Friday, February 28, 2014

The Football Schedule is out!

OK, kids...the football schedule has been released for this year for the defending MAC Champs, the Bowling Green State University Falcons.

A few notes:

The UT game is now late in the year and on a weeknight.  It is the week before Thanksgiving.  I think the BG-UT should be at the end of the season.  I understand why that isn't a great solution, but I like it later better than earlier.

Also, the annual tradition of ending the season beating Buffalo has come to an end.

In fact, BG will play a very good Ball State team at the Doyt the day after Thanksgiving.  Big ups to BG for not moving the game.

As most people know, BG will host its 2nd Big 10 team at the Doyt when Indiana comes to town.

Like home games on Saturday?  There will only be 3 4 and only one two are MAC games. (Original post had wrong number of Saturday games and MAC Saturday games.)

By now, you know BG is not playing Miami this year, which is too bad.

Anyway...bitch bitch bitch, whine whine whine.

Defending MAC Champs.

2014 BGSU football schedule

Aug. 28 at Western Kentucky

Sept. 6 VMI

Sept. 13 Indiana

Sept. 20 at Wisconsin

Sept. 27 at UMass

Oct. 4 Buffalo

Oct. 11 at Ohio

Oct. 18 Western Michigan

Nov. 4 at Akron, 8 p.m.

Nov. 12 Kent State, 8 p.m.

Nov. 19 at Toledo, 8 p.m.

Nov. 28 Ball State

MAC Standings

So, here are the MAC standings as of today.  Big game coming up on Saturday between UT and WMU.  If UT wins and Buffalo beats Miami, there's a 3-way tie at the top.  If that happened, UT would be back in first, based on the tie-breaker.  They are not playing well, though.  They lost big to EMU, barely beat BG and then lost @NIU.

WMU is a #16 seed, according to Lunardi.  Which would be a painful moment for the MAC.

Right now, BG would play @Miami.  BG wins the tie-breaker over Kent due to the win over WMU.  BG has also beaten Buffalo and Kent lost twice to them, so BG looks pretty good for the tie-breakrer with Kent, if it is head to head.

As for getting home court, things are not looking great.  BG needs 2 wins for it even to be an issue, which is going to be tough.  Kent would need to lose once more.  Miami could lose out and that would do it.  It gets more complicated if we end up in a 3-way tie with Kent, because they have beaten Miami twice and could beat them again.

Anyhoo, that's a lot to worry about when BG is going to need to win @Akron or @Buffalo and beat OU at home to get the wins they need.  The odds are that the Falcons are on the road.  Maybe BG can make it interesting with a win on Saturday.

"Spring Practice" Starts

So early yesterday morning, the defending Mid-American conference champions (yeah, still feels good to say that) started their Spring practice, even if the temp and the snow squalls said otherwise.  But, hey, we can practice inside, something that was not lost on Coach Babers, who did not have an indoor facility at Eastern Illinois.

Apparently it was fast.  Fast, fast, fast.  (blah, blah, blah).  And Coach said it will be the slowest practice we ever have.  The team is going to practice for five days and then go on spring break to let everything "simmer" (in Coach's word) and then come back and go back to work.

He was pleased.  People were engaged.  Listening and learning.

As Coach has described it, the team needs to turn thinking into reacting.  In his sphinx-like words, "knowing without knowing."

Honestly, he's says something like that every time he talks and I like it.  One more spirograph reference and it would have been perfect.

The guys over at have looked at the spring roster.  Very little news there, which is very good news.  Shannon Smith, a D-tackle from Chicago in the 2013 class is not listed, and RB Brandon English--a greyshirt--is now listed on the roster.

