Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zippety Preview

The next big day in the Falcon's big finish to their basketball season is in Akron, OH, against the Zips. This is a huge game, on the road. With a win, the Falcons would have the inside track to a bye, and possibly even for the regular season title.

That's not going to be easy. On the other hand, it didn't look like it was going to be possible to beat Kent, or win @Buffalo or @OU, and we pulled all of those off, so who knows. I have no idea if Chris Knight is expected to play, but I think we showed against Kent that we could compete without him.

Further, Akron has our number, big time, beating us the last eight times we have played by an average margin of 13 points, including a 36 beat-down in the JAR last year. But, we had the same situation against WMU, and we broke that whammy, and we broke the Savage Hall whammy, so maybe it is time.

I give Keith Dambrot credit. They graduated good ballplayers, and are competitive again. They have a very solid program. They won the first match up between our teams at Anderson Arena, in a game where the Falcons just could not get a basket at all....shooting 28% from the field and 22% in 3FG. Anthony Hitchens had 15 points and three other Zips had 10 to lead them, and Nate Miller had 15 and was the only player who shot well. Others didn't, no reason to name names.

Akron is a solid team. Looking at MAC play only, Akron has slightly stronger offensive numbers than the Falcons do. See below.

Scoring (Akron 66.4, BG 62)
FG% (BG 42.1%, Akron 43.9%)
FT% (BG 69.6%, Akron 69.9%)
3FG (BG 34.7%, Akron 31%)
TPG (BG 13, Akron 14.6)

Pretty close, huh? Rebounds and fouls show slight advantages for Bowling Green.

RPG (BG 38.3, Akron 37.1)
Fouls per game (BG 16.2, Akron 20.9)

On defense, there is an advantage to Akron as well, a more solid one, in fact, than you see on offense.

Points allowed (BG 62.2, Akron 57.7)
FG% Against (BG 42%, Akron 37.7%)
Turnovers (BG 11.5, Akron 18.2)

Turnovers are interesting. Akron leads the MAC in turnovers caused and turnover margin, and the Falcons are last in forcing turnovers.

Finally, the JAR is a tough place to play. They are 10-2 and 5-1 on their home floor this year.

Offensively, Brett McKnight has led them in conference play (12 ppg), while Chris McKnight (11.6) and freshman Humpty Hitchens (9.3). Nate Linhart is their leading rebounder.

To win this game, the Falcons are going to have to do a few things. First, we need to do very well taking care of the ball, which we did the first time we played Akron. We need to make some shots, which we did not. In particular, our guards need to deliver. I have a feeling Akron will be watching Nate Miller closely, and our guards need to score in the resulting open space.

And we need to match them possession for possession on defense. Finally, we need to get solid play out of our inside players in order to compete on the road.

Akron is a very competitive MAC team without any knock-your-socks-off players. They have as much to play for as we do. It is a great test for our team, and I can't wait to see how we do.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Falcons Lose Co-DC

BG's co-defensive coordinator, Joe Trainer, will not be coaching next Fall in Bowling Green. He has been named the head coach at Rhode Island, a job that came open late when the existing coach was hired by the Miami Dolphins.

Best of luck to him, you can't blame him for taking his shot at a head coaching job. It will be interesting to see if Clawson goes ahead and makes Shannon Morrison, the other co-DC, into the all-DC, or if another co-DC is tracked down. Either way, another defensive coach (Trainer had the D-Line) is needed.

MAC Home Stretch Reset

So, here is how the MAC looks, now updated. The Falcons are in a three-way tie for first, with a huge game coming up at the JAR on Sunday. Last night's win was absolutely huge, but everything is still in flux. Akron and Miami away are no picnic.






@OU, @Kent, Miami



BG, OU, @Kent

Bowling Green


@Akron, @Miami, OU

Kent State


@Miami, Buffalo, Akron

Miami OH


Kent, BG, @Buffalo



Buffalo, @Akron, @Kent

*Ball State



Western Michigan


@UT, Ball, CMU

Central Michigan



Northern Illinois


Ball, @EMU, @UT




Eastern Michigan


@CMU, NIU, @Ball

MAC Tiebreaker
1. Head-to-head competition
2. Winning percentage* vs. ranked conference teams (top to bottom, regardless of division; versus common opponents, regardless of the number of times played)
3. Coin flip

* Winning percentage is used instead of record because of situations where teams do not play each other the same number of times. Therefore, a team that is 1-0 (1.000) would win the tiebreaker over a team that is 1-1 (.500).

BG Head to Head Status:

We win tiebreakers with:

Ball State

We lose tiebreakers to:


Tiebreakers in Flux:
Akron (A BG Win makes it a tie)
Ohio (A BG win gives us this tiebreaker)
Miami (A BG win makes it a tie)

Finally, based on #2, as long as Buffalo eventually finishes in first place, this is very good for us, since we swept them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Falcons Come Through With Huge Win at AA

Ah, that's more like it. The Falcons moved tonight into a three-way tie for first place in the Mid-American Conference with a one point thriller at Anderson Arena. It was one of those games that was close and tense the entire way.

