Sunday, February 28, 2010

Permutations Fins

Well, we've really reached the end now.  One game left, and as always, the MAC is a bewildering maze of tie breakers and potentials.  Rather than do Sudoko this morning, I spent a while teasing out the possibilities of where BG might play.  There are lots of things to consider.  Let's look first at the plus side.  (Note, these are based on my understanding of the tie-breaker rules and some mind-bending work. Let me know if you think it is wrong).  I believe we could play Western, Ball State, Eastern, or Central.

If BG Wins we finish 9th....

We would play the #8 team....

If WMU loses, we play @WMU.

If WMU wins, then 8th place is part of a big tie at 8-8 of which there can be four varieties.


A WMU-CMU Coin flip, loser plays BG.  Miami is 2-1 within the group and BSU is 3-2, which leaves WMU and CMU, who split this season and have the same record against every team in the MAC.


BG would play WMU,  EMU is 3-1 within the group and Miami is 2-1, leaving WMU and BSU.  Ball beat Miami and WMU lost to them, giving BSU this tie breaker.


WMU-CMU Coin Flip, loser plays BG.  Same as above.  BSU's win over Miami gives them the tie-breaker, while CMU and WMU cannot be resolved.


BG Plays WMU.  EMU has the best record, which then puts WMU and BSU in the same tie-breaker that yield BSU above.

If BG loses.....we finish 10th.

We would play #7.

If WMU loses to Ball State, BG would play the loser of EMU/CMU.

If WMU beats BSU, we're back to those tie scenarios except BG plays the second to last team out, not the last team out.


A WMU-CMU Coin flip, WINNER plays BG.  Same as #1 above.


BG would play BSU, for the reason listed above in #2.  Their win over Miami nets them the tiebreaker.


WMU-CMU Coin Flip, WINNER plays BG


BG Plays WMU.

Obviously, the most likely team would be Western, but there are a wide variety of options......stay tuned. A of bizarre note....Ball State would go from getting a bye to finishing eighth.

Falcons Battle Zips, Fall, Head to Road for MAC Tourney

On Senior Day at Anderson Arena, the Falcons put together a stronger performance than they did against Kent, but in the end Akron won by 6.  Down the stretch it got as close as 4, but BG never had the ball in a one-possession game.

With 10 minutes left in the second half, Akron was maintaining its 12 point lead, but then BG went on a little mini-run to make it interesting, but couldn't close the door on the ride home.

Statistically, there were some interesting elements.  Most notably, Akron was called for a mind-boggling 26 fouls, an incredible number for a team that is winning.  (It is the most fouls by any BG opponent this year). BG shot 31 free throws and made 22, a +7 advantage over the Zips.  Two things counter balanced that:  the Zips made 7 3s and absolutely killed us on the offensive boards.  Overall shooting was pretty even, and BG had good luck getting the ball into the middle.  Both teams struggled with turnovers.

Individually speaking, Otis has a really nice game again, with 17 points and 5 boards, shooting 7 of 10 from the field.  Scott Thomas continued to struggle shooting but ended up at the line enough to finish with 16 points (with 8 boards and 5 steals).  Otis and Scott together did account for 9 turnovers.  Dee Brown had 12 and Erik Marschall 10 as well.

So, the home portion of the season ends.  A trip to OU looms.  Later today, we'll see who we might play in the MAC tourney next week.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

MAC Permutation Update

Just taking a quick look at the standings. If EMU beats NIU today and BG loses, then we are on the road for sure in the MAC tournament...we would even lose the a potential three-way tie breaker OU and WMU.

Senior Day Zip Preview

Well, it is always a sad day for me.  The last game of the basketball season always makes me sad.  I love September to March, because you have football and then you transition right into basketball, and it is a time of year that gives me a lot of pleasure.  March to September seems to last forever.

So, farewell to Erik Marschall, Otis Polk, Marc Larson and Matt Karraffa.  You have given your all to our program and left us with some great memories.  I'll have more about them later, but you will always be Falcons and always hold a special place in our hearts.

On to the business at hand.  Today's opponent is the Akron Zips.  Akron comes in at 21-8 and 11-3 in the MAC.  They have won their last six games, including a crushing of Buffalo in their last game at the JAR.  They beat BG by 26 at the JAR earlier in the year.

Akron was the pre-season favorite to win the MAC, and after a sluggish start they have played like it.  They are setting up for the big showdown with Kent next week for the regular season championship.  In any event, they will have a bye straight to the Q.

Akron has three really good seniors, but has a lot of good young players.  This program is really setting itself up and I have a ton of respect for them.  Keith Dambrot is clearly a very good coach.  He has kept this program on the upward trajectory even after LeBron's friends left.

They play with a ton of depth.  No player on the team averages more than 26 minutes a game.

Looking at the stats match up, BG only scored 45 when they played the first time, and that's what I think you have to focus on, because you can't play good enough defense to win that way.  As you can see here, BG is going to have to work to shoot as well as they normally do.  Akron has a tough inside game, so we will have to play well to go inside out on them.  Beyond that, it is pretty apparent what to expect on the other measures, though BG does have the potential to get to the line a little.

Flipping things around, BG's biggest challenge appears to be keeping Akron off the boards, and BG will simply need to play really good FG% defense.  I'm thinking that might have been a  focus in practice following the Kent game, and our team is always resilient, so I have a hunch that Akron isn't going to shoot anywhere near where that line is. Akron is very efficient on offense. They are only 4th in points per game, but lead the MAC in the tempo-free offensive efficiency.

Individually, Akron only has one player who averages in double figures, which is pretty hard to believe. Remember that they don't play many minutes, so you have to add in something for that. They have 7 (!!) players averaging between 7 and 10 points a game, however.

My hunch is that BG will come out on Senior Day, following the second half Kent debacle, and put together a very solid performance. Whether they have enough to beat the Zips in a game the Zips absolutely must have is another question. Obviously, we have shown that ability from time to time--including the FIRST half of the Kent game. It will be interesting to see how it plays out---without a win, BG is almost certain to play on the road in the first round of the MAC tourney.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Permutations V

OK, students.  Now its getting interesting....or at least it is getting to the end.  With two games left in the MAC season, let us look at where things stand.

OK....starting at the top, Kent and Akron have both clinched byes.  As far as the #1 seed and the NIT bid, obviously, the most likely scenario is that the winner of the game between Kent and Akron at the MAC Center will get first.  If they were each to go 1-1 coming home, Kent would take first if they beat Akron.  If Akron beats Kent, then it would depend on who ends up in 3rd, because the record against that team would decide.  

Now, moving down a little, let's look at how BG might get a home game in the tournament.  It is looking pretty rough, no doubt about that.

The first scenario, and the most unlikely, would be BG winning both games coming home.  This opens up the possibility of seven teams finishing 8-8--how appropriate would that be? Anyway, that gets pretty complicated, as you'd need common records within the 7 team tie, but would only a couple teams BG beat--OU (in the two-win scenario) and EMU and Miami.

By the way, these huge logjam ties being split on hair's breadth differences is one of the reasons why the coaches opposed the first round home games as opposed to everyone going to the Q.

To the other extreme, if BG goes 0-2 coming home, they will be on the road.

Now, what if there is 1 win and 1 loss.  The most likely of these scenarios is that BG loses to Akron and beats OU. BG would be 7-9.  Of the teams near us, we most want to tie with EMU and NIU.  Our unproductive trip through the West has left us with poor tiebreakers with CMU, WMU, and we would have split with OU.

Even at 1-1, it looks to me like we would pretty much have to draw to an inside straight to get this one locked away.  

