Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Football Review---Offense

It always happens this way.  I would, in fact, prefer to look back at the football season right after it ends, but as a practical matter, that's always right in the heart of men's basketball season, and that keeps me pretty busy, and then I review basketball when IT ends, and now I'm ready to look back at football.  It does end up being in the middle of spring practice, which is not too bad.

The big caveat is that we lost so many players, I'm not sure how relevant what we learned is for next season.  Let us plow ahead and look at our offense.

Obviously, we had some players with record-setting offensive seasons, and some really good skilled players.  We also finished 3rd in the MAC in scoring (conference games only).  I'm going to argue that actually represented underperformance, and that we left enough points on the board that it probably cost us a shot at a title.  That doesn't mean that we would not have benefited from improvement in other areas.  It means that with the offensive attack we did have, we could have scored even more.

The area of trouble is the red zone.  Let's look at some basic red zone facts:

  • BG had 50 red zone trips.  This is an astounding number and the top number in the MAC---the next highest is 41.  CMU only generated 39.  BG clearly was moving the ball into scoring territory.
  • We scored on 34 of those attempts, which is tied for second in the MAC, based on raw numbers.
  • However, this obviously leaves us with 16 red zone whiffs, the highest number in the MAC.  CMU had 3.  NIU had 1.
  • That's a 68% rate, if you are scoring at home.
  • Part of the story is scoring mix, too.  Obviously, at some level, a red zone FG is a minor setback.  CMU, for example, led the MAC with 36 redzone scores.  33 of them were TDS.  They averaged 5.3 points per redzone trip, a number BG reached during the UM tenure.  That is simply deadly.  BG averaged 3.6 points per trip.

The anatomy of BG's misses were as follows:

  • 5 missed FGs.  (WMU missed 4, no one else missed more than 2).
  • 4 turnovers (Top MAC teams had 0 or 1.  It is even more significant for BG, however, because BG did a great job overall taking care of the ball.  We had only 9 turnovers, second in the MAC.  Which means that 4 of our 9 turnovers were in the red zone).
  • We had 6 losses on downs.  The next highest team had 3, and 5 teams only did it twice.
  • We had 1 "other."  No idea what that means.

Not a pretty picture.  And it cost us.  If we had scored in the red zone like an above average MAC team (say 4.5 points per trip), we would have scored 45 additional points and that is 5.6 PER GAME in the MAC.

Obviously, there are some factors here.  That's way too many missed FGs.  With sample sizes this small, it is impossible to know if the 4 turnovers were just bad luck or due to some weakness in the skills or strategy. There is a school of thought that BG could be deadly on the big field, when everyone is spread out but struggles in the tight spaces of the end zone.

The 6 losses on downs are probably largely based on the weakness in the field goal kicking.  At some point, we went for it because we were afraid our guy would miss the FG.  But, that's not the whole story either.  We were ALREADY trying FGs on a quarter of our red zone trips, and if you add the losses on downs, we were staring at 4th down on at least 19 of our 50 red zone trips (presumably, we converted some and the turnovers could have been on 4th down too)..

Many people will postulate that our inability to run the ball when we got down close was the major culprit.  I'm interested in this and I'm going to do some research--do teams that run the ball poorly do worse in the red zone than teams that do not.

BG certainly DID run the ball poorly.  Some running game facts...

We ran the ball 226 times, the lowest in the MAC.  Miami ran 227.  The median for the conference was 284, almost 7 more carries per game.

Our running average was 3.1 yards per carry, better only than Miami (2.6), and a half yard a carry lower than the next highest team.  9 of the 12 teams in the MAC averaged 4 yards per carry, and you'd like to think we could be in that vicinity.

Clearly, the offense was carried by passing.  We were 3rd in the MAC in attempted passes, and led the conference in passing yards per game.  In 354 attempts, Sheehan threw only 3 INTs, a really impressive number.  He complete 62.7% of his passes, which was 4th in the MAC, but best among the teams with over 300 attempts.  BG had 7.4 yards per attempt, which was also 4th, but does represent an attempt to go downfield more than in past years.  The fact this was done while preserving completion percentage and improving the interception rate is a testament to high quality, senior QB play.

Finally, as noted, the offense did an outstanding job taking care of the ball.  9 turnovers was second lowest in the MAC.

So that's the story of offense.  It was a very good year, and only red zone failures kept it from being a great year.  Defense next.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Men's Basketball Tempo--Facts Suck, Part II

So, starting this I was prepared to prove the following:

  • The teams in the MAC play at a very similar pace, more so than other conferences.
  • The pace of play in the MAC is much slower than in other comparable conferences.

Facts still suck.

All stats courtesy of and use conference only numbers.

Let's start with a look at the possessions per game in the MAC.

A couple notes.  As you can see, even among the slow, BG is among the slower, something which is not going to be a surprise to anyone observing the team over the past season.  Some perspective on the top....with 71 possessions a game, OU was #46 in the country (out of 335).  With the exception of VMI, which is over 83 possessions per game, every team in the country was 76 and below.  So, OU and NIU are not that far off the top ranking.

One last note.  Last year's tempo was 63.3, so the MAC did play at a quicker tempo this season.

Now, let's look at the MAC versus other comparable conferences.

Ahem.  Cough cough.  Pull collar.  Nervous glace.

OK.  So the MAC is NOT the slowest, in fact, is essentially the same as two other conferences, including the Horizon, and plays a little faster than the MVC.

Beyond that, I looked at the range from top to bottom to test my idea that the teams in the MAC played pretty much the same.  The range from top to bottom was 12 possessions per game.  The Big 10 was 17, C-USA 11, and MVC, Horizon and Summit were 8 or under.  Now, the MAC is hampered by having UT, which played at among the 10 slowest tempos in the country, but beyond that, I think it is clear that the MAC is no more uniform than these other conferences and possibly a little less.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Men's Basketball Attendance.....BG and MAC....a sad tale of woe

I knew that BG has not been drawing well for basketball.  This has been going on for some time.  However, when I looked at the MAC attendance, I was shocked that we are, in fact, not alone in this issues.  In fact, for MAC games only, BG outdrew Miami this year, something I would not have anticipated seeing.  I put arrows next to the teams that drew fewer than 2,000 fans per game, which I would view as a pretty minimal expectation.  (I included CMU, which is awfully close).  OU draws well no matter what, and Kent and Akron were OK.  Ball State seems to have some residual support.  Note that many sources have told me that UT's attendance counting is notoriously generous.  Perhaps that is true across the board.

Now, looking more specifically at Bowling Green (all games now), and you can see how things have played out for the last five years.  It is not a good story.  The last Dakich year and the first Orr year were really bad.  We did pick up a little the last two seasons, but still pretty anemic.  Yes, I know that 1,700 is 30% more (about) than 1,300, but that's what you get with such low numbers.

What's behind this.  First, we have had losing years 6 of the last 8 seasons.  We play a very conservative style of basketball.  And the school and community have lost touch with the basketball program--at least for the men.  I can remember when you would see everyone you knew at a Falcon basketball game.  They just weren't missed.  Not true anymore.

The MAC has had a similar issue.  As you can see below, average attendance has fallen significantly since 05-06.  While the drop has apparently bottomed out, it represents a lot of things that I have blogged about before--the lack of NBA quality players, the similarity of play throughout the conference, and the loss of a connection to hoops programs at other schools similar to what has happened at BG.

