Monday, February 28, 2011

Football interlude....

Just a quick note....the football schedule is out....more at a later date.

  • Six home games!!!!! Oh yeah!!!
  • The UT game has been moved from the weekend before Thanksgiving to the middle of October.
  • We now have a FCS game on the schedule, which I am 100% for.
  • Our guarantee game is @WVU.
  • Gregg Brandon will re-appear at the Doyt as Wyoming's OC.
  • Buffalo the day after Thanksgiving could be interesting, weather-wise.

More to come....


Thursday, Sept. 1 - at Idaho
Saturday, Sept. 10 - MORGAN STATE (Ag Day)
Saturday, Sept. 17 - WYOMING (Parents’ Weekend)
Saturday, Sept. 24 - at Miami
Saturday, Oct. 1 at - West Virginia
Saturday, Oct. 8 - at WMU
Saturday, Oct. 15 - TOLEDO (Homecoming)
Saturday, Oct. 22 - TEMPLE (Hall of Fame)
Saturday, Oct. 29 - at Kent State
Saturday, Nov. 5 OPEN
Tuesday, Nov. 8 - NIU, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU)* (Armed Forces Appreciation Night)
Wednesday, Nov. 16 - OHIO, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPNU*) (United Way Night)
Friday, Nov. 25 - at Buffalo (ESPNU/ESPN3*)

Kent Scraps

We will have a full-fledged preview of Kent coming up soon, but in the meantime here are a few scraps....

First, the whole MAC is all OMG over Michael Porrini's Death Star dunk to finish off Buffalo.  Kent was up 1 when the PG, who, his coach says, "cannot dunk," did this.

So, that's a nice play.

Kent is chasing a piece of history that I was not aware of.  If they win the regular season, they will be the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back MAC regular season titles.

With KSU's immediate goal fixed on making history by becoming the first MAC team in 20 years to repeat as regular-season champions, the Flashes cannot afford to let their guard down during the remaining three games on the schedule — Ohio tonight at 7 p.m., at Bowling Green on Tuesday and the season finale against the University of Akron at home Friday.

Which might explain their disappointment at losing at home to OU on Saturday and letting Miami back into a tie. Coach Ford:

''I understand they're tired, I understand they're sore and I know we got guys hurt,'' KSU coach Geno Ford said. ''But now we're tied for first and we blew a great opportunity in a home game in front of a great crowd with a great atmosphere. We stunk the place up.''

Stunk the place up?  Wow, if I was John Groce, I wouldn't appreciate that very much.  More Ford:

''We were all kinds of bad in a lot of ways,'' Ford said. ''But to blow a five-point lead in overtime because you can't make a free throw? You just gotta make 'em. You can't be 3-for-6 at the foul line in overtime. They were 5-for-5; there's the game.''

Anyway, for Falcons fans here is the relavence. If BG is going to beat a KSU team on Tuesday, they're going to have to beat a team that has been listening to talk like that every single minute since Saturday afternoon.

MAC Reset with permutations added

RankWLPctGames RemainingHome GamesWho do they play
1Kent State1040.71421@BG, AK
2Miami (OH)1040.71421@Buffalo, OU
3Akron950.64320@OU, @Kent
BSU950.64321@WMU, NIU
WMU950.64321Ball, @CMU
6Ohio860.57121Ak, @MIami
7Buffalo770.50021Miami, @BG
Bowling Green770.50022Kent, Buffalo
9CMU680.42921@UT, WMU
10EMU4100.28621@NIU, UT
11NIU4100.28621EMU, @Ball
12UT1130.07121CMU, @EMU

So, we're reaching the nitty gritty.  BG is scrambling right now for a home berth in the MAC tournament, and with that, they can always hope to get to Cleveland and from there who knows what happens.  Ask OU.

Here are some possibilities, based on my best reading of the MAC tie-breaker procedures.  At this point, we're reasonably likely to get a home berth, but it it is no sure thing.  That loss to CMU certainly does not help tie-breaker wise.

If BG wins both they go 9-7, they have home court

If BG goes 8-8:  (There are a number of ways that could happen).

Four way tie, BG, OU, Buffalo, CMU BG w/BG win over Buffalo

The tie breaker is the record among the four years, using winning percentage.

Among these four teams:

BG 3-2
Buffalo 2-3
OU 2-3
CMU 2-1


6. CMU

Four way tie, BG, OU, Buffalo, CMU BG w/Buffalo win over BG

Among these four teams:

BG 2-3
Buff 3-2
OU 2-3
CMU 2-1

6. CMU
7. Buffalo
8. BG (Depends on whether Miami or Kent finishes first, but probable due to BG's Miami win).
9. OU

3-way tie, Buffalo, BG, CMU w/BG win over Buffalo

Among these three teams:

BG 2-1
Buffalo 1-2
CMU 1-1

7. BG
8. CMU
9 Buffalo

3-way tie, Buffalo, BG, CMU w/Buffalo win over BG

BG 1-2
Buffalo 2-1
CMU 1-1

7. Buffalo
8. CMU
9. BG

BG loses out and finishes 7-9

If CMU loses both...

8. BG
9. CMU

If CMU loses one

8. CMU
9. BG

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Falcons Fall to Redhawks....

Catching up with yesterday's action...

BG lost to Miami in a game with a good finish, but during which Miami was the stronger team most of the way.  First, a look at how the game flowed, and then a look at how it unfolded.

After a close start, Miami got their sea legs and led by 10 with about 10 minutes left to go in the first half and while that shifted around a little, they still led by 9 at halftime.

In the second half, from 14:33 to 4:27, Miami's lead was never below 7 and was above 10 for all but one minute.  From there, BG played very hard to make it a game, but was always one possession short of really putting heat on Miami.

For example, with 3:11 left the lead was 6 and a stop gets the Falcons a shot, and they get a missed shot but give up the offensive board for a +1 putback.

