Monday, March 01, 2021

Redhawk Redux

The Falcons had two particularly low points in the six-game losing streak.  One was losing to Toledo--they've had a chance to even that one out.  The other was a 19-point drubbing at the hands of Miami.  That one they get the chance to even out tomorrow.

BG played what Coach Huger referred to as "horrendous."  Miami scored 1.4 points per possession, their best in 18 years.  They made 65% of their 2FG and 48% from 3FG.  It was BG's worst defensive game of the season and for a couple years going back.  It was a night to be forgotten.

Overall, they are 11-10 and 8-8.  In a COVID-oddity, six of their wins are NIU (twice), WMU (twice), EMU and CMU, a romp through the MAC's worst teams.

If you don't adjust for their games, they aren't terrible.  They are 6th in offense and 8th in defense in the MAC.

On offense, they aren't great or terrible at anything.  They are the 6th best shooting team and 4th in turnovers.  They are also 4th in making FTs.  On the defensive side, they are very good on the defensive boards and pretty much average at nothing else...but again, they are a middle-of-the-road defensive team.

They have 3 double-figure scorers.  Dae Dae Grant, who is scoring 14.3 on 41% 2FG shooting and 44% 3FG.  He's the 6th best 3FG shooter in the MAC and the #1 FT shooter (92%).  He had 27 against BG, on 5 of 9 3FGS and 5 assists.

Mekhi Lairy is scoring 13.4 PPG on 49% and 40% shooting.  He had a very efficient 16 in the first game.  Dalonte Brown is scoring 13 PPG and had 17 in the first game.

Beyond righting the wrong of the first game, BG is looking to re-establish some street cred at home.  BG has been much better on the road than at home.  Riding a four-game winning streak, they have the chance to pick up two home wins and go to Cleveland on a six-game winning streak.

This is a game they should win this time as they should have last time.  Let's hope the Falcons end up on the right side.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Turner on MAC Scoring List

There's one more week left in the regular you know by now, Justin Turner is the leading scorer in our program's history.  He's the first to score 2,000 points and he's the #12 scorer in MAC history.  I thought it would be interesting to see what company he is in.  This is a pretty good collection of players.  At least a couple of them ended up taking their team to the Sweet 16.  One has numerous Championship rings from the NBA.  Many of them are the leading scorers in their program's history.

With 19 points, Justin would end up in the top 10.  We have between 3 and 5 games left, at his current average, Justin would end up either 6th or 5th.  Fourth would be tough to pull off....but who knows.

Anyway, a quick opportunity to appreciate Justin's career and the player whose company he has joined.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

BG Breaks JAR Curse, Wins by 12.

BG beat Akron last night by 12 at the JAR, the first home loss for the Zips this year and the first win in that venue in 11 years.  In that game--and in the last four--we've seen the team we hoped we had this year.  Last night's win was a comprehensive defeat of a good team on their floor.  It was the kind of game that might make you think you could win a title.

First a little history.  In 2009, BG was at the JAR.  The Falcons were in the running for the title.  There were about two minutes left and the Zips were turning the heat up in a 1-point game.  BG couldn't even get the ball in.  Finally they did, but Akron's defense was everywhere.  The ball ended up in the corner with Brian Moten who drained a late-clock 3FG to put BG ahead.  The Falcons then survived a late flurry at the basket and then a run-out dunk (also by Moten) made it a 50-46 victory.  The game put BG in first place and then ended up winning the regular season.  March 1, 2009.

It was an ugly streak.  Only 3 of the 11 games were inside 5 points.  Seven of 11 had double digit margins, 3 above 20 and 1 above 30.

And last night, it went the other way.

It was the kind of no-doubt victory that gives you confidence.

The first half was very entertaining.  The first 10 minutes were very close.  The first run went to Akron, who went up 7 with about 8 minutes left.  It was only 21-14...BG was struggling to score early, as they have before.

The scoring picked up on both sides, and with 3:38 left it was 33-27 Akron.  BG went on an 11-4 run to end the half in the lead by 1.

There were 8 lead changes in the first half.

The second half was impressive for the Falcons, who led for almost 18 minutes, while Akron led for :45.  

BG built the lead gradually, but steadily.  It was 6 points with 16 to play.  It was 7 with 12 to play.  It was still 7 with 6 minutes left, but Akron never got it within 3 over that span.  

The last media timeout came with 3:29 left and BG up 8, 72-64.  And then BG did what Akron had done to them so many times...closed the door with extreme prejudice.  BG got a stop, split a pair of free throws...and then Caleb Fields got a steal...that Matheny tapped forward...and then Fulcher converted to an and-one to put BG up 12 with 2:13 left.

And that was it.  There was no last minute drama, no clinging to the lead.  Akron never got closer than 11 and BG made all 4 last minute FTs.

That's how you win a good team wins a game.

BG scored 1.19 points per possession.  That's their 4th best offensive game of the year and the best since the second CMU game.  Meanwhile, they held Akron to 1.02, well below the MAC average for the season.

