Monday, January 31, 2011

Bracket Buster Announced. Penguin Redux.

So, the Bracket Buster has been announced for this year.  This is the 9th adventure for BG in the Bracket Buster, and the second time we've been paired with Youngstown State, which, you know, is less than ideal.  No offense to the Penguins.....just that the nice thing about the bracket buster is to play someone from out of your area, maybe a little exotic.  Like when we played Valparaiso, Canisius, UIC, Arkansas Little Rock and Morehead State....different opponents, plus the last one made us giggle.

Not so much with Detroit and Youngstown State, and Wright State is in the middle.

But sometime in the next two years, we can be sure the Penguins will toddle into the Stroh Center.

The Penguins are 7-14.  I don't know what happened, they had a reasonable pre-conference season, including beating UT and Buffalo, but then they are 1-10 in the Summit, which doesn't seem to make any sense.  We will learn more as the game approaches.

FWIW, BG is 5-3 in Bracket Busters, and 6-1 in return games.  That's right. Domination.

New Falcon Football Verbal

Last night I retweeted a note from a Florida reporter, who was quoting Darrell Hunter, a FL CB heading to BG. He said there were six FL players coming to BG to bring the program back.  I thought it was interesting because I only has seen information on 5.  Well, here is the answer.

Shaquille Hall has verballed to BG.  He is 6'4" 215 and from Palmetto Ridge.  On his birthday last year his team's top two RBs were injured and he gained 245 rushing yards and he is listed as a RB although he did play both ways.  He might be somebody we see as a FB, as well.  Anyway, welcome to the Falcons Shaquille.

Update:  Interesting to see that Hall did not play football until his senior year in HS.

We age getting near a full class.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Last Notes from Saturday

Shot from the EMU game.  Note the non-functioning scoreboard.  We used to play with just the scoreboards on the walls anyway, so it was just another throwback.

Wore the throwback unis again.  I think it has officially become a thing.

Speaking of officials, that game was the most cluster-f**cked game I have ever seen.  There were more meetings than I have ever seen.  I don't think it impacted the game...for example, when Ramsey was screaming for a jump ball after the melee, with all the arms flying in something like that, its just a tough call to get.

Just to stop and note one thing....As of right now, BG is in a two-way tie for first in the East, and with Ball State's loss, in a three-way tie for first in the MAC.  I'm always in a cautious optimism mode, but this is turning into a really fun season.

Falcons Use Depth to Hold Off Eagles

It was one of those games you face in late January in the MAC.  There's rarely an easy night, especially when you are still growing, as the Falcons are.  EMU comes in having a dreadful year, but they bolt out to a 12-2 lead on the Falcons floor and the game is on.  BG begins dipping into the bench, and eventually gets back to a 3-point halftime lead.

In the second half, BG led by 6 before EMU actually took the lead with 12 minutes left.  The game ping-ponged back and forth for four minutes, and then BG got five straight stops, and scored 7 points (5 by Scott Thomas) and led by 8.  BG was doing a real good job of closing that out, with Danny McElroy hitting a key shot with 2 minutes left to put BG up 8 again.  In fact, BG was up 9 with :34 left, under what should be pretty comfortable circumstances.

It did not, in fact, end quite as nicely as all that.  BG committed 2 fouls, had a turnover, and missed 2 free throws in those last seconds, and a near turnover that was saved only because BG had the arrow.  There was also a very close call where EMU's Coach Charles Ramsey flipped out because he wanted another jump ball call, but alas, a foul was called and that was that.  Now, BG was up 4 when that happened, so as loud as Ramsey wants to yell, it wasn't like the game was in the balance.

As frustrating as that time was, EMU never had the ball and a chance to tie the game, and the Falcons ground out a win that really needed.

Here was the big part of the game.  First, the Falcons struggled with starting guards Joe Jakubowski and Luke Kraus on the floor.  They both checked out, and more or less, did not check back in.  Joe played 4 minutes and Kraus played 6.  Meanwhile, though, Jordan Crawford and Dee Brown played very effectively and kept the Falcons competitive at guard.

Even more importantly, though, was that BG had foul trouble on the front line.  Torian Oglesby got his 3rd foul 10 seconds into the half and his 4th foul with 14:40 left, and Calhoun got his 3rd with 17:51 and his 4th with 9:15.

This with the Falcons facing the team with Brandon Bowdrey, probably the top power man in the MAC.  Coach Orr went down the bench to Danny McElroy, who has played off and on, and Mike Dabney, who has not played any significant minutes since the games at Calihan Hall.

Those guys certainly delivered when the team needed it.  Dabney played only 15 minutes, but added 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 key blocked shots, and McElroy played 23 minutes with 6 points and 11 rebounds.  He had some really tough boards in heavy traffic and made a huge contribution to the win.

Just to put it in perspective, Dabney had not played at all since SLU, and had played over ten minutes only once, against Detroit.  But Coach Orr said after the game that he practices well and had the coach's confidence because of that. Obviously, he tied or equalled career highs in points, rebounds and blocks.

McElroy, meanwhile, played only 9 minutes against Akron and 2 against Toledo, yet was able to make this contribution out there today.

And, not to belabor the point, but they did it when the team really needed it.

Scott Thomas had a really good game, if only cursed by the fact that we are used to it.  He had 16 points and 4 rebounds on 6-9 shooting, for an offensive rating of 178.  Crawford had 14 points on 6-8 shooting, 7 assists and 4 rebounds for an offensive rating of 139.

On a team basis, BG shot 50% for the game, and in both halves, for a very solid night.  The game was slow paced (62 possessions), and BG had 1.09 points per possession.  While EMU had a respectable 1.01 points per possession, they only shot 39% for the game.  Eastern was blistering in the first half with 70% from 3, and then 2-12 in the second half, but their inside game picked up in response.  As you can see below, basket-making was the difference in the game.

A last note.  Bowdrey is a really good player.  He went off for 25 points and 15 rebounds.  We had no serious answer for him, and he has a really nice touch around the basket.  (Offensive rating 138).  He is as good a player as the MAC has.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Huge Verbal For Falcon Football

The Falcons have received a huge verbal from WR Herve Coby of Delray Beach, which is in the Palm Beach area.  Coby visited BG last weekend, and cancelled a visit to West Virginia to commit to the Falcons.  He was #15 college prospect in the Palm Beach area, and every guy above him has a BCS offer or commitment.  He was also on the all-area team, and was called an explosive deep threat.

The article, which was posted tonight, says that Coby felt he fit BG's offense "perfectly."  Here, I am speculating, but I think if you had the chance to go somewhere and be one of the 5 top receivers, and then you look at BG and how the Falcons have shown with Barnes and Jorden that you can make a huge mark in our system.  I think that's what he means by fitting our offense.

He seems to be a deep threat, which is something I know we wish we had more of this year.

This is exciting news.  Welcome to the Falcons, Herve.