In many ways, I thought (and hope) it reflects the maturation of our team. The first time we played Kent, they hit a second half run and we fell apart. This time, we went into the 8:00 time out without having scored in about 5 minutes. Kent had erased an 11-0 lead and had a five point lead, and you could sort of feel a run coming to put the game away.

But it didn't. We came out and Otis got a dunk (perhaps the biggest hoop of the game), and two free throws, and with 4:21 we were back in the lead.

We ratcheted up the D (from 8:00 in Kent scored only 10 points). BG took the lead with :47 left on an Otis Polk layup, took a 2-point lead when EriK Marschall split a pair of free throws, and then BG fouled Chris Singleton with about :02 left. He went to the line to shoot 1-1, and, in what could be the most dramatic moment in AA this year, hit the first one and missed the second. The rebound rolled out of bounds off BG, but Kent didn't have timeouts left and couldn't set a play up and that's where the game ended.

Not to be lost in the sauce is that Nate Miller made two steals in the last :30 of the game. He is leading the MAC in steals, and forced two turnovers down the stretch--when we needed stops, Kent didn't even get shots.

See below.

When I previewed the game yesterday, I said that it would be a nice night for us to get some shots to fall. And that's exactly what happened. In fact, the Falcons shot 51% for the game and 40% from the three point line, and that was enough for us to be able to win the game. In fact, Kent shot about as well as they did in the first game, but we were just able to out score them tonight.

The other difference is that the Falcons committed 11 fouls FOR THE GAME (in the DD days, it seemed like we had that many 10 minutes into the game), and Kent committed 16, and BG had a +10 margin in free throws.

A couple weeks ago, I said that when Otis Polk produces, this is a different team. He had three good games, and seemed jinxed, as he struggled to score for the next three games. Tonight, he had 10 points, 8 boards, 2 assists, some strong defensive play and one key loose ball on the hardwood of Anderson Arena. I'll say it again. When Otis produces on the inside, this is a different team.

In fact, all of the Falcon starters ended up in double figures. Nate Miller was 16/8, and Moten had 14/5. The Falcons, playing without Chris Knight for the (more or less) third game, used all five starters for 30 minutes, a major change since the beginning of the season. And it only works if you get Otis contributing the minutes he did tonight.

We also had 14 turnovers, but only 4 in the second half.

So, a thrilling win for the home team tonight, and now a tie for first place. It doesn't get easier, but Sunday's game at the JAR looks to be a huge one and a great test for our team. Everytime this team has needed to bounce back with a big win in MAC play, they have done it, and I think Falcon fans can be proud of the progress that is being made, and excited for what could happen in the coming two weeks. Who knows?

Finally, at 15-11, the Falcons can finish no worse than 15-15. One more win, and a .500 season will have been achieved.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hot Flashes

OK, I know. I stole that from Elton Alexander a The PD. Corny...

But true. Let's flash back to Late January, as the decidedly cold Flashes limped off the court having lost by 14 to their arch-rival Akron Zips. At 8-11, it was looking like the Flashes might have trouble having a winning season...much less getting yet another 20 win season in their streak.

Since then, things have returned to normal for KSU, with an eight game winning streak and a 16-11 record overall. They are playing as well as any team in the conference. Depending on how they do in the tourney, 20 wins is still in play, as is a return to the NCAA tourney. They have as good a shot as anyone, in fact.

If you believe college basketball is a guard's game, then you must really like this Kent team. They are lead by Al Fisher, (last year's POY), along with Chris Singletary and Tyree Evans. The last two players are averaging 12 points or so in only 28 minutes played. Further, those players combined for 44 points when BG played Kent at the MAC earlier in the year, as Kent cruised to a 72-48 victory, the worst defeat this season for us, by far.

The first half was close, but Kent simply blew us away in the second half. The Falcons scored 15 second half points.

Kent leads the MAC in scoring and defense, as well as in FG% and FG% against. They are 4th in rebounding, both ways. They take care of the ball pretty well, and their only real weakness is that they don't seem to get to the line very much. They are the fourth best team in the MAC from beyond the arc, as well.

I guess the best news about this match up is that Kent is a guard oriented team, and our shortness on the inside might not be too exposed. (I have no idea if Chris Knight will play, but I am guessing he won't be 100%).

The other good news is that when this team has had its back to the wall (@OU, @Buffalo), we have found something and gotten the job done. Now we need to show (oddly) that we can do it in front of the home crowd. If it is going to happen, we're going to have to play some killer D....if Kent hits 46% like they did earlier this year, we'll be hard pressed to compete.