Here's the video with Coach Babers and Ryland Ward, if you want to check it out.  The Spring Prospectus is here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Falcons Hold off Flashes, Win at Stroh

So, the Falcons picked up a win over Kent State last night.  The Kent program this year is not what it has been and they have the same record as BG this year in the MAC.  Even so, we are happy to have the win.  BG plays 3 very tough games going home and it is not inconceivable that was the last win of the season...and it kept BG marginally alive for a home berth...NIU and Miami both won and BG has to catch one of those teams while beating Kent.

The win symbolized what has been positive about this year's team.  No one is happy about where the program is, but our players have shown resilience in the face of obstacles--including the coach being a lame duck--that we would admire in any walk of life.  Again, the results are not what anyone wants, but I admire the character of the team.  Last night, that took the form of winning without Anthony Henderson, and the team deserves credit for that.

(Orr said after the game to The Blade that he hopes Henderson will play Saturday).

Anyway, much like the game at Kent, BG led most of the way.  In fact, with the exception of ties at 9 and 13, BG led the entire way.  Kent was never ahead.

BG led 31-26 at the half but had a nice run to start the half and the lead was 11 4 minutes in.  Kent drove the lead down to 3 with 5:30 left,  but BG responded with a 7-0 run to lead by 10 with 2:48 left.  In fact, BG was still leading by 10 with 1:25 left when the game turned into a white knuckler again.

First, Henninger split a pair of FTs but Kent got the board and cashed in, making it a 7 point lead. (1:21)

Parker split a pair of FTs and the Henninger cashed in off an O-REB and it was a 6-point lead (:52)

Jehvon Clarke split a pair and Manley responded with a 3FG and it was a 4-point game (:37)

Parker hit 2 free throws but BG gave up a ridiculously easy basket on the other end and it was still 4 points. (:37)

Parker split a pair of FTs and Kent got another easy basket and it was a 3-point game (:30)

Finally, BG stabilized the situation.  Clarke made 2 FTs and Kent was forced to work for a shot, which they missed and BG was up 5 (:21)

Clarke made 2 more FTs and it was over, 73-66.

Despite having Henderson out, BG scored effectively while playing good (if not up to their usual standards) defense.  BG scored 1.09 points per possession, which is their 4th best this year and 2nd best in MAC play.  They held Kent to .98, which is well below their average.

This advantage came despite the fact that BG had 15 turnovers and Kent only 8.  The key was shooting.  BG shot 47% overall and held Kent to 35%, and BG held Kent to 5 3FGs.  BG had a huge night on the offensive boards (best MAC effort this year) and had a good night at the line, shooting 68% (which is not great, but good enough in this case).

With Henderson out, there can be no doubt that Jehvon Clarke played the key role in the win.  He scored 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 8 of 9 from the line.  He had 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals...his line only hampered by 5 turnovers, but he was handling the ball a huge amount and played 38 minutes.

Holmes double-doubled at 12 and 10.  He shot 5 of 12 and added 4 blocked shots.  Spencer Parker had trouble getting shots, but he was 8-10 from the line on his was to 12 points and 6 rebounds.  Cam Black added 9 points (4 of 6 shooting), 6 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.

JD Tisdale started and provided solid minutes.  Damarkeo Lyshe had 8 key points in 19 minutes to help BG replace Henderson, and Craig Sealey played 18 minutes and while the line was not huge (6 rebounds), they would have been screwed without him.  Three Falcons finished with 4 fouls.

BG is now 12-16 and 6-9 and 9th in the MAC.  They head to Akron Saturday.  The Zips have lost 4 of 5 including a 16-point smacking by OU.  At the same time, Akron and Dambrot have owned, perhaps this is the time to turn a close game on the road into a win for BG.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flashes Redux

BG gets a second shot at the Golden Flashes tomorrow night.  The first game ended with Devereaux Manley draining a 3 at the buzzer to take a 2-point BG lead to a 1-point Kent win in the blink of an eye...probably the most disappointing of BG's last second losses, if only because they were ahead and BG only needed to defend for :03 to get the win.