More on the Flashes

As I said last night, the second half of last night's game showed us what a championship team looks like.  Trailing by 12 on the road, Kent came out and:

Scored 49 points
Shot 75% (missing only 5 shots and 2 regular FGs)
Got to the line 26 times (actually only making 16, or this could have been worse).

For BG's part:

Shot 32%
Made only 8 FGs in the half and only 5 2FGs.
Scored 31 points.

I don't mean to be critical, because I think we have gotten a lot out of our team this year and I believe the program is heading in the right direction.  I'm just saying that what we saw from Kent last night is where we need to be. They played absolute lock down D while shredding our zone without mercy for 20 minutes last night, and that's why they're in first place and we are more than likely going on the road in the first round of the tournament.

The game flow pretty much tells the story in its full glory.  About 3 minutes into the second half, you can see the BG line go flat, as Kent went on a 14-2 run to take the lead in the game, and from there the trajectory was set.  For fun, check out Kent's line...WOW!  They scored 41 points in the last 14 minutes of the game.

For the game, I think this chart tells it all.  BG shot well enough in total, but we gave up 26% of our possessions to turnovers (0% chance of scoring) and let Kent get to the line and make 6 more FTs than us.  And that is how a better team wins the game.

Individually, I would be remiss if I did not note that Otis Polk had perhaps his best game as a Falcon.  He had 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting and 5 of 5 from the line.  Yes, when the ball left Otis' hand last night, it only failed to go into the basket once, and for all the concern over the times that the successful rate was somewhat less than that, we should stop and applaud.  He also had 9 boards.

Scott Thomas had 14 points in 30 minutes amid shooting woes.  Erik Marschall was in foul trouble, which did stretch the team, and Luke Kraus, James Erger and Danny McElroy collectively got more minutes than we are used to seeing from the 3 of them.

We'll look at more of the standings later tonight, but it is not looking good for that home playoff game.  We are certainly capable of raising our game, and perhaps on senior day we will upset the Zips.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flash Finish, Flush Falcons

I'll have more tomorrow, but tonight's game is what happens when you have a senior-dominated team that just knows how to win. They struggled in the first half, but came out in the second hand with a stifling defense and a punishing offense. They got the ball inside time and time again and really just killed us over the last 20 minutes. There were times when BG looked like it could not get anything resembling a shot or even a look, and everytime we pressured Kent they punished us. Kent ended up with something like 6 turnovers and BG had 17.

Otis Polk may have had his best game as a Falcon, with 21 points and 9 rebounds, despite fouling out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Golden Flashes come to AA

Flash back (har! har!) to the early MAC season, when BG went to Kent State, and despite playing a team with a reputation for stifling defense, shot 50% from the field (making a season-high 8) and from the 3FG, and made 89% of its free throws to steal a road win in the MAC Center, 76-60.  For the season, it is safe to say that is the program's signature win for this year.

Since then, Kent has gone on a little bit of a tear, winning 10 of 11, several of them by 17 or more, and moved into first place in the MAC East.  They now have reached 20 wins again for the season and have an RPI of 53.  

In that time, no team has shot 50% again from the field or the 3-line.  They also have not allowed 76 points again and have only allowed 70 twice.

So, the Flashes have been on a tear since that loss.  Kent is one of the top 4 offensive teams in the conference, and could easily be second only to Miami on the defensive end.  As such, they do present a difficult matchup for us, since we often struggle to score under the best of circumstances.  (They lead the MAC in defending the 3FG).  Looking more closely at the stats, keep in mind that Kent's have been generated against the #103 schedule in the nation while BG has played the #192 ranked schedule.

Suffice it to say that Kent plays a defense focused on missed shots and not turnovers.  If this chart were available for conference games only, I suspect you would see some more disparity.  Anyway, BG will need to successfully get the ball inside to compete this game, and that is going to involve a lot of hard work.  If we settle for 3s against this team, it will be a long night, unless we get hot like we did the first time.

Flipping things around,  we remember that BG also has the ability to lock down on defense and make stops to keep the game close.  As you can see, Kent is used to getting to the line and getting offensive rebounds more than BG does, and this end of the floor is just as likely to be where the game is decided.

Individually, the watchword for Kent is balance. They feature four players who average between 10.7 and 13.5 points per game and two players with between 5 and 6 rebounds. Obviously, this makes them very difficult to defend.

Kent is one of the top 2 teams in the MAC, and they are playing really well. Having said that, BG has won 3 of its last 4, is starting to assert itself on the home floor. It would be a great time to bring another very solid game and pick up a win on their very tough schedule coming home.

Marc Larson, Academic All-Amercian--Huge Congrats

Marc Larson was named an Academic All-American (second team) today by ESPN the Magazine, who is the current host of the award.

Huge congratulations to Marc.  As Falcon fans, we can all be proud of his contribution both on the court and in the classroom.  I am sure he will be a huge success and we'll be rooting for him the whole way.

Larson has a 3.97 GPA in Engineering Technology.  More from the BGSU release....

Larson joins Nevada’s Luke Babbitt, New Mexico’s Roman Martinez, Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore, and South Carolina Upstate’s Nick Schneiders on the second team. Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich, Columbia’s Patrick Foley, Butler’s Matt Howard, and La Salle’s Yves Mekongo were all named to the first team and Aldrich was named Academic All-America of the Year. The third team consisted of Northern Colorado’s Devon Beitzel, Wichita State’s Graham Hatch, Butler’s Gordon Hayward, Brown’s Matthey Mullery, and Western Carolina’s Jake Robinson.

High Five, Marc Larson!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coach Orr's Weekly Presser

You know, you gotta wonder how worthwhile these things are.  They set a table up, mikes are put down, people have parked and walked into the arena, and then the whole thing barely lasts 6 minutes.

They didn't have much to ask.  I do understand that you probably get worn out, because if you listen to enough of these, you find out that we want to play inside-out, we want to attack the basket, etc.

I guess the most interesting thing was that someone asked about poor 3-point shooting, and Coach said that he wasn't very interested in that anyway.  If you get a 3 in rhythm, that is all well and good, but that our real goal is to get into the lane and shoot from there.

He made the claim that you could see our shooting percentage go up as we shot fewer 3s.  Once in a while, I like to see if these things are borne out by actual facts.  In this case, it is!  Check the direction of the far end of the line....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MAC has improved Bracket Buster

Until tournament time, the Saturday bracket buster games were the last time to measure the MAC against other conferences.  As I noted earlier, the MAC did improve its record against non-conference play in the 2009 portion of the schedule, and in total, the conference is doing better on national rankings than it was last year.

Last year, for reference, the MAC was 4-8, with its best win against a team with an RPI of 177.  Of the eight losses, 2 were to teams in the top 90 and the worst loss was to a #281 Eastern Illinois.

This year the MAC was 7-5, and did show some improvement.  The key dynamic this year was home the MAC's 12 Bracket Buster games, 11 of them were won by the home team.  Buffalo's win at St. Peters was the single road win for a MAC team.

Akron had the toughest assignment, playing a really good VCU team (who, granted, lost to WMU earlier this year), in Richmond.  They were smoked by 17.  At the same time, Ball State played the #337 ranked team (out of 347) and did win.

Let's look closer at the wins and losses:


OU defeated Wright State (#96)
Kent defeated Western Carolina (#127)
Buffalo defeated St. Peters (#160)
BG defeated Valparasio (#171)
CMU defeated Tennessee St (#262)
Miami defeated SE Missouri (#305)
Ball State defeated Tenn-Martin (#337)

The best win was OU's win against Wright State, and Kent had a nice win against Western Carolina.  The Buffalo win is good as well, since it came on the road.  The bottom three wins are games that were really gimmees for the conference.