I know that Coach feels like sometimes you just happen to shoot well. I hope one of those days is tomorrow. We were 2-20 from 3FG range in the first game, and even allowing for some desperation as we tried to climb back into the game, that is going to be a hard way to win.

Each team in the East has two home games and two road games left. A team that losses one of its home games this week faces a really, really tough road. You will be playing the teams you are chasing, but it is still tough with to win when 2 of your last 3 games are on the road.

This is a pretty big game, against a team that is playing pretty well. On the other hand, winning streaks don't last forever, and teams don't always keep playing well night in and night out. Let's hope the Falcons can slow down the Hot Flashes.....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coach and Player of Year

As the MAC season hits the home stretch, people like Elton Alexander have been looking ahead to who might be the coach and player of the year.

For Coach, he is suggesting:

Coach of the Year? Arguments can be made for Witherspoon, Charlie Coles (Miami), Dambrot, Orr, Geno Ford (Kent State) and Billy Taylor (Ball State).

And he is right....arguments can be made all along the line for those people. Depending on how they finish, I am going to say right now that Witherspoon should be the first choice, but if Kent continues to win out than I think it is Geno Ford. Maybe we just say this: whoever's team wins the East should be player of the year.

Player of the Year?

Jerome Tillman
(Ohio), Rodney Pierce (Buffalo), Michael Bramos (Miami), Chris McKnight (Akron), Jarrod Jones (Ball State) and Al Fisher (Kent).

Tillman has big stats on a .500 team that has struggled down the stretch; Pierce has been the steadiest on a team that dominated most of the season; ditto for Bramos without a point guard; McKnight has been the leading Zip in league play; Jones is the best player on the West leader; Fisher, named East Player of the Week for the second straight week, has arguably been better than he was last season, when he was named Player of the Year.

I personally think at this point that Tillman, who leads the conference in scoring and reboudning, has to be a first choice. You could make an argument for Bramos or Fisher if they get to the East Title, I guess. But, right now you'd be hard pressed to vote against Tillman's pretty heroic effort on an average MAC team.

Jones is probably a lock for freshman of the year.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bracket Buster Busts MAC, as I continue to beat a dead horse

The results are in from the bracket buster, and as part of my role to document the MAC's basketball struggles, I note that the conference lost 8 of the 12 games yesterday.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. It all depends on who you played, where, etc.

I've ranked the losses (first) in order of RPI. To start with, certainly losing at Vermont and Evansville are not embarrassing. Those are very solid mid major programs. Still, you know, the top two teams in the MAC might have won one of those games.

From there, the losses get a little less glamorous. I guess losing at Eastern Kentucky is understandable, but you'd think the MAC would have beaten at least one of Indiana State,

Canisius, Valparaiso, Georgia State and Eastern Illinois, and yes, some of those games were home games.


@Vermont 78 (22-7, #87), Buffalo 70

@Evansville 75 (16-11, #86), Miami 61

@Eastern Kentucky 73 (18-10 #163), Ohio 51

@Indiana State 69 (9-19, #206), Toledo 62

Canisius 71 (9-18, #214), @Bowling Green 66 (OT)

@Valparaiso 74 (8-20, #241), Akron 66

Georgia State 63 (10-18, #261), @Eastern Michigan 58

Eastern Illinois 59 (12-15, #281), @Western Michigan 57

Now, let's look at the wins. The best win the MAC had was Kent beating Morehead State, which is a pretty average team, and the game was at Kent. In fact, it is really the only win that is even presentable. Ball State and CMU won at home against some of the worst teams in D1, and NIU won on the road against one of the VERY worst teams in D1.


@Kent State 79, Morehead State 76 (16-13, #177)

@Ball State 59, Tennessee Tech 55 (11-17, #291)

@Central Michigan 68, Fairleigh Dickinson 62 (7-21, #304)

Northern Illinois 97, @Southeast Missouri State 73 (3-25, #337)

Again, I know this point has been made, time and again. Still, we have to stop and just reflect how the MAC is competing--not one the road against Big time schools, but against teams we simply should be ablee to compete with.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bracket Buster Busts Falcons

Well, the Bracket buster was not kind to our Falcons today, as an 8-18 Canisius team came into Anderson Arena and came away with a win.

I don't know what it is about playing at home that is not working for our guys, but we're just not getting it done at home. Maybe it is the ghost of Gregg Brandon?

The Falcons came in short-handed on inside players. Chris Knight was not available, and of course, we're without Marc Larson for the remainder of the season. And while in his post-game Coach Orr says that is no excuse--we need to have the guys we have do what we need to win--I think that the lack of inside play was the difference in the game.

We were outrebounded by 11, gave up 34 points in the paint and 17 second chance points. There were also a lot of fouls, and we had an 11 point deficit on made free throws.

Furthermore, when the season began, our depth was a strength. Today, we had to play a 7-man rotation and four of the starting five went most of the way. I think that came through in overtime when the Falcons scored only 4 points.

