Thursday, January 31, 2013

Zips Stomp Falcons

If you want to see an elite MAC team...the kind that is just very tough to beat...I give you the Akron Zips.  They are deep, they play as a team, they have strong guard play, they have tremendous length and size and they have strong inside players.  They make the next pass.  That's just a really solid basketball team that came into BG and beat the Falcons by 13 in a game that was actually not that close.

The most interesting thing--and you can't say this very often--was what was said after the game.  Coach Orr rarely says anything too interesting--it just isn't his style--but I thought some of his comments yesterday were telling.  He talked a lot about leadership, and specifically, that young players don't have to wait to show leadership.  If you think about what would make someone say something like that, you would have to come to the conclusion that there is a leadership vacuum on the team...or that, at least, last night it wasn't coming from the expected, the veterans.

He also said that we have to learn to "handle heart, handle toughness."

Or, how about this.  "Once we understand nothing's easy...."

Seriously, if this team doesn't understand nothing is easy now, I don't know when they are going to.

Finally, Chauncey Orr said the team "retreated" and that's why we got our "butts kicked."

BG is not a young team.  In fact, according to, the actual lineup we have put onto the floor is the second most experienced in the MAC.  BG has four seniors, and they shot 4-29 from the field against Akron.

Anyway, I guess it sounds to me like there is some soul-searching going on in the program, and that's appropriate given where things stand.  Right now, we're not in the top tier or the middle tier of MAC teams.

Todd Walker said that BG's real problems were in the first half, and it is hard to argue with that.  It wasn't going all that badly...Akron had led most of the half but with 2 minutes left the lead was down to 6 points.  Akron finished the half strong (5-0 run) from there, taking an 11 point lead into the locker room.  BG shot an appalling 19% from the floor and 10% from beyond and frankly, with shooting like that they were lucky to be that close.

Akron was dominant most of the second half.  BG pushed the lead down to 7 a few times, the last time with about 13 minutes left, but the Zips went on an 8-0 run over the next 2 minutes to go up 15 and from there the game was never in single digits again.  Akron led by as much as 20.

Looking at the stats, BG held a huge advantage in free throws.  BG shot 24 free throws and made 19, while Akron made only 5 of 9.  I'd be interested to know how many teams in Division I had a +14 free throw advantage and lost the game by 13.

The answer is shooting.  I already mentioned that BG struggled to shoot in the first half (to say the least).  BG shot 50% in the second half, but Akron shot 57%.  For the game, the Zips made 11 more FGs and 7 of those were 3s, and that's how you overcome that deficit at the line.

Akron finished with 1.08 points per possession, which is actually below their season average but above where BG needs to be to win.  The Falcons, meanwhile, scored .87 points per possession, which well below even their season average.  BG did a better job than most teams keeping the Zips off the offensive boards but the Zips did the same to BG.  Turnovers were even.

Individually, I have already noted that BG's seniors struggled.  Calhoun was 2 of 13 from the field.  Coach Stone said after the game that Calhoun needs to attack the basket like Akron's big guys do and that he settled for too many fade away shots.  To be fair, Calhoun did have 11 rebounds and shoot 7 of 8 from the line, though Coach Stone said if he had been more aggressive he could have gotten to the line even more.

Crawford shot 1-11 from the field.  He just really struggled.  He did have 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers.

Chauncey Orr had a very solid night for BG.  He shot 7 of 12 from the field and lead the team with 16 points. He has now scored in double figures in 3 of the last 4 games, and we continue to watch to see if he can become a consistent scoring threat for this team.  If he can, that helps us both this year and looking to the future.

Craig Sealey got 19 minutes and scored 10 points on 3 of 4 shooting.  It was his first significant minutes in some time.  Coach said after the game that he failed to "reward" Craig for his hard and work and Coach took the blame for that on himself and said it was going to change.  Sealey has shown some promise in other games and has been really silent this year.  Any contribution from him coming home would be great.

The other thing to note is Spencer Parker.  He is starting to get small numbers of minutes.  He is clearly a guy who is built to score...he drives the ball and shows energy.  He clearly isn't there yet, but I do think you can see some potential in him.

So, BG falls to 7-13 and 5-13 in D1.  BG is 2-5 in the MAC and in a five-way tie for 8th.  Ball State--also 2-5--comes into BG Saturday for what is a winnable game for the Falcons.  After that, they travel to Dekalb--the Huskies beat Kent there last night.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Falcons in Career Rankings....

We have a couple seniors who are making their way up the career lists at BGSU...of course, that's A'uston Calhoun and Jordon Crawford.  Here are the current rankings, taken from the BGSU game notes.

Calhoun is T-28th in career scoring with Martin Samarco.  With a 16-point game he would tie Rich Walker at #27 and with 17 points he would tie Joe Moore at #26.  He is 47 points short of the next guy, who is Ron Hammye (a blast from the past, yo.)

Crawford is #4 on the career assist list.  That is where he is likely to finish, because he trails the next guy--Brandon Pardon--by 117 assists, and with 12 games left (plus tournament), he won't get anywhere near that.

With 518 career rebounds, Calhoun is not currently in the top 15.  If he can get 82 rebounds (possible) than he would reach 600 and tie David Jenkins for #15.

Jordon Crawford has 106 3s.  With 11 more, he will enter the top 10.  He would need 25 to catch DeMar Moore and Brian Moten in 7th and 45 to catch Scott Thomas in 6th.

Crawford is tied for 6th in steals.  (The tie is with Antonio Daniels). With 14 steals, he would enter the top 5, tying McLeod.

One non-Crawford/Calhoun player is Cam Black.  He is #8 on the career blocked shot list and would move up a slot with 5 blocks.  By the way, the career leader is Otis Polk with 159.  Richaun Holmes has 53 so far in his first year.

All caveats apply.  We play more games now than we used to, so I think it is a little easier to rack up numbers.  Also, though, Calhoun had a lost season, so there is that, too.  Crawford has played a bunch of minutes, but he is (we should not forget) a remarkable player given his size.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Zipper Problems

So Akron comes to the Stroh tomorrow, promising to put the Falcons home court advantage to the test.

They is a good basketball team in the MAC's top program.  This year, Akron and OU are the two clear elite teams in the conference.  They have played in the conference championship in each of the last six seasons, winning it in 2009 and 2011.  They have 7 straight seasons with 22+ wins.

Beyond that, they have owned BG.  They have won 15 out of the last 16 against the Falcons, with the exception being a 2009 win at the JAR where Brian Moten was the hero, propelling BG to the regular season MAC title.

They love playing in BG.  The Zips have won the last 8 in Bowing Green.  The last BG win at home over Akron was 10 years and 11 days ago.

They come to the Stroh at 15-4, 6-0 in the MAC and on an 11 game winning streak.  Their RPI is 68 and their kenpom is 47.  They have lost @Creighton, to Oklahoma State (neutral floor) and @Detroit.  (BG beat the Titans at the Stroh).  They beat a good Middle Tennessee team at the JAR.  They beat Cleveland State by 30 (BG lost to the Vikings).  The beat WMU by 22 (at the JAR), and won by 15 @Toledo (BG lost).

Ouch.  Don't mean to make it sound like there is no point in playing the game, but the facts are the facts.  This is a high quality team with a track record of owning the Falcons.

They have benefitted this year from the emergence of Zeke Marshall.  Zeke was an incredibly highly sought after recruit who came to Akron.  He's a seven-footer and he was OK/Good for his first two seasons.  This year, he's coming into his own.  He's leading the team with 12.6 points per game, shooting 68% from the field (4th in D1)..

Individual stats for the Zips have to be viewed carefully.  Dambrot uses a lot of guys and no one on the team gets 30 minutes a game--which means that their stats are lower, accordingly.  They have 11 players averaging 10 minutes a game or more.

Marshall, who was 2nd team all-MAC last year, is also averaging 6.7 rebouonds and a ridiculous 3.8 blocks per game (5th in D1).  He had foul troubles as a FR but is down to 2.6 per game.  With his height, he is just a beast.

Alex Abreu was second-team all MAC last year too at PG.  He stepped up when Hitchens transferred.  He is 2nd in the MAC with 5.8 assists per game, while scoring 9.3 PPG.

Demetrius Treadwell is a 6'7" JR, and he is scoring 10.5 PPG and leading the team with 7.3 RPG (6th in the MAC).

They have four other players averaging between 6 and 9 PPG.  Of note is offensive bomber Brian Walsh, who is 3rd in the MAC in offensive efficiency.

On offense, this is a very effective team.  They lead the MAC with 1.1 points per possession which is 34th in D1.  They are second in effective FG%, first in offensive rebounding percentage and 6th in FT Rate.  They do turn the ball over 20% of the time, which is 9th in the MAC.

It starts here.  BG is going to have to play an incredibly solid defensive game to have a shot at the Zips.  Akron can score inside and out and with multiple guys and they are very hard to defend, but BG has only won this year when it has defended well, and that's going to be needed tomorrow night.