Akron lost to VCU (#57)
WMU lost to SIU (#140)
UT lost to Cleveland St (#151)
NIU lost to EIU (#180)
EMU lost to Detroit (#191)

None of the losses were as bad as the EIU last (#281), although EIU did get the opportunity to win against the MAC a second straight year.  Detroit has beaten a number of MAC teams and is, in fact, probably better than EMU.

So, a better year for the MAC.  In some ways, the bracket buster assignments were easier, but there were fewer absolute gimmees on the schedule too.  The MAC defended home court, and won a majority of its game.  Further evidence of modest progress, with a considerable distance left to travel.

Falcons Bring Scoring Game, defeat Valparaiso

You know, from time to time after a close loss, people will try to console me by telling me that "at least it was a close game." To some people, even a close win is considered a virtue.

I submit to you that as a fan, the last thing you want is a close game. Yesterday's game is more my style.

BG scored the first nine points, had a 25 point lead in the second half, and despite some sloppy play never let Valpo closer than 11 points as we cruised home to a 17 point victory, aided by a spate of kamikizae fouling in the final two minutes by Valpo. BG shot 60% in the first half while really clamping down on the Crusaders and that was when the game wad decided.

Where to start?  I don't think there is much doubt that this was our best offensive performance of the season.  It was our most points, topping the UWM game that went into overtime.  It was our second best FG%, second best FT%, and our most efficient offensive performance (1.22 points per possession).

In the first half, when the game was won, BG had 49 points on 32 possessions, a 1.32 points per possession rate that can compete with any offense.

Obviously, part of this is about getting hot.  But BG really did follow the old "inside out" game plan, even if we were a little light on the "out" part.  BG had 50 points in the paint, and when the ball wasn't being poured into the key to a big man, Thomas and Brown were driving into the key.  BG took only 6 3s for the whole game---and that is the way Coach Orr wants to play.

Valpo did not come into the arena as a very good defensive team, and BG appeared to take advantage of that. Now, they're not THAT bad a defensive team, but clearly, we had a game plan and worked it to success.

Of course, Coach Orr actually credited the victory to the defense in the first half....and not without some merit.  Valpo shot only 32% in the first half, 20% from beyond the arc, and obviously that had a role in the big halftime lead.

Not to be lost in all this is the free throw shooting. BG was 24 of 28 from the line, among our top performances of the season. It is nearly impossible for a team to lose a big lead when they are shooting the FT well.

Individually, Joe Jakubowski had his best game of the season, according to Coach Orr. He had 19 points, 3 assists and 3 steals, made all this 3s and all 8 of this free throws. Beyond that, he controlled the game from the point, engineering the inside play that put BG over the top.

Dee Brown had 20 points and 5 assists, and Scott Thomas had 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and 4 steals in a full 40 minutes of play. Erik Marschall scored 17 with 5 boards and Otis scored 11 points in 16 minutes of play, as he battled foul trouble. Even Marc Larson contributed 29 pretty solid minutes.

On a plus minus front, the team was 15 points better with Marschall in the lineup than without him, and 13 points better with Jakubowski in the lineup than without him.

So, a very pleasant interlude in Anderson Arena for our Falcons. We are now 14-12, and are one win from getting a winning season from 2009-10. The next two games are very tough, but I believe our team can compete with any of those opponents, and I look forward to watching it unfold.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crusader Preview......

It is bracket buster time, and into BG comes the Valparariso Crusaders come into Anderson Arena.  This is the 8th bracket buster, and even though it has never helped BG (or any MAC team, for that matter) get an at-large  NCAA bid, I still think it has been been a good thing.  Yes, the year we played Detroit sucked as did the year we played Youngstown State, because those are teams we can play any time we want.  But, most of the games have exposed us to teams we do not usually see, and there is an automatic return game the next year, so that helps scheduling.  Like I said, I think it has been a good thing.

Valparariso is a team BG has not played in 30 years, but we also have never lost to them.  They play in the Horizon Conference, which is the 14th ranked conference.  The MAC is 16th.  Valpo is in 4th place in the conference.

Valpo is 15-14, with a similar record to BG (13-12).  They have played the 155th toughest schedule, however, and BG has played the #192 schedule.  Valpo has played some really tough teams (UNC, MSU, Purdue and Butler), and lost all of those games.  They have 3 non-D1 wins, which is a lot.  Their best win of the season appears to be a late January win @GB, and they have 5 road wins.

In common opponent land, they beat Toledo (by 32), Milwaukee and Detroit, and lost to Ball State, Detroit, Akron and Milwaukee.

Valparariso is a very efficient offensive team.  They are leading the Horizon in scoring, but they are doing it with only 3 more possessions per game then BG has.  They average 1.08 points per possession, which is really good.  Sadly for them, they are the worst defensive team in the Horizon conference, allowing (wait for it), 1.08 points per possession.

Let's look closer. We can see that Valpo allows better shooting than BG is used to getting, which means that this is an opportunity for our guys to produce some offensive muscle and score some points. Valpo doesn't force many turnovers, allows offensive rebounds at about the rate that BG is used to getting them, and does typically create a lot of free throw opportunities for their opponent. Not to put a jinx on it, but BG has only scored 70 twice in the new year, and why not this game?

Flipping things around, we see that there is not much reason to expect any surprises. While Valpo is used to getting better shooting than we allow, the rest of the measures are pretty close together. They average over 70, and BG will clearly be looking to hold them inside that number. In a worrying fact for the Falcons, Valpo is a very strong 3-point shooting team, ranking in the nation's top 40 in 3FGA, 3FGM, and 3FG%. Typically, these teams have been tough for us to defend, and it will represent a big challenge for our zone defense.

Looking at individuals, three players are in double figures for the Crusaders....G Brandon Wood at 18 PPG, F Cory Johnson at 15 and G Brandon McPherson with 11.5. Each of these guys is essentially shooting 40% from 3FG as well. Johnson also leads them with 5.7 rebounds. They run a pretty wide rotation with no player averaging more than 31 minutes a game.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens. Valpo is a slight favorite on the boards, but I think this has the potential to be an interesting game.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


MAC play takes a little break now for the bracket buster, so here's what the conference chart looks like today....

Kent and Akron now have a two-game lead with three to play over the next competitors.  They should capture the #1 and the #3 seeds.  Ball State now has the lead for the #2 seed with its win over CMU last night, and Miami and Buffalo are battling for the last bye.  They finish the season in Oxford.

On the bottom of the standings, BG had to finish better than four teams to get a home game.  Obviously, they will finish ahead of Toledo, and have a two game lead and a tie-breaker on NIU, so that's two.  They lead OU by a game and play OU, so you're kind of in control of that one, and it you don't beat OU, probably you're on the road anyway.  Which means that BG realistically needs to hope for some WMU and EMU losses.  Regardless, it would appear that we would play someone in that range in the tournament, regardless of where the game is.

Falcons Succumb in Buffalo...

"We just didn't play well enough."  Louis Orr.

So, six words sums it up, and I suspect that it probably does.  BG went to Buffalo last night, played a very poor first half, started a trademark second half rally but Buffalo is a veteran team and they turned it back and ended up winning comfortably.

The game was really lost on the defensive side.  True, the Bulls only had 64 points and they average 73, but there were only 56 possessions in the while game, which is even below BG's typical amount.  Not only was BG slowing the tempo down, but in the second half Buffalo was really milking clock once they got the lead back.

64 points on 56 possessions is 1.14 points per possession, the worst number for a BG defense since the Wavier debacle.