BG was then down 10 with 1:52 left.  Scott Thomas drained a 3 and Dee Brown drained another one after Mavunga missed a dunk.  Miami made half of a 2-shot foul (+5) and then Dee Brown drained another 3 with :38.  Mavunga was fouled and split the pair, and BG had inexplicably found itself within one possession of tying the game.

Brown drove into the paint and missed his shot, and from there the game was never within one possession again.

This was a game played the way Miami likes to play.  The game had 72 possessions, which is the second highest for BG in a 40-minute game this season.  Miami scored 1.17 points per possession, however, which is the 5th worst game of the season for BG in terms of points per possession.  BG did a reasonable job defending the shot and scoring for themselves (1.07 points per possession, 4th best in MAC play), but some of the shot defense was done at the expense of allowing free throws.

And there the laughter turned to sadness.

There were a ridiculous 61 free throws shot by both teams in the game.  Miami was 27 of 36 for 75% and BG hit 15 of 25 for 60%.  (Miami's 27 made and 36 attempts are season lows for BG).  Meanwhile BG has shot worse than 60% 11 times this year.

That +12 advantage on free throws was more than the difference.  BG actually had two more FGs and one more 3 than Miami did, in the end, but put Miami on the line and watched the RedHawks convert too many times while BG did poorly with its free throws.

The other measures are all pretty equal.  BG stabilized its defensive rebounding, especially in the second half, and turnovers were even both ways.  BG won the first meeting on turnovers, and in this game, made more and forced fewer.  But, that's washed itself out...BG was beaten on the free throw line.

Individually, Mavunga was just a lot for us to handle.  They were putting him up high on our zone, and he was just really tough for us to defend up there with our guards.  Having a player who can do that is a huge weapon against a zone, and they employed it with ruthless efficiency.  Mavunga ended up with 22 points and 6 assists working out of that set, and added 11 boards and 10-12 from the line. He's a really good MAC player.

Orlando Williams had a red-hot night with 26 points on 8-9 shooting and 5-6 on treys.  Winbush struggled to shoot but had 16 points and 11 rebounds on 7-8 FT shooting.

For BG, A'uston Calhoun had another nice night with 21 points and a team-high 5 rebounds.  He did foul out again.  He has the ability to do what Mavunga does, but is going to need to score at the line to be an even better player than he is now.  Brown had 17 with 3 treys and perfect FT shooting, and Scott Thomas added 14 on 5-9 shooting.  Jordan Crawford got the start, played 39 minutes, and had 9 points and 9 assists.  Oglesby had 8 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes, his most effective game in a while.

Anyway, BG lost for the 5th straight time.  As we will see later tonight, they are still in reasonable positon to pick up a home game for the MAC tournament, largely hanging on that last game against Buffalo, but not entirely.  Even though the finish was close yesterday, BG was behind most of the way and deserves credit for staying with it, but in the end Miami was in charge most of the way.

The game against Kent will not be easy--especially with them losing at home to OU.  On the other hand, they have their arch-rival game looming would be a great night to see the Falcons put things back together again.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Evil Genius Triumphs...cackles.

A visit to the Lair of the Evil Genius....

The day of reckoning has come.  From the day in which the Falcons took on the evil genius and sent him returning to his lair defeated.  Look at him.  He seems to know what is coming...and he is already steeling himself for his revenge.  In the meantime, he has been up to his old tricks, giant pots of bubbling liquids.  Players are injured and replaced, as if by magic.  The team's suicidal pre-season schedule seems to have left them as some kind of title-seeking zombie herd, not dead, not fully alive.

This is where we go on Saturday.  Into the lair of evil genius.
Secret cave drawings from lair which detail extra-evil practice drill

What are we likely to find there?

Miami is playing the Coles model....they are 14-14 overall, but played one of the ten toughest non-conference schedules in D1.  This is what they do....the whole thing is designed to build the team up so that they are very sharp for the conference season.  Some years it works better than seems to be working this year.

They are 9-4 in the MAC. .  At one point, they were 4-3 in the conference, but they won 5 straight, including a home win over Kent, before losing @ James Madison in the bracket buster and then a scorching Akron team this week.  Still, they appear to be a good bet for a home game in the tourney, and they are always dangerous from there on in.

They suffered a blow that might have been deadly to most teams with Senior Guard Antonio Ballard was injured in the CMU.  The Evil Genius made a sarcastic remark about some of his players who had been whining for playing time, and into the lineup they went.  So. Allen Roberts picked up minutes right away, and has scored in double figures in 6 of his last 7 games.

In the first game, BG forced 20 Miami turnovers and committed only 9 fouls on the way to a 9 point victory in which BG closed the deal effectively in the final few minutes.  Four Falcons were in double figures for the game and Jordan Crawford had 8 assists and 5 steals.

This Miami teams play a little differently compared to its predecessors.  Normally, Miami is a defensively-oriented, slow paced team.  This year, that has been tuned up a little.  They are 5th in the MAC in pace (conference games only), 3rd in points per possession, 2nd in attempting and making 3s and 3rd in 3% and effective FG%.  They are (close your eyes, Falcon fans) 3rd in offensive rebound percentage as well.  They rarely foul.  They lead the MAC in FT%.  If they have a weakness on offense, it is turnovers...they are 9th in the MAC in turnover percentage.

On defense, it is really an unusual team.  They are allowing 1.06 points per possession which is 11th in the MAC.  They are 10th in allowing effective FG% and 11th in 3FG%.  They are 10th in 3 pointers allowed as well.  Bottom can shoot on this team.  That might be OK if you forced turnovers, but they don't.  They are last in that too.  They do take care of the boards (4th), so when they do get a missed shot, it is more likely to be going in the other direction.

Chart is for all games.

Individually, Jr. Julian Mavunga leads them with 14.6 PPG and 7.5 rebounds.  Nick Winbush gets 12.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. Two other players are averaging 8 points a game, and one of them is Roberts, as mentioned above, who has scored more once he started to get more minutes.

