th and 9th.  Neither team shoots the ball very well...and they didn't when we played the first time.  UB is 11th in shooting and 11th in 3FG%.  Both teams take pretty good care of the ball and are good on the offensive boards....except in the first game UB was ridiculously good on the offensive boards.  The Bulls don't get to the line and are 8th in FT shooting.

The most worrisome thing about their defense is that they are #2 in guarding the 3FG.  BG is going to have to overcome that or figure out a way to score on non-3s, which they are 11th in the MAC at.  Beyond that, as a style of play thing, I think BG matches up OK with UB.

First time around, Turner had an efficient 23 and Frye added 17--he's been in single digits in 4 of the 5 games he has played since then and the one exception was Akron.  Plowden and Mattos both had 10.

Jayvon Graves had 24, Jeenathin Williams 14 and Mballa had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

No secret, BG has played poorly in their last two games.  This is a chance to get the #1 seed (with help) but more importantly establish the team's confidence heading to Cleveland.  I know we did fine last year coming in playing poorly, but I'd prefer to go in with a strong game under our belts.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Falcon MBB Slumps to Defeat in Kent

Well, that was no fun at all.

I'm not jumping ship.  Certainly not a good thing but I believe this team can compete in Cleveland and win.

Not playing like this, though.

BG came out with some energy and it felt like we had a fighting chance, but Kent gradually wore that away and BG's poor defense and poor shooting combined to give Kent the lead with 13:22 left in the first half and Kent led for 33 straight minutes.  The game was never closer than 3 and never closer than 5 in the second half...and was normally in double figures for the second half. 

This was a Kent team playing without starter Anthony Roberts and key bench player CJ Williamson.  And they beat BG by 15 points.  I believe we're still in the hunt but playing like that won't get it done.

BG's defense was just ugly.  Kent scored 1.09 points per possession--same as Miami did.  There were two keys.  First, they had a good day on our boards.  Second, they shot 64% on 2FGs, the best of any BG opponent this year.  Some were put backs...but Antonio Williams ran around screens and got to the rim at will and Danny Pippen abused BG's defense in the post. Kent did not shoot the three well, but they scored well in the paint and BG had no answer.

Coach said we have to be a lot tougher in those situations.

Meanwhile, BG scored .91 points per possession, not a winning number.  They shot an EFG of 38%, their second worst of the season, after Nevada, a non-Turner game.  BG only shot 31% of its FG attempts from 3FG, so we were trying to force the ball to the rim, but BG made only 41% of its 2FGs and 20% of its 3FGs. There were too many turnovers.  BG was good on the offensive boards and made 21 of 26 at the line, or this would have been even worse.

One interesting thing you are hearing people talk about is "live ball turnovers" because they often lead to easy baskets.  In the MAC, live ball turnovers (steals) account for 8.7% of all possessions.  BG gave up 10% yesterday.



Justin Turner scored 24 points and played really well on offense.  He was 8 of 15 from the field, 8 of 10 from the line, added 5 rebounds, though there were 4 turnovers.  Plowden had 10 points but it was a rough night.  He was 3 of 10 on 2FG and 1 of 6 on 3FG.  He did add 9 rebounds.  Trey Diggs also had 10 on 2 of 6 3FG shooting.  Other than that...well Frye had 3 turnovers in 23 minutes, Laster had 2 in 4 minutes.

Anyway, far from a championship performance.  Whether this is a championship team...time will tell.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Kent Preview....

And there are two games left.  Everyone knows where we are.  All of BG's goals lie ahead of them, including the regular season title.  And yet, we are coming off our worst performance of the MAC season only to move on to play the team that provided our second-worst MAC result...the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Remembering back, we go to the first MAC game of the season.  It was a home game for BG and Kent torched us.  They won by 18, making 8 of 17 from 3FG while BG made 3 of 23.  BG missed half their FTs, didn't do much on the offensive boards...it was no contest.

BG reacted pretty well to the Kent defeat, winning 8 in a row.  In fact, BG has only lost twice in a row once this year and that was that awful weekend in Atlantic City.  And, that was BG's only home loss all season.

That's the question for tomorrow.  How will our Falcons respond?  It was ugly the first time, it was ugly against Miami.  But we need to respond with a win.  (Or we'd like to.  We lost 4-5 heading to Cleveland last year and still made the final.  Not a recommended approach.)

So, on paper the game is set up to be pretty evenly matched.  Kent is a little better on defense than BG is, but the offenses are similar.  Certainly never should have been an 18-point game the first time.


Kent shoots the ball well.  They are 3rd in the MAC in EFG, and 2nd in 2FGs and 5th in 3FGs.  They try a relatively heavy mix of 3FGs--#5 in the MAC--which to me shows they have a balanced game plan and take 3s that are available, play inside-out, all that.  They aren't better on offense because they turn the ball over a lot, don't get to the line very much and are #6 in making FTs.  They are good on the offensive boards.