Dear Charles Ramsey

Campenni decommits: Heading to Akron

PA D-lineman Julian Campenni, who we recently told you was heading to the Big 33 game, has decommitted  from his verbal to Bowling Green and will now attend Akron.  He had a huge senior season, and all signals would be that he is going to be a really good player in the MAC.  Having read the article here, I think he made the decision for all the right reasons.  I would have loved to see him play for us, but I wish him the best of luck at Akron.

Update:  Campenni then DOUBLE decommitted and now says he is going to UConn.

Eagle Eye

Next up for the Falcons are the Eastern Michigan Eagles, coming down from Ypsilanti for their last regular season appearance at Anderson Arena.  There's not much doubt about one thing.  Eastern is having a dreadful season.  They are 5-14 against the nation's 260 toughest schedule.  But that is actually better than it looks.  3 of their wins--ALL of their non-conference wins--were against non D-1 teams.  MAC teams rarely even play 2 non-conference teams.  Their only wins were @Toledo and CMU.  Their RPI is 332 out of 345.  That is 2 places ahead of Howard, who did beat us, but we're not that team anymore.

EMU is one of the MAC's long-struggling programs.  Since 2000, they have only had a .500 record twice in MAC play and they have not been over .500 in MAC play since 97-98.  Their fan base is non-existent.  They just can't get it going.

To start with the positive, EMU on paper is a team built on defense.  Now, when looking at MAC-game statistics their defensive numbers are buttressed a little by their games with CMU and UT, two of the worst offensive teams in D1.  They did come up with a nice game against Ball State (.9), but have allowed more than a point per possession to NIU, WMU and OU.

Even given all that, their defensive numbers are clearly superior to their offensive numbers, which place them among the worst teams in D1.  Just as a measure of their struggle, in MAC games, they are 2nd in 3 point attempts and 11th in 3-FG%.  They are 10th in FTs, 11th in FG% (37%!), and 11in offensive rebounding percentage.  They are below 300 in 11 offensive categories and 330th in Floor percentage---percent of time your team gets a point when they come down the floor.

Anyway, I could go on, but after a while it gets a little self-indulgent.  They are having a dreadful season.

This is all despite the fact that EMU actually has one of the best players in the MAC.  Brandon Bowdry is 6'6", and is the 2nd leading scorer in the MAC and 1st in rebounds.  His tempo free offensive number (.94) is not that great, and for a big guy, his FG% is only 44%.  Having said that, given he is pretty much a one-man band, he probably ends up taking some shots that he wouldn't on a better team.

Derek Thompson is their only other player in double figures with 10 points.  Darrell Lampley is getting about 4 assists per game.

Anyway, if you have designs on winning a bye out of the MAC East---you gotta beat this team at home.  There's simply no two ways about it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Falcon Verbal #19

The Falcons have their 19th Verbal.  The young man is known as Denard Turner, and he attended Booker T. Washington HS in Dade County, Florida. He's a d-back, but there isn't a lot more about him.  His team was 8-3 and he did have an interception in this game.  Beyond that, not much else is available that I can find.

Welcome to the Falcons, Denard.

Pagel Transfers

I don't really talk about anything with player movements until there is some idea if something has actually happened.  Here is official confirmation that Kellen Pagel, who played a few snaps for BG last year, has transferred to UMASS.  Since he is moving down a division, he will not have to sit out a year.  He won the hearts of BG fans early by being the son of a former Cleveland Browns QB, but probably found himself lost in the QB shuffle here, with Schilz and Hurley seemingly in the first two slots, Matt Johnson verballed to come in, and others on the roster.

Best of luck to him in Amherst.

Nice Profile in Globe and Mail about Shaun Suisham

The Toronto Globe and Mail weighs in on a nice story about Shaun Ontario native who kicked for BG and now is in the Super Bowl, tracing his life from being a physical defenseman to playing both ways in HS and kicking 58 yard field goals, and then his time at the Doyt.  Nice story....

New Strength Coach for BG

BG has hired a new strength coach to replace the revered Aaron Hillman, who has left for Michigan.  The new coach is Brandon Hourigan, who had a similar job at the University of Virginia, and before that, wait for it, at the University of Richmond.

I predict that your response to this will match closely your reaction to Coach Clawson.  If you think Coach Clawson is a guy who has the program on the right track, you are fine with this.  If  you are among the minority who are freaking out over one bad season and think Clawson is a small-time coach who is over his head, your thoughts on this hire will follow that narrative quite nicely.

Here's the thing.  I do think we are on the right track.  Regardless, we're on a track with Coach Clawson.  You are either in or out and you might as well give him his guys.  The results will eventually speak for themselves.

Strength coaches gain mythic status in football nations.  I think Michigan fans were more disappointed to lose Barwis than they were to lose Harbaugh.  These coaches also seem to form very close bonds with players.  Anyway, welcome to the Falcons, Coach Hourigan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Falcons Fun Fact

OK, here's a Falcon Fun Fact.

In MAC Games, BG leads the MAC by scoring 61.5% of its points on 2-point FGs.  EMU is last with 42.9%

Bonus fact:  BG is best in the MAC in NOT fouling, with 16.2 per game.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Falcons Pick up 2nd Ball State De-Commit

The Falcons have picked up their second player who de-committed to Ball State following the demise of the Parrish regime.  They are both d-lineman.  Bryan Baird was the first, and now NG Hunter Maynard has come into the Falcon fold.  Hunter Maynard is from Bishop Watterson in Columbus, is 6'2", 290, and was second-team all-state last year in Division III.  His team won the State Title.  He had 5.5 sacks last year, and also had offers from WMU and Central Florida.

Welcome to the Falcons, Hunter.

One other note.  There's some chatter around the football team right now, most of it unfounded.  It has shown up in comments I declined to publish here and on message boards.  One thing that Coach confirmed, though, at his post-season presser is that you could have some players leave to seek opportunities to play.  My only reason for mentioning that is we are now up to 19 players in the class, and we could end up with a fuller class this year than we had anticipated

Falcons Beat Rival for 3rd Straight Season

The Falcons went on the road and picked up the win last night in Savage Hall, beating the Rockets 70-64 in from of the largest crowd the Rockets have had in a couple of seasons, though small at that.

In general, it was a pretty ugly game, especially in the first half.  Having said that, sometimes in a long season, you have to go and get it done in ugly fashion, and that's what BG did.  The Falcons did what they have done during the year when they are successful, which is absorb a second half run and then turn it back and win the game.

Last night that came after UT ripped off an 11-5 run to start the second half, and tied the game with about 15 left.  BG responded with a modest 9-3 run over the next couple of minutes, including 5 points by Dee Brown.  With about 7 left the Rockets had it back to 2 points, but BG responded with the next 4 points, (including a Dee Brown basket), and then with 5 minutes left A'uston Calhoun converted an old-school three-point play and the game was never a one possession game again, as the Falcons closed the game out.

BG certainly struggled offensively, especially in the first half.  UT played a very active defense, and switched between man-man and 2-3 zone, and I thought the Falcons particularly had trouble creating opportunities against the zone.  It was kind of interesting, BG often throws teams off with a zone, and BG had trouble with the zone and seemed really uncomfortable.