In many ways, this is a very similar profile to what the OU Bobcats showed, except Miami is winning more.  BG will need to guard the shot as well as they did in Athens, and then turn the rebounding around.  OU was an average rebounding team.  Miami lives on the offensive boards and will eat the Falcons for brunch if BG doesn't compete around the rim.

Final news Update:  The Blade reports Luke Kraus will not be suspended.

Friday, February 25, 2011

MAC Reset

OK, so with Kent's come from behind win over Buffalo last night, they now take a one game lead for first over Miami.  Looking at BG, we are assured of finishing no worse than 9th.  The best EMU can to is tie BG, and BG wins the tiebreaker.  I suppose there is some chance of a multi-team tie, but it doesn't seem very likely.

CMU has two tough games in their division left (BSU and WMU), and really one one game they should win, which is UT.  On the teams in the 7-6 tie, OU has the toughest road, with games @KSU and @Miami.  It is possible that the entire cohort at 7-6 could end somewhere in the 8-8 range.

RankWLPctGames RemainingHome GamesWho do they play
1Kent State1030.76932OU, @BG, AK
2Miami (OH)940.69232BG, @Buffalo, OU
3WMU850.61531@EMU, Ball, @CMU
Akron850.61531Buffalo, @OU, @Kent
BSU850.61531@CMU, @WMU, NIU
6Buffalo760.53831@AK, Miami, @BG
Bowling Green760.53832@Miami, Kent, Buffalo
Ohio760.53831@Kent, Ak, @MIami
9CMU670.46232Ball, @UT, WMU
10EMU490.30832WMU, @NIU, UT
11NIU3100.23131@UT, EMU, @Ball
12UT1120.07732NIU, CMU, @EMU

Anderson Arena--stream of consciousness

The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces

I remember.....

My first game at Anderson.  We played St. Bonaventure, and I was 7 and my Dad took me.  I remember that I felt like I was sitting in absolutely the biggest place ever built.

A very big game in the Pat Haley era when BG played and lost to a CMU team that featued future pros James McElroy, Dan Roundfield, and Ben Pouqette.  It was one of those days in Anderson, where people were sitting in the aisles.  I recall that the championship was at stake, but CMU was too good for the Falcons that day.

A game during a horrible winter storm when BG played Miami.  After Jim Krone announced the leading scorers, he then read the road conditions.  I'll never forget the instant quiet in the arena that night, and the ominous sound his announcement had..  I remember him saying "I-75 South.  Impassable."  The Redskins actually slept that night in the Wood County jail.

When BG came closest to getting into the Big Dance.  I was in college, we were playing Ohio U in the one year when the MAC tournament was played entire on home floors.  All we needed was one home win and we were on our way.  OU brought a small, rogue pep band, and the whole night was intense and bitter, like two animals in the same cage.  Of course, you know what happened...OU pulled off the road win.  And, the same night, BG missed a penalty shot in overtime of the CCHA finals and lost to MSU and were not invited to the NCAA tournament.

We were playing a MAC tournament game, and when the game started, David Jenkins was nowhere to be found.  Apparently, he has spun into a ditch back home in Warren.  He showed up at half time, dramatically, and led the team to victory in the second half.

A game against Houston, one the Falcons won 121-101.

A game against Mississippi, where baseball great Don Kessinger was on the Ole Miss announcing crew.  I remember that the Mississippians were making fun of a college announcer who pronounced the name "Sean" as "Seen."  Later I researched that, and that "Sean" was Sean Touhy of The Blind Side.

The John Weinert coat gag.  Man was that obnoxious.  If an opponent did that to us I would hate him with the heat of a thousand suns.

The Faine Brothers, with long range bombs before the 3.

The hatred...absolute, visceral hatred I felt seeing Bob Nichols walk through that tunnel and onto the court.

BG's giant front line which featured Mark Cartwright, Skip Howard and Cornelius Cash.

Super scorer and beer drinker Jeff Montgomery

The first game I took my son to against Urbana...

The Cole Magner game against Miami where Cole led the team to a win and was mobbed by the football team on the floor.

A Rocket game in a snowstorm where UT had a huge halftime lead and then the Falcons roared back to win to the thunderous delight of the Falcon fans.

Seeing Dick Vitale coach the Titans....

A game where BG led CMU, and CMU decided to stallout the first half.  They only had to get the ball over that hash every 5 seconds and they stood there and passed the ball over that line for most of the first half, and BG stood there and watched them.

Dan Hipsher taking free throws--he would toss the ball in front of him with backspin so it would bounce back to him.

A game against Princeton, coached by Pete Carril, in which he broke our press by passing the ball out of bounds along the baseline to get it in.

The Pea Pickers.  BG was short of depth once, and to give some rest to our guys, Weinert would substitute five scrubs in all at once.  They would go crazy, pressing, fouling, running, trapping, and then come out as a unit a couple minutes later.

The Giant picture of the national championship football team over the stairwell (wonder where that is now)

Watching my son play junior falcons at halftime a couple of games.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Blade on whether Kraus will be suspended

toledonews: RT @jwagnerblade: #BGSU men's hoops: Is Luke Kraus
suspended for Saturday's game? Maybe not ...
Original Tweet:

Sent via TweetDeck (

Sent from my iPhone

MAC Reset

A slide down the standings continues to occur for the Falcons....right now, BG has a one-game lead over CMU, which is the team currently occupying the 9 seed, which is where you find ourself on the road for the MAC tournament opener.  We would lose the tie-breaker to them....but the tie is likely to consist of multiple teams so that could only be a factor.

RankWLPctGames RemainingHome GamesWho do they play
1Kent State930.75043Buff, OU, @BG, AK
2Miami (OH)940.69232BG, @Buffalo, OU
3WMU850.61531@EMU, Ball, @CMU
Akron850.61531Buffalo, @OU, @Kent
BSU850.61531@CMU, @WMU, NIU
6Buffalo750.58341@Kent, @AK, Miami, @BG
7Bowling Green760.53832@Miami, Kent, Buffalo
Ohio760.53831@Kent, Ak, @MIami
9CMU670.46232Ball, @UT, WMU
10EMU490.30832WMU, @NIU, UT
11NIU3100.23131@UT, EMU, @Ball
12UT1120.07732NIU, CMU, @EMU

Athens Game, Fouls and Boards

The Falcons dropped their fourth game in the last 5 as the season continues to wind down in disappointing fashion.  I wrote last night that the game was like our season....a weak start, a tantalizing middle and a weak finish.