The reason defense is so important to BG is that Akron is really good at that, too.  They are #1 in defensive efficiency as well.  They lead the MAC in defending the shot (FG% and effective FG%), are 5th in forcing turnovers (by%), are 7th in FT Rate allowed and 8th in preventing offensive rebounds.

This is a very good team.  See above.  They do play OU on Saturday so maybe there's a chance they are looking past this game, and BG has been playing better at home than they have been on the road.  The Falcons will need just about the best game to beat the Zips tomorrow, though.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jones to Combine

Another piece of good news for Falcon football that I missed from yesterday is that DT Chris Jones...the MAC defensive player of the year...has been invited to the NFL combine.

I think this was really important for him.  He didn't get invited to the high visibility senior all-star games, and this is a chance to show the NFL what he can do.  He is getting some notices in draft circles.  He's not going to be a high draft pick, but he's a very productive player.  All you can ask is a chance to show what you can do, and this is step one.  I'm sure he will end up in a training camp, and that's step two.

Jones was an absolute warrior for the Falcons, and nothing will ever take that away.  It would be fantastic to see him play on Sunday.

Clawson Contract Extended to 2018

Good news on the football front, Coach Clawson's contract has been extended through the 2018 season.  This announcement came out of BGSU this morning.  The financial terms are not disclosed but the contract is public record and sooner or later someone will get a copy of it--USA Today, if no one else.

This means that Clawson is signed for six more seasons at BG.  It doesn't mean he will coach at BG for six years, but it is a show of good faith from the University in retaining him.  Depending on how it is structured and what he is actually earning, it could help to keep him here.  Ultimately, that's an unknown.

He's been a good coach who took over a dumpster fire of a program and has shown tremendous programs in all areas, on and off the field.  This is exactly what he was hired to do, and the extension is entirely appropriate for exactly that reason.  It is a long extension--and at the end of these things, you sometimes wish they were shorter--but I think it is the right way to go.  I think he is a proven coach who clearly understands how to compete here and we'd be hard pressed to find someone better at any point.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One Streak Ends, One Continues

The BG winning streak over the Rockets ended last night at Savage Hall in a game where UT was in pretty consistent control the entire way, starting with some early foul trouble for BG and then running through a second half where BG "didn't guard well" in the words of Coach Orr, punctuated by a parade of Rockets going to the FT line and never missing.

The streak that continued was BG's 0-for-the-road streak, which has now landed on 8.  The next chance to break it is the best--NIU--and if you didn't see what happened when they played EMU last night, do yourself a favor and google it.

It was a pretty good atmosphere for college basketball.  We were up in the nosebleeds and there was a group of 40-50 BGSU students near us who were just great.  They stood and chanted and cheered for the entire game and had our entire section (mostly UT fans) squirming in their seats.  It was great.  I hope those guys make it to some home games.

The first half was pretty competitive. BG was up 3 with 10:00 left when A'uston Calhoun had to hit the bench with 2 fouls.  (Orr had picked up his 2nd foul a couple of minutes earlier). BG battled them hard and the game was tied with about five minutes left in the first half but then UT scored 6 points in 1:26 (all on free throws) and had a six point lead that they took into the locker room.

Still, in all, given the foul trouble, it wasn't an awful position to be in.

We came out of the locker room, and, in Coach's words, we didn't guard well right out of the gate.  We were having real trouble with Brown in man defense and he was getting loose and hitting a big for easy layups.  BG switched to the zone and UT struggled with it for a minute or two but then adjusted.

At the 15 minute mark, the lead was 10 points.  From there, it was UT's game.  BG kept fighting and punched the lead down to 6 a couple of times, but the Rockets just ran it right back up into double digits.  When UT made a jumper to go up 11 with 5:14 left, the lead was never in single digits again.

In the second half, UT shot 56% from the field, 42% from 3 and made 16 of 17 FTS and their way to 47 points.  BG isn't going to win a game when the other team produces like that.

To illustrate, UT had 1.11 points per possession.  The most BG has allowed in a win this season is 1.04 (Detroit).  The second-most is .93.  The last time BG won a game while allowing more than 1.09 points per possession was a Buffalo game in 08-09 (1.18).

The Rockets shot 47% overall (BG has not beaten any team that shot over 40.4% this year) and 36% from 3.  But the key difference in the game was fouls and free throws.  BG--which typically is one of the nation's least fouling teams--was whistled for a Dakichesque 23 fouls--and UT shot 27 FTS, making an eye-popping 26 of them.  They had 35% of their points from the line.

Yes, some of those came as BG was fouling at the end, but it was an issue long before that.  In fact, Coach Orr was uncharacteristically demonstrative on the sidelines with the referees.  If you listen to the road radio broadcasts you can often hear Coach Orr through the mic and he works the officials more than you think but he was being more visible about it than normal.  In the post-game, he said that BG needed to adjust to how the officials were calling the game and we did not.

In the end, UT had a +19 advantage at the line.

BG's offense scored .93 points per possession.   BG shot 42% from the field and only 25% from the 3 range.  BG attempted only 10 FTs, and the Rockets absolutely dominated the Falcons on the boards, allowing BG to rebound only 14% of its missed shots.  (Season average is 31%).  Both teams took care of the ball pretty well for the game--BG had a slight advantage--but UT's stronger shooting and huge advantage at the line was just too much.

The individual stats are about what you would expect.  Jordon Crawford had 20 points with 7 assists and only 2 turnovers.  However, he was 8 of 22 shooting and 1 of 7 from 3.  Remember, though, that he played most of the first half without his 2nd and 3rd scoring options and some of those shots weren't great but they had to be taken.  Calhoun finished with 12 on 5 of 12 shooting.  Luke Kraus (Luke Kraus!) actually scored points that kept BG in the game, finishing with 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.

Beyond that, Holmes had a team high 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in 21 minutes.  Anthony Henderson had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes (3 of 5 shooting).

From the injured Falcons, James Erger played 6 minutes.  Jehvon Clarke got into the game, made one cut and limped back off the floor, so his ankle clearly has a ways to go.

BG is now 7-12 and 2-4 on the year.  That's 5-12 against D-1 opposition.  Akron comes to the Stroh next and BG will get to see how big a home court advantage it actually has.  The Zips are very, very good.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Falcons, Rockets, Rivalry

So, the BG-UT rivalry renews itself again tonight at Savage Arena.  In the long story arc, BG has been enjoying very unusual success against the Rockets, with 4 straight wins over their arch-rival and nemesis.  The streak has coincided with the darkest days of the UT program--Gene Cross, APR sanctions, etc.

You might say that BG has feasted on the Rockets during those four games, but it is really more like the Falcons have lightly grazed.  Even when UT ran out teams that were among the worst in D1, each of the games has been close.

In the shorter story arc, UT had gone a long way to resurrecting itself with a pretty decent team last year.  However, they were slapped with APR penalties which cost them scholarships, games and post-season play for this year.  The 2012-13 season has been more of a struggle for the Rockets than I think they expected.  In fact, the media picked them as the favorite to win the MAC West.

They have had three players transfer or announce their intention to transfer since last summer:  Curtis Dennis, last year's 2nd leading scorer--Delino Dear and AJ Matthew.

The Rockets have now lost 3 games in a row.  Their coach, Tod Kowalczyk, who inherits the "Scariest Face in the MAC" award from John Groce--is not taking it well.  According to the Blade, he "vented at length on various topics bugging him" after their recent loss to Akron--which included criticizing his best player for not being a "good teammate."

I'll say a rivalry game on a 3-game losing streak playing at home....the Rockets are going to come out hard on Saturday.  I think the Falcons are going to see a very good performance from them.

On the year, the Rockets are 6-10 and 2-3.  Their signature wins are a 19 point win over a pretty good UIC team at Savage and a 12 point win @Kent.   On the other hand, their New Year's Eve loss to Chicago State can't be too well remembered.

In common opponent land, they beat Samford (as BG did), lost to Detroit (BG won) and lost to Cleveland State (BG lost to them as well).

Their 3-straight losses have come against the better teams in the MAC.  They lost @WMU, @OU and then at home to Akron.  I'd be hard pressed to think BG would have done any different with those 3 games.

Their RPI is 201 and their is 179 and they are only 3-2 at home.

Offensively, the Rockets are scoring 1 point per possession, which is 6th in the MAC and almost exactly the NCAA median.  They are 7th in effective field goal percentage, so they are not a great shooting team.  They combine that with being last in the MAC in turnovers and 10th in offensive rebounding % and 8th in free throw rate, and it is actually pretty amazing that they are even getting one point per possession.

They are the best free throw shooting team in the MAC, but only have a +14 advantage on free throws due to the fact that they also commit more fouls than any team in the conference.

On defense there have been real struggles.  They are 11th in the MAC, allowing 1.05 points per possession.  They are 9th in effective FG defense, 11th in offensive rebounds allowed, 8th in defensive turnover percentage and 5th in free throw rate allowed.  In general, they are not good defensive team, and give their performance on the four factors, worse than they actually should be.