This is all part of the challenge to the MAC to bring basketball back.  These are modest goals we are seeing here.  Each of the schools in the MAC has to be about the business of rebuilding its fan base and giving people something to be excited about again.

Blade looks at Spring Practice

The Blade popped down to check in on Spring Practice.  Overall theme....we're gonna be young.   In fact, Coach says it is the youngest team he has ever had.  They do have talent, (as opposed to being young AND untalented), and Coach points out that while there may be some growing pains this year, these players will also be able to play together for a long time.

Couple other notes....

In the WR mix, he mentions Kamar Jorden, who I had not heard of previously.  Though his official page lists him as a FR, he is a JUCO graduate with a redshirt year at BG last year, making him a junior.  He played at Hudson Valley Community college, setting some school records his second season.

Played two years at Hudson Valley Community College ... had 60 catches for 938 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore, earning first-team Northeast All-Conference ... both numbers were school records

Finally, Kevin Alvarado, who was suspended late last year, is back in practice and on the road to earning his way back to a full reinstatement.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Men's Hoops, Individual Style

Moving through a review of the season, I wanted to take a look at how our players fared in individual statistics.  If you read the blog, you know there is no chance this will turn into a rip on anyone.  I just want to see how individuals contributed to the team on a measurable basis, and how they ranked with their conference peers.  Anything I have to say about how the team under-performed (and there was plenty) was covered in the team reviews.

No Falcon led the MAC in any category. The closest things to the top were a few cases where our guys were #2.  Scott Thomas was #2 in steals and Otis Polk was #2 in blocked shots.  We had a few other guys lurking around in there.  Let's take a look at what we have, with some comments sprinkled in along the way as appropriate (or, when I feel like it).

Conference Games Only

Thomas #7
Brown #27
Polk #28

Nothing too surprising here.  We didn't score a lot, and it shows here.

Thomas #11
Polk #13

Marschall #4
Polk #5

With our "inside out" play, you really need this kind of shooting on the inside.  Although Otis was frustrating in the pre-MAC season with his field goals, he did bring it around for the MAC season.  Erik Marschall had a real knack for getting to the basket.

Jakubowski #5

Jakubowski #6

Thomas #2
Jakubowski #14

Thomas is deadly in the corner of that zone, and when he gets the ball in the corner, he's athletic enough to make something happen on the other end.

Brown #5
Jakubowski #7

Note a good percentage on low attempts.  Nothing wrong, however, with only taking the 3 when it is open for you, especially in our offense.

Blocked Shots
Polk #2

Jakubowski #9

Off Rebounds
Polk #5

I'm not sure why, but Otis was much better on the offensive boards than the defensive boards.

Def Rebounds
Thomas #3

This is a pretty good result for a guy with Thomas' size.  He was very tough on the defensive boards and it demonstrates his value even when he does not score.

Thomas #4
Brown #12
Jakubowski #14

With 3 of the top 15 players, you can see our relative lack of depth.  We clearly had no one to spell Scott Thomas.

Possession %
Thomas #11

Our first "new" or tempo free stat, this simply looks at how many of your team's possessions you used up, with a shot or turnover.  The idea here is that a player with a great scoring average can get there by shooting all the time, and if you add in turnovers, they may not be as valuable as they thought, since the team only gets so many possessions in a game.  The fact BG does not have someone in the top 10 reflects the solid team play that made us as good as we were.

Floor %
Polk #7

This reflects the percentage of possessions for a player where points were scored....including assists.  All this means is that when Otis got the ball, there were only 6 players better at getting points.

Offensive Rating
No one in top 19

This measure looks at points per 100 possessions.  Clearly, a reflection of our team's struggle to score consistently.

Shot Pct
Thomas #12

Scott Thomas was #12 in the MAC in terms of how many of our shots he took, again reflecting a team approach on offense.

Effective FG%
Marschall #12
Polk #13
Brown #14

When your best players are inside players, you will be harmed on this measure, which counts 3FG as 1.5 of a 2FG.

True Shooting
Marschall #16

This is a measure of all shooting, including free throws.


Marschall #3 (+141)
Thomas #11 (+79)

I think this is interesting. One of my off-season projects will be to dive into this whole +/- thing and see what might be available to learn.  In 16 MAC games, BG was 141 points better when Erik Marschall was on the floor than when he was not, which is about 9 points a game, and pretty impressive in a league where the average margin of victory is much less.  Scott Thomas was +79, though he hardly left the floor, which is something we need to figure out.  Anyway, my instincts are that this is a very effective way to identify valuable players, and that these two players were the ones we relied on most.

Thomas #22
Jakubowski #65

This looks at turnovers per individual possession.  (If  you have the ball a lot, you will make more turnovers; in comparison, if you don't, you shouldn't be making them).  We identified in the offensive review that we turned the ball over too many times for a slow tempo team without a ton of great shooters, and that conclusion is reflected here.

FT %
Medlock 35%
Kool 31%
Thomas #13 (26%)

Finally, this stat reflects the percentage of points scored on free throws.  I list it only to show something that is important for the development of Scott Thomas.  The MAC's best scorers were getting around 1/3 of their points at the free throw line...and Coach Orr correctly says that any scorer has to get to the line in those kind of numbers.  Something to work on in the off-season.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Falcons To Initiate Process to Retire Numbers

There have been some assurances over the past year or so that the athletic department was looking into a process for retiring jersey numbers.  It seemed to come to a head with the call to retire the number of Butch Komives, but has been percolating for some time, in fact.  Follow the link and you can go to the Falcon Website and nominate players to have their number retired.

This is a good step, a good way to involve the fans, and the right thing to honor some of our greats who deserve it.  Big round of applause.......

Great Freddie Barnes Story.....

Here's a great story all Falcon fans should read....Freddie Barnes is heading back to his hometown as part of an exhibition where local high school players will play against NFL players in a basketball game.  Barnes, who was also a standout in basketball, will coach the local high school players.

He will also talk about his graduation in May...and how he had to switch from QB to WR, and he can still be in the NFL.  He will talk about being flexible in pursuit of your goals...and how he expects to tear up when he gets his degree.

It is a great story and a true inspiration. There are lots of times when Freddie had easier choices than the ones he made. But, unlike too many others, he has converted his athletic scholarship into a degree, as well as being a finalist for a prestigious national award.

Freddie, you're a true Falcon, and we're proud of you.

Excepts below. Entire story a must-read.

"I have a feeling I'm going to tear up a little bit when I get that degree," Barnes said. "My family is very proud, which means a great deal to me. My mother has worked so hard to teach me how to avoid making mistakes, to be a good person and to try to help others."
"Everything changed for me when Dave Clawson became our head coach and Mark Carney was named receivers coach for the 2009 season," Barnes said. "It was a fresh start for everybody. We became a big-time passing team and I was right in the middle of the game plan."
"My junior year was no fun at all," Barnes said. "I had injuries and went through depression. But my faith in God and my family pulled me through it."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Men's Basketball......Fouls in the MAC

OK, so I have wanted to check something for sometime.  It seems to me that there are too many fouls called in the MAC.  When I am at a game, it seems as if the whistle is blowing every ten seconds, and the game never gets into any kind of a flow.  So, I decided to try and see if there really ARE more fouls called in the MAC.