Statistically, the game was incredibly close.  The difference in the game was that Kent made 9 3s in their shot mix and BG only made 4.  It was a 1 point game, so you expect it to be close in the stats.  You'd also expect BG to have a nice shot out there tomorrow on home floor.  They need it.  I haven't run the numbers, but without a win BG has nearly no shot of getting home court, given the games it faces after this one.

Kent is 7th in the conference in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency, conference games only.  BG is last in offense and 2nd in defensive efficiency and #21 in the country.  History has shown us that BG needs to play strong defense and get at least some kind of offensive output, and it would appear that situation is available for them here.

Kent is 4th in the MAC in shooting, so they are dangerous with the shot.  They like the 3FG--they are 2nd in attempts and 5th in %.  BG simply has to keep those off the board...that was the one thing that sunk them the first time.  As you can see, they take average care of the ball.  They re not good on the offensive boards--helpful to BG--and they do not get to the line at all.  They have a deficit of 102 made free throws in 14 conference games, which is over 7 per game.  BG has to exploit that.  Kent is a poor FT shooting team, at 64%.

On the opposite side, Kent is a team people can shoot against.  They are average on turnovers and offensive rebounds and, as you can see, give up a ton of FTs.  BG has struggled to shoot and make FTs this year, and will need those things tomorrow to get the win.  I haven't heard anything about Anthony Henderson's injury, but obviously without him things get even more difficult.

Kent has two inefficient double-figure scorers--Kris Brewer (12.4 PPG, 38% FG) and Derek Jackson (11.1/43%).  Now, those numbers include a bunch of 3FGs, so you have to take that into account.  Mark Henninger is their leading rebounds at 4.2 (which is not a lot) Brewer leads them with 3.5 assists.  Also contributing are Devereaux Manley (the dagger-man from game 1) and Darren Goodson.

Anyway, BG's odds are long already for home court but very long with a loss. The good thing is that this is a winnable game for the Falcons, if they can make some shots.  I know this has to be a long season for the guys, but they have continued to play hard and if they do the same tomorrow, I'd like our chances.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Standings, February 24

So here is what it all looks like.

This is not looking great for BG.

Here's why.

First, BG is 2 games and a tiebreaker down to EMU with 4 to play, so we are not likely to catch them.

To get home court, BG needs to beat two of the following three teams:  Kent, NIU and Miami.

BG loses head-head tiebreakers to NIU and Miami and would have trouble in any 3-way tiebreaker that includes those teams, especially Miami.

BG is also one game behind all of those teams.

To start with, either Kent or Miami will get to 7 wins, because they play each other.  If it is Kent, BG could get into a tie with them by winning twice in four games and would need one of the wings to be over Kent.  If Miami beats Kent and ends up with 7 wins, BG needs 8 and three out of four coming home.

NIU could easily finish 7-11 with their remaining schedule, which would require BG to win 3 games in its remaining 4.

Anyhow, BG has shown itself capable of pulling surprises, but the loss at Miami Sunday made this really tough.  At this point, BG is likely to be on the road for the MAC tournament.  BG has been home the last two years and lost to low-seeded teams, so it could still get us to Cleveland.  BG's last conference road game was in the 2010 tournament, losing to WMU by 2.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Falcons shorter-handed, lose again

On January 22, BG left OU having beaten the Bobcats at the Convo.  Things looked as good as anyone would have had a reason to suspect they could look for this team.

One month and one day later, BG has played 9 games and won 2.  Four of the losses were by 3 or less and three--as you know by now--came on buzzer beaters.

The game today in Oxford was one that was winnable for BG, but instead it ended up being another defeat.  BG's job was made harder by a practice injury to Anthony Henderson, one of only 6 BG players who gets significant minutes.  He started and played only 21 minutes...the Falcons have enough problems.  They don't need to play without Henderson.

