Sunday, February 09, 2020

Momentous Day for BG MBB: Dylan Frye and Sweet Victory

What a day yesterday was in men's basketball at BG.

To start with...I'm on my way to the game and I see the tweet from NickP of The Blade:  Dylan Frye had left the program.

I don't think I'd seen anything that shocking since I was in a meeting and I got a text that Chris Jans had been fired.  It's just jaw-dropping news, one month before the end of the season, one where the team is in first place.  Clearly, it changes everything on a team to lose its second-leading scorer suddenly like that.  Just when you felt like things were moving along, you get a gut punch like that.  It felt almost like the curse of 1968 rearing its head again.

After the game, Huger said that Frye left of his own volition. When asked if the door was open to come back, he said "we'll see."

He also said "we all wish Dylan the best and, hopefully, everything will be all right."

I think everyone echoes those sentiments.  There's no point in trying to guess what happened and we might never find out, which is fine.  Whatever it is, I wish Dylan the best in dealing with it.

And things move on.

Frye was BG's point guard and the team had to figure out how to handle that most demanding of positions.  Further, he had been effective...his shooting had been not great, but he was largely responsible for BG being among the top teams in college basketball in protecting the ball.  Michael Laster is the backup PG, but coach did something different.  He kept Laster in that role and moved Davin Zeigler--the team's PG of the future--into the starting spot.

And you know, he did pretty well.  He's been producing in the minutes he has gotten.  He would have started for our team three years ago.

But now we are getting into the let's do it.

Oh, sweet victory.  It was a great game, right down to the wire, but BG pulled it out in their first game with the new lineup.  Oh, it was a sweet, sweet victory.

UT came out and played hard.  They lack depth and rely on 3 players to do their scoring, but they are getting the most out of that setup, even after five straight losses.  They led for most of the first 11 minutes of the game and were up 24-22 with 9 left.  Over the next four minutes, BG went on a 17-4 run to go up 11.  The run featured two 3FGs by Mattis, one of them a Steph Curry distance 3.  From there, BG led by 8 at the half.

There were some foul issues in the first half, but BG was able to continue to use its depth to keep in the game and even take the lead.

One of them was Plowden, who had 2.  UT came out in the second half and ran a play right at him and drew his third.  He stayed in and didn't foul out, but it was a great move by UT because it impacted his interior defense the rest of the way.

UT never led in the second half.  BG would push the lead up a little bit...8 or 10 points, but the Rockets would battle it back.  It was an incredibly entertaining and heart-stopping half of basketball.

About 3 minutes into the half, Marreon Jackson was shooting a 3FG from the corner and there was contact.  I looked away but the ref came charging out and called Jackson for kicking his legs into contact, something I have not seen called this year in many hours of basketball watching.

Put a pin in that.

With 2:31 left, BG was up 5.  Knapke hit a 3FG.  Zeigler was fouled and, cool as can be, hit both FTs and BG was up 4.  Knapke hit another 3FG with 1:38 left to play.  Both plays featured Jackson driving to the basket, attracting the defense and then kicking out to Knapke.

Place is just crazy right now.  BG is running clock.  Actually, they had been for a couple of minutes, even with a slim lead.  The set up is simple.  It's a high one-four, Turner up top.  At ten on the clock, the 5 comes out and offers a screen and Turner goes to work.  In this case, BG ate up one-third of the remaining game and Turner hit Caleb Fields for a layup and BG was up 3 with 1:08 left to play.

With :49 left, Jackson hit a 3FG and the game was tied.

BG ran clock again and Turner got into the paint and missed with :25 left, but Matiss was there to tip the ball into the basket.  Pandemonium...and then the ref was signaling that it was basket interference.

It was right in line with my seat and the ball was clearly outside the cylinder.  They went to the replay and lo and behold, reversed the call to put BG up 2.

UT came down and Marreon Jackson was driving and Plowden bumped him in the open court with :14 left.  I didn't think it was a bad play.  Worst case, they tie the game and we have the ball last.

Which is what happened...Jackson hit both FTs (you knew he would) and BG came down the floor.