The answer, as you can see below, appears to be not much.  I selected the Big 10, Summit and Horizon as conferences in this area, and then added in the MVC, OVC and C-USA as the range of where we might end up, with MVC and C-USA slightly ahead and OVC below.  As you can see, the number of fouls is pretty much the same in all the conferences.  The difference between the MAC and Big 10 is four fouls a game, and while that is 8% difference, it seems to me that it is not much over a 40 minute game.  How ever you look at it, I expected to see a huge difference and I didn't.

Facts suck.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Road War---MAC Men's Basketball Style

It has been said that winning on the road in college basketball is one of the hardest things in sports to do. Year after year, the statistics bear that out, and the MAC is no exception--in either direction.  This year, the home team won in MAC games 62 times, and lost 34....for 64.5%.  That is three games less than last year, when the home team was 65-31.

The Wall Street Journal did an article on this a couple of years ago, and concluded that the road team wins 34% of the time, nationwide.  So, it is hard to win on the road in the MAC.  But no harder than anywhere else.

A few other notes. (MAC play only)

  • Except for Toledo, no team had a losing record at home in the conference.
  • BG and NIU were 4-4 at home.
  • Half of the MAC was 6-2 or better at home.
  • Only Kent and Akron had winning records on the road.
  • 5 of the 12 teams in the MAC won only 2 road games

Dose of Humility, Part II

So, having looked at my game by game predictions, let's take a look at what I said about the MAC in my predictions for the conference.

Here were my picks, the media's picks, and then where they actually finished.

Obviously, I was eventually disappointed in the team Akron had.  They were good.  I thought they were very good.  I didn't think Kent had the inside game to win, but they obviously did.  No one saw OU coming because they were so young, but I did allow in my prediction that I thought OU would not be down long, and I certainly believe that now.

And yes, I was clearly wearing orange-colored glasses as it relates to BG.

In the West, the media picked CMU correctly.  However, they whiffed pretty bad on NIU, and I feel good that I saw WMU coming.  Ball State did a little better than anyone anticipated, however, it is important to remember that EMU, BSU and WMU tied, so there is just a lot of junk hanging around the middle in this division.

I liked WMU.  They seemed to really underachieve this year.

And everyone got the Rockets right.  Like the look of that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

OK, did those picks go?

 So, before the season starts every year I take a shot at predicting every game on our schedule.  Then, for humility and penance, I go back when the season is over and study them.  However, THIS YEAR, my friends, there is no humility to be found, merely a double fist pump.

I usually get them about half right....Anyway, this year I got 22 right and only 6 wrong!  Are you kidding me?  I'm not sure what that means--perhaps that our team was not very predictable, but I'm still fist pumping.  I called four wins that we eventually lost (@OU, @ BSU, @Detroit, CMU) , and 2 losses that we eventually won (@Kent and @Canisius).  Note that I had the home ones in pretty good shape, but less luck on our road performance.

HA!  Now, let me go look in on my bracket.

11/14/2009 Wayne State W     RIGHT
11/17/2009 at Xavier Cincinnati, Ohio L  RIGHT
11/20/2009 at Iowa Iowa City, Iowa L  RIGHT
11/28/2009 Wisconsin-Milwaukee L  RIGHT
11/30/2009 Florida International W  RIGHT
12/3/2009 Savannah State W  RIGHT
12/5/2009 at Fordham W  RIGHT
12/12/2009 at Canisius L  WRONG
12/19/2009 at Detroit  W  WRONG
12/28/2009 at Temple   L  RIGHT
12/30/2009 at Towson W  RIGHT
1/2/2010 St. Louis W  RIGHT
1/9/2010 * at Akron L  RIGHT
1/14/2010 * Buffalo L  RIGHT
1/17/2010 * at Kent State L  WRONG
1/20/2010 * Ohio W  RIGHT
1/23/2010 * at Miami (Ohio) L  RIGHT
1/27/2010 * at Eastern Michigan W  RIGHT
1/30/2010 * Central Michigan W  WRONG
2/1/2010 * Toledo W  RIGHT
2/4/2010 * at Ball State W  WRONG
2/6/2010 * at Western Michigan L  RIGHT
2/10/2010 * Northern Illinois W  RIGHT
2/14/2010 * Miami (Ohio) W  RIGHT
2/17/2010 * at Buffalo    L  RIGHT
2/20/2010 ESPNU BracketBusters Bowling Green, Ohio n/a
2/24/2010 * Kent State Bowling Green, Ohio L  RIGHT
2/27/2010 * Akron Bowling Green, Ohio L  RIGHT
3/4/2010 * at Ohio Athens, Ohio W  WRONG, REALLY EFFING WRONG

Spring Football Presser

Coach Clawson did a presser that is on I don't necessarily recommend listening, because it is really windy and hard to hear.

Just a couple notes:

  • He lists Shaun Joplin as a WR we could rely on.
  • DE Carlos Tipton, listed as being back in the charts below this post, has decided to graduate and will not play football.

Great Job, BG Women

A big hand to the BG Women. Today was not our day, but there may be nothing more difficult in competition at any level than to sustain excellence year after year.  How many times are there even repeat champions?  They played a tough and courageous game out there today, and reminded us again how much we admire them.  They are true Falcons.

Go Falcons!! Beat the Spartans!!

The focus of this blog is football and men's basketball.  I don't really do much about hockey, women's basketball, or any other sport at BG, and that is really based on two reasons.  I spend a lot of time on this blog, and focusing on two sports is about all I can manage.  Second, these are the two sports that I have followed quite literally my entire life.

That does not mean, however, that I am not a huge admirer of our women's basketball program.  BG has never had a more dominant period in any sport in our history.  The program just continues along, never has issues with graduation, and wins the conference every year.  I have huge respect for the program and the athletes that make it happen.

And I will be watching today....beating Sparty would be so sweet.

Finally, I am happy to say that there is a blog for the women's basketball program.  Its well done and interesting, and I hope you check over there for your women's basketball fix.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Football Coaching Staff Completed--Spring Practice Begins

Coach Clawson has filled the last vacancy in his coaching staff.  You may recall that Shannon Morrison, a co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach had left the University to go to Memphis.
The new defensive coach is Nick Monroe, who will coach safeties.  He has coached for six years at Colgate, which had a very strong I-AA program, and has spent most of his career on the defensive side of the ball.

I'm assuming the Mike Elko will take full control of the d-coordinator position, but there hasn't been any official word on that.  And, I never really thought about needing a coach just for the safeties, but what do I know.

Anyway, beyond that, Spring Practice opens up today.  The program lost a large number of players since last season, and spring practice will be important as the next set of players moves up.  The highest visibility position is clearly QB, where Aaron Pankratz, Matthew Shilz, Caleb Watkins and Kellen Pagel apparently have an open competition for the starting job.  The charts below will give a more complete picture on where replacements need to be made.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

OU Bobcats Snap MAC Losing Streak in Style

Wow.  The OU Bobcats, who finished 9th in the regular season in the MAC and were, until the last game, tied with BG....and who did not even earn a home berth in the MAC tournament, have just picked up the first win for the MAC in six seasons...and they did it by beating a #3 seeded Georgetown handily.  OU simply blew their doors off.  '

By my calculation, OU is the lowest ranked MAC team to win a game in the tourney since seeding began.

This is a team that BG beat by 8 early in the season.