Buffalo shot 51% from the field, which is 23 of 45.  But of those 23 FG, 10 were 3FGs, meaning that their effective FG%, (counting 3FGs as 1.5), was 62%, also the worst since the Xavier game (XU threw 100+ on us, if you recall).  No team has shot 50% from the field against us since Xavier either.

So, while 64 points might look OK, given the tempo of the game, it is a pretty poor performance and clearly spelled the difference.

On offense, BG had 16 turnovers, which is too many on its own, and way too many for a game with a low number of possessions.  BG turned the ball over on 28.6% of its possessions, which is the third highest total of the season.

BG did shoot 46%, which is not too bad, but with 1-10 from beyond the arc, it resulted in .9 points per possession, our lowest since the CMU game.

Bottom line is that Buffalo kicked our butt over the course of the game.  Coach said in the post-game presser that we came out too passive and they came out aggressive and that was what made the difference.

Buffalo has the most experienced team in the MAC, and it showed in games like this.  They can absorb a run and the turn it back, and they know how to win.  I guess they are inconsistent on the defensive end, but if they can bring that around, they have the ability to be dangerous at the Q.

Meanwhile, BG continues to sort of languish in the middle of the field.  Play a nice game here, get spanked there.  I think we still have a decent shot at a home tournament game, but we're mostly looking at a finish in the bottom half of the conference.  The two toughest games of the season are coming up (Akron and Kent), it doesn't get any easier.  This team has, on the other hand, beaten Kent and played well in some tough games and at home, and I don't view any of it as something we can't do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Previewing the Bulls....

The MAC season continues as the Falcons head into Buffalo to take on the Bulls Wednesday.  BG battled Buffalo once this season, in BG, and were dealt a pretty disappointing loss when Sean Smiley stroked a 3 in the final seconds to give the Bulls the win.  It was much like many BG games in that game was close until about 5 minutes left in the first half, but hit the skids and went into the locker room down 9.  BG rallied from there and made it close, but Smiley had the shot at the end.  Rodney Pierce had 21 points and looked like an all-MAC player, and BG's inside players did not shoot well, and that spelled a Bull win that was pretty disappointing.

They are 7-5 in MAC play, but it has been a topsy-turvey season for them.  They won their first 3 MAC games (including over Akron), but then lost 5 of their next 6 before winning their last 3 coming into this game.  In their last game, they beat Kent by 15 in Alumni Arena.

Looking at the stats, it is pretty easy to see why the two teams played such a close game the first time around and are only one game apart in the standings.  It is even more interesting because the teams really do play two different styles, especially in the context of today's MAC, where there are no true up-tempo teams.  In the game at AA, BG controlled the tempo and kept the scoring down, and the same test will be played out in Buffalo.

Comparing Buffalo's offense to BG's defense first, we find that the teams are pretty evenly matched.  BG will be tested to protect the boards and keep Buffalo off the free throw line.

Flipping it around, the story is very similar.  Buffalo plays somewhat of a less defensively-oriented game, and BG does have the opportunity to score against them if they get the opportunity.

So, I don't suppose this is an especially complicated challenge.  It would be great to see BG put together two strong games in a row.  BG has been tough on the road this year and Buffalo has 4 home losses and crowds have been small, from what I hear.  If BG can get the inside play it got against Miami or the guard play it has gotten in other games, handle Buffalo's pressure, I think they can really pick up a road victory.  On the other hand, Buffalo appears to be coming around, and still have a very good shot to earn a bye to the Q, and they will be ready to play as well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BG Loses Second Coach to Memphis...OL Coach also on board

Falcon co-DC Shannon Morrison has left BG to take an assistant's job at Memphis, according to the BG News.  He will coach CB at Memphis, and came to BG from Marshall.  He only coached one season at BG, contrary to what the story says...coming to BG from Marshall last season.

John McDonnell, our O-Line coach, also went to Memphis.

In other news, which I missed somewhere along the line, was that an O-Line replacement has been brought in.  He is Bill Durkin, who came to BG from Hofstra, which dropped its football program.  The former HC at Hofstra is a close friend of Coach Clawson's, and Durkin coached at Richmond with Coach Clawson.  He played in the NFL, CFL, NFL-E.

More Plus Minus for Miami

OK, so is continuing to run its plus/minus analysis.  Very interesting stuff.  When I get some time I am looking forward at taking a player or two and looking at them across the entire season.

For the Miami game, the first big star was Erik Marschall.  BG was +13 when he was on the court and -10 when he was off the court for a net of +23, which, in a 3 point game, is pretty good.

Also, Joe Jakubowski was a star at +17.  BG was +10 when he was in the game and -7 when he was out.

Coach talked at his Monday presser about Jakubowski, and I guess Charlie Coles did post-game as well.  Joe is probably under appreciated as a Falcon.  Coach Orr's comment was that when he plays well, the team is likely to win.  One thing to keep in mind is that whatever you think of him, he's the best and pretty much only PG we have had since Brandon Pardon left.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On the stupidity of Recruiting Rankings....

OK, I have carried on and on about the futility of ranking high school football players, and how you gotta actually translate that into wins in order for it to matter...and how these scouting services have really even seen a player play prior to "ranking" him....and they are 18 year old young men who are difficult to project under the best of circumstances (thinking back on myself, in fact).

So, NIU1981  has done something really cool...he has made the same point using FACTS.  Two big thumbs up for that dude.  In general, of course, any movement to inform arguments with facts could spell the end of the Internet, but for now, let's live dangerously.

NIU1981 looked at this year's All-MAC team, and then went back and checked out how the recruiting gurus placed them.  Then, BullRun went and put it into HTML and all that kinda stuff.

Here's the upshot (for

  • Only one All-MAC player was a 4-star recruit...the heretofore unhearlded Cobrani Mixon of Kent.
  • One two (Barry Church, UT and Adrian Robinson, Temple) were 3-star recruits.
  • No offensive player was a 3 or 4 star recruit.
  • Dan LeFevour was a 2-star recruit.  As was Freddie Barnes.  Namaan Roosevelt.  And Bernard Pierce.
  • In all, nine players on the All-MAC team were 1-star recruits, including Stephen Williams and Antonio Brown.
Click the link to check it out for yourself.  The numbers are there for Rivals too, but it is just more of the same.

So, signing day is over.  Forget about it.  There are a thousand things that go into making a good football team, and let's be about the business of working those out.

Permutations II

OK, so the 12th games in the MAC season are now in the books, and here are the updated standings for today, with a look ahead and at what is coming up.  BG's win over Miami was pretty big, actually.  The Falcons are now alone in 7th place, and of the teams one game back, we would beat EMU in the tiebreaker.  So, to the extent that the season has boiled down to BG looking for a home berth, things began to look up Sunday.

Valentine's Day Successful for Falcon Men

With their backs against the wall, Bowling Green bounced back today and picked up a hard fought win over one of the MAC's top 3 teams, the Miami RedHawks.

It was an excellent game, with a lot of back and forth, some melodrama, and coach confrontation....all in front of a small but engaged crowd at Anderson Arena.

The key element of this game was BG's ability to get inside, and our ability, even for a few minutes, to run a little.  Coach Hopson said in the post-game that the scouting report showed that Miami was vulnerable once you got the ball inside, and that if you made a couple nice shuttle passes, you could get an easy basket.  BG certainly lived that out, getting 40 of its 64 points in the paint.  Otis Polk had 12 points and 8 boards in only 24 minutes--he sat out the entire home stretch after (as far as I could tell) letting himself get pushed around in the post on defense.