Finally, Otis Polk continued his slump. We have seen what Otis can do earlier this year, but we have also seen him slump, as he did tonight with 4 points, 5 boards and 5 fouls in 26 minutes played. Check out the games after 2/4.

Still, despite a relatively weak performance by an under-manned team, the game did go into overtime. That is almost solely due to the heroic play of Nate Miller, who has gone from a suspension to start the season to being a player that carries the team on his back.

He had 22 points and 13 boards today, and he added 3 steals. (He put himself over 1,000 points tonight). He also grabbed a board and drained a last-second 3 pointer to throw the game into overtime, and scored all four points in the overtime, too. I believe he is an All-Mac performer, and he is truly playing like a senior who knows that he is playing his last basketball games.

We had another crowd over 2,000, which makes two in a row, and I just really wish we could reward our new fans with a victory. Both of the last two are games we really should be able to win.

In the post game, the Coach said that we got beat on the hustle plays--rebounding, loose balls, etc.

There are now four games left in the regular season. Kent State comes back into Anderson Arena on Thursday, and that's going to be a pretty big game for us. I'd like to see us bounce back like we did in Buffalo--a game we more or less won with the same limited lineup we showed today.

Friday, February 20, 2009


What do you say when someone says "Canisius?"

The Bracketbuster winds its was back into Anderson Arena Saturday, with the Golden Griffins of Canisius coming to town. When I first heard about Gonzaga, I had to look THAT one up, too. The guy below is Canisius...Petrus Canisius.

He was the first Dutchman to join the Jesuits. Really.

Anyway, the modern incarnation of this fine man is the Golden Griffins of Canisius, and they are 8-18 this season with an RPI of 229. While that indicates that they are having a tough year, they are ranked about 90 spots ahead of Eastern....sorry. Did I say that?

They are also 0-2 in the MAC East, losing to Buffalo and Akron to start the season. They have lost 7 of their last 8.

But, having said that, they play in a very strong conference. Niagara and Siena and Fairfield will all be favorites to win the MAC, probably.

They have won four times on the road this year. They have only one senior, and he doesn't play much.

Based on style, they are a team that has a hard time scoring. They are 305th in FG%, 335th in 3FG% and 337th in FT%. The stingy Falcons have to be licking their chops at this prospect. They seem to rebound well, but when they play, there are all kinds of missed shots bouncing around.

On defense, they are also much like us, in that they do not allow teams to shoot against them very well either...meaning that they must be licking their chops at playing the Falcons. Actually, for really good marginal numbers on shooting, they have still allowed 67 points per game, which is a lot higher than it would appear it should be.

Their best player is Frank Taylor, who averages around 15 PPG. Julius Coles and Greg Logins both average 11, and Logins also gets 6.9 boards a game. Their Chris Gadley gets 7 boards a game, and is 6'9" and 320 pounds, giving him an Otis Polk-like girth.

After a bad loss to EMU and a good win against Buffalo, fans might be excused if we were a little confused. Let's hope the Falcons can get it back together and give the home fans a victory.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

MAC Home Stretch Report, Updated

So, here is how the MAC looks, now updated. Obviously, the road win was huge for the Falcons because we had one more road game than some of the other teams. No one in the East has it easy on the home stretch. As I said last night, this has the potential to get very exciting.






Akron, @OU, @Kent, Miami

*Miami OH


@OU, Kent, BG, @Buffalo



@Buffalo, BG,OU, @Kent

Bowling Green


Kent, @Akron, @Miami, OU

Kent State


@BG, @Miami, Buffalo, Akron



Miami, Buffalo, @Akron, @Kent

*Ball State



Western Michigan


@NIU, @UT, Ball, CMU

Central Michigan


@Ball, EMU, UT, @WMU

Northern Illinois


WMU, Ball, @EMU, @UT




Eastern Michigan


UT, @CMU, NIU, @Ball

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Now that's what I am talking about

For as disappointing as the defeat to EMU was Sunday, tonight's win over Buffalo is just as rewarding. Buffalo is a good team--the best in the MAC to date--and we have played really poorly out there, losing by more than 20 points per game over the past few years.

But tonight, the Falcons picked up a huge road win. This is, by far, our biggest win of the season to date, and something that I hope can provide some confidence coming home.

It may have come with a price--Chris Knight was injured very early and did not return. We'll obviously monitor his condition (OK, reports of his condition), but Scott Thomas took the minutes and seemed to do pretty well.

On the surface, this game looks quite a bit like the game at Anderson Arena. Bowling Green simply shot the lights out again, hitting 54% from the field. The Falcons held a decent lead throughout, but unlike the game at Anderson, this time we didn't let Buffalo back into the game.