This is pretty huge for the conference.  I thought Georgetown was good enough to make the Final Four and they are from the nation's toughest conference, the one that got the most bids, and yet, the OU Bobcats absolutely took them to school.

Great job OU!!  You made the MAC proud.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What stats leading to winning and losing??

After looking at stats in the aggregate, I thought I would go back and look at stats for each game.  The goal is to figure out what stats were closely linked to winning and losing, and which ones were not.  Please note that somebody who actually knows statistics might correlate this stuff....with me, you get more of a shade-tree statistician look.

For reasons you will see in a minute, defensive performance had a bigger role in winning and losing then offense did.  What I did was take our average for each stat, and then figure out our record when we were better than our average and worse than our average.  The stats you see below is the different in record between better and worse than average, expressed in games.

By far, the single biggest and most influential stat is point per possession allowed.  BG was 12-1 when it allowed fewer PPP than its season average and 2-15 when it did not, a 12 game difference.  The next strongest test was True Shooting (which measures FG, 3FG and FT shooting) which had a 9-game difference.  That one is a little disingenuous since you can't defend against FT%.  Floor percentage (percentage of possessions scored on) was +7 as was effective FG%.  (When BG allowed eFG below 45%, they were undefeated).

Other tests revealed a less striking difference.  Note, in particular, that tempo did not appear to play a big role.

Switching to offense, the first thing to notice is that the strongest offensive measure only made an eight game difference.  On the whole, you can see in the chart below that there are much fewer long columns in the offensive chart than the defensive chart.

BG was 11-4 when it was above its average in offensive rebound % and only 3-12 below.  The other interesting one was steals allowed, which showed a seven game difference.  It is almost TOO interesting, in fact, and seems like something random might be going on there.  Floor percentage was also key for the offense.  Scoring was less important (+5) than for the defense.

Anyway, like I said, there are probably more sensitive ways to test this, but I'd say that a stronger defensive performance would have yielded us more wins than more scoring.  As I noted in the aggregate stats analysis, our defense was clearly below our expectations for the style of ball we want to play.

Falcon Football Recruit Makes Two-Sport History

QB Recruit Trent Hurley led his Greensburg Catholic Team on a run in the PA state playoffs....and, as well, to a win in the state basketball tournament.  He is the first player in the history of the school to win a game in both tournaments...his coach said this:

"Trent's our competitor, our fighter," Greensburg coach Greg Bisignani told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "He's our man in the middle that won't quit."  

Which sounds good, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Falcon Men's Basketball....the year in numerical review....Off-FENSE

So, first we looked at the Men's Basketball team's stats based on defense, which I thought was appropriate because we are sort of a defensive team, all, your shooting percentage shouldn't determine your winning percentage.

And, as we found, the defense was not in the top half of our conference.

Now, here comes offense.  (Remember, all stats below are conference games only).

Overall, we were 10th in points per game.  Remember, we were 10th in possessions/game, or tempo, so we can expect that the 10th place thing is pretty reflective.  Indeed we were 9th in points per possession, one of only four teams in the conference to score under 1 point per possession.

Transferring to the Four Factors, BG was actually 4th in FG%, which is among our better rankings.  That's a little misleading, because our shot mix was very heavy toward 2 point FGs, and you would, therefore, except to have a higher percentage.  (Cue:  Inside-out).  We were 11th in 3FG attempts and tied for last in made 3s.  We were 10th in 3FG%.

So, that's one problem.  If you're going to shoot that way, you're going to have to make the most of all your possessions, get to the line, and get some boards--and probably shoot higher than 44%.

These were things that did not happen.  BG had the 3rd highest percentage of turnovers per possession in the MAC and led the MAC in giving up steals.  (I have a still to be explored theory that steals are worse than other turnovers because they lead to transition opportunities, while a traveling call yields to an inbounds pass.  Anyhoo).

The other issue was getting to the line.  BG was 11th in FTs attempted.  (We had 294.  UT was last, they shot 194.  This boggles the mind.  You know what else is weird?  BG took 294 FTs and allowed 294 FTS, and made 209 and allowed 205.  Anyhoo).   So we were 11th in FTs made too.  So, that's not really a strong point, either.  Now, it could have been worse, because we did really turn our FT shooting % around---it was dreadful in the pre-MAC but ended up 4th in the conference.

Finally, our rebounding was just pretty average, as we were 7th in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage.

So, that's a look at the offense.  We were worried that we would lack offensive firepower this year, and we did.  We did have our moments, but consistency was lacking and we certainly did not score well in the aggregate.  That, combined with a below average defensive performance means that you have a team that finished 10th.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Chairman Speaks, Lies

I hate to weigh into this annual silly debate, but I did want to make one point.

I listened to the Selection Committee Chairman on Mike and Mike this morning.  He was talking about why Virginia Tech is not in, but Wake Forest is.  He focused on Tech's OOC schedule, which he says was among the 10 weakest in the country.

Here's the thing.  I thought you used SOS when you were trying to compare records of two teams from different conferences, when there is no basis for direct know, sort of the best you can do.  But, in this case, Virginia Tech had a better conference record than Wake Forest and BEAT Wake Forest when they played.  I don't care, at that point, who they played outside of the conference.  Virginia Tech has clearly had the better season.

The Chairman was then asked why there can't be a computer program that selects at-large teams.  He said that you couldn't remove the human element because you need to watch teams play to determine what kind of tempo they play and how they play defense, etc, things which "can't be reflected in numbers."

Yes, this is the man in charge of making these decisions.

First, obviously, those things CAN be reflected in numbers.  And if they couldn't, what qualifies him to evaluate them?  And, most importantly, has the NCAA decided that one kind of tempo should get a team into the tournament and another not?  Are we selecting specific styles of play.  What about the old Loyola Marymount team that didn't play any defense at all?  Would they be in and out?

It doesn't make any sense, and that's because he was grasping for an answer.  The real reason they won't let it be driven by an objective standard is that they want to be there to protect their major conference buddies and make sure that those last at-large slots don't go to a team like Kent State, who deserved a shot had they made the MAC finals. If they let it be objective, than they lose the chance to tilt the pinball machine and they won't do that.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter too much, because I doubt either Va Tech or Wake are likely to be in the Final Four.  The idea, however, that the committee is carefully eyeballing defensive intensity to pick Tournament teams is an absolute joke.

Post-Season MAC Play, Part II

Kent and Akron did end up in post-season play.  Kent will play Tulsa with a home game, which is nice for them and deserved.  Akron is in the CBI, playing at home against Wisconsin Green-Bay.  Both of those games are winnable, for whatever that is worth.

Meanwhile, the CIT, despite being "mid majors" only, does not have a MAC team.

Falcon Men's Basketball....the year in numerical review....DE-FENSE

Now that the season is over, we have an opportunity to look into the statistics and see what we can learn about this years team.  In fact, I do think we can see a little about what kind of weaknesses the team had, and why we finished in 10th place.  Simply put, we were a 10th place team with 10th place stats--and consistent with earlier analysis of who we beat, I would contend that we are pretty much who we appeared to be.

I start with defense, because Coach Orr constantly says that our identity is to be a defensive team.  Based on that, this was a serious area of struggle for the team.

Most commonly, that is measured in points per game, which BG was 9th in (all stats are based on conference games ONLY).  BG had the 10th fewest average  possessions per game (meaning we played one of the slowest tempos in the MAC), and was also 9th in points per possession allowed.