The Falcons finished the first half shooting 31% and 4-12 from 3.  In the second half, BG shot 58% and 2 of 5 from 3.  As Coach Orr said to the team, we don't make our living on 3FGs, and when we succeed, it is because we get a high shooting percentage by scoring around the basket.

Both teams finished over 1 point per possession for the game, and BG was at 1.11, which is pretty good.  The stats line is pretty typical of a close game.  Although the shooting was pretty even, BG took care of the ball better, rebounded better and had a slight edge in free throws, and that adds up to what you need to win a close game.  BG's 69% free throw shooting was key, and we converted in the last minutes to close the game down.

Just an unquantified do we seem to miss a bunch of "zero footers" on put backs. Maybe that's jut an impression, but if anything kept this game close, that was it.

The clear star of the game for BG was A'uston Calhoun.  He had his first double-double, with 21 points and 13 rebounds.  More importantly, I thought I saw a toughness in him that he hasn't always shown.  He got shots up often against very physical triple teams, and he rebounded aggressively in traffic a number of times.  He also made some nice passes in tight quarters once he had drawn coverage.  I do think he is continuing to get better every game, and he's going to be a good player, and it is hard to imagine us winning that game last night without him.

There was one other notable achievement.  The Falcons have been relying on Jordan Crawford to come in late in the first half and get things moving, but last night he just didn't click.  He may have been struggling with the zone, and he is still a  young player.  The great thing was that Joe Jakubowski and Dee Brown both delivered for the team, especially in situations where it was really needed.

I think it says something.  Both players have seen their role diminish in the last couple weeks.  But, when the team needed them, they both played hard and effectively.  Jakubowski had 16 points against 4 assists, 2 steals and only one turnover.  That included 4 3s and 4-4 at the line.  Dee Brown had 11 points and 2 assists and, as noted above, key baskets in the Falcons second half runs.  I think this is a testament to the commitment of both guys that they delivered in this way.

Finally, a note on the Rockets.  They are just very undermanned.  Malcolm Griffin is a good player and is hot, but he is more or less alone out there.  They are just short on good players.  I know they have some transfer guys coming in next year, and Cross left the program in the gutter.  Having said that, they competed incredibly hard, despite their hopeless record, and that is a credit to their heart.

Another note...there is some dark stuff going on inside Tod Kowalczyk.  The look in his eyes on the sidelines is like something out of a horror movie.  He's not cartoon-funny like John Groce.  He's scary.  And the bow tie only added an additional bizarre element.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


There will be more to say tomorrow, but for now, we will just enjoy coming out of Savage Hall with a hard-fought six point win.  That's three in a row and four out of the last going to the good guys.  Much of it wasn't pretty, but if you don't believe in moral victories than you can't believe in moral defeats.  Nothing beats the feeling of walking out of that place with a win, wearing your orange and brown.

Go Falcons

Falcons off to Hot start

MAC East at the Third Pole

We're at the one-third break of the season, with the first round of play done in the East. It is shaping up to a great race, and an excellent opportunity to brush up on our knowledge of the MAC tie-breaking procedures.

Right now, everyone knows, there is a four-way tie at the top of the standings. There are a couple of slight advantages buried in the standings, which are:

First, because you play five games in this round, 3 teams have played 3 homes already and have 2 home games in the last round, and there are 3 teams that have only played 2 games at home and have 3 in the last round. It would stand to reason that the teams with 3 home games left have a slight advantage. Those teams are Kent, BG and Miami. OU and Akron are not in the 4-way tie, and they played 3 at home.

Holding serve on your home court is key. OU, for example, has lost 3 times at home, and Kent, BG and Miami have held serve.

Winning on the road also sets you apart. Everyone in the East has one win on the road, except Akron.

OU fans will tell you that they were 1-4 last year. Duly noted.

Anyway, at the third pole, here's the way it looks.

Team Wins Losses Percent Home Games Home Losses Road Wins
Buffalo 3 2 60 3 1 1
Kent 3 2 60 2 0 1
Bowling Green 3 2 60 2 0 1
Miami 3

2 60 2 0 1
Akron 2 3 40 3 1 0
Ohio 1 4 20 3 3 1

Rivalry Preview...

So, the next installment of the BG-UT rivalry comes forward at the new Savage Hall.  Based on today's MAC teleconference, Coach Orr is trying to tamp down the excitement for the game, just, in fact, as Coach Dakich used to do.  The reason is simple.  It is a long season, and you gotta be able to get up for the next one, win or lose.  Still, it is always a charged atmosphere, but for the fans and, I think, for the players.

The Gene Cross era has brought the intensity down, as the Rockets program slumped to historic lows, but I don't expect that to last.  This time, I think the Rockets made a good hire with Tod Kowalczyk, and he will turn the program around.  He ran off the players Cross had, and he has a bunch of guys sitting out their transfer year.  I expect the Rockets to be better starting next season.

This year, they are still struggling.  They are 4-15 with 1 win in the MAC.  Only 3 of those are D1 wins, and one is over Florida Gold Coast, a low-ranked D1. On the other hand, they showed up with a huge win over a very good Valparaiso and beat an OK WMU team.

They are capable.  They are the 3rd most inexperienced team in D1, however, and the year has been a struggle.  They have not lost a MAC game within 10 points and lost to EMU by 23.  They are better at home, where all 4 of their wins have occurred.

Statistically, it is much like last year.  They're a last place team with last place stats.  They rank in the bottom half of the MAC in most of everything.  The one thing they do well is...well NOT foul.  And get fouled.  In the one game they won against WMU, they had a +15 advantage from the free throw line.

 Their leading scorer is 6'4" Malcolm Griffin at 12 points per game.  He is their only double-digit scorer and leads with 3.6 assists...and with everything they struggle at, they are 336th in D1 in scoring.  Reese Holiday and Hayden Humes are the leading rebounders on the team, in the 6 range.

The basic dynamic boils down to this.  The Falcons, like all teams in the East, are looking to get some wins when they play the West.  UT, on the other hand, is playing at home, has nothing to lose, and has a chance to reward themselves for a long season with a win over their arch-rival.  UT has trouble scoring, so BG has the opportunity to shut them down on defense....and they're young, so you'd like to think we can turn hem over.  If the Falcons can hit some shots like they have been in the last few weeks, you'd like to think that BG can get the win.

Monday, January 24, 2011

BG to have two verbal commits in Big 33

BG is set to have two of its verbal commits play in the Big 33 challenge, for Pennsylvania.  Big 33 is a pretty prestigious HS all-star game played between recruits from Penn. and Ohio.  Julian Campenni, a D-lineman from Wyoming and Matt Johnson, a QB from the Harrisburg Area.

A couple notes....

Here is something about Campenni's senior year....

Campenni is coming off an outstanding season when he made 106 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and forced seven fumbles. He was named to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class 2A all-state second team, was selected the WVC Coaches’ Small School MVP and also made The Times Leader All-WVC team.

And here's what he said about Bowling Green...