It was back to being a typical Falcon defensive performance. The Bulls shot only 34% from the field, and made 16 turnovers, well above their season average. And while Buffalo did rebound as well as they normally do, BG was able to win because they converted FG opportunities and kept Buffalo from making their shots.

As you can see, BG scored 59 points, and Brian Moten had 22 points. While Moten, like many shooters, can frustrate the beejezus out of you with his cool streaks, when he is on he is sweet. Tonight, he hit 6-9 from beyond the arc and was 8 of 15 overall. No one else was in double figures, but pretty much everyone contributed here and there with some good shooting. Finally, we committed only 11 fouls in the game.

I'm very pleased with this win. Buffalo now leads the East with a 9-3 record, but there are four teams, including BG, at 8-4. This has all the makings of a great homestretch in the MAC, to be interrupted next only by the bracket buster.

One last thing. That is our 15th win, and with one more we will be guaranteed a winning season, which, given where this team was two years ago, is something.

Da Bulls, part 2

So, we begin to play the East again, and first up are the Buffalo Bulls.

When first we met, the Falcons picked up a 86-82 win at Anderson Arena. The Falcons shot over 50% for the game, and picked up a win that looks bigger now than it did at the time. In fact, the Bulls only lost once when going through the East, and once against the West.

The Falcons had a big lead with 6:00 left, but Buffalo came back and made it a nail-biter.

Looking back, the strangest part of the whole story is that, uh, teams scored some points. That's enough points for 1.5 MAC games, normally. Chris Knight contributed 22 that night, and Moten 20.

As I mentioned, since then, things have been very good for Buffalo. They did end cross-over play with a bad loss, but then again, so did we. They struggled a couple times, but so did we.

Their 17-6 start is their best D1 start ever, just when it looked like Reggie Witherspoon might be in some trouble. During MAC play they have broken their previous pattern of being an offensive team (not to mention the impression you would have gotten from the first BG game), and are third in the MAC in scoring defense and fourth in scoring offense. Teams are average less than 60 points per game.

They are the best rebounding team in the MAC, and with 11 offensive turnovers a game are the best in the MAC--by far. They are only an average shooting team, but the rest of their game is pretty fundamentally strong, and that makes them tough to beat.

They are 8-2 at home this year, and 5-0 in conference play. They are led by Rodney Pierce and Calvin Betts, two really solid JUNIOR :-( guards who each average in double figures. Betts is also the team's leading rebounder, followed by PG Greg Gamble.

So, this is what is known as a test. Buffalo is a good team and strong at home. They are smell a shot at their first big dance. The Falcons will have to play as well as they can to win. This will mean making some shots, playing great D, and competing on the boards (it can be done, Ball State out-rebounded the Bulls). And, we're going to have to take care of the ball.

I'd say something like "we can't let them get as many open shots as Eastern did" but that's pretty obvious.

If we're going to compete for a bye, or a MAC tourney win, this is the kind of test we need to pass. That's not to say that it all hinges on one game, just to say that over the next few weeks, at the end of the season, we will find out where we really are as a program.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coach Orr Post-Game Presser

Just listened to the Coach's post-game presser....

Key phrase:

"We've still got some work to do."

"I'm disappointed."

"We didn't compete at the level that every game takes to win."

He also said he was concerned about Toledo hangover, after the rivalry game.

If you are a Falcon fan, you should listen to this. I really think we saw some emotion from Coach Orr...he seems honestly upset at the performance. Normally, he is pretty patient and positive.

This will be a test of our resiliency, as Buffalo is the best team in the MAC so far, and we're playing them on the road.

Monday, February 16, 2009

CBS Blog Poll Draft....comments welcome

I don't know. Duke might not have fallen far enough, and I probably sent Butler down too far. Anyway, take a look. Be gentle. It is my second time.

1 Connecticut
2 Pittsburgh 2
3 North Carolina 2
4 Oklahoma 1
5 Memphis 2
6 Clemson
7 Michigan St. 4
8 Villanova 2
9 Duke 7
10 Xavier 2
11 Marquette 2
12 Louisville 3
13 Missouri 3
14 Kansas
15 Wake Forest
16 Illinois 2
17 Arizona St. 6
18 Ohio St. 1
19 Utah St. 1
20 Butler 8
21 UCLA 4
22 Florida St. 1
23 Minnesota 1
24 Utah
25 Gonzaga 1
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Dayton (#25).

Back to Division Play, here is where we stand…..

So, the cross-border warfare between West and East has ended, and it is everyone back to their cage for round #2. I have the MAC standings below in the only way that matters, and that is by total record. Note that Ball State would get a bye because they are leading the West, and all the other byes would come from the East.

With that in mind, we can see the Falcons are in a tie for the last bye. Every team has five games left, with either 2 at home and 3 on the road, or the other way around. The Falcons have two home games left in conference, while the teams we are tied with have three.