There are usually four factors that are believed to contribute to a team's performance on defense:  Effective FG% (meaning 3s count for 1.5), Off Rebound %, Free Throw Rate and Turnover Rate.  Let's look into how BG fared on this.

We actually do not have to look too much beyond FG% Defense, which is obviously a central part of "getting stops."  (A stop is either a turnover or a missed shot and rebound).  BG was 10th in the conference allowing opponents to shoot 43.8% from the field.   When effective FG% is factored in, BG is 11th in the conference, with 51%.

The disconnect there is due to one thing---BG was victimized by opponent 3s more than any team in the conference.  BG was 10th in 3FG attempts against, but far and away first in 3s allowed.  BG allowed 120 3s in conference game, and the nearest team in the MAC allowed 105, meaning that BG allowed almost one more 3 a game than the next game and almost twice as many as the next team.  BG's opponents shot 37.5% from 3, (11th) and given the quantity of attempts, that was deadly.  (Coach Orr would like to hold opponents to 37% shooting on ALL their FG attempts).

I don't know what to make of this.  The easy conclusion would be that we were in a zone virtually every possession of the season, and you attack a zone from the outside.  Now, I know that Coach Orr has said that even in our zone, you should be able to cover the 3, but it is clear that we were not.  It may well be that we did not have the quickness to cover the outside shot in the 2-3 zone, or it may well be that from time to time (as Coach has inferred) we lacked the intensity on defense to get out there.

Either way, from a shooting perspective, it a pretty sad math effort.  In conference games, BG made 67 3s and gave up 120.  That's a deficit of 53, with is 159 points and almost 10 points a game on 3s alone.

In looking at the other factors, despite our three senior post men, we were only #8 in offensive rebounding % allowed.  So we allowed teams to make 44% of their shots and then were below average in the conference in terms of letting them to the boards.

We were eighth in turnover percentage, meaning we just didn't cause very many turnovers...which means teams were more likely to get a shot off and then more likely to make it.

The one part of the defensive factors we excelled in was keeping teams off the line.  We were the best in the conference at not committing fouls and third in free throw rate.  We ended up +4 for the season on free throws.

We'll look at the offense tomorrow, but I think that what the numbers say is that for a team that is supposed to be built on defense, we did not defend our conference peers very well.  Teams shot well against us, especially from the 3 point line, and that made it difficult for us to keep scores where they needed to be for us to win.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NCAA Tournament, List of Shame....

OU gets a #14 seed.  I think Kent had a shot at a 12 or 13, but OU's season record and conference rank precludes that.  If they are going to stop the MAC's 6 year losing streak, they are going to have to pull a pretty big upset.....they drew Georgetown, a really good team.  Sometimes we get a better seed and pick up a middlin' team that is ready to be upset.  In this case, not so much.

As for the streak of BG's last NCAA appearance, it continues now to 42 years.  At some point this year, it looked like William and Mary, Harvard and Northwestern could all get in....but we dodged a bullet on all three.  In fact, no one slipped by us this year.  On the other hand, BG remains on this rather sad list.....

Maybe next year.....

(List of all teams with a longer non-NCAA appearance streak than BGSU)

Columbia: Last appeared in 1968
Tennessee Tech: Last appeared in 1963
Yale: Last appeared in 1962
Maine: Division I since 1962
New Hampshire: Division I since 1962
Centenary (La.): Division I since 1960
Dartmouth: Last appeared in 1959
Harvard: Last appeared in 1946
Army: Division I since 1948
Citadel: Division I since 1948
Northwestern: Division I since 1948
St. Francis (N.Y.): Division I since 1948
William & Mary: Division I since 1948

Apparently the International Bowl will "take off, eh?"

From this post on Bull Run, we see that the International Bowl is expected to fold.  The Big East has pulled out in order to play in the Pinstripe Bowl, which, you know,  just sounds stupid.  Anyway, according to the post, the MAC may solidify its relationship with the Humanitarian Bowl, netting out a no-game in bowl affiliations.

Affiliations are kind of meaningless right now, since any team with 7 wins is in a bowl game somewhere.  However, if the NCAA allows 6-6 teams to be picked ahead of 7-5 teams, as I expect, then they will be important again.

Travel restrictions to make it tough for the International Bowl.  You don't know you are going to the game until a month beforehand, and if you don't have your passport lying around, you probably aren't going to take the effort.

FWIW, from what I read, there probably will not be a Big East in a few years.

Cameron Black II Update

Just to close the loop on BG recruit Cameron Black II, his low-seeded team came within an absolute hair's breadth of winning the district title, losing on a buzzer beater to Akron East.  Cameron had 19 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks in the defeat.

Black was also named first team All-District....

Can't wait to see both of our signed recruits in orange and brown.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Falcon Men's Basketball Review--quality of wins, losses

Ok, so now that the games have ended, I'll take some time looking back at the season to see what we might  find out and what we might learn for the year ahead.  I was thinking about the pre-conference schedule, and how we look at those teams when we play them and don't always know what we were facing.  I thought it might be interesting to look back and see how those teams finished up.

Note that I did the analysis a couple of days ago, so the RPIs might not reflect the latest tournament results.

Let's look at our wins and losses for the season.

So, what can we learn from this?

BG's best win of the season was clearly the win against Kent, both because that was the best team we beat and because it was on the road.

The next best win was over St. Louis, who actually ended up being a pretty good team, finishing 4th in the tough A-10.  That was a quality win for the program.  Those are our only two wins against teams with top 100 RPIs.  Next, you have the win over OU, though, in fairness, that was a different team than the one currently ripping through the Q.  (Sidenote:  what was stopping Bassett from playing like this all year?  Just wondering).

On the whole, however, we won games we should have won.  Only 4 teams we beat ended up with .500 records...Kent, St. Louis, OU and EMU.  In comparison, 3 of our wins came against teams with single digit wins (including Toledo and Fordham, two of the worst D1 teams), and Savannah State is in that class, but as an independent schedules their was to a respectable record.  Two of our wins were over teams that barely had double digit wins--ie, NIU and Towson with 10.

With the exception of Kent, St. Louis, and OU, we beat teams who were not terribly accomplished.

Switching to losses, our worst loss was to Ball State, with their 217 RPI.  Iowa was a really poor team and ripe for an upset from a strong MAC team, but they drilled us.  In total, 7 of our losses were to teams with RPIS of 100 or better.

The one that got away---that UWM game that went into OT would have been a nice victory for us.

11 of the teams that beat us finished with a .500 record or better.  Only Miami and Iowa finished with sub .500 records.

I think the theme we are going to see is that analysis leads us to the conclusion that this was a 10th place team.  We were good enough to beat some teams, but rarely did we really rise us and deliver a surprise.  Rarely, however, did we lose to a team we really should have beaten.

While the team seemed inconsistent, it may very well be that we were very consistent.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cameron Black II leads his HS team to District Final

Cameron Black II's Kent Roosevelt team was the #7 seed in the district tournament, despite having the second most wins in the tournament.  They are now in the finals after a District Semi win over Twinsburg (Twinsburg has a 6'8" player who is heading to Miami). 

Black made some mistakes, but hit four key free throws on the road home and added 17 points, 14 boards, 8 blocked shots and 4 assists in the win.  Cameron has signed a LOI to be a Falcon starting next season.