Even so, it was a competitive game coming down the stretch.  When Holmes scored with 1:47 left to cut the lead to 1, BG had trailed for around 36 consecutive minutes, some of it with a deficit over 10.  Miami ran shot clock but missed a 3 and BG had the stop they needed.  Coach Orr used a full time out...BG is almost always poor at getting a good shot out of a timeout and this was no exception.  BG ended up with a tough shot by Clarke which did not go in.

BG fouled (bringing in Shaun Joplin as a designated fouler and then pulling him out) and Miami made 1 of 2.  There were :29 left, BG was working off a :20 timeout and still ended up with Clarke 3 (with :06) left and it did not go in and Miami had one more free throw and a 3-point win.  You had to go for 3...BG was short-handed and in bad foul trouble.  Chances of winning in OT were very slim.

BG falls to 5-8 in the MAC, one game behind Miami, but without the tie breaker, so it is actually 2 games.  Same with NIU.  BG still plays Kent, but right now the chances of a home berth in the playoffs are on the long side.

I wasn't there, but it can't have been a great day for MAC basketball.  It was a defensive low-scoring game played by 2 under .500 teams in front of an announced crowd of 975.

It was a slow-paced game, with only 64 possessions.  Neither team generated any offensive efficiency.  Miami scored .86 points per possession and BG scored .81 points per possession.  As I noted in the preview, Miami has a poor defense, so the hope was that BG might do some scoring.  That did not materialize.

The whole game comes down to BG being poorer at putting the ball into the basket, no matter what form the shot took.  BG shot 39.7% from the field, 15% from 3FG and 36% from the line.  Miami wasn't much better--40% and 29%--and they were unusually bad at the line, shooting 55% but that was still enough to get them a +7 at the line.

As you can see below, turnovers were pretty close and BG was much better on the offensive boards.  Poor shooting, especially at the line, brought BG down.

Individually, only Spencer Parker had a good game for BG on the offensive end.  He had 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting and 2 of 3 from the line.  He also had 7 rebounds, though 4 turnovers.  Cam Black had 8 points and 10 rebounds.  Beyond that, Clarke (3 of 10), Holmes (4 of 14) and Henderson (2 of 8) all had trouble scoring the ball.  Holmes also had 3 turnovers.

So, that's how the story ended.  BG is now 11-16 and cannot finish .500 overall without a MAC tournament run.  Certainly, this was another game BG had a shot to win, even if it wasn't decided right at the buzzer.  We'll see if BG can rally on Wednesday in front of the home crowd against Kent, which provided one of those buzzer-defeats.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Redhawk Redux

So, the Falcons and the Redhawks do battle one more time (probably) at Millett tomorrow.  There's a lot of things that could happen, but with BG's closing schedule, it pretty much stacks up like this:  without a win tomorrow, BG has a long road up to get a home berth in the MAC tournament.

BG lost the first time to Miami at the Stroh.  RPI wise, it was BG's third worse loss of the season and worst loss at home.  Miami won by 5 but was ahead by 9 late, so the game was actually not that close.  As you can see on the chart below, free throws was all that separated the two teams--in fact, BG was the stronger team in most of the categories.  BG committed 21 fouls giving Miami 26 free throws and they made 22, while BG was 9 of 17.

Jehvon Clarke had 22 points and Anthony Henderson had 15.  For Miami, Will Sullivan and Willie Moore both had 16.

BG and Miami are tied for 9th at 5-8.  A win gives Miami a one-game lead and the tie breaker over BG, in essence making it a 2-game lead with 4 to play.  BG doesn't have to beat Miami to get home court, but they were already behind Kent and NIU heading into the weekend.

Neither team is playing well.  You are familiar with BG's struggles and Miami has lost their last 5 and 6 of their last 7.  That includes losing at home to Buffalo and Kent.

Miami plays a different style than BG.  They are only 8th in the MAC in offense but they are 10th in defense.  BG is a stronger defensive team and not as good on offense.  And that's where the game will be decided.  Can BG get stops against Miami and can BG exploit a Miami defense that has been porous this year?