This amplifies what a tragedy (in a manner of speaking) last night's loss was. If the Falcons had a one game lead on those teams, that extra road game might not seem like such a big deal, with in a tie, it gets really tough.

One final note. The West records should improve as they circulate through the lower three teams again, giving them a nice opportunity to climb back into the race for a bye.






BG, Akron, @OU, @Kent, Miami

*Miami OH


@Akron, @OU, Kent, BG, @Buffalo



Miami, @Buffalo, BG,OU, @Kent

Bowling Green


@Buffalo, Kent, @Akron, @Miami, OU

Kent State


OU, @BG, @Miami, Buffalo, Akron



@Kent, Miami, Buffalo, @Akron, @Kent

*Ball State



Western Michigan


EMU, @NIU, @UT, Ball, CMU

Central Michigan


NIU, @Ball, EMU, UT, @WMU

Northern Illinois


@CMU, WMU, Ball, @EMU, @UT



Ball, @EMU, WMU, @CMU, NIU

Eastern Michigan


@WMU, UT, @CMU, NIU, @Ball

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Streak Ends

The Falcons winning streak came to a screeching halt in a game against the EMU Eagles, who came in a 3-21 with just one D1 win this year.

I will give the Eagles credit for this. Despite their struggles, they are still playing very hard. They played an energetic zone that gave us absolute fits, and hit the open looks we were giving, and then withstood numerous second half charges to come away with the win. A very nice effort for them, and a win they earned.

For several weeks, the formula for BG has been pretty really good D, and someone will come through on the offensive end to provide enough scoring to win. He has sometimes been Moten, Polk, Jakubowski, Clements, even Scott Thomas, (Miller almost always scores), but today, in the first 33 minutes of the game, there wasn't anyone, and we were struggling badly to score.

But, that wasn't the only part of the equation that didn't work. Our the defensive end, we provided WAY too many open looks on jumpers, and our post defense was really poor, as EMU's players often got the ball down there, guarded, and just charged around the defender for an easy basket. I think we were missing Larson quite a bit down there.

EMU shot 46% for the game, and we're going to struggle to win like that.

Coach Orr was constantly pulling guys in and out trying to find someone who wanted to make plays, but more often than not, for the early part of the game, he was disappointed. I saw some rare cracks in his calm facade on the sideline.

We had a couple of nice runs, and we brought the game back into contention coming down the stretch, but each time we did, EMU had enough in the tank to stretch it out again. At one point, we had it down to 5, and EMU had the ball. We needed a stop to keep the pressure on, which we got. But, we bricked a 3 on the other end, and then after a lot of work, Bowdrey ended up in the paint with an old-school 3-point play.

Another time we seemed to be on a run, and stopped ourselves with a technical foul.

And then in the final minute Nate Miller hit a couple threes, and it was down to 4, but again we couldn't close the margin.

At one point, Bowdrey and Dobbins were both on the bench with three fouls, and (I have to look to see for sure) EMU was able to hold the margin while they were out.

It was just a night when we didn't play very well much of the game, and EMU was working hard and making shots, and we were always the chaser but never the leader.

It is disappointing, but I'd like to know the last time we won 6 out of 7 conference games. It has been quite a while. So we had a setback. Nothing lasts forever.

We head back to the east now, and things are going to continue to be tough, starting with a game at Buffalo Wednesday night. Hopefully, tonight's loss becomes a chance for the team to learn and build as the season reaches the home stretch.

Muncie Star on the divergent trends for basketball and football in MAC

I've blogged on this quite a bit, but Doug Zaleski writes about how the MAC's commitment to upgrading football has impacted basketball, with some excellent quotes from Keith Dambrot at Akron.

It is a companion to an even better piece about where the talent has gone--where are the marquee players we used to see?

Note also the comments of the Conference Tool, Rick Boyages, who is responsible for basketball.

Boyages was an assistant basketball coach at Ohio State, one of the premier football powers in the nation. He said the Buckeyes' profile in football was good for all sports at the school.

If he can't understand why Ohio State can sustain the investment in all its programs in order to benefit from that increased football profile and MAC schools can't, then he is just not aware of who he is working for.

Some basic thoughts.

  • I think the question of whether MAC schools can compete at high levels in football and basketball is an open question that is about to be recession-tested.
  • The MAC was once a thinking man's basketball conference, but now lags behind the Horizon conference.
  • Even the investment in football has generated (charitably) mixed results, with eight straight bowl losses.

To add another brick onto the wall, from the perspective of Bowling Green, there are rumors about our hockey program as well. I don't blog hockey because I only have the ability to really follow two sports, but the hockey team is in last place, postponed arena renovations, and there is talk of ending the hockey program.

Those are probably just rumors. But, the point is that it is no longer unthinkable, and that means something. While Ball State and CMU and UT and others are struggling to compete in basketball AND football, BG and WMU are struggling to compete in football, basketball AND hockey.