Individually, they are led by Rian Pearson, who is averaging 18 points per game on 45% shooting, a level of efficiency that is pretty good for a big scorer.  They are pretty reliant on him...he takes 31% of their shots, which is 4th highest in the MAC.  He leads the MAC in scoring.  He also leads the team in rebounding.

Their other double figure scorer is PG Julius Brown, who scores 13 points a game and adds 5 assists against 3 turnovers per game.  He is 3rd and 4th in those categories, respectively.  He is not a great shooter--38% in all FGs and 19% from 3.

They do have a little scoring depth--they have 4 players who average between 8 and 9 points a game. Two of those players--Nathan Boothe and Reese Holliday--are also claiming 5 rebounds per game.  Sidenote:  Boothe, a 6'9" FR averages 3.9 fouls per game.

The basic game dynamics are this.  UT has to come into the game hungry, both in terms of their streak against BG and their 3-game losing streak.  BG is coming off its best performance in a month with the Kent win, but has yet to win on the road this season.  This game presents an opportunity for the Falcons to bring their best game into the big game and break that streak.  UT's last 3 losses were in tough games, and while they might be better than their record, this is not a great UT team.

Add in that they are struggling to defend, and you have an opportunity for the Falcons to maybe find some holes defensively and score enough points to win.  But, until we see the Falcons do it on the road, you gotta figure we're the underdog.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Falcons Make Baskets, Win Game

The Falcons got a very badly needed win last night over the Kent State Golden Flashes--one of the better teams in the MAC even if this year they are not in the top tier.  BG was at home again, and while they have played poorly on the road, they have been pretty good at home.

This game was never really close.  BG was in control most of the way, winning 70-55.  To illustrate.  With about 11 minutes left, BG was up 3 and Kent had the ball.  They had two shots at the basket and after a Holmes block, BG had the ball.  The Falcons game down and scored.

That possession for Kent was the last time the game was a one possession game.  For the last 31 minutes of the game, Kent never once had the chance to tie the game.  In fact, the game never got closer than 5 points and never closer than 7 throughout the first half.

For a Falcon team that has been struggling, they have to receive credit for a very strong performance last night.

A good example was the end of the first half.  With 2:20 left, BG led by 5.  The last minutes of both halfs have been problematic of late, but this time, BG responded with an 8-0 run over those 2 minutes to lead by 13 at the break.

The second half had similar moments.  With 10:39 left Kent had it to 7, but less than 3 minutes later BG had a 6-0 to put it back to 13.

With 6:22 left, Kent had it to 8.  BG responded with a 3 minutes, 8-1 run to make the lead 15 and pretty much put the game away.

So, after recent games where BG had held the lead for a significant period of time only to end up in a fingernail chewing moment, this time the Falcons repulsed all the charges and ended up with a 15 point victory.

It was tied for the biggest margin of victory this season.

BG has played pretty decent offense in the past two games but been porous on defense.  Last night, BG finally brought some good offense to bear against very, very effective defense.

BG shot 45% from the field, which is good but not eye popping.  However, they shot 42% from the 3FG and only turned the ball over 12 times.  BG also was 70% from the line and had the same number of FTs made as Kent did, eliminating the advantage they have had all year in that category.

Simply put, with 12 turnovers, 45% shooting and a decent proportion of quality 3s, you can score enough to win a game.  BG ended up with 1.06 points per possession, their highest since the Detroit game and their third straight game over 1 point per possession.

It is definitely good enough to win when you play defense like BG did.  Kent shot 36% from the field and 17% from beyond the arc and made 15 turnovers (and shot 60% from the line, a gift to BG) and that all equals out to .83 points per possession which is the best since EMU and before that the Samford game.

The game was played at 66 possessions, which is a little above BG's normal pace.

On an individual basis, Chauncey Orr lead BG is scoring with an highly efficient 18 points.  He did it with 9 shots, in fact. He was 5 of 9 shooting, 4 of 5 from 3 and 4 of 4 from the line.  Orr had a big game against MSU, and then struggled to score over the next 6 games.  He has now been in double figures the last two games, shooting 10 of 15.  It would be great to see him become someone who can consistently hit shots.  I said it before--this team becomes completely different on offense  if Orr is shooting the ball effectively.  I don't know if he will turn into a player like that but it would make a big difference.

Calhoun had 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting to go with 13 rebounds.  He did have 13 rebounds.  Crawford also had 12 points, but he shot 5 of 14.  He had 6 assists, 5 turnovers and 4 steals.

Richaun Holmes had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks in 25 minutes.  Anthony Henderson had 8 points on a very poor shooting night (2-9).  Having said that, I think Henderson is playing with more confidence.  Shooters sometimes have off nights, but I just sense he is getting better.

Spencer Parker only played a couple minutes, but I thought he showed some initiative as well.  Sealey was back and played 9 minutes.  Clarke and Erger were injured and did not dress.

So, the Falcons join 8 MAC teams at 2-3 in conference play.  They get a chance to win their first road game Saturday against the hated UT Rockets....and there would be no better time to both BREAK the road losing streak and extend our winning streak against UT, which currently stands at 3.  Following that, Akron comes into the Stroh.

There's no antidote for struggles like a win.  As always, the challenge is to see if the Falcons can create consistent success and string together some wins.  Last night was encouraging, but certainly not the end of the story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Falcons Find Home to their liking

More to come, but the Falcons had a nice night against a good Kent team tonight, showing what they can do when the ball will actually go into the basket.  This team they maintained that early lead and there was no need for final heroics as the Falcons had a comfortable lead.  Very good night for Chauncey Orr.

Again, more to come for tomorrow.  For now, the Falcons have their biggest win since they beat UD and got a win they needed very badly.

And there is no better time to break our road losing streak than against the hated Rockets this very Saturday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flash Preview...

The Falcons finally return home tomorrow to the Stroh Center to take on Kent State, one of the perennial powers in the MAC.

In a lot of ways, Kent is the model program in the MAC.  Coaches come, coaches go, players come, players go--and Kent is still competitive every year.  Since 1998, they have won 20 games every year except 1, and that year they won 19.  Except for that year, they have won no less than 60% of their games in any season.

That's where you want your program to the point where you just chug along, players replace players, coach replace coaches, and you are competitive every season.  Kent hasn't played in the Big Dance since 2008, but have 5 trips during this run since 1998, and once in the Elite Eight.

There are some people who think Rob Senderhoff might have been the move that breaks the string...that remains to be seen.  This year they are 11-7.  Their kenpom is 114 and RPI is 170.

They beat a decent Nebraska team in Lincoln and after that their wins are pretty soft.  They have lost to some good teams--Temple, Valpo, @Bucknell, @Xavier, Akron.  They are 2-2 in the MAC, losing in Kent to Toledo and Akron but winning @Ball and @Buffalo.

This is a team that is very strong on offense.  Playing the 3rd most possessions in the MAC, Kent is also third in offensive efficiency at 1.05 points per possession.  They go about this in an unusual way.  They are just ok shooting (6th in Effective FG%), and they actually turn the ball over a decent amount (10th in MAC in turnover %).

As you might expect, they are very good on the offensive boards (4th in the MAC), but their signature offensive move is the free throw.  They have an almost 40 point free throw advantage this season and they are 17th in the country (#1 in MAC) in free throw rate.  They are also top in the MAC in free throws made and attempted.  Kent is one of the 20 best teams in the NCAA at getting to the line.

This is a very physical team.  They are #1 in the MAC in fouling and in getting fouled.

They are 2nd in 3-FG%.

On defense, they 6th in the MAC, allowing .99 points per possession.  They are 7th in EFG% allowed (right behind BG) and 5th in turnover %.  They are 10th in free throw rate and 8th in offensive rebound %.  They are second in 3-FG defense.

So, you have a very physical team that can score points and while not great on defense, does not have any huge holes and defends the 3 very well.  This might very well be a tough matchup for BG.  Kent allows teams to get to the line, but BG is last in the MAC in actually getting to the line, (free throw rate), and when BG is scoring points, it is normally because they are getting some 3s to fall.

Their unquestioned leader is Chris Evans.  He is second in the MAC with 17 points per game and 3rd with 7.7 rebounds.  He shoots 49% and has the 18th highest offensive efficiency rating in the MAC, which is unusual for someone who scores as much as he does.  It is very interesting.  He is about doubling his point production from last season--his game has taken a huge jump now Greene is gone and he is the guy.  (He's 3rd in the MAC in steals, too).

Their only other double figure scorer is Randal Holt, who scores 13.8.  He's a G, however, and is shooting 33% overall and 36% from 3FG.  Kris Brewer also scores 8.5 points per game and gets about 2 assists a game to lead the team.