So, 40 points in the paint, and 8 fast break points, (Miami had 16 and 0), and you have the makings of a victory.  As I said in the preview, Miami's scoring is pretty consistent, and they scored 64, right on their average.  BG, on the other hand, thanks to the above factors, was able to get 67.

As you can see below, the key factors were BG shooting well (though not as well as Miami), and then taking care of the ball and then really crashing the boards effectively.

Individually speaking, in addition to Polk, Erik Marschall had 17 points and 7 boards, along with 4 assists. Coach Hopson said that the scouting report indicated Miami is a shotblocking team but you can pump fake them out, which allowed Marschall to employ his favorite pump fake/reverse layup move.

Dee Brown added 11 points. Scott Thomas struggled shooting, but did finish with 6 points, 10 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals--showing that he does contribute even when he doesn't score.

BG was down 6 at the half, but then came out of the locker room on a 14-0 run and the game was tied before the first media timeout. BG took a lead, then Miami got back in the game. BG finally picked up a 6 point lead in the last two minutes, and was able to hold on, despite some inhuman 3-poing shooting from Kenny Hayes.

So, as we will see later today, that puts BG solely in possession of 7th place in the MAC and in decent position for a home berth.  Even better, we played a nice game today, and if we can keep that up, we can win a couple more.

Finally, Otis made a couple monster jams, including one on a fast break that he caught with his feet moving and everything.  It was a great play, and it really got the crowd hopping.

Next up is Buffalo on the road, Wednesday.  It wold be great to see BG pick up a second straight win against a team we should have beat at AA earlier in the year.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Falcons consummate Miami on Valentine Day

BG picked up a badly needed win today with a nice effort over Miami.
Crowd got into it and BG got the ball inside enough to win the game.
More later.

Falcons tie game up with 17 left

RedHawk Preview deux

So, the evil genius Charlie Coles enters Anderson Arena, riding a team that is playing really well, as we expect from Miami under the diabolical tutelage of Coach Coles.  Based on their normal formula, they played a nut-busting out-of-conference schedule, struggle a little bit early and then catch fire just in team for when the games start to be really meaningful.

Miami has won 5 in a row and six of 7 dating back to their win against BG down at Millett.  The game was tied with 11 minutes left, but from there Miami took control and won by 12.  They shot 46% against BG's 40%, had a 10 point free throw advantage and held BG to 2 offensive rebounds.  Miami also hit half of their 3FG shots.

So, what has to happen this time for BG to win?  All that stuff has to get better.  BG has to defend better on all shots, get to the boards better and get to the line more effectively.

For a basic profile, Miami plays a lot like us.  They play at an achingly slow pace and are an average offensive team.  They are, however, much more effective on the defensive end, but still only 4th in the conference in defensive efficiency.  They makes this work by playing with incredible consistency.  You don't have to lead the conference in anything, you just have to score more than your opponent.  Their style leaves little margin for error, which is fine when you are don't have off nights.

Looking quickly at the four factors when BG has the ball...Miami plays bend but don't break, and doesn't try to force turnovers.  Two key factors will be on the offensive boards, where BG simply has to do better, and getting to the foul line where Miami is  good and BG struggles.

Flipping things around, when you look at this chart, I think you can see that we can pretty much know what Miami will do with the ball. The key elements will be when BG has the ball.

As a refresher, they are lead by Kenny Hayes with 14 PPG, and Nick Winbush and Julian Mavunga with about 9.  Mavunga is also getting 6.5 rebounds a game.

They were all 3 in double figures the first time, and Hayes had 17.  Dee Brown had a nice day for the Falcons, but the inside game struggled quite a bit.

The schedule coming down the stretch for BG is brutal.  BG has played well in spots, but hasn't really exceeded its comfort zone since the Kent win.  It will be that kind of win if BG can get it on Sunday at Anderson Arena.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Darion Goins Leaves Men's Basketball Team

The BG News is reporting that Darion Goins has left the Falcon basketball team.  Darion transferred here from San Jose State, sat out last year, and then was eligible this year. He seemed to be someone who was really talked out in the off-season, and I expected to see him get some minutes, but he has hardly played at all.  According to the story, he was not on scholarship, and plans to stay enrolled at BG, but focus on his academics.

Certainly, best of luck to Darion. His education is the most important thing. Below is a chart I have been updating for years. During the Dakich years, we had lots of problems with players leaving, and had (as you can see) some very empty recruiting classes, leading, in my view, to the program's struggles.

I have kept it up under Coach Orr, because the player exodus has continued to an extent.  Goins is the third Orr recruit to leave the program, including both of the transfers.  Some Dakich recruits did leave as well under Coach Orr.

And, I don't think it matters if the player wasn't playing when he transferred.  To me, that signals some kind of failure in recruiting--we need to recruit players who it would matter if they left.

Anyway, FWIW, the chart is kinda updated below....

Stephen Wright--Productive player, left prior to his senior season.
Ron Lewis--Two productive seasons, no junior year. Prominent Big 10 player.
Raheem Moss--26 games, two starts, 66 career points, left program. Contributing at Cleveland State.

Chris Hobson, 28 games, 51 points, left program.
Austin Montgomery 56 games, 189 points, transferred.
Reggie Harwell--Nada.
Matt Lefeld--A contributing senior and a true warrior. Academic All-American
Isaac Rosefelt--24 minutes, two points. Left Program for stellar DIII career.
John Floyd--Played 59 games averaging 8.4 ppg. 247 career assists Left program.


Scott Vandermeer, 60 points and 40 fouls. Transfered, contributed at UIC where I think he ended up as a pretty good player.
Moon Robinson, Left program after sophomore season. Transferred.
Mawel Soler, completed eligibility. Effective player, even good in spots.


Jeremy Holland--left program after one practice
Nick Wilson--left program without playing a game.
Lionel Sullivan--Sayonara. 30 minutes, 6 points.
Dusan--Minor contributions. Left program prior to Junior Season.
Erik Marschall--Coming off injury he contributes effectively off the bench.
Daryl Clements--Good contributing player, played strong D, stable presence and probably underappreciated player.
Brian Moten--MAC sixth man of the year in junior season and all-MAC HM as a senior. Good player at this level, had game-changing shooting potential.
Martin Samarco--2nd team All-MAC, legit D1 player. Finished career.


Ryne Hamblett--Contributing player, but kicked off team prior to senior season.
Brandon Bland--Left the program.
Marc Larson--Gets minutes, is more valuable than his stats indicate.
Otis Polk--Can be a force in middle.
Ryan Sims--left team early in Junior year. Made little contribution.
Nate Miller--All-MAC First team. Great player, carried team into post-season.
Chris Knight--Transferred following two seasons at BG. (Technically, he was a Dakich recruit).

Joe Jakubowski--Quality player, good addition to the program.
Cameron Madlock--Transferred out.

Dee Brown--Limited playing time, has potential.
Scott Thomas--Strong performer off bench, has All-MAC ability.
Au'ston Calhoun--Redshirt.

Darion Goins--Played sparingly, left team in first season as a Falcon
Jordan Crawford
James Erger
Adrion Graves--left before appearing as a Falcon.
Luke Kraus
DaVon Haynes
Danny McElroy

Permutations I

OK, so we're done with cross-over play and now we're gearing up for the home stretch in MAC Men's Hoops.  Let's take a look at where we stand....

Now, just to orient everyone to what is going on....the top three teams get a bye, regardless of division.  The top team in the West is guaranteed a spot, and that is indicated by the *.   Teams 5-8 get a home game in the first round of the MAC tourney, and the bottom four play on the road.

Clearly, for our Falcons, we are in danger of going on the road in the first round.  The teams we are fighting for the last spots are mostly in the West, which means they won't be playing Akron and Kent coming home.  Anyway, there is tons of basketball left to be played, and we'll watch it play out over the next few weeks.