The spread was driven by shooting.  BG shot 55% from 2FG and 30% from 3FG.  Only 34% of their FG attempts were 3s, which is among their lower numbers for the year.  I would guess that's because of the offensive rebounds, which were really high--3rd highest in MAC play.

Meanwhile, Akron shot 41% from 2 and 26% from 3FG.  They came in as a very effective shooting team. It was their worst shooting game of the year.  The FG spread was so significant, in fact, that Akron was +8 at the free throw line and lost by 12.  BG made 31 FGs and AK made 21.

Individually, Justin Turner led BG with 19.  That was 6 of 11 and 1 of 5, 4 of 4 at the line and 1 assist over 3 turnovers.  Metheny continues to be hot, scoring 15 on 3 of 6 from 2FG and 3FG.  Also 5 assists over 2 turnovers.  Fields had a nice 13 on 4 of 5 and 1 of 3 shooting.  Dylan Swingle scored 9 on 4 of 5 shooting and Plowden had 6 rebounds.

For Akron, it was really interesting.  LCJ had 29, but it took him 20 shots to get there.  He was 2 of 8 from 2FG.  Meanwhile, no other Zip scored in double figures.  Trimble was 2 of 9 from 3FG.

So, the Falcons move to 14 and 9 and 10-7.  They have clinched a spot in Cleveland, where it's going to be an 8-team show where you could see 5-6 teams have a shot to win it.  (We can argue about Ball State, I don't see it).  Two more regular season games, with Miami and Ohio both at home next week.  That Miami loss earlier is a rankler....time to right that wrong.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Football Updates: Biggers, Schoonover, First Verbal

 While we wait for the Akron game tonight, there are a few football updates.

Caleb Biggers is in the transfer portal.  He's the second prominent defensive player to be in the portal, with the other being Jerry Roberts.  We don't know of Roberts having found a home yet and, as noted, there are way more players than slots.  Time will tell.  He played three seasons at BG and made 19 starts.  He was 4th on the team in tackles.  If he doesn't come back, best of luck to him.

BG's assistant Jake Schoonover has left to take a job at Kansas, where he will work with Les Miles.  Schoonover was safeties and special teams for the last couple seasons.  He came with Loeffler and we will see how the vacancy gets filled.

Lastly, BG does have their first verbal for the class of 2022.  It's WR Jalen Holly of River Rouge, MI.  He had offers from Akron, Ball State, CMU, Kent and NIU.  He's 6'0" and listed as a 3-star recruit.

Note that a commenter has corrected me...Schoonover was hired here by Coach Jinks.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Zip Preview 2

The season is reaching the last week and we're getting to the point where you can't say there's a lot of time left.  Apparently some result today meant that BG has qualified for Cleveland, which means that we're going to get a shot to win 3 and go to Indy.

Tomorrow's game is going to be an interesting test.  Akron is one of the top two teams this year in the MAC--the type of team you have to beat to win the MAC.  They are 12-5 in D1 games and 12-4 in the MAC.  They have yet to lose at home this year.  

Akron at one point beat BG in 17 straight games.  Recently, BG has greatly improved that trend,  winning 3 out of the last 8.  Akron beat the Falcons by 12 at the Stroh earlier.

That was the first game in BG's six-game losing streak.  

BG was victimized by putrid shooting.  It was the second-worst game of the season and there hasn't been a worse one since then.  BG scored .81 points per possession, the worst of the year.  As you can see, turnovers weren't great, offensive rebounding was only average and BG shot only 5 FTs.  On defense, Akron didn't shoot great either and they also turned the ball over, but they were very good on the offensive boards and made 17 of 19 FTs.


I'd suspect that BG's ability to score will be key in this one as well.  Akron is the #2 defensive team in the MAC.  They defend the 2FG especially well.  They don't force turnovers, but they are very good on their own defensive boards and they don't put their opponent on the line.  BG will need to keep hitting 3FGs, I suspect, to open this up.

3FGs will be vital to Akron too.  No team in the MAC tries a higher percentage of its FGAs from 3FG.  In fact, they are 12th in the country.  They are 4th in making 3FGs and first in percentage of points from 3FG.  They take good care of the ball, are just average on the offensive rebounding and 4th at getting to the line.

They are a good team.  And this is the kind of team you need to beat to win.  Not tomorrow, of course.  But eventually.

They are led by last year's MAC POY, Loren Cristian Jackson, who is tied for the league lead with 20.2 PPG.  He's 2nd in the MAC in assists as well.  He uses a lot of possessions, shooting 41% and 33%.  He shot 46% from 3FG last year.  He had a tough 16 against BG in the first game.

The dagger in the first game was St. John's transfer Bryan Trimble had 18 points shooting 7 of 13 overall.  He's averaging 14.7 per game for the year, shooting 45% on virtually all 3FGs.  He's 6th in the MAC. 