The problem here is that BG hardly forces any turnovers.  We are last in the MAC in forcing turnovers.  We know BG can defend well and I would hope they are motivated to show what they can do.  They need a strong team defensive game with good rotations and tough rebounding.



So, here we see what we normally see.  Kent is just OK against the shot but BG doesn't shoot well.  Kent forces a lot of turnovers, and BG has been struggling in that regard.  The good news is that Kent is the worst team in the MAC on their defensive boards and 10th in allowing FTs.  This would be an excellent time for BG to clean up the offensive side of the ball, make shots and take care of the turnovers leading into the single-elimination process, where you are going to need to do that for 3 straight games.


Kent has four double figure scorers in MAC play.

They are led by Antonio Williams, scoring 15 PPG on 49% overall and 38% from 3FG.  He leads them in assists, but has about a 1:1 ratio.

Troy Simons is next at 13.4.  He mostly shoots 3FGs and makes 39%.

Danny Pippen scores an inefficient 13PPG, shooting 38% overall and 29% on 71 3FGAs.  We should pay him to shoot 3s.  He also leads them with 7.6 RPG.

Anthony Roberts scores 12 PPG on 45% and 40% shooting.

The Flashes are only 5-3 in MAC play at home, which is OK but not great.  This is the 12th most experienced team in the country and they use fewer bench minutes than the average team.

I'm sure the guys are glad to get back on the floor.  They have a chance to wipe away that Miami game with a road win.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Permutations



All, right here is how things stack up.  (Note, it is possible I've made some horrible error here, LMK if you see anything).

When NIU lost to WMU, BG clinched a top-two finish.  On Thursday, BG will play at noon vs the 8/9 winner if they finish first, or at 6:30 against the winner of the 7/10 game.  There's a big mush of teams in there...and a third game with the Rockets does remain a possibility.

Can you imagine?  Especially with the way the last one ended and they are playing well.  I would forsee a real barn-burner (cue Keith Jackson).

So, the battle for first continues.  It's a huge honor and you are assured an NIT bid, which is better than nothing but not what anyone wants.

If BG or Akron wins more games, they win.  The only way you get a tiebreaker is if they are even from here on in.  There are three ways it happens.  Both win both, both win one and both win none.

I don't think anyone can clinch it on Tuesday for that reason.  If they end up tied, BG wins most or all the tiebreakers...see below

Here are the records for BG and Akron against MAC opponents in descending order of the current standings.  I have highlighted the ones were there is or could be a difference.

NIU:  BG 1-0, AK 1-0
UB:    BG 1-0* AK 1-1
BS:  BG 2-0 AK 1-0
KS:  BG 0-1* AK  0-1*
UT:  BG 2-0 AK 0-1
OU:   BG 2-0 AK 1-0*
EMU:  BG 1-0 AK 2-0
CMU:  BG 0-1 AK 1-0
WMU:  BG 1-0, AK 2-0
MU  BG 1-1, AK 2-0

Both win out....

BG would win due to UB tiebreaker since we would be 2-0 against UB.  Under this scenario, Kent has lost twice, so they can't catch UB and both teams would be 1-1 against them anyway.

Both lose out

The UB and Kent tie breakers are even at that point.  It would come down to UT and OU...BG wins UT and would get the OU since AK would be 1-1 vs OU.

BG beats Kent and loses to UB, UA beats OU and loses to Kent

The UB and OU tiebreakers are even in this one, but BG would win Kent and UT...UT could pass Kent.

BG loses to Kent and beats UB, UA loses to OU and beats Kent

This is the most confusing one.  UA wins Kent tiebreaker but BG wins UB tiebreaker.  In this scenario, Kent is 9-9.  and UB 9-8 with one game undecided.  Kent and UB split their season series.  You also have a chance of a 3-way tie or more...too hard to tell.  You introduce UT into the equation, and that's good for us.

BG beats Kent and loses to UB, UA loses to OU and beats Kent

In this scenario, the UB and Kent tie breakers are even but BG wins OU and UT.

BG loses to Kent and beats UB, UA beats OU and loses to Kent

BG would win on UB tiebreaker.  Kent would be even and OU would go BG's way.

Oxford Blues

Woof.  We are having a great men's basketball season.  Yesterday is a game we want to forget. It was very ugly and very disappointing, given the match-up and what is at stake.

I'm not particularly discouraged.  Things like this can happen.  You would like for them not to happen, but sometimes they do.  But, as Herb Brooks said once, "a loss never hurts a good team."  We can still finish first and we will be in the top 2 and we will play in Cleveland.  If we are the team we think we are...we'll bounce back Tuesday.  If this loss turns into more, then we aren't a championship team.