For the first 16 minutes, OU was clearly the better team.  They were up 30-21 with 4 minutes left.  BG then got a few stops and a few baskets and scored the last 11 points of the half and actually went into the locker room with the lead.  I was beginning to have some optimism that maybe the team had found their stride again, and the first 16 minutes of the second half were nip and tuck.  With 6 left, OU was up 54-52, but then OU finished the game on a 16-8 run to sew up the win.

The reasons for the win are not too hard to discern.  BG did, in fact, guard the shot much better than they have been.  The Bobcats shot 38.5% from the field.  However, they shot over 40 from beyond the arc, and made 7 overall.  Even that was not what made the difference.

The difference was rebounds and fouls.  BG forced OU to miss plenty of shots, but BG was unable to close the deal by protecting the defensive glass.  The Bobcats captured 48% of the available offensive rebounds, and it is simply too hard to win a basketball game playing that way.  It is the 3rd worst this season, and the second time in 3 games that opponents have put up those kind of numbers.  I heard on the post game that OU turned those into 17 second chance points.  Surely seemed like more.

A'uston Calhoun was in foul trouble the whole way, and that certainly impacted our rebounding.  Beyond that, BG seemed to use an odd rotation for a team getting killed on the boards....seems like we played a pretty small lineup.  For example, we got killed on the boards, but Oglesby got only 12 minutes, McElroy 12 minutes, Cam Black 2 minutes.  Mike Dabney did get 19 minutes.  So, I don't know what Coach Orr's reasons were for this rotation--he said something in the post-game about the team needing to defend, so perhaps he was sending a message--but it seems like it was a lineup designed to not rebound.

For the season, OU gets an average 33% on the offensive boards.

Speaking of fouls, this was the other issue for the Falcons.  BG committed 26 fouls, their 2nd highest total this year (Detroit was #1), and OU went to the free throw line 30 flipping times.  They took advantage, making 23 and OU had a +15 advantage at the line. It ties the season-low for BG in opponent made free throws.

Because of these two things, OU overcame poor shooting (and little to no contribution from DJ Cooper) and had 1.13 points per possession.  BG has yet to win this year allowing more than 1.02.

BG's offense struggled as well, although at the end of the day, it wasn't so much the issue.  BG scored only .97 points per possession against an OU team that is not a strong defensive team.  From the audio call, it certainly sounded like BG was having trouble generating opportunities against the OU defense.   BG followed its normal pattern, shooting 56% in the first half and 38% in the second half.  BG did not get to the line and was about as bad on its offensive boards as it was on its defensive boards.  Certainly having Calhoun out hurt.  Without the contribution of Craig Sealey, this could have been a lot worse, see below.

Here's the story, sad but true.

Speaking of Craig Sealey, he does represent a bright spot for the Falcons.  Sealey is a freshman who Coach Orr has said is killing it in practice, but having a hard time getting playing time. When your teams is playing like ours, however, those words don't go together very well, so he got 23 minutes, and had 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting, including a spectacular slam.  He had played only 13 minutes in the rest of the MAC season, but certainly provided the offense a lift when they needed it and helped to keep the game close.  He had 4 boards, and had an offensive efficiency of 1.53.

Jordan Crawford scored 14 points and had 10 assists.  Both of these guys give me confidence for the future.

Scott Thomas had 9 points and 7 boards, and Dee Brown scored 10 with 2 of our 4 3FGs.

Luke Kraus was ejected for some video-confirmed activity in the last minute of the game.

This was perhaps a more important game than it seemed.  Yes, it was on the road.  But, the next two are against the clear top teams in the MAC, one of them on the road.  The way things are going, it is hard to see BG beating anyone, and winning one out of the last 3 is very plausible, and if that happens, BG has a good shot of hitting the road for the first round of the MAC tourney.

Alas, that is all to be played out.  I'm sure everyone is working hard to see the team get back to the play it showed earlier in the season.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Defeat in Athens....

In a way it was a microcosm of the season.....a bad start, a tantalizing middle and a bad ending.  More later.

Non-Falcon Basketball Memories of Anderson Arena

We are coming up to the final days of Anderson Arena, and I have been procrastinating writing a piece that captures what the place has meant to me.  I want it to capture what I feel...and it isn't easy without being too goofy.  So, for the first part, I'm just going to play some pepper.  Anderson Arena has been a huge part of my life, and many of those things are not related to Falcon basketball.  Here are some memories I have of Anderson Arena that are not Falcon related.

  • Hearing Peter Paul and Mary perform on parent's day.  (They also were performing in BG the night LBJ said he wasn't running for re-election, which was a celebratory moment, I understand).
  • Hearing Mark Russell perform--very funny.  To keep the show from being too anti-establishment, Miss Ohio sang to open the show and referred to her family as "cute as Christmas."
  • I heard Bill Niehaus speak at Buckeye Boys State about his days (months...years) as a hostage in Venezuela.
  • I had badminton class in there when I was a student at BG.  I lived a couple of hundred yards away, and the class started at 8:30.  I typically rolled out of bed at 8:28 and made it to Anderson by 8:30.  The class was taught by Mickey Cochrane.
  • I attended Dan Dakich Father-Son basketball camp with my 1st grade son.  It was approximately the temperature of a pizza oven in there, and we played a half court game that nearly caused me to need one of these, although I did make two baskets, and Dakich yelled at me once for not feeding the post.
  • I attended an August graduation.  It is quite possible I have never been hotter.  I was supposed to video tape her getting her degree, but between dehydration-based hallucinations (in which Paul Olscamp actually ate a graduate) and the mispronunciation of her Chinese name, I missed her.  So it was all worth it.
  • My Dad and I saw the Globetrotters and then I took my son to see the Globetrotters.
  • I was at a Napoleon-Willard Regional Final game.  That was the loudest the House Ever Roared, in my opinion.  Napoleon had future Rockets Tim Reiser and Barry Sonnenberg, and Willard had future Miami Redskin John Willoughby.  Half the Arena was in Red and Half was in Blue, and they all screamed pretty much the whole time.  I actually forget who won.
  • Right after Scott Hamilton won the gold medal he was coming to BG for his Cancer show.  I stood in line for a bunch of people for eight hours only to have the final tickets sold to someone three spots in front of me in line.  I spent the day (literally) talking to Stu Givens.  Red Auerbach was the basketball coach at his HS.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time for some Bobcat hunting....