Looking first at the Miami offense, on the top two categories, they are average.  They are 8th in shooting and 6th in turnover%.  They are the worst offensive rebounding team in the MAC--a matchup aide to BG--and they do not get to the line effectively.  They are the best FT shooting team in the MAC (and 2nd in the country) so that does help.  In general, this looks like a good matchup for BG, especially given the defense they played against a much better UT attack.

On the other side, you have a team that does a good job turning teams over, but defends the shot very poorly--11th in the MAC.  So, if BG can take care of the ball, they should be able to score.  Note, though, that Miami's turnovers allowed and BG's turnovers committed are not that far apart and so we have a good idea what to expect. Miami is the lowest fouling team in the MAC, and BG does not typically draw a lot of fouls, so you can't expect to see much advantage there for BG.  The Falcons should be able to score against Miami, but they will need to take care of the ball.

Individually speaking, Will Felder is their leading player, scoring 15.5 on 56% shooting and making 6.8 rebounds per game.  Will Sullivan is scoring 10.6 PPG and is shooting 46% from 3FG.  PG Quinton Rollins has 3.5 assists over 2.3 turnovers, which is good but not great.  Oregon transfer Willie Moore, who had 16 against BG the first time, has only hit double figures ONCE since then.

Anyway, for whatever goals remain for this team, tomorrow's game is pretty important.  It is winnable and Miami is a good matchup for the Falcons.  If BG can remain resilient, you have to think they will be rewarded at least once in a while and tomorrow's game would be a good place to start.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rockets, Part II

Honestly, BG played about as well defensively as they are capable of playing against a UT team that is among the best offensive machines in the county. BG held them to .88 points per possession for the game, coming off a game where they scored .69 against EMU.  In fact, those are the only two times ALL SEASON that UT has been held under 1 point per possession in a game.  For comparison, BG has been below that line 17 times in 26 games.

As you can see on the chart above, BG did the things you need to do to stop Toledo.  They held them to 41% shooting, as opposed to their 47% average.  They kept the off the line, relatively speaking.  BG did a great job on the offensive boards and forced UT into their second-highest turnover% of the season.  UT had 17 turnovers and normally averages 10.

BG defended plenty well enough to win this or any game in the MAC.

On offense, BG did a good job taking care of the ball and on the offensive boards. They were eventually sunk by their shooting.  BG shot only 36% from the field and 27% from 3FG...and only 59% from the line.  In fact, BG had 1 more FG than UT and the same number of 3s, so UT's +4 at the line was decisive, despite BG committing only 14 fouls for the game.  BG missed two key FTs down the stretch...anyway, the difference in the game was that BG's defense did heroic work on UT's attack, the offense was unable to take advantage at even a subsistence level.

Two players really stood out for BG.  Anthony Henderson is playing really well right now.  He had 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.  He is rounding into the shooter we hoped he could be.

The other is Cam Black, who in his finals games is really showing the ability we felt he had.  He had 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting to go with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.  He was a force on the inside defensively.  Cam Black is playing at a very high level right now.

Richaun Holmes had 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks for a very solid game as well.

Jehvon Clarke struggled.  He was 3 of 17 and 1 of 6 from 3 and 2 assists over 4 turnovers.  Also, Spencer Parker was 2-8/0-3, though he did add 10 rebounds.

Anyway, let's remember that all those guys--Clarke and Parker included--were part of BG's outstanding defensive effort as well, even though there are not stats for that.  The Falcons did a great job slowing UT around, and just needed to make a few more shots of their own to get the win in this one.

That one hurts.


That one stings.  And, if it feels like that for a fan, imagine how it feels for the players and coaches.

For the 3rd time in four games BG gave up a shot in the last 5 seconds to lose a game, and this one came in a rivalry game, at home, in front of a big crowd and with BG just seconds away from getting a huge upset over UT.  Instead, UT did what they do, which is make the plays at the end with ruthless efficiency and they ended up with the win.