Roosevelt plays Akron East on Saturday for the District Title.

Evil Genius Alert

Does the evil genius want you next?

Miami smoked Buffalo last night, and now the Evil Genius and his Redhawks lurk in the MAC tournament like a shark circling, looking for blood in the water.

The Miami-OU game will be a good one tonight....can OU count on another team failing to defend Bassett?  On the other hand, Cooper was essentially absent last night.  Great storylines, and a rivalry on top of it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kent out....

And, the MAC was just one second from having both of the top seeds get knocked out. But Akron hit a miracle 3 and then ended up beating EMU is double OT. Kent was not so fortunate. OU is hot right now, and Armon Bassett was unstoppable tonight.

I don't think there was even a slight chance of Kent getting an at-large bid. They are NIT bound and OU could easily make the Big Dance, though Akron is still the favorite.

Falcon Football Recuit All-District....

In Basketball....congrats to Clay Rolf of Eastwood.

More MAC National Pub....(not the good kind)

The WSJ logs in with an article called "The Little Conference that can't" and they are talking about our MAC.  They note that the last NCAA Championship for the MAC was in 1965 in men's cross country (WMU).  (HINT:  Hockey does not count since there is no MAC hockey).

A couple quotes:

Now, even winning the occasional football bowl game or first-round NCAA men's basketball tournament matchup is becoming a mighty chore.

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who took over the job last year, hasn't figured out what the problem is. "I don't have a great answer for you," he says. "I haven't been here long enough to know. But it's something we talk about. It's something that I'm spending a lot of time talking about with our athletic directors, trying to identify what we can do better."

"I'll use this year as an example," says Kent State men's basketball coach Geno Ford, whose team is the favorite in the MAC tournament this week. "You don't even see our team listed on the bubble anywhere, yet our RPI is 42, which is way higher than almost any team people list on the bubble."

The headline is a little cruel, but the article speaks the truth....the conference simply is not as competitive as it used to be.  Let's hope for better days, especially since 96-team NCAA tournies and 6-6 FBS bowl bids signal tough times....

Gene Cross Leaving UT--and Erik Marschall Story

There are reports Gene Cross has resigned or been fired.  Either way, he is on his way out of Toledo.  I really thought he would get another season, but it may have been obvious to those close to the program that he did not have the makings of a D1 Head Coach.  It will be interesting to see who comes in.  It is actually a very attractive job, with a newish facility and a strong tradition, and nowhere to go but up.

On another note, the paper in Ashland has a hometown boy makes good story about Erik Marschall and the ups and downs of his career at BG...definitely worth a read, especially as it relates to the injuries he fought through to keep playing......

"Oh man, it's been a roller-coaster ride," Marschall, a senior, said of his career at BGSU. "There's been some ups and downs and peaks and valleys. It's been fun, though. It's definitely an experience many people don't get to have and you've got to take it in stride.

Oh, the dean of MAC Coaches is.....

Doug Martin, Kent.

Six years.  He hasn't done well enough to move up nor poorly enough to be fired.  Yet.

MAC is #1

No really.  In what, you say.....

How about football coach turnover.  Note here, there have been 25 coaching changes in the MAC over the past 10 years.  8 of the 13 coaches in the MAC next year will be in their first or second year at the school.  No other conference is FBS can point to a record of this kind.

Trivia question....who is the "dean" of MAC Coaches? (answer later)

The article posits the theory that the MAC is the minor leagues of coaching, and when people do well, they get called up.  That's obviously true, but it is more complicated than that.  For example, BG and Miami both lost coaches last year who did not move up...but they were replacing coaches who did move up.  By creating a vacancy, Urban and Hoeppner created opportunities for untested new head coaches, both of whom did not work out.  As the first proving ground for new coaches, you would expect a higher failure rate than bigger schools with more money, who have proven people competing for the work.

A similar thing may be occurring in Muncie, though time will tell.

I don't believe it is the lot of the MAC to have coaches spend long careers at our schools.  Either everyone wants them and they leave or no one wants them (including us).  Given that, my opinion is that teams should adjust by doing the following:

  • Avoid "system" guys who create odd-ball systems that restrict options for the next coach.
  • Avoid the temptation to automatically recruit from within when a vacancy occurs.  That OC may or may not be head coaching material.
  • Keep your eyes wide open at all times.  You never know when you will have to find a guy.

The most normal coach replacement mode in the MAC is the Beckman route....get an assistant at a major college who can move into the role.  Our AD has done it differently with men's basketball and football by going out and getting coaches who have won as head coaches elsewhere.  While the initial signs are encouraging, time will tell how that approach has worked.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Falcons Set For Men's Basketball Tournament to Open Next Year

The BG News is reporting that the Falcons will get an early test in the Legends Classic for college basketball. It is an odd format, with four teams who could actually win the tournament and four other teams that are, essentially, cannon fodder.  From the BG News:

The Legends Classic is not a typical tournament. Four teams - Syracuse, Michigan, Georgia Tech and UTEP - will be able to play for the championship.
In the first round of the tournament (Nov. 17-21) will be regional action held on the campuses of the four teams mentioned above. The Falcons will have one game in that round.
On. Nov. 26-27, the Falcons will play two second-round games (referred to as the subregional round) at either Detroit or William & Mary. Meanwhile, the four first-round hosts will play a championship bracket.

Anyway, Detroit is a common opponent for us, but William and Mary will probably play in the NIT this year, and Syracuse is obviously a top flight program.  Should be a nice opportunity for our team.

All-MAC Men's Basketball teams announced

The ALL-MAC and All-MAC Freshmen teams were announced today, concluding a round of awards announcements in advance of the start of the conference tournaments.

Not surprisingly, BG did not get much.  Scott Thomas received honorable mention status, and no BG freshmen was honored.  I have no quibbles with this.  Below are the team lists, with any uninformed commentary attached.

All-MAC First Team

Jimmy Conyers, Akron
Rodney Pierce, Buffalo
Kenny Hayes, Miami
David Kool, Western Michigan
Chris Singletary, Kent State

It is hard to argue with any of these players.  Conyers was the most productive player on the second best team, Kool the POY, and Singletary the best all-around player in the MAC.  Rodney Pierce is a real stud, and Kenny Hayes carried the RedHawks for parts of the season.

All-MAC Second Team
Jordan Bitzer, Central Michigan
Robbie Harman, Central Michigan
Carlos Medlock, Eastern Michigan
Brandon Bowdry, Eastern Michigan
Justin Greene, Kent State

In some ways, this is a tougher thing to call than the first team.  I think Carlos Medlock is really underrated and is clearly on the right team here.  I think the McKnight brothers suffer from playing in Akron's system, where no one gets many minutes and consequently no one gets high stats numbers.  On their own, you could think that Mavunga, Cooper, and Basset and probably Betts could have been a second team pick and certainly would have been on the third team if there was one.

All-MAC Honorable Mention
Chris McKnight, Akron
Brett McKnight, Akron
Jarrod Jones, Ball State
Scott Thomas, Bowling Green
Calvin Betts, Buffalo
Justin Dobbins, Eastern Michigan
Julian Mavunga, Miami
Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois
D.J. Cooper, Ohio
Armon Bassett, Ohio

All-Freshman Team
Zeke Marshall, Akron
Jauwan Scaife, Ball State
D.J. Cooper, Ohio
Jake Barnett, Toledo
Nate Hutcheson, Western Michigan

Finally, a couple things.  I think Zeke Marshall was named to the team when the season started.  He did not have a big footprint on that team.  DJ Cooper is clearly the star of this class.  I have my doubts if Jake Barnett will ever turn into a consistent, carry your team kinda guy.