Clearly, winning the Buffalo and OU games are key--but those are both away.  Any upset stolen against the big 3 would be great---and why not start against the RedHawks on Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

East vs. West

In the annals of East-West struggles, I suppose this is among the more minor...and the more one-sided, too, if you think about it.  The whole cold war was kind of a West vs East thing

....there was something in the rap culture which I have only passing familiarity with...

and these guys....

Then, somewhere below all those, we have the battles between the MAC East and West.  Anyone following the MAC knows that the East is clearly the stronger division...the top 3 MAC teams are all from the East, and it isn't a remotely close call.

Last season, the 36 cross-over game yielded a prison-style beat down, with the East winning 29 or the 36 games.  The good news for the West is they did better this year...the bad news is, the East still won a commanding 26 games.

I don't know what happens to make these inequities happen, but right now, it is bad as I can recall it being.  Kent, Akron and Miami are by far the strongest MAC teams, and the best teams in the West would struggle to be fifth in the East.  Furthermore, I don't really sense that any of the teams in the West are poised to get lots better...they all seem stuck where they are.

Except Toledo...they're going to eventually get better.  But, if they make it through two circuits of West play and don't win a game?  Dang.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Huskie Wrap Up...

So, as the dust clears a little, we have a chance to look back at last night's win over the NIU Huskies at Anderson Arena.  The key thing to me is that this is a game we should have won on our home floor, and we did.  It was a long struggle to get there, including a horrifying period of play late in the first half, but in the end BG had enough to win the game.

BG was up 25-19 with 4:20 left to go in the first half, and from there on in, NIU outscored the Falcons 19-2 to take a halftime lead of 11 points.  That means you are giving up 4 points per minute, which, multiplied out to a whole game is pretty cataclysmic.  This during a time when BG attempted only 4 FGs and committed 4 turnovers, each a steal and 3 of which led directly to fast break baskets.

Coach Stone said in the post-game that the team was challenged during the halftime, and they did respond well.  In 4 minutes, the lead was down to 2 points, and BG had taken the lead with about 10 minutes left.  From there it was a really tight contest, with no lead bigger than 3 until the last minute of play.  As I mentioned last night, BG went on a nice 7 point run from 1:24 to :18 that put the game away finally.

Statistically speaking, BG did not have a great defensive performance.  NIU shot 44% which is well above their season average.  They did a good job of getting inside on our zone, and they had 5 3s in the first half (all by one guy).  In the second half, the new and improved Falcons clamped them down to the tune of 36.7% fro the field and 10% from beyond the arc, which is the kind of defense that gets you back into games.  On top of that, BG shot 57% in the second half from the field and attempted 21 free throws, something you hoped to be able to do against a team that fouls a lot.

So, while NIU probably shot better for the game than BG would hope, in the end, BG held them down long enough and produced some shooting of their own, finally taking advantage of a team that does not play strong defense.  19 turnovers for BG is very poor, but 14 were in the first half.  Finally, NIU really crashes the boards, and it is to our team's credit that we put together a really nice rebounding game, getting 40% of the available offensive rebounds.

Individually, Scott Thomas had a huge game with 26 points and 6 rebounds.  17 of those points came in the second half.  Otis had a double-double at 11-11, and that included 5 defensive boards, which Coach Stone said had been a point of emphasis.  Dee Brown had 14 points and Jakubowski had 7 points and 7 assists.  Erik Marschall had only 3 points but grabbed 11 rebounds. has been doing plus/minus stats.  The idea is built on hockey, where the concept is that if a team does well when a player is on the floor, he must be making some kind of contribution.  I am still trying to figure out exactly what this means, but let me give you an interesting example.

Erik Marschall played 27 minutes.  BG won those 27 minutes 62 to 33.  The 13 minutes he was off the floor BG lost 36 to 11.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Falcons Pick Up Badly Needed Win....

We'll have more tomorrow, but BG spent the second half exploiting a porous NIU defense for 46 second half points and rallied from an 11 point halftime deficit to win a tight game.  With 1:34 left, NIU actually led by one, but an Erik Marschall dunk sparked a 7 point run for BG just when they needed it, and the Falcons ended up winning.  Notably, the run down the stretch came after Otis Polk, who had a double-double, had fouled out.

Scott Thomas had a huge game, with 26 points and only 1 3FG.  Coach Stone said in the post-game that the staff doesn't want Thomas shooting so many 3FGS...they want him to be a scorer because he isn't a shooter.  So, the 26 points came on 9 of 15 shooting, which is a pretty efficient night.

BG did a great job on the boards, as well.

NIU was a reeling team, but BG needed a win, and they got it.  The West portion of the schedule is now over, and ahead lie the top 3 teams in the MAC....let's hope to see BG bring their best games coming the stretch, as they did last year.  We have some home games, but they feature the top teams in the MAC.

McElroy Reinstated, to be in uniform tonight

The BG News is reporting the Danny McElroy will be back in uniform tonight for the Falcons after what amounted to a three-game suspension relating to an arrest for possession of marijuana.  I'm not a zero tolerance kind of guy, and I do believe in second chances for minor infractions, especially if a player has been a good citizen in other ways.  As fans we never get the full context of a situation, but I trust Coach Orr to have the right mix of toughness and compassion...remember, the goal is to graduate successful people, not to run everyone off the team, which is, in its way, the path of least resistance.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Just in time for the blizzard, the Huskies come mushing in.....

The Falcons finish their tour of the MAC West Wednesday with a home game against the NIU Huskies.  The Huskies are an interesting team...their season looks like this....

  • They started the season 2-8.
  • They won their next 6 (including @Ball State and WMU)
  • They lost their next 6 (including a total o-fer against the East).

So, at 8-14 and 4-6, they come into Anderson Arena, on a six-game losing streak, four of them by double digits.

Looking at the numbers, let's compare BG's Offense against NIU's defense...the first thing we see is that NIU is not a particularly good defensive team.  They are 11th in the MAC in scoring allowed and 11th in defensive efficiency.  This chart shows us why....people make shots against them and they foul a lot, sending their opponents to the line.  They don't force turnovers and they are average on the boards.  Clearly, this game is a chance for Bowling Green to do something it hasn't done in a while, which is put together a couple good offensive performances in a row.

Now, flipping the coin, we find a team that is 6th in scoring, but, tempo-free is 9th in the MAC in offensive efficiency...meaning that BG has an excellent opportunity to strangle the pace and get a nice advantage.  As you can see here, they don't shoot especially well (last in FG% and 10th in EFG%), and are 9th in the conference in Turnover % and last in total turnovers.  (Their pace is a little above average, helping to mitigate those numbers a little).  They do hit the offensive boards very hard (leading the MAC, 3rd on tempo free numbers) and they do get to the line.

Their leading scorer is Xavier Silas, a 6'5" swing guy who transferred from Colorado (following Coach Patten).  At 19.5 PPG, he is second in the MAC in scoring.  He also averages 5 boards a game.  Darion Anderson averages 11 PPG and leads the team with 6.8 boards, despite being, you know, a 6'2" guard.  They do have a legit big man in 6'11" C Sean Kowel, with 9 ppg/5.7 RPG. 

(Silas, BTW, is a perfect example of how stats don't always tell the story.  Yes, he scores, but he also shoots 37% and uses up a Martin Samarco-type number of possessions to get there.  He has been cold the last three games as well).