We don't get very many scoops here at the Falcon Blog, but we have found the Falcon's playbook for the game at Ohio tomorrow.  I have scanned the cover in and published it here.

So we should be good.  I mean, with the book and all.

Well, in reality, its going to be a tougher assignment.

BG beat OU earlier in the year at Anderson Arena, in what was BG's best D1 offensive game of the season. OU was not playing especially well at the time, and have won 6 out of 9 since then, while BG's fortunes have been going in the opposite direction, as has  been well chronicled.  Historically, OU is tough to beat in Athens, one of the true basketball bastions in the MAC, but this year it has not been so true.  They have, in fact, lost 3 times at home inside the conference.

They did pick up at win at Buffalo, and then they did pick up a win at Winthrop in the Bracketbuster, holding on after losing a 30-12 lead.

To date they are 14-13 with an RPI of 181.

In Bobcat land, the dominant narrative is that they are doing what they did last year, which is rallying back after a slow start to be dangerous when tournament time starts.  Time will tell.  They have yet to show they can compete with Miami and Kent, and will now have to show it on the road.  Also, they lack a truly big talent like Armon Bassett to play alongside DJ Cooper.

OU is a high-scoring, low-defense kind of team.  (Following stats are conference only).  They lead the MAC in points per possession, as well as being 2nd in FG% and 3FG% and Effective FG%.  They are 3rd in getting to the line and in FT%.  They are ranked low in total rebounds, but since they don't miss very much, they are actually 7th in offensive rebound percentage.  Put very simply, this is a very good offensive basketball team, and if BG plays the kind of defense they played against Akron and Youngstown State, OU will score a ton of points.

Now, the flip side is that OU does not play good defense--remember, BG had its top offensive game of the season against them.  They are last in the MAC in FG% and 3FG% defense, 11th in defensive efficiency and 10th in protecting the defensive glass.  In fact, the only thing (on paper) hanging between winning and losing is that they they average 23% turnovers a game, and those added possessions are probably the difference.

Chart below is for all games.

Offensively, they are led by DJ Cooper, one of the best guards in a conference when it seems like forwards are a little stronger right now.  He is scoring 15.3 points per game in conference games (9th in MAC) to go with 7.3 assists (4th in NCAA) and 5 rebounds per game (3rd on team).  He is not a great shooter from the field, but is 4th in the MAC in getting to the line and 12th in FT%.

He has a good supporting cast.  DeVaughn Washington is a senior power forward who is scoring 12.6 points with 5.2 rebounds a game, and Ivo Baltic, who is scoring 10.6 points and getting 6 rebounds a game.  Add to this mix Tommy Freeman, the second best 3 point shooter in the MAC and the second most efficient offensive player.  

I looked it up because I was curious.  Alex Wolf is the most efficient offensive player in the MAC, and Freeman's teammate Nick Kellogg leads the MAC shooting 54.8%.

As I said, on offense this is a prodigious team, and for that reason, a test for a BG team that has not been guarding well.  BG won the first time by scoring and by holding OU to .95 points per possession, largely thanks to 17 turnovers.  The offensive efficiency in that game was their 2nd lowest of their MAC season this year.  That is the kind of thing that will be needed to win this one on the road.  If BG does not guard, I do not think they can outscore the Bobcats.

MAC Reset

Kent picked up their win last night in the make up at WMU and now stand tied with Miami. They split their season series as well, so could be some tiebreaker permutations if they win out similarly.  Note that 5 of the 12 teams in the conference are 7-5.

RankWLPctGames RemainingHome GamesWho do they play
1Miami (OH)930.75042@AK, BG, @Buffalo, OU
2Kent State930.75043Buff, OU, @BG, AK
3WMU750.58342Tol, @EMU, Ball, @CMU
Bowling Green750.58342@OU, @Miami, Kent, Buffalo
Buffalo750.58341@Kent, @AK, Miami, @BG
Akron750.58342Miami, Buffalo, @OU, @Kent
BSU750.58342EMU, @CMU, @WMU, NIU
8Ohio660.50042BG, @Kent, Ak, @MIami
9CMU570.41742@NIU, Ball, @UT, WMU
10EMU480.33342@Ball, WMU, @NIU, UT
11NIU390.25043CMU, @UT, EMU, @Ball
12UT1110.08342@WMU, NIU, CMU, @EMU

Monday, February 21, 2011

John Wagner of the Blade with Steals Analysis

We have often wondered here whether there is a difference between points off turnovers and points off steals.  Here's the rationale.  If you get a turnover that results in an inbounds play, in theory your next possession is just like any other half court possession.  But, if you get a steal, than you are often getting a transition opportunity which should present you with a better chance to score.

John Wagner of The Blade brought some facts to bear on this argument today, in the Falcon Fodder Blog.    His conclusions are that BG is among the national leaders in steals, but have actually scored fewer points off steals than their MAC opponents.  Further, BG's scoring rate on steals is below what it is on all turnovers and on straight possessions.  (Working against our theory).

However, working for our theory, BG's opponents are very successful off steals, which is how it seems like it should be intuitively.

Here is his conclusion:

From these numbers, it seems either BG isn't taking full advantage of its steals, or MAC opponents are really taking advantage of the Falcons' turnovers. In short, crime just doesn't pay.

