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.

No comments :