“I will be playing,” said Campenni. “Bowling Green is really excited about my selection and has given their blessings. We have two guys playing (Matt Johnson of Harrisburg’s Bishop McDevitt was also selected) and they are happy B.G. will be well represented.”
As are we all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Falcon Verbal #18

After a long break, there's some news on football recruiting.  The Falcons have a commitment from Bryan Baird of Bellbrook, a veritable tongue-twister of a player.  He is a D-End, and had originally committed to Ball State, but apparently had second thoughts when the coaching changed.  Based on the numbers. Baird is the top ranked player in a class in which each of the top 3 players is a d-lineman.  He is 3-starts and a "76" on the ESPN scale.

Baird is 6'4" and 227 lbs, and started his own website to promote himself.

Based on the stats on his website, he had a HUGE junior season.  I haven't been able to find very much about his senior year, but it is looking like this guy is a pretty good football player.

One last thing...last year, BG got some of its best players in the very last days before signing day, so we'll be keeping a close eye on the recruiting wires over the next few days.

Falcons Lose to Zips

Coach Dakich used to talk about the 8 minute media timeout being key for a home team.  He said that most road teams would play perfectly well until the 8 minute mark, and then at that time the whole thing would fall apart and the home team would pull away.

I've always wanted to research that, but never really had access to the data.  From the land of small samples, in BG's last two home games, they have dominated after the 8 minute media timeout...and last night, it was the reverse, as the Akron Zips got a badly needed win over the Falcons in what was a pretty evenly matched game.

BG was up 46-44 heading into the media timeout, and from there on in was outscored 19-12 for the eventual 63-58 loss.  Because of some garbage points in the last minute, that actually overstates the case.  With 6:02 Jordan Crawford put BG up 4, but the Falcons did not score again until there were :30 left and they were down 8.  There were a few turnovers mixed in with mixed shots, and that was really the game.

BG had been down 7 at the half, and came out strong in the second half, and had taken the lead with 12 minutes left in the game.

The game was actually pretty evenly matched on paper.  Shooting was relatively even, and BG had a small advantage on the boards.  Akron had a +7 FT advantage based on BG committing 20 fouls to Akron's 10, and Akron only made 16 turnovers, as opposed to 20 for BG.

BG lost this one on the offensive end.  BG held Akron to .92 points per possession, which is well below their normal 1.01.  The Falcons, however, were very inefficient on offense, with .85 points per possession, a number that harkens back to the Horrors of November.  (BG has won only 1 game with less than 1 point per possession--and that was Buffalo).

Individually, the Falcons had strong games from the outside players.  It sounded on the radio that the inside guys were having trouble dealing with Zeke Marshall, who is a presence on the inside, anyway you want to slice it.  (Marshall had only 7 points, 4 boards and 2 blocks in 31 minutes, but Akron was +13 points when he was in the game).

Thomas had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.  Jordan Crawford continued his hot play with 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting, along with 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals matched against 6 turnovers.  Luke Kraus also continued to play well with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and only 1 turnover in 28 minutes.

BG got considerably less production from Calhoun, Black, McElroy and Oglesby, and I think that it a credit to Akron's interior D.  Dee Brown continued to slump, with 1 of 5 shooting and 4 turnovers in 14 minutes.

It is a quick turnaround for the Falcons, who are now done with the first run through the East.  The Hated Rockets are coming up on Tuesday.  With as competitive as the East race is, every team will be looking to get fat on the games against the West.  BG will need that to keep pace.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quick Peek under the Tent....

Took a look over at Ohio.Com to see what they are saying about tonight's game.  It reinforces what I have been saying before....they are desperate for a win tonight.  The article says that Dambrot has never lost 4 straight games at Akron.  Dambrot:

''Obviously, we are struggling confidence-wise right now,'' Dambrot said. ''It's a big challenge for us, as coaches and as a team. We just can't take another loss in the league.

''For me, this is the biggest challenge we have had since I have been here.''

'Our guys are not used to losing. It has kind of smacked them in the face,'' said Dambrot, whose team is tied for last place in the East with Ohio. ''Sometimes, adversity helps you. We will see what we are made of.''

From there, Dambrot goes on to say that BG is playing as well as anyone in the league, and the writer goes on to say that BG is 10th in the MAC in scoring.  Of course, that is a common mistake teams are making when they look at BG.  We are not the team that put up those putrid offensive marks early in the season.  In MAC games, we are 5th in scoring.

One other note:  nearly every preview of our team talks about our 2-3 zone, a defense teams are not used to seeing and one we are playing pretty well.  I remember at the start of the season we wanted to be able to mix, but it is clear that this team is a zone team, and we have dropped man to man almost completely, so far as I can see.  We are still combining it with traps, and we are creating steals out of a zone.

It will be an interesting night tonight.  I think BG has a little less pressure on them, but Akron really has to get a win, and they are a veteran team.

Quick Peek under the Tent....

Took a look over at Ohio.Com to see what they are saying about tonight's game.  It reinforces what I have been saying before....they are desperate for a win tonight.  The article says that Dambrot has never lost 4 straight games at Akron.  Dambrot:

''Obviously, we are struggling confidence-wise right now,'' Dambrot said. ''It's a big challenge for us, as coaches and as a team. We just can't take another loss in the league.

''For me, this is the biggest challenge we have had since I have been here.''

'Our guys are not used to losing. It has kind of smacked them in the face,'' said Dambrot, whose team is tied for last place in the East with Ohio. ''Sometimes, adversity helps you. We will see what we are made of.''

From there, Dambrot goes on to say that BG is playing as well as anyone in the league, and the writer goes on to say that BG is 10th in the MAC in scoring.  Of course, that is a common mistake teams are making when they look at BG.  We are not the team that put up those putrid offensive marks early in the season.  In MAC games, we are 5th in scoring.

One other note:  nearly every preview of our team talks about our 2-3 zone, a defense teams are not used to seeing and one we are playing pretty well.  I remember at the start of the season we wanted to be able to mix, but it is clear that this team is a zone team, and we have dropped man to man almost completely, so far as I can see.  We are still combining it with traps, and we are creating steals out of a zone.

It will be an interesting night tonight.  I think BG has a little less pressure on them, but Akron really has to get a win, and they are a veteran team.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Zipper Problem

So, the Falcons head to Akron to play the Zips at the JAR tomorrow.  Right now, you have two teams on different vectors.  BG is playing really well, and Akron has lost their last 3.  In fact, I believe that is one of the two storylines for the game:  Akron is at home, and simply cannot afford to drop another home game if they hope to win one of the MAC's 4 byes in the tournament.  As much as you can be, this early in the season, Akron has their back to the wall.

The second storyline is BG on the road.  BG is 1-1 in the MAC on the road, but has been playing well mostly at home.  In the last road game, we got smoked at Kent.  The challenge for BG is to come into the JAR against a team that desperately needs a win, and beat them.

The Zips are obviously one of the better teams in the MAC over the past few years.  They have 20 wins each of the last 5 seasons, and they have won 86% of their games in the JAR during Dambrot's tenure.