Saying Goodbye to Anderson Arena

There is just one year of basketball left in Anderson Arena. While I know it is time for a change and that to everything there is a season, it is still a sad moment. I cannot express--though I am sure I will try over the next year--the emotions and powerful memories I have of being in that Arena. I feel like I grew up there and then eventually I was able to bring my son there too.  (This includes, as well, early morning badminton class, a near-cardiac event at Dan Dakich Father-Son basketball camp, attending several sweatbox graduations....and probably more if I think about it)

The University is using the web to help collect the ideas and thoughts of people like me. Check it out here.

Much more later.....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

More MAC Men's Basketball Awards

Three more awards are in....

I think the most notable here is DJ Cooper of OU, who won Freshmen of the Year.  This guy is gonna be a great MAC fact, he is already a really good MAC player and it would not surprise me if he makes second team All-MAC.  As if things needed to get tougher in the East, Groce is really building something down there and has four really strong recruits expected for next year.

Akron's Jimmy Conyers won defensive player of the year.  Conyers is a big rebounder for the Zips, but also leads the team in steals.  A lot of times this award goes to an inside player who can rebound and block shots, simply because those things are easier to count than what a guard does on defense.

And then Kent's Anthony Simpson was sixth man of the year.

Some final Coach Orr quotes

Coach Orr is normally pretty sphinx-like with the media.  Between declarations of faith and sayings like "the season is a marathon, not a sprint," "the next game is the most important game of the year," and "we play inside out," he is usually pretty circumspect on what is in his mind.  By the way, I don't blame him for this.  It makes perfect sense. 

In the post-game in Kalamazoo, Coach did cut loose....a little. The quote below about Marc Larson was said with Marc sitting right next to him....and the second quote I think is interesting as well.  It certainly is true.  There were times this season where we appeared to be a decent time, but it was far from consistent. 

I looked at some of the stats yesterday, and in the aggregate, we were a 10th place team with 10th place stats.  What surprised me most is that we actually were not very good on defense, even in our conference.

More on that later....

Orr on Larson

I don’t know if he really appreciated the talent he had or as much as he could have, because to me games like this don’t have to be the exception. He’s got the athletic ability, the size and the skill to be this type of player. And I respect him stepping up.”

Orr on what is enough (As opposed to what wasn't enough, like shooting 59%)

“You win games with competitive toughness and that’s something that really was not our personality for the entire year,” coach Louis Orr said. “We had it in pieces, in parts.

“I wouldn’t describe our team as having that killer, competitive toughness that you need all the time.”

Monday, March 08, 2010

Men's Basketball Coach and Player of Year

With the MAC Tournament starting this week, it is also awards season in the MAC.  Don't expect to see too much for the Falcons this season....but the Player of the Year is David Kool and the Coach of the Year is Geno Ford.

Both are fine picks.  I like the Ford pick a little bit better.  Not only did his team finish the season in dominant fashion, but he showed some coaching moxie in benching his starters after some lackluster play and he really seems to have found a way to motivate them.  He is, by all appearances, a really solid coach.  Keith Dambrot, in contrast, had a team that started ahead of Kent and finished behind.

As for Kool...he is certainly a good player.  He is more than a scorer, and I don't quibble with the choice at all.  He carries his team on his back when it is needed.  Still, I sometimes think that this award ends up being for the best scorer, and I'm not sure Chris Singletary is not the better, more complete, and more valuable player.  If you were starting a team, who would you pick first?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Looking back at today's game....

I'm trying to figure out exactly how we lost.  BG shot a season high 59%, only turned the ball over 10 times, held WMU to 46% shooting and were even in the rebound battle, and still lost.  Yes, WMU hit 9 3s but BG hit 7, so it wasn't like that was a big blow out.  The biggest difference was fouls...BG had 17 and WMU had 11, and was 16-18 from the line, while BG was only 7 of 12.  And there did an otherwise solid effort fall down.

There was a lot of what Coach Orr calls "playing tag" in the game, teams racing up and down the floor trading baskets, and usually we figure we're going to have a hard time winning a game like that.  On an efficiency, it was our best performance of the season (1.35 points per possession) and our second worst defensive performance (1.37 points per possession).  Still, even with all that, if BG doesn't send WMU to line as often, I think we probably win the game.

Scott Thomas had an absolute monster game, with 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting.  Marc Larson, in his last game as a Falcon had a double-double (12/11) and Jakubowski had 11 points and Brown 10.  Coach Orr made a couple of different moves, starting Larson for Marschall and Kraus for Brown.

I have never been able to figure out how it works, but you see it more than you think...a player starts, plays the first few minutes, and then hardly plays again the rest of the season.  Kraus did that today--started and played 7 minutes.

We'll do lots more to review the season in the coming weeks.  The last players of the Dakich era are now finished playing.  While there were high points this season, at the end of the day it is our 6th losing season in the last eight years.  I do think we got everything out of this team that we could, we just need more playmakers.  Given the fact that we lost our three best players plus Chris Knight off last year's team, I don't think the result for this year is too disappointing, and it only seems worse when it is seen as part of a relatively long string of under-performing seasons.



MAC Tourney Preview

So, the MAC tourney is starting up today.  Thought I would take a minute to preview it.

First, from our selfish standpoint, any of the three teams in our little section of the bracket has a shot at making the semis.  The 7/10 seed game plays the West Champion, which, of late in the MAC, is not a very good team and only one game better than the #7 seed, as it turns out.  In fact, I would contend that the #7/#10 route is much easier than the #8/#9 route.

Anyway, from BG's perspective, we should have beat WMU the first time in Kzoo, and I'm hoping we will see us show our resilience and play much better than we did at OU.  I believe we have an excellent shot at beating the Broncos (see yesterday's game preview).  While I think the odds are against us beating CMU based on the game we played earlier, they are certainly not unbeatable.

Beyond that, I don't see a huge number of surprises.  I think OU will win at BSU, and then the Thursday night tilt at the Q should be really entertaining, with Kent/OU and Buffalo/Miami likely to be on the card.

Side note:  how'd you like to the UT, finish last and then have to go all the way to Buffalo to finish the season?

In the end, I am picking Akron to beat Kent, which might be surprising after the game Friday night.  I think Akron is better than that, and that Kent will have a tough time beating them twice in a row.  If that is the final, the Q should be rocking.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

MAC Tournament Preview, Bronco Style

The Falcons enter into the MAC tournament tomorrow with a game at Kalamazoo.   It certainly will be a test of our resilience, which is typically pretty good.  The OU game was pretty grim, and, in fact, the Kent game wasn't a lot better, so coming down the stretch we have been struggling here and there...which is how we ended up on the road, and in last place in the East, in the first place.

All is not, in fact, lost.  BG should have beaten WMU the first time we played in Kalamazoo, and only a steal in the last 5 seconds cost BG a victory.  For a lot of other reasons, it looks to me to be a pretty evenly matched game.