It is my opinion that the stats software that spits out the numbers should produce a stat for points off steals, for just this reason.

Meanwhile, nice work John!


As mentioned yesterday, the Falcons are in Phase III of their season, which is a re-run of Phase I, only not so bad.

Yesterday, I offered a theory...that the team's woes, which are primarily defensive, came from opponent's figuring out that we were susceptible to the 3-ball, as we were last season, and that was bringing our defensive numbers down.

So, for a fun and interesting exercise, I decided to see if there might be some facts that might inform this question.

Below are charts showing BG's defensive numbers in our conference games plus YSU, which I include not because I think it is in the MAC but because they're part of the trend now.

Let's start with the basic question: has the team's defense declined over the past five games. The chart below is points per possession allowed, and you can follow that 1.0 line, because BG has not won a game all season with points per possession above 1.02. We simply have to get at least an average defensive performance to win.

As you can see below, the proposition is indeed supported. We stay below the line for most of our winning streak, but then burst over the line starting with the WMU game, with our highest numbers since the Kent game coming over the last two. Indeed, over the past 5 games, our defense has been less effective.

Now, to test the initial theory, which is that it was 3FGs that were killing BG. In fact, the data does not support the idea that the 3 has been killing us. In fact, BG won games against OU and Toledo where they shot better than WMU and YSU did--games we lost. In fact, with one exception on the top end and two on the bottom end, this has been very consistent for BG.

Next, I looked at effective FG%. This is a measure of shooting where you give 1.5 for a made 3 and 1 for a made 2 (as normal). This formula provides a reward to the risk of shooting 3s that the straight FG% does not. As you can see, for most of the winning streak, teams were under 50%, while over the last 3 games they have been over 55. It isn't a clear correlation...BG beat OU, and they shot well, but in general, we are not guarding the shot as well over the past few games.

My second theory was that declining turnovers was responsible for our slide. None of those shooting numbers above are especially great, and BG was getting good defensive efficiency by forcing turnovers. A turnover represents a possession where there is no chance of scoring at all. Enough turnovers, and it doesn't matter how you shoot. How much is a turnover worth? Well, on possessions where teams get a shot off against BG, they are scoring 1.21 points per possession, so each turnover is worth exactly that much, plus the transition chance if it is a steal.

Anyway, as you can see, this isn't actually tracking with the games where we have had big issues. The last two games have not been very good, but the WMU and CMU games were normal and above normal.

Finally, we have in general been getting killed on the boards. Generally, a team gets about 1/3 of the available offensive rebounds, so you can see we were typically well below that in the good days and well below it in the poor days. Youngstown State was better, but the MAC teams have been hurting us.

So what does this all mean? What does it add up to? Well, without doubt, our defense has slid. It is a combination of not creating missed shots and then giving up rebounds when we do, a lethal combination.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bracket Buster

So, blissfuly, another bracket buster is in the books.  It was another average year for the MAC with a couple of nice wins.

Two years ago, the MAC was 4-8 with a best win over a team with a 177 RPI.  Last year, the MAC was better at 7-5 with OU giving a preview of what was to come by beating a #96 Wright State.  ]

This year, the MAC had 5 wins.  I think (without benefit of evidence) that a road bracket buster is a tough assignment because you are in a strange arena, and that bore itself out for the MAC.  Buffalo had the best win for the MAC, beating #100 UMW, and Akron beat a good Creighton team.  Those were both home games.  OU got the only road win over Winthrop, a high profile mid major with a mid profile performance this season.

The worst loss was for UT, who were blown out at home by Eastern Illinois (and suffered a season-ending injury on top of it).  NIU losing to Seattle at home is nothing to be proud of either.  The (apparently) best two teams in the MAC (Miami and Kent) both lost on the road to CAA opponents.

Kent State at Drexel #76  LOSS
Miami at James Madison, #84 LOSS
Illinois State #242 at Western Michigan  WIN 
Central Michigan at Niagara #268 LOSS
Seattle #302 at Northern Illinois LOSS
Jacksonville State #331 at Eastern Michigan WIN
Creighton #139 at Akron WIN
UW-Milwaukee #100 at Buffalo  WIN
Eastern Illinois #316 at Toledo LOSS
Ohio at Winthrop #196 WIN
Ball State at Wofford #152 LOSS
Bowling Green at Youngstown State #277 LOSS

Falcons Lost Bracket Buster in Youngstown

Well, right now the season is in phase III.

Phase I was the 1-8 start.
Phase II was the 10-3 run.
Phase III is the 1-4 run.

The hope for Falcon fans is that the season can still have a Phase IV.

The failure is almost entirely on the defensive side of the ball. One thing you worry about in a late season swoon is that the "book is out."  I don't know if that's the case, but the last two games have resulted in teams torching our perimeter defense with 3-FG, and that has killed us.  YSU shot 40% from the field and made 11 3s to mix with 50% in general.

Last year, BG was worst in the MAC in defending the 3.  My theory is that we simply don't have the ability to consistently guard the perimeter in our zone.  We started out the year hoping to play both man and zone, but for the second straight year, have found that we can only defend in a zone.  Anyway, while it should be possible to defend the perimeter from the zone, we struggled last year, and this year as well.  BG is 10th in the MAC in 3FG% allowed, 11th in 3FG made and allowed.

I think BG has been allowing higher percentages than they would have liked for most of the season, but at one time was making it by getting steals and turnovers which did not happen in this game.  (BG got steals on only 1.7% of possessions, a season low).

YSU scored 1.17 points per possession.  Our team simply cannot win like that.  In fact, BG has not won a game all year when it has allowed more than 1.02 points per possession.  It was the third most 3s made against BG this season.  Add to that a -6 deficit in FT shooting, and you have a losing defensive performance.

This game was like the CMU game as well.  BG shot great in the first half (60%), but only led by 3.  Then BG shot under 40% with 8 turnovers in the 2nd Half, and that was unsustainable given what we were seeing on the defensive side of the ball.  BG shot dreadfully from the FT line (40%), tied for the worst of the season.