This is a game BG really needs.  Kent is a good, though certainly on the low end of the array we have seen over the past 14 years.  They have strong guard play to compliment Evans, and BG is going to need to score like it has in the last two games but bring a defensive performance like they were doing prior to that.  BG is one of the lesser fouling teams in the MAC, and they will need to keep the Flashes off the line as well.

BG beat Kent by 16 at the Stroh and was very competitive at the MACC.  Let's hope BG can build on that and this a win that need really badly.

Falcon Football Verbal--Safety Aaron Banks

The commitments continued for the Falcon football team, though this player is (brace yourself) not from Florida but from Chicago Simeon HS.  His name is Aaron Banks, and he plays S.

He has been highly recruited within the MAC and BG offered him back in November. Some reports say he had 9 D1 offers. He was named to the  Chicago Tribune's Top 50 players in Illinois...they called him a "big kid with terrific speed, tools."  He had a slight ACL tear and a torn meniscus late in the season, and that scared some people, off but BG stayed on him and encourage him to think of "D-rose and Adrian Peterson."

Welcome to the Falcons, Aaron.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Orr Presser, Ankle Edition

Coach Orr talked to the media down at BG today.  Here's a short capsule of what he talked about.  He was unusually interesting today.

First, here's the stat of the day from the BGSU Athletic Department.

The Falcons, though, have been tied or held a lead in the final 10 minutes in 15 of those 17 games. Six times Bowling Green has attempted a shot in the final 10 seconds with a chance to tie or win the game.
I doubt if there are too many teams in 6-11 teams in D1 that can say that.  Obviously, you aren't that far off.  Just amazing to think you can be in that many games and not have more wins.

Coach was asked about the last possessions.  He said that it was good news to still have a chance...which you can't disagree with, or at least it is better than the alternative.  He said "for the most part" we have gotten "pretty good" shots.  Not sure what he's seeing there.  He said that the ball "ended up" in Jordon's hands most of the time, which is (my observation now) primarily because it never leaves his hands.

Anyway, he doesn't think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy and he thinks that the team has confidence.

He was asked about injuries.  Clarke and Erger both have sprained ankles and will not play Wednesday and it didn't seem like their return was likely soon in either case.  Craig Sealey only played 2 minutes against Buffalo due to fouls.  He was and is available.

Finally, he was asked to talk about Holmes and Black, and why Black starts.

Coach said that Black is the best post defender we have and among the best in the league.  His help defense is strong and he often gets there before a blocked shot is needed.  On offense, he has developed into a good low post player who plays with his back to the basket.

Holmes, meanwhile, is a freaky (obviously my word, not his) athlete and a great shot blocker who needs to learn to play better help defense.  On offense, he is much more of a face the basket guy, though he is very, very active and strong on lobs and alley oops.

He said they compliment each other and could be on the floor at the same time.

Falcon Football: The State of the Program

Just finishing up our wrap up of the football season...I've looked at offense, defense and special teams, and now I want to take a more global look.  How is the program doing?  Where are we?  What is strong and what is missing?

The first thing is to acknowledge that this program has come a long way in a short period of time.  The program was a dumpster fire when Coach Clawson came in, but he had a plan and stuck to it and made the team competitive and relevant again, and he did it in four seasons.  That's actually pretty good, and we should all stop and recognize that.

The next step, of course, is to win a championship.  BG has not won a title since 1992, during which time Ball State, CMU, UT, Marshall, Miami, Akron, Buffalo and NIU have all won the MAC.  BG has only played in MAC title game one time.

BG had some flashy teams in there, with Meyer and then the early Brandon years, but those teams only got over even won their division once.

Now that BG is relevant again, the question is, can the team turn that into a championship?

Certainly, as things stand at the end of 2012, that is possible though far from certain.

BG expects to return a lot of players from a good team.  Yes, they lose Chris Jones but they also get a couple injured guys back and they lose Dwayne Woods but LB is a pretty solid position as well.  The defense didn't just get more experienced between 2011 and 2012, they got a lot better, as I noted in our review.  I don't think you can expect that kind of jump again, but it is possible the defense will get a little bit better between this year and next.

The offense was a different matter, and the status of Anthon Samuel is now uncertain.  Our QB struggled for consistency and our WRs did not consistently win their battles either and that hampered the running game as teams could load up the box against us.  It is certainly possible that our WRs will get better over the course of the year just as our defense did, and that would help a lot.

A lot of fans are focused on Schilz.  Coach said after almost every game that he had to be more consistent and we learned after the season that he was injured during the second half of the season.  Having said that, do I expect him to make a significant improvement for next year?  No, I don't.

However, it isn't all about him.  With a good supporting cast, he can be more productive, but I don't think he's going to turn into one of the MAC's elite QBs.

At the same time, I don't see any changes being made.  His backup is Matt Johnson, (will be R-So) who played some garbage time and James Knapke (R-FR), who hasn't played at all.  I don't see them turning our senior dominated team over to an untested player.  If he's healthy, I think Schilz remains the starter.

Speaking of senior-dominated, there are a couple of tea leaves in our list of reported verbal commitments.  Most importantly, we have 24 commits.  Coach Clawson was in Columbus doing advance work for the Black Friday Bash and reportedly told a gathering that BG had 14 scholarships available.  That's an apparent gap...

Now, there's a few possibilities.

A)  He didn't say that
B)  I'm full of crap
C)  He thought the Mayans were right and therefore it did not matter what he said
D)  An alien abducted him for the day


We certainly didn't have very many players out there on senior day.  So, let me just offer a possibility...

E)  Our list of returning players might not be 100% what we thought when the team walked off the RFK turf.

Time will tell.

The other tea leave type thing is at RB.  That position was one of incredible depth for BG last year--we had Samuel, Martin, Pettigrew, Hopgood and Givens.  BG has gone nuts recruiting RBs this year, with 4 reported verbals and 3 of our highest ranked players at RB.  We know Samuel is uncertain, Pettigrew graduated, Martin is coming back from surgery and Hopgood was injured at the end of the season.  I would say that the RB recruiting we have done could indicate how the team feels about the status of our returning guys.

I know a lot of people don't like the Florida recruiting.  Of BG's 22 HS players, 9 are from Florida right now.  Personally, if we can keep players and graduate them, I don't care where they come from, but not everyone shares that view.

I think if BG does have a Championship season next year, (even a division championship), you will very likely see Coach Clawson move up to a better job.  He was in some conversations this year and I think he grows more likely with an even better season.  BG does have a strong defensive coordinator who might be a likely successor.

Beyond that, BG appears to have only lost one assistant from last year's staff,which would provide continuity into next year.

I think our recruiting has been good and there is talent coming up in the classes behind the seniors.  I also think our coaches do a good job developing players--making players better.

In all those ways, I think the program is in pretty solid shape and probably the best long-term shape it has been in a long time.

As for next year, I think we are far from a shoo-in.  OU has built the kind of program we want--they are good every year--and Archer is back and Kent could still be good.  I have noted some uncertain or unsettled areas in our program...which may change the narrative from "everyone's back, let's kick butt."

Even with that level of uncertainty, this is the best place we have been during an off-season since the early Brandon years.  We should appreciate it and appreciate the turn around effort, which has been very good.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road Woes Continue

The Falcons saw the road woes that have plagued them continue last night in Buffalo as they lost to the Bulls 68-65.

The Falcons are now 6-11, 4-11 against D1 competition and 1-3 in the MAC, in a four-way tie for the bottom of the league.  BG is 0-7 on the road.

The game was, in terms of flow, very much like the Miami game.  BG was in the lead for most of the game, starting with a 3-1 lead in the first minute.  The Falcons led by 8 at halftime, but the Bulls came bolting out of the locker room and had the game time 1:40 or so into the half.

The Falcons fought that run off and rebuilt their lead.  In fact, with about 12 minutes left, BG led by 9.  The Bulls came back again, scoring 9 straight points and the game was tied.  Buffalo didn't take the lead until there were 8 minutes left.  BG led one more time, and it was a closely fought game until the finish.

What doomed BG was something that has happened before.  BG scored its last FG in the game with 5:46 left in the game and did not score at all from the 3:57 to the :07 mark.  Even if you get stops, it is pretty hard to win a game with you go 10% of the game without scoring.  (5 missed shots and a turnover, down the stretch, BTW).

Also much like the Miami game, once the game was tied at 63 with 3:57 left, there was a long period of time when neither team scored.  In fact, the score stayed 63-63 until Javon McCrea scored with about :30 left in the game.  He had a chance for the and-one, but he missed, BG came down and ended up with (no surprise here) a Jordon Crawford 3-ball, which missed.

With :12 left, McCrea made 2 more free throws to put them up 4.  The Bulls fouled Crawford with :07 left and he made both free throws to get the deficit down to 2.  BG fouled, the Bulls split the pair of FTs and BG still had a last gasp but Crawford missed a 3 at the buzzer.

Also like the Miami game, BG wasted a decent offensive performance in the defeat.  BG had 1.04 points per possession.  Field goal shooting was certainly poor at 37%, but BG made 50% of its 3-balls and got to the line a lot and converted well there and took good care of the ball, and that added up to an above average night on offense.