This year, they have beaten @UDetroit (who BG lost to), and beat Oral Roberts as well.  They have quality losses to Temple, Dayton, and Miami (FL).  Further, they started the MAC with a home win against their arch rival Kent, but then have dropped the next 3.

They are 10-8.

I looked at their last 3 games to see what might be happening.  The biggest trend was defense.  For the year, they are at .98 points per possession, which is pretty good.  However, for the 3 MAC games, they are over 1 point per possession in each one, and were especially bad against Buffalo (1.13) and Miami (1.25).  In fact, the Miami game was their worst defensive performance of the year, including Temple and Dayton.

They have also given up a bunch of free throws in those 3 games.  We will see below, they do foul a lot.

In terms of those last 3 games, they had a poor offensive night against OU's not so good defense, and they are not getting to the line very much on offense.  Finally, they were killed on the boards by both Miami and Buffalo.

What you below is a pretty evenly matched game, at least on paper.  BG has a good opportunity to get better on the inside and get some turnovers.  More on Akron's stuff below.

On offense, Akron has yet to find the range from beyond the arc.  (All stats below are MAC games only)  They like to try--they are third in 3FG Attempts, but they are 9th in percentage.  BG's zone will have to keep them from choosing tomorrow to get well.  Oh, and before I forget, OU dropped a 2-3 zone on them and local reports were that they had trouble with it, so it will be interesting to see how they handle BG's.

They are also 3rd in possessions, playing an upbeat style, though they are second to last in turning the ball over.  (note high tempo, however).  They are third in fouls.

On defense, they are lousy against the 3.  They are last in the MAC in 3FG defense, which is either something BG is not ready to take advantage of, or (if we shoot like we did against OU), a nice opportunity.  They are also 111th in efficiency, see above.

Individually, you cannot tell the story of Akron with telling Chronicles of Zeke---the 7'0" Zeke Marshall who came to Akron with as much ballyhoo as possible.  He's getting 10 points and 5 rebounds per game to go with 2-3 blocks, but he still has yet to really break through like you would expect for a player of his hype.  For example, in the Kent game, he went 20/11, but has been inside double figures the other 3 conference games and has 4 fouls in each one.  He is among the most frequent foulers in the MAC.

Brett McClanahan is the top scorer for the Zips.  He's a 6'4" Jr, who scores at 11.7 and gets 4 rebounds.  Just behind him is Nikola Cvetinovic, a 6'8" Serbian who has stepped up nicely, getting 11.6 and 6 boards.

Brett McKnight was suspended for most of the 2010 portion of the season, but he is 10.1 points and 2.5 rebounds.  Alex Abreu leads the team with 3.9 assists.

Two final notes.  No one on Akron gets a ton of minutes, that's how Dambrot coaches.  Second, Akron is the second most experience team in the MAC....

I'm looking forward to seeing this one.  For the reasons above, this is a nice test for our team, as they try to win a really tough road game.

Vintage Falcon Footage

Via here's some footage from the 1963 basketball season.  This is a Falcon basketball team that featured Nate Thurmond and Howard Komives, among others.  This is some really cool stuff.  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Final Notes from Frack OU

Just a couple things....

First, there is nothing more entertaining than watching John Groce when he is mad at the officials.  He has facial expressions somewhere along the lines of Yosemite can practically see the smoke coming of his ears.  If he had a hat, it would be blown off his head.

Second, on the same subject, it seemed like every time one specific referee made a call or no-call, it was something goofy and ridiculous.  I won't identify him.  Except to say that his name is Mike Sanzere.

Third, the Falcons kept their throwback unis for the second game.  Apparently, the players really liked them because they are "lighter."  Coach Orr said in the presser that he doesn't especially care what they wear.  Me either.  I like how they look when they win.

Fourth, uh, we're tied with Miami for first in the East.  Lest we forget.

And some photos...

That group in the middle is Coach Orr, Bill Frack and Greg Christopher

Same guys

Bill Frack talking with Falcon legend Crystal Ellis

Mr. Frack listens to alma mater with Falcon James Erger

Falcons Win on Banner Night....

Well, beyond the big pre-game news, there was a MAC game to be played.  Last year's league champs were in town in part of a challenging road through the MAC East.  BG has been tough at home, and showed it out there last night, beating OU by 12.

As I mentioned last night, BG led for most of the game, often in the double digits.  The Falcons avoided their trademark bad start and actually led by 5 at the second media time out.  OU took their only lead of the game at 17-16, but BG led by as much as 8 from there on in the first half and led by 5 at the half.

BG came out fast in the second half with a 10-4 run that left them ahead by 11 with 17:25 left.  Just inside 12 minutes OU got fouled on a trey and nailed all three free throws, and then BG turned it over and they got another hoop and the 5-point swing seemed to energize them.

OU went on a little run, and off a fastbreak layup and a transition 3 by DJ Cooper, they had the game down to 1.

Here's where the Falcons are continuing to prove themselves.  Whereas some teams--perhaps even this team earlier this year--would have folded, the Falcons took the blow and fired back. BG got 4 straight stops on top of a six point swing that included two highlight reel dunks by Torain Oglesby, and BG was up 7 again with 4:12 left.

Still plenty of time, but the Falcons slammed the door.  The game was never closer than 5, the Falcons were 5-5 from the line in the last 90 seconds, and that's how you win.  The last 7:51 showed a 17-6 BG run, and 2 of OU's points were a garbage layup.

This is a game where the Four Factors tell a pretty clear story.  BG's shooting was a little better than OU's, but OU turned the ball over 4 more times, were virtually denied anything on the offensive boards, and BG was +3 at the free throw line.  BG shot 51% from the field and 50% from 3 for the game and averaged 1.14 points per possession, the best D1 performance of the year.  Meanwhile, OU shot 46% and 47% and had .96 points per possession, their 5th worst game of the year.

Also, BG had 20 assists for the game, which means assists accounted for almost 3 out of 4 baskets, a season-high.

While I am sure Coach would like them to shoot more poorly, I still believe that we had a very strong defensive performance. Note:

  • Tommy Freeman had only 2 3s.  I was watching, and we did a great job in the zone of following him as he moved around and making sure he didn't have any space.
  • DJ Cooper is a great player and he had 18 points.  However, we limited the damage he can do by only giving him 4 assists against 4 turnovers.  Coach said after the game that you can't stop him, just contain him, and I think you can argue we did that.
  • We didn't trap much because we were worried about giving Cooper space to work in.  Still, OU turned the ball over on 26.6% of their possessions, their second worst game of the year and the worst was against Kansas.
  • BG had steals on 14% of OU's possessions and blocked shots on 10%, our second best game of the year in that respect.  So, on one-quarter of OU's possessions, they did not get a shot to the rim, and as noted before, they did not get many second chances.

It was yet another strong finish for our team.  We certainly have a lot of depth.  We are legitimately four deep at guard and in the middle.  Scott Thomas effectively plays long minutes all the time.  I just wonder if that isn't playing a role.  I think that bringing Luke Kraus in on fresh legs against a team trying to catch up is a huge asset.  Almost like bringing a closer in for a baseball game.