As the big schools spend more and more, I think the MAC is going to be faced with uncomfortable decisions like these. Right now, they have chosen low-grade I-A football. The consequences are evident. There would have been consequences to doing it the other way, too. But, we made a choice, and it did have an impact. And we may not be able to have it all...we may really have to choose.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eagle Preview

As the tour of the west comes to an end, the Falcons are looking for a clean sweep and are facing what should be the easiest of the challenges.

The EMU home.

It is hard to overstate the case. EMU is the 331st ranked team in D1 hoops, out of 340, and that includes lots and lots of schools that don't even have basketball scholarships. They are 3-21, with one D1 win this season, at home against CMU. They have eight straight losses by an average of 17 points. They have failed to score 50 points in five of those eight games.

Clearly, things are in sad shape in Ypsi. Yes, their best player, Carlos Medlock is out for the season, putting a huge crimp in their plans. Brandon Bowdry is their one real player, with 15 points and almost 7 boards a game, but beyond him, the cupboard is just really bare. They have seniors, but are starting a really young lineup. Justin Dobbins started well, but has been cooling off in MAC play.

They have also showed some strife this season, when their Coach had an altercation with a UDM fan.

While they rebound pretty well, they do not score or defend well, and make lots of turnovers. They are dreadful from the 3-point range, and do not get to the line effectively, and when they do, they don't make the shots.

Again, as with UT, this all kind of begs the question, because they're struggling,a and that's going to be reflected in the numbers.

So, I guess the preview the Eagles, you gotta figure on our floor, this one would be a shame to lose. Reports are that EMU is still playing and competing, and upsets do happen. But, this is a game the Falcons should win and need to win.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vandelay Reviews Recruiting

Vandelay Sports, a MAC website, has an analysis of the recruiting classes for the MAC. With all appropriate disclaimers, he says that our class was "excellent."

During the coaching change from Greg Brandon to Dave Clawson the Falcons did lose a few recruits to rival MAC programs. But by mid-January, the new coaching staff was off and running and signed a class that is considered EXCELLENT compared to other MAC schools. BG found some wonderful running back and defensive end prospects that should pay dividends right away. QB Matthew Schilz has the potential to be a star in this league. TE Alex Bayer is another recruit who is highly regarded as is WR Jordan Hopgood. There are several playmakers in this class who will contribute right away.

The Rockets were only "good" if you are keeping score. Kent has a highly ranked class in his analysis...check the rest of them out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beating the Rockets doesn't get old....

It just doesn't.

I was actually at last night's game at Savage, so here are a few impressions. As I have said before, I understand that this is not a very good Rocket team, and I understand that almost everyone has beaten them. But, I will still contend that this is the kind of game we would have lost last year, or even in December.

If you look at the game flow below, you will see that BG had a 11 point lead with about 6:00 left to go in the game. From there, we started to struggle on the offensive side, and UT went on a little run and closed the gap pretty well. Now, in Savannah or at Central Arkansas, these were chances for our team to lose control of a game.

We are now at the point where we didn't let that happen. We had enough plays in the tank coming home to win the game. That included taking a couple charges, getting some free throws, getting stops, rebounds, etc.

From The Blade this morning....

"Our guys, they show great will at the end of games," BG coach Louis Orr said.

"They made the plays necessary in order to win," UT coach Gene Cross said. "When the plays presented themselves to us, we didn't make them. They had a lot of confidence going in, they were going to make the plays."

UT did a couple things better than they have in general, namely, rebounding and getting to the free throw line, as you can see below.

The difference was field goal defense (The Rockets shot about 38% and were 1-11 from three-point range) while BG shot 42% and made 7 threes.

There was one freaky anomaly, that that was that the Rockets shot 20 free throws, and Jonathan Amos shot 19 of them. I cannot recall a game where a team got so many free throws and one player shot 95% of them. Luckily, he missed six of them!

Daryl Clements led BG with 15 points and had three key FTs down the stretch to ice the game. Nate Miller had 14 points and 7 boards, and Otis Polk scored six early points and had 7 boards, and while he fouled out, I think our rebounding profile was much stronger when he was in the game.

Brian Moten had 8 points off the bench, and while it wasn't his best game, he did hit a big three down the stretch when we really needed a basket.

One final note. Savage is a great facility. Very impressive. The most professional-style environment I have seen on a college campus, and despite their record, their crowd was decent sized and energetic. The scoreboard is fantastic, and sightlines to the floor are good.

This is the first win for BG in Toledo in nine seasons, so it was nice to pick it up. Also, we need to keep pace with our brethren in the East.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hated Rockets

The Hated Rockets come next on the schedule, from the brand spanking new Savage Arena, apple of Charlie Coles' eye.

The Rockets are having a really tough year. It is hard to figure out how they got here...they weren't so bad last year and played a really tough schedule, and had a bunch of guys back, yet they are 4-19, with two of their wins against CMU and EMU and one against a non-D1 opponent. They did have a nice win over UMASS to open their season, but that's largely all they have been able to do. They have lost five straight and they are #312 in the RPI.