Unfortunately, Buffalo shot 44% from the field, and while they only shot 33% from 3FG, they also did well at the line and took good care of the ball, and that was enough for them to beat the Falcons.  They ended up with 1.09 points per possession.  BG is 1-8 this year when allowing 1.05 points per possession, so 1.09 is in the no-fly zone.

The biggest disappointment was turnovers.  Buffalo has been awful at turning the ball over this year and BG has been pretty good.  That stat was pretty even last night, and all those extra possessions were what allowed Buffalo to get the points they needed.

Individually, Javon McCrea is just a beast.  He scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds.  BG did a credible job keeping him from making shots (7 of 15) but in the end, he was just way too much for BG to handle.  Jarryn Skeete, the PG who replaced Oldham when he went down, had 16 on 6 of 8 shooting and that made a huge difference for Buffalo.

A'uston Calhoun really struggled.  He did score 16, but that came at a huge cost--5 of 20 shooting from the field.  He also led the team with 8 rebounds.  Crawford scored 18 on 6 of 16 shooting, with 4 assists and only one turnover.  Chauncey Orr had a nice game, as well, with 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 4 rebounds.  Richaun Holmes had 7 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes.

BG is having some injury issues.  Sealey is back, but he played only one minute and went down again.  Jehvon Clarke did not play and James Erger left the floor as well.

Anthony Henderson played only 12 minutes and Kraus played 30, which is more or less the opposite of the way it has been going.

And so it goes.  The Falcons have now loss 7 of their last 8.  They finally get to come home again on Wednesday, but the opponent is Kent.  The Flashes are 11-7 and 2-2 in the MAC after losing to Akron yesterday at the MACC.  BG has an RPI of 294 and a kenpom of 217, whereas Kent has an RPI of 170 and a kenpom of 112.

The Falcons have had a lot of road games to start off the MAC schedule, but that puts extra pressure on them to win at home.  They're going to need every bit of the home court to beat the Flashes, who won by 12 @ Buffalo.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More on Ronnie Moore...Falcon Verbal

We already wrote about Falcon verbal Ronnie Moore, but I had to point you to this great piece in the Orlando Sentinel.  His coach calls him "special" and "one of the best players we've ever had."

For whatever reason, he isn't getting huge love from a couple recruiting sites...Rivals had him as a 2-star player.  Anyway, he surely seems like a hugely productive player in a competitive football area.  Check this out....

  • As a running back he rushed for 939 yards and 13 touchdowns.
  • As a quarterback he passed for 332 yards on 21-of-32 passing.
  • As a receiver he had 29 catches for 484 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
  • As a kick returner he had 371 return yards and one touchdown.
  • As a cornerback or safety on defense, he had 27 tackles, six interceptions, including three in one game, and returned two of them for touchdowns. He also had one fumble recovery.
His postseason honors included being chosen as the Orlando Touchdown Club's 2012 Offensive Player of the Year, he was the Most Valuable Player in the Central Florida All-Star Game, he was the Sentinel’s first Ironman of the Year and he also played in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Game.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in?

Falcons Lose Assistant Football Coach

BG's linebacker coach, Clark Lea, has left to become an assistant at Syracuse.  He coached LBs at BG last year for one season.  Before that, he coached at UCLA for three years.  When he came to BG, you kind of had the feeling he wasn't going to stay forever, but it should be noted that BG had outstanding LB play last year as part of a dominant defensive.

There is no word on what Lea will coach at Syracuse, which is planning to announce their assistants all at once.

Anyway, best of luck to Coach Lea.  We'll keep an eye on who BG tracks down for a new defensive assistant.

I doubt if Lea knows that he is leaving BG to go to Syracuse...and that BG is unbeaten all-time against the Orangeman/Orange.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Da Bulls Preview

BG's arduous road swing through the MAC continues Saturday with a long trip to Buffalo to take on the Bulls.

Buffalo swept the season series against BG last year and BG swept it the year before, it is appears to be what you would call an all or nothing proposition.

The Bulls are struggling this year.  They are 5-12 with an RPI of 253 and a of 202.  Furthermore, of those 5 wins, only 3 have come against D1 teams...Milwaukee, Niagara and Evansville.  The wins against Evansville and Milwaukee were on the road, and both Niagara and Evansville have pretty solid teams this year.  They don't have any really disastrous losses, either.  Their worst losses were probably Yale on a neutral floor or @St. Bonaventure.

Like BG, they lost to Temple (scoring 39 to lose by 15) and Miami.  FWIW, those were both home games for the Bulls.

They are only 3-4 at home, which means they have 1 D1 win on their floor this year.

Their strongest feature is that they offer what is probably the best player in the MAC.  Javon McCrea, a 6'7" JR, has developed into a very effective player.  They are very reliant on him.  He leads the MAC in percentage of possessions use and percentage of a team's shots taken (#13 in the nation in the second category) but he is:

  • 3rd in scoring
  • 6th in FG%
  • 3rd in Free throws made
  • 10th in FT%
  • 5th in rebounds
  • 5th in offensive rebounds
  • 3rd in blocked shot

Now, because of the number of shots, he is only 13th in offensive efficiency, but he's not a gunner.  He probably is forced to take low percentage shots sometimes, but he is 6th in FG% which is pretty good.

He had a 33/10 double-double with 4 blocks against Kent...and that was on 9-12 shooting and making all 15 of his free throws.

He is a matchup problem for anyone and BG is going to really have to be ready to roll.

Will Regan is also averaging 10 points a game.

Their other big producer was scheduled to be Jarod Oldham, who was scoring 10 points a game and leading the team in assists.  The junior broke his wrist in practice and will not play again this season.

They play only one senior consistently.

They play at 65 possessions per game, which is 1.5 possessions more than BG, which is relatively consistent.      (At .98 points per possession, their offense is 8th in the conference.  They aren't bad shooters---they are 5th in the MAC in Effective Field Goal%, but they are the worst team in the MAC at turning the ball over--25% of their possessions which is among the 10 worst in D1.

That is partly counteracted by outstanding offensive rebounding...they lead the MAC in offensive rebounding percentage.  Just a little hint...the BG team that got smoked on the offensive boards by Miami--the worst team in the MAC in offensive rebounding--had better be ready to go tomorrow or this will be a killer.

Buffalo isabout at MAC average in getting to the line and slightly below average at making their free throws.

Defensively, they have not been great.  They are 9th in defensive efficiency, allowing 1.01 points per possession.  They are actually pretty decent defending against the shot--5th in effective field goal%--but they are 11th in forcing turnovers, which means that percentage plays against more overall shots.  They are 5th in preventing offensive rebounds and 9th in allowing their opponents to the line.

Overall, I'd say that's kind of odd.  Their overall efficiency doesn't seem to be equal to the sum of the individual parts, which does happen sometimes.

Anyway, that's the lay of the land for the Bulls.  Obviously, they have been far from unbeatable this year, but I don't know if we're going to be the guys to beat them.  BG is 0-6 on the road this year and will have to figure out a way to contain McCrea.

BG does usually take care of the ball but will need to make sure that Buffalo turns the ball over.  They are a decent shooting team and if they get more shots, they will be tougher.  Finally, Buffalo is 0-3 in the MAC, so you don't know if that's a confidence issue or a desperation issue.

Three Falcon Verbals named to Detroit News Blue Chip List

The Detroit News published its list of blue chip HS prospects in Metro Detroit recently, and three Falcon commits made the list.  This area is heavily recruited by BCS and MAC teams, which you will see if you take a look.

The top ranked Falcon is recent verbal commit Isaiah Gourdine.  In fact, he is the highest ranked player on the list who is not going to a BCS school at #17.

Also on the list are:

Tao Redding (#23)
Clark Clancy (#54)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Breaking News: Falcons Get Four-Star Verbal is reporting that BG has received a commitment from its first four-star recruit.  His name is Fred Coppet and he is a RB from Ft. Lauderdale.  With a ranking of "81" he is the highest rated player in the class to date.  They have him ranked as the #30 RB in the nation.

The Sun-Sentinel says he had offers from"Houston, FIU, Boston College, USF and Indiana" and cancelled his visit to Houston with his BG commit. The paper refers to BG as a "darkhorse" candidate.

He's certainly fast.

Coppet is gifted with elite speed, having run a 10.78-second 100-yard dash. He put that speed to use over the last two seasons, where he's been Aquinas' top rusher, going for 1,436 yards and 17 touchdowns this season for the Class 7A state champions.
He's not huge.  At 5'9" and 174, ESPN says that his ability to bulk up and stay fast is the key to his future.  Seems about Samuel-sized.  Their report says he can run inside and out and catch the ball, which sounds just like the kind of guy who Clawson can use.

He is the 4th RB in this class and 3 of BG's top 4 ranked recruits right now are RBs.  All 4 RBs are Floridians.