The Falcons did alter their winning formula a little bit, in that hitting 3FGs was a big part of this win.  We were 7-14 from the 3FG, which is out best percentage of the season.  Thomas and Kraus both hit 3, and were a combined 6-8.  I am sure OU counted on outpacing us in that area.

Speaking of Thomas, he had a monster game.  He is a very consistent player...he contributes in some way to the team every single game.  In this game, he wasn't good he was great.  He had 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting, 3 of 5 on 3s, 9 rebounds 4 assists, 3 steals and only one turnover.  That's an offensive rating of 153.

Torian Ogelsby got the start and was also fantastic, with a double-double.  Coach said the starting lineup (Oglesby and Kraus in, Black and Brown out), was an "extension" of the end of the Miami game.  Oglesby is big and tough around the rim, and when he gets 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots (3-4 from the line too), that's a huge contribution.  Coach says he is "growing every game."  He was 5-6 from the field, and had some monster dunks that are huge momentum shifts.

A'uston Calhoun had a nice game too with 15 points.  When he gets more comfortable shooting around the rim, he's going to be a very effective player, because he has the moves to get the shot up.

Jordan Crawford...what can you say?  Eight points, 7 assists, 2 steals against 2 turnovers.  Also, 4 rebounds and 4-4 from the line in the last 90 seconds...and some beautiful transition passes that brought the crowd to their feet.  Also, he had at least one play where he went to the floor and ripped a possession right out of OU's hands.  He's going to be a very, very good player.  Or is.

Finally, Luke Kraus had another good game.  He's key in this game because he defends the ball so well, but his 12 points, perfect FG shooting, 3 3s, 3 assists and a steal against 1 turnover is a pretty huge game for us, given that a lot of what he does is not counted in a boxscore.

So, that's the happy story from Anderson Arena.  This team is playing really well, and they are getting more confident.  It is hard to believe these are the same players from those games at Calihan Hall.  Finally, one other thing to keep in mind.  There's only 1 senior out there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great Night to be a Falcon...

More on the actual game tomorrow, but it was a great night to be a Falcon.

First, Bill Frack delivered a $10 million gift to the Falcon Basketball program...the biggest gift ever to BGSU and the biggest basketball gift in the Mid American Conference.  The money will be used over time to increase recruiting budgets, coach's salaries and then buy some games for the Stroh Center.  This vision is simple:  put BG's budget onto a par with the top non-BCS programs in the nation.

And put our program there, too.  With the new arena and the new budget, the trajectory of this program is up.

Here's the thing.  Today, we got to see history and know it was being made.  Today will probably go down as one of the most important days in Falcon sports history.  When Urban Meyer came, we didn't know how big it would be.  Same with Curt Miller.  This we know.  We might well look back on January 19, 2011 as an anniversary we cannot forget.

On behalf of all Falcon fans, thank you Bill Frack.  He first attended games in the Men's Gym.  My own history only goes back to the early 70s, but on behalf of everyone like me who has been there through good days and bad, full arenas and empty, victory and defeat, thank you.

With or without this donation, I would have been there.

But this excites me.  Let us hope.  Let us cheer.  Let us thank.  Let us enjoy.

And then to top it off with a win, a 12-point win over last year's MAC Champs, that just made the night perfect.  Even better, we played a thrilling game with some huge plays.  The Jordan Crawford alley-oop from halfcourt to Oglesby was unforgettable.  With 7:51 left, BG was only up 1 after leading the whole way.

From there, BG scored 17 points and held OU to of them a garbage basket at the end.  BG started the run with 5 straight was just great to see OU creep close, and then have BG turn back the run and dominate the game's last 8 minutes.

And, BG is now 3-1 in MAC play, and I'm getting increasing confidence that what we are seeing is real....a deep team that has the ability to compete in this conference.  The dark fears at 1-8 have turned around.  The season has turned...very fun now.

BG Basketball transformed

toledosports: Private gift gives more than $10M to #BGSU men's
basketball program
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Falcon Nation is Electric with Anticipation

Just a quick note.  The Falcon Nation is absolutely electric with anticipation of a major announcement before today's game.  According to the BG News, it will be the largest gift in BGSU history and the largest gift to a basketball program in the history of the MAC.

There will be a 6:15 presser and then an announcement right before the OU game.  Details will be announced then.

I would urge anyone in the Falcon Nation to make their way there.  We don't always know when historic announcements are being made.  We didn't know the impact Urban Meyer would make when he was hired.  We didn't know the impact Curt Miller would make when he was hired.

This is one we know.

If you can't be there, feel free to follow this twitter feed, courtesy of Grant Cummings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

In come the Bobcats of Ohio, as interesting a story as the MAC has.

First, they finished ninth in the MAC regular season, despite having some pretty solid players.  The found their stride, won the MAC tournament and went to the NCAA where they snapped a long MAC big dance losing streak and crushed a heavily favored Georgetown before losing in Round 2.

At that point, they were the super-sized favorites to win the East.

The off-season was not kind.  Armon Bassett left for the NBA Draft, was not drafted and averaged 2 points a game in the NCAA summer league.  Tuesday, the world learned he was arrested over last weekend for possession of marijuana.  Jay Kinney and Stevie Coleman were both dismissed from the team...they were each considered rising stars.

Still they were considered favorites to win the East.  Just not super-sized.

I don't know.  I'm not saying they won't win the East, because they could, but we probably were overrating them.  I mean, how do you look past a #9 finish with the players they had?

They are similarly underachieving this year.  They are 8-9 and 1-2 in the MAC.  They have won their only MAC road game (@Akron) and lost their home games--Kent and Miami.  To date, they have played the #89 schedule in the country, and have a nice win against Valparaiso at the Convo.  They also have a good win over Delaware, but they also have 5 wins against teams with an RPI over 200.

Amazingly for a MAC team, they played only two non-conference road games.  (2 were on a neutral floor).

Looking at the 4 factors, the game would appear to be pretty even.  Of course, OU's numbers were generated against better competition, but BG is also playing much better than they were when most of those numbers were generated.

OU is playing good offensive basketball, at 1.03 PPP, but also giving points up at almost the same rate.  They play at almost the exact same pace as BG, which would not have been true last year.  They are not an especially good FG shooting team, but make up for it by being the best 3-FG shooting team in the MAC to date, presenting a key challenge to our perimeter defense.

They are 11th in the MAC in committing fouls and 11th in allowing free throw attempts.  Obviously, this is a great night for BG to get inside and convert some free throws.

Their biggest weakness in MAC play has been rebounding.  They were in the low 20s for offensive rebounding in both the Miami and Akron games while allowing their opponents 45% and 38%.  Then they allowed Kent to get 55% of the available offensive boards.  This presents a huge opportunity to BG's inside game to extend possessions and pick up some baskets near the the hoop.

As you can see, they are pretty solid in terms of not turning the ball over.  This has been how BG has won games this year, and it will be a great test to see if we can turn this team over.