The fact that BG lost twice to UT at home (football and men's basketball) this year under similar circumstances does not make it any better.

It was a total gut punch.  BG had rallied all the way back, had the lead late and it was a total gut punch.

For much of the game you would not have thought we were going to be talking about a close finish.  UT bolted out to an early lead, just as they did in the first game.  It was 16-6 about 8 minutes in and UT was still rolling.  With 6 minutes left it was 30-13 and it was just looking like a really ugly night.  At the break, the Rockets like by 16--and with 39 points was well on the road to their 80 point average.

The second half was impressive for a Falcon team still playing short-handed and behind by that kind of score.  BG just laid some incredible defense...holding UT to .67 points per possession for the second half.  The Rockets shot 33% and had 9 turnovers, both big shifts from their normal numbers.

Even so, UT led by more than 10 for the first 8 minutes of the second half.  BG finally took advantage of all those stops and went on a 12-2 run to get the lead to 1 with 8 minutes left.  BG had 3 shots to take the lead, got open looks and they didn't fall.  At the time that seemed like a big deal, and while I think the place would have gone crazy if BG had taken the lead, I don't think you can expect that UT would have just wilted.

BG finally tied the game with 2:45 left on a Henderson 3-ball.  BG got a stop and then Black was fouled and split his FTs to put BG up 1 with 1:40 left.  BG got another stop on a Holmes block, but couldn't convert on the offensive end and still led by 1 with about 1 minute left.

Juice Brown did what he does next, nailing a clutch 2 to put UT back up by 1.  BG took a timeout with :38 left.  Typically, BG is not great in these situations, and that proved to be true again.  BG came out, moved the ball around the edges, and then late in the shot clock set a high ball screen for Clarke who drove to the FT line and missed a jumper.  BG got the board, though and Parker was fouled.

With :12 left, Parker was at the line down 1.  It was only a 1-1, so it was a pretty clutch situation.  He made the first one and missed the second and the game was tied.  UT was out of timeouts, but that didn't bother then.  Drummond drove down the court, nobody on BG stopped the ball and he penetrated to the key, drawing the defense to him.  He dished the ball to Rian Pearson who nailed a jumper to give UT the lead with :04 left and gave the Falcons a heartbreak.

It wasn't completely over.  Clarke got a buzzer beater off that was in and then out and the heartbreak was complete.

More later.  Look, UT (and Akron) are teams that know how to win.  BG had a possession to take the lead and didn't get the ball to a big man even for a touch and ended up with a jump shot that didn't go, whereas UT had two possessions in the last minute where their guys found open looks and nailed them.  BG gave it everything they held.  Their defensive pressure at the end was stifling.  They battled back and put themselves in a position to win and for the third time in four games, a shot in the last :05 was decisive.

To be fair, the Akron game and UT game were tied when the shots were made, so even if they don't fall you'd have to win an overtime.  Still, it has been a heartbreaking stretch for this team and losing a rivalry game like that is just brutal.

Even as they fall short and there are no moral victories (blah blah blah), I am proud of this team for their resilience and determination.  They continue to fight and remain competitive in a situation where not all teams would.  They are essentially playing six guys and are mostly without two of their leading returning players (Orr and Sealey) and they continue to compete.  That's worth something.  Oddly, next to 2009, this might be the best coaching that Orr has done at BG.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

MAC Outlook Today

So here they are...BG, EMU, NIU and UT play tonight.  UT needs a win to keep pace with WMU.  AK has a favorable schedule coming home, so I would think they 'd like to keep a game between them and the bye to the semis.

BG is in 9th, temporarily.  If BG wins, they could get into 8th or stay in 9th.  Definitely rooting for EMU tonight as well.