As an example, I give you Akron, who lost to us handily the other night and was on the road playing a good UB team and Akron was without their #2 scorer.  Akron picked up a tough road win.

Tuesday will be our turn, in a tough Kent environment against a team that handed us a bad defeat at home to start the MAC season.

Frankly, with 11 minutes left in the second half, this game seemed to be a typical Falcon game.  Miami had led by 10 early on but the game normalized and it was a 2-point deficit at halftime.  BG continued to nip at their heels in the second half and I wasn't that concerned because this was feeling like what normally happens.

BG took the lead for the first time with 11 minutes left in the game.  We were up 53-51.  And for the next 11 minutes, more than 25% of a game, Miami outscored BG 22-2 and won by 18.  BG did not make a FG in that 11 minutes...2 Justin Turner FTs provided all of the offense.  It was a spectacular, mind-blowing catastrophe. If you're going to do it, go all the way.

I mean, you take a lead and then go 11 minutes without a FG.  It's just unbelievable and was awful to watch.

Coach said after the game that we didn't defend the way we wanted, which is the normal answer.  Also, he said we missed too many open shots, which was also the problem in the Akron loss.  As we look at our team, it is worth noting that we are not a great shooting team.  We are #8 in the MAC, #6 from 3FG and #10 from 2FG.  Despite this, we are #4 in offensive efficiency overall due to creating extra possessions with turnovers (#1 in not turning it over) and offensive rebounds (#5).  And, while we aren't great at getting to the line, we are #4 in FT%.

Keep that in mind for a second.

The stats are below.  It's a painful look.  I talked about pace in the preview, and it went Miami's way at 67 possessions.  BG had .82 points per possession, more or less what they produced in the first Akron game.  BG did not shoot well, 42% from 2FG and 30% from 3FG.  Still, BG is 3-4 when they shoot worse than this...they do win games.

One key is not turning the ball over.  It was BG's worst turnover game of the MAC season, but the trend has been worrisome.  With our average shooting, we have to take care of the ball...that was the formula.  I wonder if it's time to get Dylan back into playing more minutes.

Also, we had our worst offensive rebounding game in two seasons.  We had a decent day getting to the line and finished 12 of 15.

Meanwhile, Miami didn't shoot great.  They made 26% of their 3FGs, but 51% of their 2FGs...and they tried 70% of their FGs from 2FG.  Obviously, they didn't turn the ball over--BG does not force turnovers, last in the MAC--and they were good on their offensive boards and make all 15 of their FTs.

This chart is an ugly thing.



Daeqwon Plowden was a rock for us.  He scored 26 points on 7 of 11 shooting and 3 of 6 from 3FG, added 11 rebounds and was 9-9 at the line. He's an extremely versatile, capable player and we are lucky to have him.  Credit to him for improving in his time here and to the coaches for bringing him along.  I think we are doing a good job developing players.

Everyone else, pretty much, had a forgettable night.  We had five players with multiple turnovers.  I don't like to pick at the players who don't play well, you can look it up if you're curious.  It was everyone else...and it was a team defeat...we weren't close to winning and it shows in the stats.

So on we go.  I am sure the guys are looking forward to getting back on the floor Tuesday.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Miami Redux

BG is back at it, a top-finish assured and looking for more.  They will play Miami, on paper the easiest game on their remaining schedule, but then again, it is the MAC and it is on the road and nothing is for sure.  Miami is only 4-11 in MAC play.  However, a couple weeks ago they beat NIU without Silende and Brown and this week they beat CMU without Brown for the first half.  Both games were at Millett.

And there's the first game between the two teams.  BG was down 14 and possibly looking like dropping their first two, both at home.   In a pattern that would become familiar, the Falcons rallied and won a squeaker.  BG was up 1 very late but Miami had the ball.  BG got a blocked shot and Frye hit 2FTs to make it a 3 point lead with :04 to play.  Miami went for a hand-off screen and Fields had it covered but he got caught in the wash and fouled the 3-shooter at the buzzer.  Thankfully, Miami's player only made one of the 3 FTs and BG got the board to close the game off.

Dalonte Brown scored 20 for Miami in the game.  He has been injured but returned for the second half of their last game.  He would win the Naismith Trophy if he only played against BG.

So, here is how it shakes out.  First, pace will be critical.  They play the 10th fastest pace in the MAC and BG plays the 3rd fastest.  In the past, BG has tended to settle in at the slower team's pace.  If BG can get stops, they can push the pace to their advantage.

MU is 9th in the MAC in offense and 11th in defense...the numbers of a 4-11 team. A note here...BG is playing very good defense of late, holding each of its last 3 opponents under .96 points per possession...and those were teams that can score.