I guess I would say this...they are a poor shooting team, and we should be able to take big advantage of that.  That won't make the game easy--BG will need to control pace, and do a very good job rebounding and preventing second chance baskets.  We will also need to shoot effectively at the line to take advantage of Northern's propensity to foul.  This is a good match up, and we can really use a win after the last few games.  NIU is 3-8 on the road this year, and it would be a nice opportunity to close a win out and stay competitive in the middle of the MAC standings.

Quick Football Recruiting Overview....

On a very snowy morning, just a quick second to look back at the football recruiting class.  First, a couple notes on overview.  Everyone's class looks good right now, Coach Clawson even referenced that in his comments on signing day.  I know that some of the rankings show BG in the middle tier of the conference, but I'm not too worried about it.  Our classes have routinely been panned and yet we have been as consistently good or better than most of the teams in the conference. 

The point is that lots of things have to happen.  We learned in the Brandon era that you can recruit good players, but if they aren't an academic or social fit for your program, they won't stay and are, therefore, not contributing to your program.  Also, no one really knows how good these players are when they are in high school, and many of the rankings services have not even seen the team play.  The truth will come out on the field.

Yes, that includes the school to our North who some claim have the best class in the history of the conference.

Just to say this.  Coach Clawson has proven at two different schools that he gets the players he needs to win, and I believe he is doing that here. 

I thought it was interesting to look at what positions we recruited...

Remember, there were 25 players in our class.  I guess I did not realize that six of them were d-backs.  Here's the full position breakdown....


Beyond that, I guess the only thing is that it is surprising not to see more D-lineman, which either means we like who we have or didn't get the people we wanted.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Marc Stevens Transfers...

Top Flight O-Lineman Marc Stevens has transferred to Youngstown State.  He was second team all-state out of HS, and then red shirted one year.  In 2009, he played sparingly and then has shown up on the Youngstown State recruiting list.

Hat tip to, where I saw this.  Best of luck, Marc.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Five seconds......five freaking seconds....

Yesterday's loss, as acknowledged by Coach Orr in his post-game presser, was a tough one to swallow.

You're on the road, you've stood even with a team for 39:55 and you have the ball and a 1 one point lead.  All you have to do is hold onto it long enough to be fouled, and you are 99% certain of winning the game.

Instead, BG turned it over, David Kool hit a layup, and the game went from what would have been a feather in the team's cap to the season's most disappointing loss, by far.

Beyond the last :05, BG actually led the game by 11 with about 8 minutes left, but then WMU went on a crazy run and had tied the game with about 4:30 left.  Coach Orr took a stunning 3 timeouts trying to stem this run, which, obviously, did not have the desired effect.  To BG's credit, the team settled back in and took the lead back and lead by 3 with :17 left.

But Kool was allowed to charge the length of the court off a Polk basket and hit a runner to cut the lead to one and then the whole steal fiasco occurred.

A couple notes.  First, had BG had timeouts left, it could have called one when we were in trouble in the last seconds.  However, I do agree with Coach Orr that if you don't use those timeouts earlier, it might not have been a close game at all.  You use them when you need them, and saving them for a situation that might or might not happen doesn't make sense to me.  The fact we didn't have any timeouts left was more an effect of our poor play during that 4 minutes than a coaching decision.

Second is that BG has had difficulty with pressure all season.  Todd Walker made this point on the broadcast, and I have observed it myself.  Even if BG does not turn the ball over, it does not look comfortable running against pressure and it clearly takes us out of our game.  We often almost turn the ball over, and I think that hurts our focus.  We are so deliberate on offense that asking us to run our half court game in :25 instead of :35 can have an impact.

Coach Orr said that BG has not had problems with pressure.  No idea what that can mean.

Stat wise, the game looks like a one point game.  The key element in this game was that BG shot the ball well, and that kept us in the game.  We shot 60% in the second half...we shoot well so rarely that it is just a killer not to convert that into a win.  Even more disappointing is that we had 10 turnovers in the second half...if we convert even some of those into shots, they're probably going in.  Beyond that, Western's advantage on 3s was pretty decisive.  (Check this new chart out from my friends at

Looking at the four factors, WMU had advantages on turnovers and offensive rebounding (slight), and that FT line is misleading because the teams actually MADE the same number of free throws, though Western was better at getting to the line.

Individually, a number of players had nice games for BG. Scott Thomas hung in there for 14 points, though he did not shoot especially well, and added 6 rebounds.  Otis had 14 points too on 6 of 9 shooting, Dee Brown had 13 and Marschall had 10.  Not to be forgotten is that Jordan Crawford had 9 points, 6 assists and 1 turnover in 21 minutes of play, which is a pretty good line, and from Walker's descriptions, a couple of his passes were show stoppers.  (Jakubowski played 27 minutes).

So, that is the sad tale of woe from Kalamazoo.  You put it all together for one day, and then fail because you can't hold a lead for the last 10 seconds of the game.  Very disappointing, and I am sure the team feels the same way times 3.  Time stops for no team, however, and the reeling NIU Huskies come in on Thursday, and that's as good a time as any to get this put back together.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Falcons Lose.....

Tough, tough loss in Kalamazoo today.  More later, but this is one BG absolutely should have won.

Bronco Preview--Kool Running

So, as the conference season continues a really fast pace, we have Bowling Green leaving Muncie Thursday night and heading straight to Kalamazoo, which is lovely this time of year, and preparing to play the Broncos.

The Broncos are a tough team to figure out.  They have very nice wins over VCU, Northeastern, College of Charleston and Sam Houston State (don't laugh, look the last two up), and played USC and Temple really tough.  They also have the conference's best pure scorer in David Kool, who is averaging 21 points per game (21st in the nation).

Yet, they are 4-5 in MAC play, have lost 3 of their last 4 since playing the MAC East, including two at home.  Granted, the Kent and Miami losses were both heartbreakers, but I just think it is a surprise to look at this team and see them having the same conference record that BG does.

I did pick WMU to win the West.

Looking at the numbers, on paper, the WMU offense is used to getting about what the BG defense is used to giving up.  However, WMU's has come against a much tougher schedule than BG has played.  The battle on the offensive boards will obviously be key, as that is a strength of the WMU team.  Note that while WMU is pretty good offensive team, Miami did succeed in sucking them into their game, and BG will need to as well in order to compete.

Flipping the whole thing around now, let's take a look at the BG offense against the WMU defense.  As you can see, this is the much the same story, with close rankings on paper but always remembering that WMU has played a much tougher schedule.

Individually, we have already covered David Kool, but Martelle McLemore is scoring 11 points and game and Flenard Whitfield has about 9 a game.  They also have a very solid senior presence on the inside in Donald Lawson, who is 6'10" and the conference's third leading rebounder.  PG Mike Douglas is 3rd in the conference in assists.

Maybe I just have a crush on these guys, but I can see them making a nice run in the MAC tournament.

The last factor is that both teams are playing their fourth game in eight days, which is a really tough grind.  To win this game, BG needs to make sure it is their kind of game, get some kind of consistent scoring, and we need Otis to really battle Lawson in the post.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Feb 5th MAC Standings......

Follow up to Hackenberg Article...Conference rankings....

Here are the conference rankings thus far this year....

Dave Hackenberg on MAC Basketball--Must Read

Dave Hackenberg has an excellent column in The Blade today about MAC Basketball.  It isn't that it is new ground per se, because we've posted articles that Graham Couch from the Kalamazoo Gazette has written that basically say the same thing.  The article is, however, as good an analysis of the recent history of MAC Basketball and what has happened to bring us to where we are today, which is to be very much a mid-tier basketball conference.

Here's a salient passage...