The reason they don't turn the ball over much is their Point Guard, last year's Freshmen of the Year, DJ Cooper.  He has picked up right where he left off, 18 points and 8 assists per game, which is 3rd and 1st in the MAC, respectively (and 3rd in D1 in assists).  He is also first in A/T ratio.  Yeah, he takes a ton of shots, and his offensive efficiency rating is only 16th in the MAC, but he hits 3s, creates opportunities for other players, gets to the free throw line and gets steals on the defensive end.  And he's only a sophomore.  Heaven help the MAC if he does get better.

Their great 3-point shooting extends well beyond DJ Cooper.  Tommy Freeman hits 47% of his 3s, a total that most players would be happy with for all their FGs.  He' leads the MAC in 3-FG% and offensive efficiency and gets 82% of his points from beyond the arc.

Nick Kellogg has also hit 43% of his 3s.

On the inside, the big player is Sr. DeVaughn Washington, who is getting 10 points and 6 rebounds per game.  Ivo Balti is the second leading rebounder on the team (he is also 6'8").  In actuality, the leading rebounder on the team is Cooper.

This shapes up to be a very interesting game in a very interesting MAC East race.  OU is 1-2 and looking to get back one of the home games they dropped.  They certainly don't want to lose their 3rd so early.  At the same time, BG really needs to hold serve at home, given the difficult games that lie on the road in the East Division.

Beyond that, it shapes up as a classic inside-out game.  Can BG play zone and guard the perimeter against OU without letting Cooper get to the lane and cause havoc?  Can BG resist the urge to get into a 3-FG duel with OU and focus on getting the ball inside?

Can BG's guards compete against Cooper?  Can BG turn OU over? Can BG exploit the rebounding issue and get some key offensive boards, or will OU negate that advantage?

I'm enjoying the last six weeks of this season very much, and I'm looking forward to this matchup quite a bit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Falcon Nation News: "H" Edition: Hillman Leaves, Hewitt Head Coaching

A couple pieces of big news here in Falcon land....

First, the strength and conditioning Coach, Aaron Hillman is heading to UM to work for Brady Hoke.  Hillman will be the assistant strength coach at UM.  These guys are interesting.  It seems as if no coach develops the loyalty and bond with players that the strength coach does, and I'm seeing some reactions on Twitter from players who are disappointed about him leaving.  BG will presumably seek a replacement.

On the positive news, Gonzo-LB, action figure and super hero Mitch Hewitt is returning to Chardon, his alma mater, to be the Head Football Coach.  He already teaches there and is on City Council.  As a Falcon, he was #11, was the victim of the Code Red Fake Punt in UM's second UT game.  He finished the 2003 season with 84 tackles, 5 for loss, along with 5 pass break ups and 3 fumble recoveries.  If I am not mistaken, he had the coverage on the big fourth down play that sealed the Purdue win.

Best of luck to both Hillman and Hewitt in their next endeavors.

Images of Sunday's Win....

A few photos I took....

Falcons Take the Floor

Evil Genius Plotting Diabolically.  Assistant clearly conflicted, feeling guilty at atrocities.

Evil Genius exhorts charges.  Assistant frustrated.

Coach Stone gives Jordan Crawford some final instruction.  Note throwback uni.

4 Falcon starters rocking thowback unis from the bench.

Shot back at bleachers for good Throwback Crowd

Dave Hackenberg on the recruiting of Jordan Crawford....

Great story in The Blade on the recruiting of Jordan Crawford today.  He is from Cincinnati, so obviously in the sphere of influence for both BG and Miami.  He has signed with Ashland, but there were changes there...anyway, read the story on how the Evil Genius Charlie Coles took a week to think and Louis Orr snapped up the decisive player in yesterday's game.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Falcon's Bench Turns Game Around, Keys Victory

It was looking like another one of those paralyzing starts for the Falcons.  Miami had a 10-2 lead just 4 minutes in and then was up 17-8 with 12:24 left.

Something changed.   Coach Orr was careful not to be too explicit in his post-game presser, but what he said, over the course of his remarks, was that the Falcon starters were not playing our style--inside out and good D.  They were firing up shots rather than trying to get the ball inside.  They weren't guarding at all on the other end.

So, Coach brought in a new team off the bench.  Crawford, Kraus, Oglesby, McElroy and Erger.

From there, things turned around.  Coach was explicit on this point.  These guys turned our game around by playing Falcon basketball, by looking to get the ball inside, by getting stops and by playing with energy and tenacity.

And the game turned around.  For the remainder of the first half, Miami scored only 3 points, on a 3-FG with about 7 minutes left.  From the 7 minute mark in, Miami did not score--not a FG, not a FT.  Nothing.

BG went into the locker room up 7.  At no time in the second half did Miami have the ball with the game at one possession.  BG's lead was as large as 12, as low as 3 once, and it was not within 5 in the last 10 minutes.

With 4 minutes left, BG led by 6, still a competitive game.  In the next 3 possessions BG got baskets from McElroy, Thomas and Oglesby (slammer) to compliment 3 stops and it was 12 with 2:something left and the game was over.

Coach Orr noted a stat that he seemeed to indicate proves the point about how we need to play. In the first half, BG shot 36%, was 1-10 from 3.  In the second half, BG was 1-4 from 3 and shot 55%.

Combine that with the two games where BG won while only attempting 7 3s, and you have a pretty clear evidence.  This team is a lot better when they're not shooting 3s.  And in the second half, that point was pretty clear.

Looking at the Four Factors, Miami held a slight edge in effective field goal percentage thanks to their 7 3-FGs, but that was more than negated by the difference in turnovers, and that was, in fact, one of the differences in the game.  Miami turned the ball over 20 times and BG only 9, which means that no matter how well you shoot, one out of every 3 times they had 0% of a chance to score.

BG controlled a very strong rebounding team and battled them to a draw, and then kept Miami off the free throw line.  The RedHawks tried only 4 free throws, 3 of them on one foul.  Miami has lived getting to the line.  BG was 8-9 and didn't miss for the first time until the last minute.

It is important to know that this was a very slow paced game.  There were only 60 possessions in the entire game.  BG had 1.03 points per possession, which is consistent with what BG has had during this run of success.  Miami scored only .88 points per possession, which is the fourth best D1 game of the season for BG.

This was truly a victory built on defense.  There were points in the second half when BG's 2-3 zone was stifling, moving from sideline to sideline with incredible tenacity.  Of Miami's 20 turnovers, 11 were steals by BG--steals that led to transition baskets going the other way by the Falcons.  It was the third highest turnover % by a Falcon opponent this year, and BG's steal (18.3%) the third highest D1 rate of the season.

That's pretty good.  When you get a steal in almost one in five possessions.

In the end, Coach Orr said this was a team victory.  And it really was.  Check out the minutes our starters ended up playing:

Thomas (32)
Calhoun (19)
Black (12)
Jakubowski (10)
Brown (15)

In contrast, check out the minutes of the reserves:

Crawford (30)
Kraus (25)
Oglesby (28)
McElroy (21)
Erger (8)

A lot of players contributed to this victory, which is a point Coach made in his post-game presser.