They have a deadly combination in that they are 11th in the conference in scoring and defense, and have nearly a 10 point deficit per game. They score less than .9 points per possession and allow well over 1.03. They turn the ball over on 26% of their possessions, among the 10 worst numbers in the MAC and are very average on both boards....

And so on. When you are 4-19, that's the way things look.

They are still drawing pretty well to the new facility, and Charlie Coles once said you don't want to play a team that has lost a bunch in a row on their home floor because they will do anything to win, and that's kind of where we are. If anyone still cares, this is a rivalry game.

They are led by two seniors, Tyrone Kent and Jonathan Amos, neither of whom is a bad player.

Of course, they have a new coach, too. They only won 11 games last year, but were 8-9 inside the conference and lost only (really) Jerrah Young, who was a minor contributor.

All, this, by way of saying that on paper this is a game we should win. But, winning streaks and losing streaks don't last forever....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coach Orr's Presser

Just listened to Coach Orr's presser, and it has a couple of pretty good laughs. You gotta love Coach Orr's focus on his team.....

Someone asked him about what Charlie Coles said about the new Savage Arena. And Coach Orr said, "is that Toledo's arena?" He went on to say that he doesn't "read the paper" or "watch TV."

It is refreshing to see someone who is willing to just be who he is...

More Nate Miller

Very nice Blade story today from Joe Vardon about the role Coach Orr has had in Nate Miller turning his life around. Very inspirational--it is easy to be cynical about college athletics, but this is an example of how it can be right.

On my soapbox: you don't have to be a coach to make a different in someone's life.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Nate Miller is MAC East Player of the week

Congrats to Nate....

Miller had double-doubles in each of the Falcons' two wins last week. He registered 21 points and 13 rebounds against Western Michigan on Feb. 4, and 10 points and 12 boards Saturday at Central Michigan.

Miller leads BGSU in scoring (12.2 points per game) and rebouning (6.7 rpg) this season. The Falcons, winners of five straight, play at rival Toledo Wednesday.

Who was the MAC West player of the week. Uh, does it matter?

Blogpoll Moves to Hoops

So, the blogpoll proved to be so wawesome in football that now we are doing it in basketball. Here is my first draft for this.

Be gentle, it is my first time. K?

1 Connecticut
2 Duke
3 Oklahoma
4 Pittsburgh
5 North Carolina
6 Clemson
7 Memphis
8 Xavier
9 Louisville
10 Villanova
11 Michigan St.
12 Butler
13 Marquette
14 Kansas
15 Wake Forest
16 Missouri
18 Illinois
19 Ohio St.
20 Utah St.
21 Florida St.
22 Minnesota
23 Arizona St.
24 Gonzaga
25 Dayton

Sunday, February 08, 2009

MAC Standings--UPDATED

So, on a sunny Sunday that might actually begin to feel like spring, perhaps it is time to look at what March might feel like in the MAC....

The battle is on for the top 4 places in the MAC. In this sense, the regular season is really important. Until recently, first round tournament games were played on home courts on Monday, so a team could win that night, and once the play got to Cleveland, everyone was int the same boat. You had to win three straight to get the bid.

But, the home games were moved to Cleveland, and now a team without a bye would have to win on four straight nights to win the tourney, all on a neutral floor against teams (after the first game) who had out-performed them during the regular season. A tough assignment.

In fact, in the two years the MAC has used this format, 7 of the 8 first round winners have lost the very next night to a team with a bye. Miami last year is the only exception.

With that in mind, here is how things look this year. Note that each division winner gets a bye, and then the next three teams by record, regardless of division.

Buffalo, 8-1
Miami, 7-2
BG, 6-3
Akron, 6-3
Ball State, 5-4
OU, 5-4
Kent, 5-4
Western, 4-5
Central, 3-6
NIU, 2-7
UT, 2-7
CMU, 1-8

So, with Ball State getting the West's token bid and Miami and Buffalo looking pretty strong, BG, Akron, OU and Kent are all tangling for the last bye. The Falcons certainly have a tough road to get there, because they play @Buffalo, @Miami and @Akron, but they do have Kent and OU at home.

It will be what it will be, but it is nice to see us in the running. A bye was one of my two goals for the team this year.

The other was a .500 season. Three wins gets us there. That would give us 16 wins, and even if we lost the other 5 we'd be 16-14 heading to the Q, and even a first round loss is only 16-15.

Obviously, at this point, not winning three from here on in would be a huge disappointment, when you have UT, EMU and Canisius on the schedule.

At one of the darker moments of the season, I noted that it would be frustrating if we didn't get any better this year. That doesn't look very likely right now.

I am really looking forward to the next eight games. Let's see what we have.