BG now has 22 HS commits, plus a JUCO transfer and a D1 transfer.  Nine of the HS players are from Florida and 4 of those have committed in the last week.

New Falcon Football Verbal

The Falcons have another Floridian in the fold.  This one is Ronnie Moore, who actually has been speculated on by the papers in Florida.  Down there, they have sort of categorized him as an athlete, but ESPN is showing him as a CB.

The Orlando Sentinel has given him the Central Florida "Ironman" award.  That's because he was a running back, slot receiver, CB, Safety, kick returner and therefore rarely came off the field.  He also filled in at QB during the state playoffs when there was an injury.

He is another UC refugee, though not as directly as the other two players we have.  He was set to fly to Cincy for a visit when Butch Jones left and he didn't proceed with the visit.

Then, I guess UC got involved again, because the paper said it was BG vs. Bearcat a couple of days ago, and apparently BG has won the commitment.  Here is what the paper said about him.

No. 1 was area's No. 1 do-it-all player. Six INTs and 27 tackles as defensive back. Rushed for 939 yards and 13 TDs, plus 484 yards and four TDs receiving, and 371 return yards. And as QB for good measure, he was 21-of-32 passing for 332 yards.

Coach Clawson likes to say that we want "football players," which means we want guys who play the game and are not one-dimensional athletes.  If so, it surely sounds like Moore qualifies.

BG now has 23 commits...21 HS players, a D1 transfer and a JUCO transfer.  8 of the players are from Florida.

Welcome to the Falcons, Ronnie.

Road Woes Continue...RedHawks Prevail

The road woes continued for the Falcons, losing a game in Oxford last night that they controlled until the final minutes.

The disappointing thing was that after many games where the Falcons struggled to make shots, they wasted a game where they did make shots by not playing strong defense.

Coming into the game, BG was 4th in the MAC in defensive efficiency for the year and had been playing pretty solid defense--more solid than I had realized.

Miami, for its part, has not been a great defensive team, and BG scored 1.05 points per possession.  BG shot 58% for the game which was a season high--they had never even shot 50%.  Furthermore, the new Redhawk team wants to press and play more upbeat, but this game was actually played at a Charlie Coles-Louis Orr (and BG friendly) pace, with only 57 possessions for the game.

So, what happened?  First, Miami shot 55%, which is the second worst performance for the BG defense this year.  In fact, BG has not beaten a team that shot better than 40.8% from the field, which is a pretty remarkable stat if you think about it. Secondly, Miami, who came in as a very poor offensive rebounding teams, was allowed to gather 41% of their missed shots on the offensive boards.

In a close game, those things made the difference.

Beyond the fact that a big shooting game went down the tubes, the other disappointing part of the game was that BG was in controlmost of the way, where they seemed again to be unable to make the plays needed to win, especially on the road.

BG took the lead with 11 minutes left in the first half and held that lead until there were 5 minutes left in the game.  Even then, the game was only tied.  Miami did not regain the lead until there were 3 minutes left in the game.  At that point, the score was 59-58.

For the remaining 3 minutes, BG made only one basket.  Worse, they did not score at all over the last 2:36, and for the last 3 minutes, they only attempted two shots and had two possessions with turnovers.

Miami was up 1 for most of the final minute until they hit a shot with :19 left to go up 3.  BG had one more shot to get a 3 and turned the ball over.

This has been a pattern for the Falcons.  They simply have trouble executing offensively in the final minutes of games.  In this case, it didn't help that Crawford had played the whole way due to Jehvon Clarke's ankle injury and may have been tired, but over the entire season, this has been an ongoing issue for a team with a number of close losses.

I don't mean to be critical of Crawford, because the team needed him to go the whole way and he is a warrior.  He always takes the shot at the end because I don't think there is anyone else to do it.  He had 21 points on 60% shooting, which is a good offensive night.  He did have 7 turnovers to go with 3 assists.  Calhoun also had 21 points on 60% shooting and a team high 4 rebounds.  Orr added 7 and Holmes 6.

BG is now 6-10, 4-10 in D1 games and 1-2 in the MAC.  And 0-6 in road games.  They will get another shot Saturday in Buffalo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New info on football injuries for BG....

I somehow missed it, but Falcon Fodder in The Blade had a chance to talk with Coach Clawson.  Coach said that Matt Schilz had a back injury in the Virginia Tech game that was an issue for him until the "end of the regular season."  Also, Bryan Baird had surgery and Alex Bayer, who was injured in the Miami game, was never 100% again.

Anyway, obviously they kept quiet on these injuries during the season, especially to Schilz, and that makes total sense.  If that happens put our offensive struggles in context for you, then there you go.

Falcon Football Gains New Verbal

The Falcons grabbed another verbal--and another from Florida--as we learned that DL Kenderson Obas has committed to BG.

Kenderson attends Dr. Phillips HS in Orlando.  His teammate, RB Eric Harrell, has already verballed to BG.  This is also the HS that WR Chris Gallon attended.

BG now has 20 HS players (and 1 JUCO and 1 D1 transfer) in this class and 7 of them are from Florida. Based on twitter feeds, there are still coaches in Florida and we are continuing to seek players.  Those of who remember Coach Clawson's introductory "State of Bowling Green" speech have to be surprised by the continuing reliance on Florida players--but, it is no different than many teams in the MAC are doing.

We were expecting a small class, so something is happening in the math here.  Maybe we have some commits who aren't coming, maybe we had some scholarships opening up, who knows.  It will eventually be clear, but for right now, we are actually inching toward a maximum class.

ESPN doesn't have a rating on him.  He's 6'2" 270 and played D-tackle in HS.  He was named to the Orlando Sentinel's All-Central Florida team, where they said this...

Dominant force with 109 tackles, 33 for loss. Tied school records with 15 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Note, they list him at 255.

Note, they also say that Ronnie Moore, who is a huge athlete and "do it all" player is down to BG and UC.

Here, they refer to him as putting the "beast" in his team's defense.

He cites some early interest in these articles but nothing I saw shows him with any other offers.  Having said that, he certainly appears to be the kind of guy whose game would translate very well to the MAC.

Welcome to the Falcons, Kenderson.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Miami, Sans Evil Genius

Not gonna lie.  I'm going to miss Charlie Coles, the evil genius.  In today's blow-dried, cookie cutter world, he was a true eccentric...a mad scientist if ever there was one.  The way he went out last year...wearing his emotions right on his sleeve, raging like King Lear--Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!--he was just great until the end.

His last presser in BG--forever known as the Sandwiches Press Conference--will never be equaled, if they play at the Stroh for 100 more years.

So, the new man in Oxford is John Cooper, who is neither evil nor a genius.  He came from Tennessee State where he won 45% of his games.  They were 20-13 last year, and next thing you know, he's moving on.

They have an RPI of 198 and a of 240.  They are 6-8 so far this year.  They beat a decent UIC team at Millett, but beyond that their wins have been pretty soft.  They have lost to some pretty good teams, as always, but mark bad losses as being @IPFW and NIU in Oxford.  That last one will leave a mark.

They rebounded, though, with a win @Buffalo and they are 1-1 in the MAC.

First of all, you will remember that a central tenet of the evil genius approach was to play a slow pace.  These guys are different.  In fact, Miami is almost averaging 68 possessions a game, which is 3rd in the MAC.

Offensively, they are below average at .97 points per possession.  As we start to break that down, they are 3rd in the MAC with an Effective FG% of 50.2%.  Percentage wise, they are the 3rd best 3-point shooting team in the MAC, and get 33% of their points that way.  They are somewhere in the middle of the MAC in turnovers at 21.2%.  They are 6th in the MAC in getting to the line and 9th in making them when they get there, which partly drags them down, and, much like the Coles days, they are last in offensive rebounding.

Still, the whole (their overall efficiency) seems to be less than the whole of their parts.  A team that takes of the ball reasonably well and shoots well should be scoring more than this.  But, they aren't.

In another new twist, this team is pretty poor on defense.  They are 11th in efficiency, allowing 1.04 points per possession.  Teams make shots against Miami--their EFG% against is 52.7%, last in the MAC.  They do force turnovers--4th in the MAC--and they are 9th in allowing offensive rebounds.  They are 9th in allowing teams to get to the line.

Given that, it will be interesting to see if BG can exploit this weakness.  You'd hope to see the Falcons make some shots against this defense.

Individually, they lost Penn State transfer Bill Edwards for the year after 5 games.  Their leading scorer is Allen Roberts, a junior guard, who has 13 points on 39% shooting.  Will Felder, a transfer from St. Francis of PA, is scoring 10.2 points per game on 52% shooting and also leads the team with 4.4 rebounds.

Freshman Reggie Johnson is scoring just under 10 points a game and Quentin Rollins is 5th in the MAC in assists.  Finally, Jon Harris is shooting 42% from 3.

A couple notes.

BG has yet to win on the road this season.