I believe the player of the game was Jordan Crawford.  10 points, 8 assists, 5 steals and 1 turnover.  He added an intangible, too.  The team played with a lot of energy while he was in there.  He has an urgency to his game--on both ends of the floor.

A'uston Calhoun added 11 points and 4 rebounds in those 19 minutes.  He continues to get himself shots inside, and if they start to fall as he matures as a player, he will be a force for this team.

Scott Thomas had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.

Luke Kraus had 10 points and no turnovers in 25 minutes.

Torian Oglesby had 4 points and 4 rebounds but contributed a lot of toughness and good D on the inside.

Danny McElroy had 9 points on 4-7 shooting, a 3-point play and a key basket in the last 4 minutes.  His game continues to improve gradually.

That is the anatomy of a very nice win at Anderson Arena.  It was throwback day, so general admission seats were $1, and we had our largest crowd in four years.  It was nice to see and I hope it helped the players.

Time will tell how good this Miami team is...and how good ours is.  But Miami is a very solid basketball team with a veteran frontcourt, and while not flawed, this is very good win for our team.

What do these teams have in common?

Kansas, Ohio State, Duke, Dayton, Cincinnati Belmont and Bowling Green?

Nice crowd on throwback day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Evil Genius Makes a Final Visit

Charlie Coles, the evil genius of the hardwood, makes his final visit to Anderson Arena today, a court he has competed on for decades, at two different schools, and including any number of diabolical plans for winning basketball games and seeking world domination.  Part Rasputin, part Potemkin, part Rodney Dangerfield, the evil genius has undoubtedly been in his laboratory, cooking up the potions and antidotes that will protect his Redhawks in the MAC wars.  The medium is the message.  Keep the children at home.   Don't look at him directly.  You have been warned.

The Miami RedHawks make their final visit to Anderson Arena.  It is possible that they have played in Anderson more than any other team over the almost has to be between them and Ohio U.  They will be led by Charlie Coles, the evil genius (see above) who is the official favorite opposing Coach of the Falcon Nation.

Coles has a formula.  They play a ridiculous non-conference schedule--the 5th toughest in D1.  They have played Duke, Kansas, San Diego State and Ohio State...along with UC, Xavier, Belmont.  The idea is that you don't rack up a great record, but you are battle-tough for the MAC season.

It is playing to form.  They are 7-9 but 2-0 in the MAC, with a 3OT win @OU.  Their players attributed their toughness in the win at the Convo to the time spent at Cameron and the Phog, etc.

I understand there is a lot of debate in Oxford on Coach Coles.  Here are the facts.  Their last #1 was 6 seasons ago and their last title was 5 years ago.  For consistency, though, they are tough to beat.  They have earned a first-round bye in 7 of the last 8 seasons, and in the one they missed they were the 5 seed. They are often the team no one wants to play.  Their victory over #1 seeded Falcons in 2000 ripped the heart from the Nation's chest, and stands with the fat punter in the great tragedies of our people.

Coach Coles himself expressed some doubt about this strategy in the newspaper recently.  He said that while he likes the experience, he always worries that the team will get discouraged, as they seemed to be following the Kansas loss.  He said he did some "soul searching."  We'll see what happens.

The Miami style is to play a verrrry slow paced game, with a deliberate half court offense and stifling half court D designed to lower your FG%.  This year's team is different, and like most teams in the East, they are good but not without flaws.

Although it is limiting, I'm focusing my preview on their 2 conference games alone.  Given who they played, I suspect it will be difficult to translate those results into MAC games.

Their results are a little atypical for them.  They are tied for 3rd in points per possession and 8th in points per possession allowed.  Obviously, at 2-0, they have a net scoring advantage, but it is not normal for them to allow that much scoring.  Last year, their EFG% allowed was 45% and this year it is 52%.

They are the best free throwing shooting team in the MAC, #1 on the offensive Boards and #4 on the defensive boards.  They got 46% of the offensive boards against OU and 36% against Buffalo.

Now for some flaws.  Their biggest flaw is a propensity to turn the ball over.  They are last in the MAC with turnovers on 27% of their possessions, and this is 6% more than the second team.  BG's defense has largely lived on forcing turnovers when we have been effective, and BG simply has to force this part of the game on Sunday.  (Miami also is last in the MAC in allowing steals).

Beyond that, BG has to be able to score.  Both OU and Buffalo had effective and efficient offenses against Miami, and BG will need the same.  If BG can force enough turnovers to negate the Miami shooting and then get some shooting on its own, the Falcons can compete in this game.  Also, BG has been good about not fouling, and the same needs to happen again.  Oh, and hitting some free throws of our own would be nice.

They are led by 3 very good veteran plays who are big and play big.  Julian Mavunga is a 6'8" Jr who is scoring 13 ppg and 6.7 rpg, both leading the team.  He also leads the team in assists, which is something we will get to in a minute.

He is complimented by 2 seniors.  Nick Winbush is 6'7", who is scoring 12 ppg and getting 5.7 rpg along with being the best 3FG shooter.  Finally, Antonio Ballard is a 6.4" Sr, with 12 points a game and 6 rpg.  In fact, it is pretty shocking, when you look at these three guys.  In the boxscore, they are virtual replicas of each other.

BG likes to play inside-out, and these guys will make it a challenge.  BG will need strong games from the bigs:  Calhoun, Black and McElroy to combat this, along with strong inside play from Scott Thomas.

Guard would appear to be a less strong point for Miami.  Of course, they lost Kenny Hayes, one of the better guards in the conference, and freshmen Quentin Rollins  has gotten 14 starts, without a huge amount of success.  If BG's guard can play well, as they have shown they can, the Falcons have a shot at the win.

The game is on our floor, where we have played well.  Miami does present some opportunities for us in terms of giving the ball up.  We will need to play our best all-round game, however, to beat this team and leave the evil genius with a bad final memory from AA.

Or we will see this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blogpoll, Fins

The final blogpoll is out for the year, which you can see here.  The embed code isn't there right now, but when it is, I will pop it up.  I was 4th place in the Mr. Xanax category...I'm assuming because I kept Oregon #2. I don't think it is fair to make a team play the other top ranked team and then demote them for losing the game.  Beyond that, I moved Utah up 1, which I justified by telling myself that teams in front of them lost and dropped entirely, but that may not hold water for me.  And, in the bottom 5, I had different ideas than the poll seemed to.  Specifically, I had WVU in the Top 25, while the poll did not, and given that NC State beat WVU, that was probably an error on my part.

Anyway.  I love doing the blogpoll.  It is entertaining as hell and very much adds to my enjoyment of the season. Can't wait until next year.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

MAC Football Attendance lowest in FBS

RT @darrenrovell: MAC college football teams has worst avg attendance this year. 7 of its schools were in the bottom 10, all under 16K/game.

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Sidenote:  Is EMU inflating its attendance?