On a plus, we did have our best rebounding game in a while.

Individually, some players did have good games.  Scott Thomas returned to double figures with a 13/14 double-double with 5 assists, and A'uston Calhoun had 16 points and 8 rebounds.  Jordan Crawford had 13 points and a season high 9 assists, and Danny McElroy scored 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting.  BG did score 1.07 points per possession, plenty good enough to win, in general.  Just a note, these are the same guys who play defense for us too, for which there are no offensive stats.

Of course, this game was a break from the MAC pressure cooker, which starts up right away again this week.  BG has tough road games at OU and at Miami, both teams we beat on our floor.  In fact, there are no easy games left.  After that Kent comes to BG, followed by Buffalo.  As Coach Orr said after the game, the team needs to get back to guarding better if this team is going to create a Phase IV to the season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Penguin Preview

So, the Falcons head to Bracketbuster land to play the Youngstown State Penguins.  As we discussed earlier, this is not an attractive match from BG's standpoint.  Not that it is a sure win....the way we are playing, it is far from a sure thing...but you would just like to get some diversity in the schedule through the Bracketbuster and we could probably play these guys anytime we wanted and they have already played enough games against MAC teams to almost qualify for the tourney.

Some points:

  • BG is 8-2 against the Penguins all-time and 6-0 since 1980.
  • We had them already once in the Bracketbuster.
  • They are tied for last in the Horizon conference.


As I said, that does not mean we have to win this game.  In one sense, I think it could be important.  BG broke its 1-8 streak with wins against FIU, UT-San Antonio and Manhattan, all teams with current RPI over 200.  Still, I think it showed the team how to win, and set the state for that run through St. Louis and the first trip through the MAC East.  In that sense, BG has the opportunity to get its confidence back Saturday after the awful night Tuesday.

Youngstown State is 8-18 for the year.  They lost all 13 road games, but are 8-5 at home, where this game will be played.  However, two of those wins were against non-D1 competition.  Those wins are also over a number of weak D1 opponents, with the exception of Buffalo, which is the program's premier win this year.  They have lost their last 9 D1 games, and they are 2-2 against the MAC, beating UT and Buffalo.

This next part might be some PTSD back for Falcon fans after the Akron game, but YSU is among the more prolific 3-point shooting teams in the US, based on conference play.  They are 11th in D1 in 3s made, 9th in attempts, and 32nd in the percentage of their points coming from 3.  Their percentage is nothing special, so these guys have to bomb a lot to compete.  They play an upbeat 70 possessions per game, are 10th in the Horizon in overall FG shooting and consequently are 293rd in the nation in offensive efficiency.

They are 321st in the nation in offensive rebounding %.  If this team is getting offensive boards against us, run for the hills.

Bottom line...this is a great opportunity for the Falcons to show that their perimeter defense learned something on Tuesday.  This is, in total, a poor offensive team, but if they get open looks, it could prove to be a bad matchup.

On defense, the story is not much better.  They are 209th in the nation in the conference defense, allowing 1.1 points per possession, which is a lot.  They don't get very many turnovers (18%) and allow opponents to shoot 46% from the field.  They give up a lot of free throws, as well.

Chart is for all games.

Individually, they are led by Senior Lithuanian Vytas Sulskis, who has a team high 13 points per game, and 5.4 rebounds (second on team).  He's one of those Eastern European 6'7" guards that can create a matchup problem just for their size and agility.

Their second leading player is Damian Eargle, who is from Warren and transferred home from UNC-Greensboro, where he was SoCon all-freshmen and he is scoring 10.2 points and leading the team with over 6 rebound a game.  He is also 12th in the country with 3 blocks per game.  He is also 6'7".

They have a freshman on the point--Kendrick Perry.  He's also got some potential, as a freshmen he leads the Horizon in A/T ratio.

Finally, Devonte Maymon, who had more than 10 double figure scoring games early in the year, has been injured.  His 2 minutes in their last game against Detroit was his first action after missing six games with an injury.

So, by and large, this is a very winnable game for BG, if the Falcons can turn around the things that have been afflicting us over the past few weeks.  But if BG does not guard the perimeter and fails to score even against this defense, this Penguin team is certainly capable of taking the Falcons down on their home floor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MAC Reset

So, here's the reset for the MAC.  We have a little bit of a break while we get ready for the Bracket Buster weekend, so these standings will stay in place for a while.

Huge victory for Miami over Kent tonight in OT.  At home, they needed that one, and now Miami sits in the #1 slot.  Next week, Kent starts off with the makeup of the snow game when they play @WMU, which will be an interesting game.  WMU is actually earning a bye, not getting the West Welfare bye.  And there's a 4-way tie for the last bye.  No, I haven't broken that one out yet, because there are too many games hanging out there to be played.

BG has a 2-game lead over CMU for the last home berth, but CMU would obviously own that tie breaker.

RankWLPctGames RemainingHome GamesWho do they play
1Miami (OH)930.75042@AK, BG, @Buffalo, OU
2Kent State830.72753@WMU, Buff, OU, @BG, AK
3WMU740.63653Kent, Tol, @EMU, Ball, @CMU
4Bowling Green750.58342@OU, @Miami, Kent, Buffalo
Buffalo750.58341@Kent, @AK, Miami, @BG
Akron750.58342Miami, Buffalo, @OU, @Kent
BSU750.58342EMU, @CMU, @WMU, NIU
8Ohio660.50042BG, @Kent, Ak, @MIami
9CMU570.41742@NIU, Ball, @UT, WMU
10EMU480.33342@Ball, WMU, @NIU, UT
11NIU390.25043CMU, @UT, EMU, @Ball
12UT1110.08342@WMU, NIU, CMU, @EMU

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

About Last Night....

Yeah.  Um.  .  That wasn't pretty.

Here's what Coach Orr quoted in The Blade.