Jordon Crawford has had some big, big games against Miami in the past.  It was always explained that Crawford had almost been recruited by Miami, so maybe he wanted to show the evil genius what he could do.  Also, he had 9 turnovers in the last game, which happened one other time this year and he came back in the next game and played well.

It would be nice to see the Falcons play well enough to win on the road.  For them, the story does not seem to change that much, but it could.  I think Anthony Henderson is continuing to develop, and if the team could just make some shots, you'd like to think this was one where you could get off the schneid on the road.

Falcons Land Highly Ranked Football Recruit

The news from today is that the Falcons have landed their first very highly ranked recruit in some time, to the extent that you believe anybody's rankings.

His name is Marcus Levy and he is from Ft. Pierce, Florida.  He is a former UC verbal and is the second player the Falcons have picked up since Tuberville came into Cincy and dumped the entire Butch Jones class.

ESPN ranks Levy as a three-star player.  He is the fourth three-star player in our class; the only player that ESPN ranks higher is Michael Rogers, the WR from Ft. Wayne Bishop Luers.

He had Ruggierio and Nick Monroe in his living room yesterday and decided to sign with BG.  He made a comment in the paper in Palm Beach that follows:

"I've been talking to them for a while," Levy said. "I feel like their RB situation gives me an opportunity to come in and play right away. They run a nice offense and they score points and I feel like I can excel in that offense."

I'm going to focus more on the first part of his statement, and not the part where we score points...anyway, I think he is referring to the uncertain Samuel situation.  If Samuel does not return, BG goes from having incredible RB depth to having Jamel Martin coming back from injury, Hopgood and Givens.  So, I suspect that Levy could play right away, just as Samuel did.  Certainly, in the Clawson rotation system, he will get carries, even if Samuel is back.

Levy had closed his recruiting down after committing to UC, and then had an injury during his senior season, according to the paper.  When the coaching change came, he had a hard time generating interest and was frustrated.

He chose BG over FAU, Middle Tennessee State, Temple and USF.

Here's what his coach said:

"It was extremely tough for him," Central coach Josh Shaffer said. "He went from being a highly recruited running back and he thought other (schools) would come in and it didn't happen. There are a lot of good running backs in the state of Florida, it's a numbers game and unfortunately, it happens.

"I told him to, 'Go, be the best you can be and make everyone else regret it in the end."
You know I like numbers....these are pretty good.
Levy led the Cobras with 809 rushing yards, 134 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns in eight games. He finished his Central career with 2,419 rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns and 542 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Levy scored a touchdown in 23 consecutive games, a streak which spanned three seasons.
BG's reported class now has 19 high school players, 1 transfer and 1 JUCO.

Welcome to the Falcons, Marcus.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Looking Back: How are our non-conference opponents doing?

With a small interval here between games, I wanted to go back and check in on the teams we played through November and December.  Sometimes you play a team and you don't know what you had with the win or the loss until later.  Which is now.

Based on RPI, BG's non-conference schedule was #172, which is almost directly the median for D1.  Our kenpom rating is  #197, so you figure our schedule was right about in the middle of the pack.  Overall, our RPI is 282 and the is 211.  I am not fully versed in the difference between the ratings, but I think kenpom takes margin of victory into the close games with MSU and USF are less than just a full loss.

Anyway, BG has two very nice wins--Detroit and Wright State are both having good seasons.  Alabama-Huntsville is the #3 DII team, FWIW.

Losses to IUPUI and North Dakota--one of those on a neutral floor--are difficult to look at.  At home, you'd think you could beat Youngstown State.

Anyway, here is the break out.


Stayed within 10 of BG, they are now 5-8 and 2-7 in their conference.


10-8.  RPI is 118, Kenpom is 218.  They have 3 non-D1 wins.  They lost to Wright State and beat Detroit--BG beat both teams.


6-14 on the year.   RPI is 273, Kenpom is 290.  Two non D1 wins as well.  They did beat Ball State in Muncie.  Also lost to Lamar and Nebraska-Omaha.


10-7 on the year.   RPI is 134, Kenpom is 120.  Beat Cleveland State and OU.


The Chargers are 12-2 with their only losses being to BG and Cleveland State in the pre-season NIT.  They are the #3 ranked team in Division II.

11-6 on the year.   RPI is 82, Kenpom is 89.  Beat Akron.  Smoked Youngstown State.  Also a big win over Canisius but lost @Cleveland State.


9-7 on the year.   RPI is 172, Kenpom is 172.  However, there are 3 non D1 wins buried in there.  (What is up with that?  Is this becoming more common?)  The best team they have beaten is Loyola Chicago, which was on the road.  Lost by 18 @South Florida.


13-4 on the year.   RPI is 143, Kenpom is 124.  Won 8 out of 9 since losing at the Stroh.  Beat Miami and Cleveland State, along with Loyola (IL) and Green Bay.  This appears to have been a pretty god team.


5-12 on the year.   RPI is 283, Kenpom is 302.  Had a huge win @College of Charleston, where they were 14 point dogs.


14-3 on the year.   RPI is 19, Kenpom is 17.  Off to 3-1 Big Ten start.  Lost to very good Minnesota team, picked up nice win @Iowa.  Also beat Texas.


9-6 on the year.   RPI is 93, Kenpom is 116.  Rolling until Big East play hit.  Have been thumped by Syracuse, Villanova and Louisville.


5-10 on the year.   RPI is 309, Kenpom is 294.  Two of those are non D1 wins.  Their two wins since beating BG were against teams with RPI over 325.


11-4 on the year.   RPI is 29, Kenpom is 62.  Played Kansas tough and lost and then pulled off a huge win over a very good St. Louis team.  Pre-BG win over Syracause well.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Two New Football Verbals, one Walk on

There are visits going on most weekends as signing day approaches, and the BG class has continued to increase.  We are now up to 20 players in the signing class (news on a preferred walk on shortly) and that's 5-6 players more than we expected to have, given our small senior class.  Not sure what is going on...there were also a couple of last year's walk ons who might be getting scholarships.  We'll find out in good time, I suppose, but it wouldn't surprise me at this point if there were a couple of departures that we haven't heard about yet.

The highest ranked player is Isaiah Gourdine, who is listed as an ATH from Farmington Hills.  ESPN has him listed as 2-star recruit.  He was committed to UC and then became available when Tuberville came in and essentially dropped the entire recruiting class without telling any of them.  (Google it, I have seen a couple of stories about it).   Since he became available, there are reports that he was contacted by Virginia Tech and Iowa.

Anyway, the ESPN report says Gourdine is a WR prospect and is very raw and physically under-developed.  On defense, he plays a rover-like position, so perhaps that is where we have him targeted.  He has measurable athleticism, which is what makes him attractive.  He was second-team Detroit Metro West on defense, as selected by the Detroit News.

On twitter he said he gained five pounds on his visit to BG.

The second player is Joseph Davidson from Findlay.  He's a punter.  And he's 6'7".  First guy to call him Big Bird has to walk home.  He's an athlete...he is getting double doubles on the Findlay basketball team.  He was all-TRAC at punter and at defensive back, to further the point.  He was also all-District and second-team All-State on defense.  Clawson has said that what he likes about Schmeidebusch is that he is a football player who happens to punt, and it would appear that's what we are looking at here.  He averaged about 37 yards per punt.

The preferred walk on (reading between the lines) is LB Dezwan Polk of Columbus.  There was interest from Purdue while Hope was there and he reportedly had offers but has decided to walk on at BG, which is not the way things normally go but it could also mean pretty much anything.

Anyway, pretty big news, both with the players and with the numbers continuing to go up.  It's going to be interesting to see how it all sorts out.

Welcome to the Falcons Isaiah, Joseph and Dezwan.

Falcons Win on Turn Back the Clock Night

No one announced that it was Turn Back the Clock Night at the Stroh Center last night.

But BGSU and EMU provided the 2,000+ fans in attendance with a display of basketball that would have looked perfectly normal in the pre-shot clock days...when the balls had laces...and the two-hand set shot was the offensive weapon.  It would have looked right at home in Eppler.

BG won the game 46-44, a game they absolutely had to have.  It is the lowest winning point total for a BG team since March of 1976, the second to last game ever coached by Pat Haley.

It was a dreadful night of offensive basketball.  People are going to talk about how it was a "defensive struggle" and if these two teams were not among the 50 worst shooting teams in college basketball, I might buy it.

EMU shot 28% for the game...they made 5 second half field goals.  BG shot 35% from the game, and 23% from 3.  Compounding the awful shooting was turnovers.  If BG has had a saving grace on offense, it was that they took care of the ball.  As poorly as we shoot, we just can't afford to give up possessions.

In a 60 possession game, BG turned the ball over 20 times, which is 33.3% of its possessions and nearly double our normal rate.  EMU turned the ball over 17 times.

So it was a turnover and missed shot plagued game.

A'uston Calhoun shot 7 of 11 for BG, which just puts a sharper spotlight on the other players.  BG's guards (Crawford, Orr, Clarke, Henderson, Erger) shot 9 of 34 for the game.

