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 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 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.

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