It is not an easy assignment.  WMU is 11-3 at home this year, so we could have been cheating the odds earlier.  WMU is very good at home, and their struggles this season have come due to road issues.  Still, their RPI is 161, and BG is 181, and they are just over .500 on a comparable schedule to the one Bowling Green played.

My tournament preview will be up in the morning, but either BG or Western has a decent shot to make the semi-finals, with CMU looming once everyone gets to the Q.  That should help to make the contest interesting tomorrow.

In fact, statistically, the two teams are essential mirror images of each other.  I don't have access to the usual charts because it is a tournament game, but suffice it to say that the numbers on both sides are very close, when looking at conference games only.  Further, one of BG's achilles heels has been the 3-point shot, and WMU is not especially good in that area.

You can't talk about WMU without talking about David Kool who, thanks heavens, is playing his last game against BG tomorrow, one way or the other.  He's a really good shooter, he draws fouls and he makes 90% of the free throws when he gets there.  He is #6 in the NCAA in free throws made.  He had 23 points the first time BG played them, including the game winning layup.

That game was (wait for it) pretty even statistically as well, but BG shot 56.7% on 2 point field goals, which means we were getting the ball inside.  We got good shooting from Otis and Erik Marschall in that game...and if you want one key, it will be our ability to get the ball inside and, in large part, the ability of Otis to play as he has been lately.  We are a completely different team when he is on the top of his performance range.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Louis Orr Says....

And indeed it was.  And Coach says we have to put it behind us.  Which we do.

Just a couple notes, because there is not much analysis to do.  We got our butt kicked in every facet of the game last night.

With 7 minutes left to go in the first half, the game was 12-9 for OU.  A nice, slow-paced, low scoring game which seems to fit the BG tempo.  For the remaining 27 minutes of the game, OU outscored BG 71-50 to pick up a rout win.  71 points in 27 minutes is the equivalent of scoring 103 points for the game.

It is actually a little worse, because once the second half lead hit, oh, 30+ in the second half, they slowed up a little bit.  OU actually hit 75 points with 5:40 left, meaning they scored 63 points in 22 minutes of play.

It was the second time in three games that BG has had an opponent score seemingly at will for the equivalent of an entire half.  It was the second worst field goal % BG has allowed, only the 4th team to shoot 50% from 3, and the 6th most efficient offense we have allowed this season.

Meanwhile, we were poor on the other end of the floor too.

This is not Xavier we were playing.  This is a team with the same record we had that we beat earlier in the year.  Yes, at their place you might not be surprised to lose, but there is no reason to be completely embarassed.

A couple charts...

Finally, before we move on, we did have one interesting individual performance.  Luke Kraus of Findlay scored 16 points in 18 minutes and only started one fight, all career bests.  He helps round out what appears to be a very strong guard position for us heading into the future, though I worry about the inside game (more on that once the season is over).  Scott Thomas had 17 points and 9 rebounds as well.

BG does get to go right back onto the court this Sunday in Kalamazoo.  WMU is not playing well of late, and BG should have beaten them earlier this season, also in Kalamazoo.  It certainly is a winnable game for us.  We brag on our resilience, and we are going to need it, because the team really looks tired and worn out to me.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Ouch...Fuggly night in Athens

That was just awful.  Thank god I didn't have to watch it in person.  I'm never one to say that we weren't trying, but we certainly didn't seem to bring anything to the game tonight.  Remember, this was not Xavier, but a team we beat earlier in the year.  Doesn't sound like we did too much right.

More later.  I guess.

I believe we will travel to WMU on Sunday, based on my analysis from earlier in the week.

Kitty Kitty Preview

Well, here we are.  It is the last game of the regular season.  I'm sure to the team it seems like the season lasts forever, but it seems to go by in a blink of an eye to me.

We finish the reason down in Athens with the OU Bobcats, with 9th place in the balance.  But you must always remember....

and indeed, I am sure our guys will play to win the game.  Let's take a quick look at OU and see what we see.

BG won by 8 at AA in the first meeting of these two teams.  OU is a pretty good offensive team, but the Falcons held them to 57 points, 38% shooting and 3 of 21 from beyond the arc, and when the Falcons get that kind of defense, they're going to be very hard to beat.  It was one of those games where BG did close well, getting the game's last 7 points on the road to victory.

BG and OU are even-steven in the MAC this year, and OU had a couple more wins and the same number of losses as BG.  OU has played a considerably tougher schedule than BG, and has beaten pretty good Illinois State, IUPUI and Wright State teams at the Convo.  They are 12-4 overall at home this year.

Like the first time, I think this game will come down to what BG does on defense.  OU plays at among the higher paces in the MAC, and is among the top scoring teams in the conference.  On a tempo free basis, they are 4th in the MAC.  They do not shoot especially well, and the difference is in good 3 point shooting.  As noted, BG held them to very poor 3 point shooting last time.  OU takes really good care of the ball and gets to the line, and all the together is the challenge for the Falcons.

Now, flipping things around, OU is not an especially good defensive team, and that does present an opportunity for BG to get some points too. As you can see below, these teams are pretty evenly matched on this end.  BG has been playing pretty well on this end, and if Otis continues to produce on the inside, we remain a more productive team.

So, that's the story of the game Thursday.  Pretty evenly matched, but on OU's court and without a whole lot at stake.  But you play to win the game, and I'll be right here listening.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Falcon Football Interlude....Schedule is surprises

BG announced its football schedule today for the 2010 season, and if it contains a surprise, it is that no team on the schedule broke their contract and we are playing pretty much who we thought we would.

We will start by returning the trip to Troy to open the season, and then head to Tulsa, which is the start of a series.  Marshall will be our lone September home game (cue the wailing nation).  In another non-surprise, we are back to 5 home games, which Greg Christopher had said would be a result of the university's budget woes.  In this case, the result is a trip up to the Big House for a big payday.

Temple is back on the schedule, and now Akron disappears, based on the odd number of teams in the MAC East.  Cross-over wise, BG plays CMU, UT and WMU.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is something I had been hearing rumors about for some time....for the first time in 10 seasons, the BG/UT game will not wrap the season up.  Instead, it will be played the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I think both schools hope to see it become a better showcase and better attended by moving it away from the Holiday.  My opinion is that while I did enjoy the symbolism of finishing the season with our rivals, it is not the only way to do it, and I'm all for moving the game up to help the students get involved.

As for odd and messed up times, the game at the Glass Bowl could be at 6, which I don't like, but our only home game with a really screwed up start time COULD be WMU, but that is the day after Thanksgiving, and it doesn't have quite the impact.  Our other home weekday game starts at 8.

We are set for TV three times.  Once or twice on ESPN2, with the remainder being on ESPNU, which is kinda in-between as far as National TV goes.

BGSU’s 2010 Football Schedule

Sat., Sept. 4 – at Troy

Sat., Sept. 11 – at Tulsa

Sat., Sept. 18 – vs. Marshall

Sat., Sept. 25 – at Michigan

Sat., Oct. 2 – vs. Buffalo (Homecoming)

Sat., Oct. 9 – at Ohio

Sat. Oct. 16 – at Temple

Sat. Oct. 23 – vs. Kent State (Parents’ Weekend)

Sat. Oct. 30 – at Central Michigan

Wed., Nov. 10 – vs. Miami, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Wed., Nov. 17 – at Toledo, 6/8 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPNU) *

Fri., Nov. 26 – vs. Western Michigan (ESPNU/ *