As you might expect, it was a tight game most of the way.  With 5:13 left, the game was tied at 41.

With 2:32 left, EMU made a FT to go up 44-41...the last points they would score on the night.  Calhoun had a layup off a scramble and BG had it down to 1 with 1:48 left.

The final minute+ was highly frustrating....topped off by an exciting finish.

BG had the ball with a chance to take the lead.  BG calls time to set their play up.  As long as I watch this team, I will never understand how we can call time out and then come out and see that the play was to dribble around the perimeter, work a couple ball screens, be moving away from the basket with :05 left on the clock and then launch a low percentage jumper.

Coach said something in the presser about EMU being able to take you out of your plans.  If it only happened against EMU, that would be one thing, but this team cannot get a good shot in late game situations and last night we were barely able to penetrate the 3-point arc.

So, on the first possession, we ran the clock down and Calhoun missed a jumper.  EMU cleared the board and BG got a stop.  ANOTHER TIMEOUT.  This time, BG gets the ball upcourt and Crawford just shoots it.  He missed it, but Chauncey crashed the lane really hard, went to the floor for the ball and created a tie-up and BG had the arrow.

BG had one more chance.  Timeout Falcons with :12 left.  Crawford had the ball on the inbound, there was nothing open but he ended up getting some traffic at the top of the key and launched a 3-ball from approximately the Sebo Center and this time he hit it and BG had a 2 point lead with about 7 seconds left.

I give Crawford credit.  He was having a dreadful night (more later) but he still was pulling the trigger at the end when the team needed it.  There was only one way BG scores on that last possession and he was willing for it to be him or not be him.

Anyway, EMU called time and then they had more than enough time to get a shot off.  However, when they got the ball to Thompson, Chauncey Orr really made him work for it, didn't foul him and then forced Thompson to take a guarded, long-distance shot that fell short and the Falcons at least had the win.

Obviously, Crawford is the hero of the game, but you can't look past Orr in the last minute.  He made two huge plays.  Without that offensive rebound, we probably lose.

For BG, the only player with a strong individual performance was Calhoun, who had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting and 7 rebounds.  Crawford had 11 on 4 of 16 shooting with 4 turnovers and 9 freaking turnovers.  (Coach said in the post-game said that some of our turnovers were because of how we were attacking their zone, a statement that is somewhat like saying we wore our tire our driving on roads.)

Anthony Henderson had 9 points on 3 of 8 shooting.  He's certainly not there but he is improving and the team needs what he does really badly.   He was 2-5 from 3FG.

Holmes had 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in 20 minutes.

As if in summary, I saw on twitter this morning that 52 years ago on this very day, James Darrow, who was honored at last night's game, scored 52 points in a game.  Just him.

BG improves to 1-1 in the MAC.  The season looks rough in general but very rough with a home loss to EMU this early.  That fate was avoided.  Next, BG travels to Oxford seeking the season's first road win.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Football Review....Special Teams...

So, our final review of Falcon football for the year is special teams.  We've looked at the offense and we have looked at the defense, so we have been from the valley to the mountain.  Now, we looked at the special teams, which are somewhere in the middle, closer to the valley, but in the middle.

First, using our ICSTR measures, it was a very unusual year.  BG was +13 for the year with +14 in the OU game alone.  BG was in positive territory for 7 of the games, but they were usually just slightly in positive territory.  It was the second worst year in the Clawson era, by this measure, eclipsed only by the +1 in 2009.  Last year, BG was +26.

The odd thing was the opposition.  BG's opposition earned a net 44 positive points, which is more positive points than our opponents have had in the three Clawson years combined.  Remember that our scoring system is not zero sum.  Some special teams plays are good without a bad play being made on the other side.  For example, a punt that is downed on the 10 yard line does not reflect on the receiving team.  Nor does a made 45 yard FG.

Only Idaho, OU and San Jose State had negative games against BG.  Idaho and San Jose State were only -1.

Suffice it to say.  BG's special teams were not awful but we were not close to our competition.

Le'ts look some more.

For example, punting.  Brian Schmeidebusch was just great his first year and probably only good this year.  In '11, his punts were rarely returned and rarely touchbacks.  This year, BG won the net punting battle by only 1.2 yards and our net was about five yards lower than it was the year before.  BG punting 15 times more, so overall numbers are tough to compare.  In fact, if you take touchbacks compared to punts inside the 20, BG's % was almost the same as last year.

Here's the key.  BG had 24 inside 20 and 12 TBs.  Our opponents had 25 inside the 20 and 4 touchbacks.

So, not bad for BG per se, but not nearly as effective as the opposition.

How about field goals?  Look, we all had a lot of frustration about this, but I think it is going in the right direction.  BG used two kickers, Steven Stein and Tyler Tate.  Stein was 2-7 on FGs with a long of 26.  Tyler Tate, not surprisingly, won the job and I think that he will be a good kicker.  He was 7 of 10, which is pretty good, with a long of 42.  He was 6-8 inside 40 yards (80% is the rough conference norm) and if he can get his effective range up into the mid-high 40s, he will be fine.

Our opponents made 14 out of 16 with 5 over 40 and one over 50.

Kickoffs were actually pretty even.  BG had an average of 37.5 net on kickoffs while our opponents were 37.1.  The average is hampered a little bit by kicks Stein made.  Anthony Farinella had an average of 58 yards on each kick, 8 touchbacks and 3 OB.  Our coverage was good.  We allowed no TDs and no return longer than 38 yards, while BG had a long return of 52 yards.

The NCAA took a shot at taking kickoffs out of the game this year...Not sure the impact was as big as they imagined.

BG had a relative strong PR game.  Boo Boo had a TD, Burbrink averaged almost 9 yards a return and our opponents averaged only 5.6 yards per return.

BG had 3 punts and one FG blocked and blocked 2 punts.

So, again, no huge smoking gun but overall we were not as good as our opponents on special teams.  I do think that our coverage units have improved right along with the defense--which you would expect--and that Schmeidbusch is a good punter and Tate will be a solid kicker for us.  I would expect this unit to improve next year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Iggle Preview

So, the Falcons next take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in their first home game since MSU left town....BG has lost 5 straight, going 0-for-the-road-trip.

EMU is in similar straights.  Since their shocking win over Purdue, they have lost six straight D1 games, with their only win during that period coming against Siena Heights.  Which brings up a point.  The Eagles have gone way to the extreme in scheduling.  Most teams figure they should play one non-D1 team and usually dip into the NCAA's DII for an opponent.  The Eagles have dipped three times into the non-D1 pool except ALL THREE of those opponents have been from the NAIA and not even the NCAA.

So, when you know they are 7-8, they are 4-8 against D1 competition.  Furthermore, of their four wins, three were against teams with RPI of 296 or below, with their only quality win being that game against Purdue.
They do have some quality losses--UM, Kentucky, UMass and Syracuse, for example.  

They opened up the MAC season with a loss to Ball State in YPSI.  Their RPI is 209 and their is 304.

The first thing you notice is that on a per game basis, EMU has trouble scoring the ball.  They play at the same pace BG does, more or less, so that's not it.  The are 330th in points per game.  They are only scoring at .9 points per possession, which is 315th in D1 and means that the winner of tomorrow's game could end up scoring in the 30s.  

I kid.

How goes that happen?  Well, they are 323rd in Effective FG% and in free throw rate.  They turn the ball over a lot, too (23% of possessions) which is 10th in the MAC.  They are slightly above average in offensive rebounding (and they get a lot of practice).

So, this is a team that really, really struggles on the offensive end.

How is it, you ask, that they are not winless...or worse?

They are pretty good on defense.  They allow .98 points per possession which is just a tick better than average.  The Effective FG% is also a tick above average.  They do a nice job on turnovers (4th in the MAC---BG is first in not making turnovers, so that will be a good test).  They keep teams off the line pretty well (3rd in MAC) but they allow 37% of offensive rebounds against, which is not very good.

Individually, their leading scorer is Derek Thompson at 11 PPG (shooting 38% from the field and 37% from 3).  They have Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant at 10 (shooting 39% and 17% on 29 freaking attempts from 3) and Wyoming transfer Daylen Harris at 9 PPG (he is shooting 43%)..  They play a very even rotation, and no player plays more than 29 minutes, which somewhat impacts those scoring totals.

Da'Shonte Riley, 7'0" and Syracuse transfer, leads the team with 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.  Harrison and Bryant also contribute on the boards.  Their leading assist man is Jalen Ross who has 3.2 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game.  He is a freshman.

So, that's the story on the Eagles.  Let me say this.  After this road trip, BG really needs to win this game.  I know expectations were not very high for this team--and hence perhaps not that much is at stake--but if this team has any pretensions of getting the 8th place finish it would take to host a home game, they are going to need to win at home.

Luckily, BG has tended to play well at the Stroh, but that's going to have to pan out in a victory or it is going to be a rainy night in Lyndhurst.