"It was a tough game to watch," Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said. "We didn't have any answers -- offensively, defensively -- we had no answers.

"If you had to draw up a worst-case scenario, this was probably it."

Hard to argue with that.

According to the Blade, there was a players-only meeting after the game. Here's what Scott Thomas said....

"We're still in the hunt [for a MAC Tournament bye] because everyone is so close. We have to think about this game, and think about what happened, but have a short-term memory and get ready for the next game."

And about this, he is exactly correct.  Keyword, short term memory.

I'm recommending something like this.

Because it was pretty horrifying.  Akron set an Anderson Arena record (one that is destined now to live in absolute perpetuity) by making 16 3s.  Overall, they shot 57% from beyond the arc...a percentage no team should get for all their FGs.  On a points per possession basis, it was BG's worst defensive game of the season, and probably on a bunch of categories that I haven't checked yet.  At 35 points, the margin was just one point better than the awful Duquesne match up, also on our home floor.

The offense was not much better.  BG had .84 points per possession and shot 30% overall, and 0% from beyond the arc.

You could literally write forever on the downsides of the game, but after a while, you'd just be wallowing in it.

Just one more thing on that.  At 10 minutes in, BG was only down 17-14.  From that point forward, in 30 minutes, Akron outscored BG 72-40.

So, here's the thing....a point Scott Thomas made earlier.  This team has been here before after starting 1-8.  This doesn't count any more than a 1-point loss...unless you decide it does.  Everyone we will play is flawed, but our last 4 games are against what appear to be the 4 best teams in the MAC.  This team is certainly capable of winning and making last night an aberration.

But, it will require short-term memory.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Falcons Crash in Anderson

The FAA has been called.  They are looking for the black box right now.

Zip, Zipped, Zips...Conjugating Akron

No. That's not dirty.

The Zips arrive tonight, and its the start of a pretty big run that needs to be addressed one game at a time.  BG enters after a patch where they beat inferior teams, but did not play especially well.  BG was 4-2 on the crossover, but won their games by margins of 6,5,3 and 1 point.  Akron, for example, won their 4 by 20, 18, 15 and 12.  I don't like to talk about games in terms of whether yo blew somebody out, but I think it says something.

All that can be erased, though, if BG can recapture the elements of its game that were getting it along during the first trip through the East--namely, solid defense and improved rebounding.

As long as we are looking backwards, there are a couple of other things.  First, Keith Dambrot has a ridiculous record against BG.  He is 13-4 overall, and 12-1 while in Akron.  That's not a typo.  The last six seasons have resulted in just one BG victory against the Zips and absolutely zero at Anderson.

Now, that only win was pretty important.  It came on March 1, 2009, and put BG in a position to gain the regular season top seed.  Here's what I wrote back then.

Now, facing 2 minutes left, and no more timeouts, the Falcons had to get the ball in, which we did. But, the possession was still struggling, and it was starting to look like Akron would get the bal back with the lead. But, BG found Brian Moten in the late stages of the shot clock, and he drained a 3, a clutch, gotta have it, gut-check three from our senior guard. He drained it, and the Falcons were up 2. 1:03 left.

Akron got the ball inside, and missed, but the rebound went out of bounds and they had another chance. Shot clock off, they got the ball inside, but BG had a foul to burn, and Erik Marschall used it. Finally, Akron shot again with :14 left, and this time Nate Miller ripped down the board and fired a breakaway pass to Moten who flushed home a huge dunk to underscore the victory. 50-46.

And that's the kind of thing BG needs to pull out tonight.  This is a monkey they need to get off their back, and it will be against a team that is playing well.  Based on the info above, you know that BG already lost to Akron at the JAR earlier this year.  In that game, BG had mighty struggles on the offensive end, getting .85 points per possession vs .93 for the Zips.  (BG lost by 5).  That was a close game, (tied with 5:00 left), and BG can win this game if they can score better than they did the first time while continuing to defend.

In that game, Akron's Darryl Roberts scored 17 and Crawford 16 and 7.  Both of the big men--Calhoun and Marshall--were non factors.

Now, let's take a look at what to expect this time.  The first key test for BG will be perimeter defense.  Akron is a low-efficiency 3-point team.  In conference games only, they lead the MAC in attempts and are second in 3s made...but they are 9th in 3FG shooting.  They get over 1/3 of their points from beyond the arc. In other words, they keep firing them up, even if they aren't seeing success.  BG has got to challenge those shots.  They are 9th in FG% and 8th in Effective FG% and 7th in offensive efficiency.  They augment these numbers with very good ball security, which allows them to get shooting possessions more often.

They remain a good defensive team.  They allow only .96 points per possession, and are 3rd in FG% allowed.  They are 6th in 3FG% allowed, and allow less than half of their points on 2FGs, which is also the 3rd lowest in the MAC.  They are 6th in the MAC in forcing turnovers as well.  They are actually not great on the offensive boards--they are 8th in offensive rebounding, but also 4th in not allowing offensive rebounds.

Chart is all games.

As always, the watchword with Akron is balance. 9 players are averaging 10 minutes per game. No player averages more than 12 points a game, but six players average between 8.6 and 11.8. These include Cvetinovic (11.6), McClanahan (10.96), Marshall (9.56), McKnight (9.1), McNees (8.7) and Roberts (8.6).    Cvetinovic also leads them with almost 7 rebounds a game and Zeke Marshall is getting 2.4 blocks per game but is also 4th in the MAC in fouls per game.

Freshman guard Alex Abreu is also getting his career off to a good start.  He is 8th in the MAC in assists and 12th in A/T ratio, pretty good for a guy forced into action by the departure of Humpty Hitchens.

So, that's the challenge.  Akron appears to be playing better, they are used to winning, and they are certainly used to beating BG.  However, looking at what we see above, this is not a team that can't be beat, and there's no time like the present to turn around those numbers.  BG will need to play better defense, guard the perimeter, and probably make some outside shots to help take the pressure off the inside, with big Zeke hanging around...and rebound on the defensive glass, if nowhere else.