Same play.  Isolate Turner.  He drove the ball and ended up with a step back 2 to try and win the game.  There was contact with Littleson and both players fell to the floor.  The arena froze and 5,000 people didn't breathe.  And they called the foul with 1.2 left.

Kowalczyk went insane, the Rocket coached turning into a Rockette as he kicked his leg out and demanded the call that had been made against Jackson at the other end.  I find it hard to believe that a man's head can get that red without requiring medical intervention.

There's been plenty of debate about the call.  Kowalcyk ripped it post-game.  Jordan Strack posted a picture showing Turner's leg extended.  David Briggs went back and edited his column to say it should have been a no-call.

Coach Huger had a different perspective.  He said that Littleson had run through Turner and not allowed him to land, a clear foul.

Here's the play in real time--which supports the call that was made way more than a still frame.  Turner was stepping back, I think the leg was part of that motion.  Anyway, here's the look from NickP of The Blade, see for yourself.  I note that the defender pounded the floor me, he knows he got too close.  Turner was undercut and it's a foul at any time in the game, especially a tightly called one like this one.

Turner made both free throws and BG had the win.  It was a thriller and one we will take all day.  There were calls made the whole way and many of them went UT' way.

In other words, to respond to the presser by Kowalczyk :


Here are the numbers that reflect a razor-thin game.  BG ended up with 1.21 points per possession against the defensively-starved Rockets.  Two of BG's 3 best offensive games have been against UT this year.  The Rockets had 1.18 points per possession, which is BG's second-worst defensive game of the year...only matching up against the last one.

BG shot well.  The Falcons shot 53% on 2FG and 41% from 3FG.  UT was 48% and 50%. Given the number of close looks UT gets in their post action, I'm always surprised that 2FG number isn't higher. BG had a +4 advantage in turnovers...which might well have been the difference.  The Rockets were +4 at the line, making 20-29 against BG's 16 of 24.  A better FT effort from either team might have been decisive.

Individually, BG had so many contributions.  Turner had a rough 21, on 7 of 21 shooting.  They made him work for his points, which I'm sure was their goal.  He was 3 of 8 from 3FG, missed 3 FTs (but made the ones we had to have) and added 5 rebounds, 5 assists and no turnovers.

Plowden had 13 points and 8 rebounds in only 26 minutes.  He was big on the defensive boards in the second half.  And Matiss had a career-high 12 points in 22 minutes.  He shot 3-3 from 2FG and 2 of 5 from 3FG added 3 defending Knapke.

He's coming into his own at just the right time.  Coach said that this is the player he saw in high school, before he was injured early in his BG career.

Davin Zeigler, making his first start.  Eight points in 14 minutes.  Two of four shooting, made all 4 FTs, including two super-clutch ones and had 2 steals on a team that doesn't really get steals.

Michael Laster?  He had 7 points, 3 assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

Tayler Mattos?  Seven points on 3 of 4 shooting in 21 minutes.

Caleb Fields...a long day blanketing Marreon Jackson and making him work for his 31 points---that kid is a great player.

Sierra and Diggs...six points each.  It was a team win under trying circumstances.  It is a credit to the team's leadership that they absorbed Friday's drama and got the win in a tightly-fought game.

So, on we go.  Big week next week.  At Akron and at Ball State.  Difficult assignment, but BG is in good position, as you can see below.  Remember, you need to finish in the top 4.  Honestly, Akron has lost 2 in a row and nearly lost at home to EMU. They're not unbeatable.

The question is, can a team lose its second-leading scorer more than halfway into the MAC season and still win it all?  We shall see.


Anonymous said...

I agree! I hope the guys can pull this off without Frye and end the curse of 1968. Nevertheless, this is a glorious day! When was the last year we swept the hated Rockets BOTH in football AND men's basketball? This is wonderful!

Orange said...

The answer is 1999

joel said...

Another break our way is we have 8 days off beginning after next Saturday's game. Couldn't be a better little break to adjust to Frye-less and gearing up for run through the MACC. So that's in our favor and while it's absolutely shocking to lose him now, this team knows how to rally.