Miami is the 8th best shooting team in the MAC, and completely reliant on the 3FG.  They are 2nd in 3FG shooting and 12th in 2FG shooting.  They try 40% of their FGs from 3...which is 5th in the MAC.  BG certainly got a ton of missed 3FGs from Akron and would hope to build on that.  They are good at taking care of the ball--and BG forces very few turnovers, so that's not likely to be a factor.  MU doesn't offensive rebound and BG is a good defensive rebounding team.  They are 9th getting to the line and 11th in making FTs.  BG does allow some FTs, but let's hope with MU's poor 2fG shooting that the Falcons don't get drawn into too many fouls.



Turning things around, Miami is 11th in defending the shot.  That's 11th against the 3FG and 12th against the 2FG.  They also foul a lot--sometimes teams can manufacture a lower opponent shooting% by fouling guys taking a good attempt, but that's not the case here.  They are 6th at forcing turnovers and 7th at defensive rebounding.  One note here...BG has been excellent with the ball all year, but have allowed 17% turnovers in each of their last 4 games.  That's still good--the national average is 19%--but it puts additional pressure on BG to make shots.


So, individually, Miami has 2 double-figure scorers.  Nike Sibandie is scoring 12.5 PPG.  He is shooting 41% overall and 31% on 3FG, so it isn't efficient.  He also has a 1:2 A/TO ratio, but leads the team with 5.9 RPG.  Dae Dae Grant is scoring 10.1 ppg on 35% shooting overall and 36% from 3FG.  Isaiah Coleman-Lands comes off the bench and shoots 42% from 3FG.  Brown, mentioned above, is scoring 8 ppg and shooting 36%...he's having a tough year.  In the 10 games since he hung 20 on BG, he has been in single digits for 8 of them and that includes the last 5.

It is disorienting with Miami having this long dry spell in MAC play.  When I was young, they were the league's most consistently excellent team.  The last years of the Evil Genius left them in a hole, but they continue to struggle. 

Anyway, this is a game BG should win, especially as well as they have played on the road.  The biggest challenge is playing hard with the game having slightly less meaning.  Still, you'd like to see us respond with renewed confidence after the Akron game and put this one away.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

2020 Football Schedule Released



Here it is...a football interlude...the 2020 BG football schedule.  A few thoughts...


  • That LU stands for Liberty...the Liberty Flames
  • This is our new normal configuration.  We have two buy games at P5 opponents, we have one G5 game and an FBS game. 
  • I think this is good.  Playing 3 P5 games is really tough, in my opinion.  It's nice to have a new opponent on the home schedule and have it be someone we are a little more competitive with.
  • For the first time in recent memory, BG isn't finishing with Buffalo.
  • Interestingly, we are finishing with cross-over games as we have in previous years.  It's mixed, some teams do and some teams don't.
  • The Akron/BG game at Summa will be the only Saturday game played in November in the MAC.
  • An alert commenter has corrected me...we also play at @ EMU on a Saturday.  We regret the error.
  • BG will have two November weekday games...the Kent game and then the NIU game on the hated day after Thanksgiving.
  • As a fan, that three game home stretch in late September into early October looks nice, with the hope of continuing decent weather.
  • Back to basketball!

Permutations in MBB



So, the question of the bye is done.  BG will play in the Thursday game in Cleveland.  That's important.  BG has a bye two times in a row for the first time ever.  It has only had a bye four times prior to now period...and one of those was last year.

There are still other things to be decided...let's take a look.

First, as to the MAC title, BG has a one-game lead.  If they win the same numbers of games as Akron coming home, then BG will win the regular-season title and the #1 seed.  In the 20 years since the tournament moved to Cleveland and adapted the current format, the #1 seed has won the tournament 9 times.

If Akron wins two more games than BG, they would take the #1 seed.

If BG and Akron end up tied, then things get a little more complicated.  The tiebreaker works that it's your winning percentage against the teams in descending order of the standings.  So, it depends on who finishes 3rd, 4th etc.  An asterisk indicates there are still games to be played in that tiebreaker.

So here are the records again teams in current descending order.  BG currently leads the UB tiebreaker, the Kent is up for grabs, BG wins UT, OU up for grabs and Miami still open too.  The UB one is most promising and would be locked up if UB beats Akron Saturday, which is certainly possible.

NIU:  BG 1-0, AK 1-0
UB:    BG 1-0* AK 0-1*
BS:  BG 2-0 AK 1-0
KS:  BG 0-1* AK  0-1*
CMU:  BG 0-1 AK 1-0
UT:  BG 2-0 AK 0-1
OU:   BG 2-0 AK 1-0*
EMU:  BG 1-0 AK 2-0
WMU:  BG 1-0, AK 2-0
MU  BG 1-0*, AK 2-0

OK, so what about the other positions.

Simply put, with one win by BG or one loss by NIU and UB, the Falcons would lock down at least a top-two finish.  If BG goes to Miami and takes care of business, they can finish no worse than 2nd.

Great year....gets better all the time.