Football survived and most would agree that is a good thing. But did it happen at the expense of basketball? It can't be coincidence that the mid-major leagues that have made the greatest strides in NCAA tournament participation - Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Colonial, Horizon - do not play football at the Division I-A (now called the Football Bowl Subdivision) level.
"I won't hold any punches back on this subject," said Hawkins, the head coach at Western Michigan since 2003. "Basically, you get back what you put into something and, when it comes to men's basketball, we went through a stretch when not a lot was being invested. Things were going pretty well with multiple bids and NCAA wins, too, and at that point I think [administrators] figured basketball was headed in the right direction and they let up on the gas pedal. Now, we're experiencing problems because of that. It has been a very bothersome trend."

A couple things I found interesting:
  • I didn't realize that the attendance woes at Bowling Green were also endemic at other MAC schools, even ones that have stronger basketball teams.
  • He has a couple of coaches coming out and talking more directly than they have in the past.
  • He has an interesting theory from Charlie Coles on why certain marquee players don't come near the MAC.

Essentially, the conclusion is that I-A football was in jeopardy and the MAC made the decision to save it, which took resources from basketball and began the decline that got us where we are today.  Further, the conferences that have passed us up do not have I-A football.  This is the same conclusion Couch has drawn, and I believe it is true.

I love football.  You have to recognize, however, that it is a huge burden on an athletic program.  Even if keeping I-A football was the absolutely right thing to do, it cannot be done without sacrificing elsewhere in a conference like ours.

Finally, while MAC football has maintained its I-A status and gotten more teams in bowls, I would like to suggest that perhaps we have not gotten quite the return on our investment that we might have hoped for.  It seems to me that the number of MAC upsets over BCS teams has slowed in the years since Marshall left the MAC, and furthermore, the MAC remains the second-lowest ranked I-A conference, and has lost 14 of its last 15 bowl games, most against non-BCS teams.

Even if  you concede that the bowl bids are progress in and of themselves, it is important to remember that the NCAA is re-examining the 7-win rule for bowls, and I believe that starting next season, those 7-5 bowl bids to MAC teams (such as Bowling Green) will begin going to 6-6 teams from BCS conferences.  And, as we fall to 3 bowl bids, how does that effect our perception of the ROI we got from investing in football.

People fall on all sides of this debate.  I would just suggest that even if you think I-A football was the right strategy for the MAC, it has had its costs.

Falcons Fall in Muncie

The Falcons dropped the game last night in Muncie.  The game appeared to evolve pretty much as everyone was unlikely coming in that anyone would score 60 points and that is precisely what happened.  One team did not score 50, in fact.

With 10 minutes left in the game, BG was down 13.  As has often been the case, BG played well coming down the stretch, going on a 7 minute, 12-1 run to cut the lead to 2 with about 3 minute left. But from there on in, it was Ball State who made the plays.  BG had a shot go in and out that could have tied the game with 2:25 left, then Ball State made 2 free throws.  On BG's next possessions, we had three shots at the basket but none of them fell, and then Scaife raced to the other end of the court and buried a three to put the lead at 7 and that was the end of the game.

If a couple of those shots go down, we might be talking about a different story.  On the other hand, you probably can't make a living being down double digits on the road with 10 minutes left to play.

Ball State was up to billing on the defensive end, preying on BG's inconsistent shooters to the tune of a 36% FG night.  Ball State also got to the line 26 times, and even including garbage time fouls, that is a pretty impressive performance.  I am sure that the coaching staff is not happy that BG tried 21 3s and made only 4, but it sounded from Todd Walker's call that Ball State was doing a really good job keeping the ball out of the post, as well as getting our big men into foul trouble.

As you can see below, however, it was FGs and FTs that made the difference.

Scott Thomas had a rough shooting night but still ended up with a 10/10 double double--not to mention 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks over 0 turnovers--and Jakubowski and Brown both had 13 points.  Marc Larson stepped into the foul-trouble void well with 28 effective minutes (9 points and 8 boards). 

Essentially, you had a game that unfolded exactly as expected, and a Ball State team that is playing well, with confidence, and is used to being in really close games had the closing power this time.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Local Story on Boo Boo Gates--Moving, Must Read

If you want to get an idea of the kind of player Coach Clawson is bringing to BG, check out this local story about Jerry Gates of Middletown.  He had been academically ineligible as a sophomore and his grades as a junior did not make him eligible for a scholarship.  Then, his father was killed in a motorcycle accident.  From here, Rick McCrabb of the Middletown Journal takes over.

And Gates grew up.

“I decided to live my life through my father,” Gates said after the ceremony. “I had to do something if I wanted to get out of here.”

MHS Principal Dennis Newell called Gates “immature” as a junior, but one of the team leaders as a senior.

“His growth was amazing,” Newell said. “He kicked it in.”

His mother added: “He stepped up real fast.”

Faster than his 40 time.

The first semester, while some seniors chose “soft” courses, Gates took six core subjects — two science and two English classes, and social studies and math — and aced every one. He raised his grade point average from under 2.00 to 2.83, said Jason Krause, Middie football coach. Krause credited Gates, tutors and teachers for turning around his academic performance.

He became eligible to earn a scholarship to a NCAA school.


As Gates signed his letter of intent, his mother — wearing his father’s leather motorcycle vest — cried like, well, a proud mother.

Amen, brother.  Welcome to the Falcons.

Falcons Travel to Muncie, America's Test Market.

The MAC tour West continues now with two road games...first in Muncie at Ball State. Say what you like, the West is faring a little better this year against the East, and Ball State is clearly a program on the upswing.  They do like basketball in Indiana, and I always kind of figure that this program, operated correctly, should be good most of the time.

The Cardinals are 11-9 on the year, playing, on paper, almost an equal schedule with Bowling Green.  They have won 5 of their last six, and that has included a win against Miami and @Buffalo and @OU.  In this sense, they remind me of us last year, and they are 5-3 in conference play.  They are 8-3 at home.

They have a nice win @Indiana State, but their other non-conference wins (SIU-E, UNC-Central, UMES (whatever that is) and Manchester are uninspiring.

BG beat BSU last year at Anderson Arena and has won 3 straight in the series.

Statistically speaking, we first look at Ball State's offense against BG's defense.  Ball State plays a lot like Bowling Green, only a little more so.  They are not a very good shooting team, and we can expect a pretty serious defensive struggle.  They do turn the ball over a little, but BG isn't really one for causing turnovers anyway.  Though they shoot poorly, they do a really good job on the offensive boards, which creates some second opportunities, and they are really good at getting to the line.

Flipping things, Ball State is a really good defensive team.  Things are pretty evenly matched here, too, with BG showing a slight advantage on the boards, and Ball State also showing little interest in creating turnovers.  They also are giving up fewer free throws than BG is used to getting.

Of course, these are averages, and Ball State appears to have been playing well of late.  In their last 3 games, they have won WITHOUT shooting 40% from the field, which is truly living out Coach Orr's saying that your shooting percentage should not determine your winning percentage.  In two of the games they made more than 20 free throws and shot more than 30.

Individually speaking, Ball State has two double figure scorers, Jarrod Jones and Jauwan Scaife.  Jones is also their top rebounder, while Scaife is their best 3-point shooter.  They don't foul very much, and have not had a player foul out this season.  They have only two seniors and those are not their main players.  They are not a big team--Jones is their only legitimate big man.

This will be a tough test.  Ball State is playing well and they are home.  It will be two teams that play the same style--the question is who will do it better.  BG got solid post play against UT, and if Otis and Erik can produce inside in Muncie, I think we can compete.  We need to keep BSU from shooting a ton of free throws, and if we can do that, and finish strong as we did @Kent and @EMU, this game is also very winnable.