Sophomore Enrique Freeman is leading them with 8+ RPG, which is 3rd in the MAC.

So here we go.  BG certainly struggled and seems to be playing better, including a win over UT--the #1 team in the MAC.  This will be a good test of whether BG is ready to go to Cleveland and come home with the title.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Falcon MBB Wins Again

 BG's MBB team suffered another slow start, but then eventually found their stride and defeated a struggling EMU team.  This is a game that BG should have won and did, by 13 in the end.

It didn't always look that good.  BG has historically struggled against zone defenses, and the first part of the game was no exception.  With 6 minutes left in the first half, (14 minutes and a third of the game), BG was down by 17 points, 29-12.  That's less than a point a minute.

From there, it was all Falcons.  BG went on a 16-2 run to close the half out only down 3, took the lead for good in the first 2 minutes of the second half, had a 10-point lead a couple minutes later and it was off to the races.  For the last 26 minutes of the game, BG outscored them 70-40.

There was one point where it got a little nerve-wracking.  BG was struggling under full-court pressure and also missing FTs and the lead was down to 6 with 2 minutes left.  BG got a couple stops and Fields re-found his FT touch and BG was able to turn the tide back.

One thing I noticed is that BG's defense--which can be hard to watch--seems to pick up when the Falcons go to full-court pressure.  It's the second game in a row where that has seemed to work.  It just seems to get everyone engaged.  It isn't really a press designed to get turnovers but just to slow the other team down and it seems to be good for the defense.

BG had 1.16 points per possession which is a winning number.  BG is 23-2 over the last 3 years when scoring that amount or more.  BG also had a solid defensive effort in the end, holding EMU to .97 points per possession.  BG benefitted from unconscious shooting.  They tried over half of their FGs from 3FG--the first time that's happened in a MAC game since the "suspension" game against OU in 2017.  BG also made 48% of them, their best in a MAC game this year.  BG turned the ball over more than normal, but got some help on the offensive boards and got to the line 21 times, all in the second half.  BG struggled, only making 13 of the FTs.

EMU didn't have a terrible shooting night, but they turned the ball over more and did nothing on their offensive boards.  Their mix of shots was heavily weighted toward 2FG and they only made 50% of those.  That's right on the MAC average, but in today's game if you are going to focus on getting to the basket you need to score more than that or get to the line, which also didn't happen.

On an individual basis, you only need to say "Kaden Metheny."  He was just unconscious from 3FG and helped BG shoot over that zone.  He made 8 of 14 3FGs.  The school record is 9 by Jay Larranaga.  He finished with 29 points, his second-straight 20 point game after struggling during BG's losing streak. Remember, he's a FR, so you do get some ups and downs.  I think he's going to be a good one.

Caleb Fields was in triple-double territory.  He had 13 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 turnover.

Justin Turner had 13 and had to work for it.  He was 2-9 on 2FG attempts.  He did have 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals over 2 turnovers, so there were other contributions.

Plowden also had 13 on 3 of 7 and 2 of 5 shooting and 9 rebounds.  Diggs had 10 and 6 rebounds, making 2 of 3 from 3FG.

BG moves to 9-7 in the MAC and still in 6th place.  There's a big one Friday, as BG takes on Akron.  The Zips are currently #2 in the MAC and beat BG by 12 in their last meeting.  It will be an excellent test as BG prepares to win the kind of game they will need to win in the MAC tourney.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

MBB Is Back, EMU Preview

 So, a quick preview for EMU tonight...

It has been a tough year for EMU.  They were predicted to be eighth in the MAC, returning 7 letterwinners, their leading scorer and bringing in four transfers.

It has been a tough year.  They are 4-9 with just one D1 win.  Their only win was a 12-point win over Akron, which is kind of the most EMU thing ever.

They were sidelined by COVID from January 26 to February 20 and they are in the middle of a five-game losing streak that has spanned both sides of the long break.  They have played 9 MAC games to date and are looking at playing three between tonight and Saturday.

They are really struggling.  They are last in the MAC in offense and defense.  They are the worst shooting team in the MAC--11th on 2FGs and 12th on 3FGs.  They are also last in defending the FG--10th on defending the 3FG and 12th on defending the 2FG.

Ty Groce was their leading scorer last year and he is again.  He's a legit player.  He is an Ypsi native, 6'8" and scoring 14 PPG on 53% shooting overall and a team high 6 RPG.  Bryce McBride is their second leading scorer.  He's a 6'2" JUCO transfer scoring a rough 12 PPG on 36% overall shooting and 27% from 3FG.  Third-leading scorer is Yeikson Montero, who a 6'5" SR who was a JUCO and is his second year at EMU.  He's scoring 11.4 PPG but shooting 37% overall and 11 of 50 from 3FG!  He also averages 6.1 RPG.  They also have Drew Lowder, a transfer from Holy Cross who is scoring 8 PPG on similar shooting numbers.

Just a quick look at the Eagles.  It would be a real let down to have BG seem to get things back on track and lose this one.