Rocket Rematch

So, it is time to do the battle of I-75 again.  The first game was played a couple weeks ago up at Savage.  BG fell way behind early (21-8) and then battled back into the game and ended up giving the Rockets all they could handle.  UT is an offensive juggernaut, but BG actually out shot them.  In fact, the game only fell apart for BG at the line.  UT had 11 fouls and BG 24, and the Rockets made 29 FTs to BG's 7.  Also, UT was pretty dominant on the offensive boards.  I have no evidence of this but I think that it offensive rebounds often end in a the two could be correlated.  Anyway, here is how the game played out.

Since then, UT is 2-1, including a big win against OU and then a nasty loss to EMU Saturday...something I'd just as soon had not happened, from our perspective.  BG has had three nail-biters since the UT game, going 1-2.

You have some real contrasts here, that can lead to an interesting game.  UT is a very good offensive team.  These are conference games only so the EMU debacle (for UT, 44 points) has more weight than the other games.  Even so, they lead the MAC in offensive efficiency and they are 11th in defensive efficiency.  BG is 10th in offense and 4th in defense.  Anyway, BG did a great job defending the shot--especially the 2FG--in the first game and that allowed it to be close and they will need that again.

UT is just a very solid offensive team.  They are 4th in EFG and 1st in turnover % and offensive rebounding % and 4th in FT Rate, which only measures getting to the line as compared to FG attempts.  They lead the MAC in FTs made and attempted and are 4th in %.  In game 1 this was decisive, so BG needs to keep UT off the line.  Also, BG is the worst team in the MAC at protecting the defensive boards and that's going to be vital, too.

Like many teams that are good on offense, UT is not great on defense.  They are 10th at defending the shot and 8th at creating turnovers, which is not a great combo.  They are average on the boards and just a little below average on letting opponents get to the line.  As you can see, they are pretty close to BG's offense on most measures.  The key difference would be BG making some FGs to exploit the UT defense, and then getting to the line and converting, unlike the first game.

Individually, they have some very good players.  Juice Brown is scoring 16.3 PPG (again, conference only) on 41% shooting, 86% FTs, 37% on 3FG and 5.6 assists per game, which leads the MAC.

Justin Drummond is scoring 13.5 PPG on 47% shooting and 5.2 rebounds.  Rian Pearson is scoring 12.3 on 43% shooting (and almost all 2s, so that's not terribly efficient).  He also gets 5.5 rebounds.  Finally, OSU transfer JD Weatherspoon is scoring 11.5 PPG on 56% shooting and grabbing 7.8 rebounds a game.

Anyway, UT still has to be favored in this one.  The pressure is on them, too.  They are in a 3-way tie for first and only two of those teams will get a bye, so they need every win they can get.  BG played them tough at Savage and has been playing everyone close, so let's home the Falcons get the Stroh-mojo going and pick up a sweet arch-rival in.

Falcon Nation! WKYC on BG Olympic Legacy. 100% Must Watch.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BG Men's Hoops Opponents....where are they now?

Earlham College

Earlham is 5-18, not counting the BG game, which was an exhibition for them.

South Florida (12-14, 3-10 in AAC, RPI 174)

Lost at home to Detroit.  Lost 8 of last 10.  Big win over SMU.

Wisconsin (21-5, 8-5, 4th in Big 10 RPI 6)

 Back on right track.  Won 4 in a row over @Illinois, MSU, Minnesota and @Michigan.

Saint Louis (23-2, 10-0.  1st in A-10 RPI 11)

Only losses to Wisconsin and Wichita State.  Won 17 straight games.

Presbyterian (6-21, 2-10 in Big South, RPI 350)

One of the five worst teams in D1, RPI-wise.  Only 3 D1 wins and the best was over a team with a 239 RPI.

Oral Roberts (13-13, 7-6, RPI 183)

When we last did this review, we thought their RPI was a little high and it was.  Based on their RPI, the win over BG was their 2nd best of the year.

WKU (17-9, 9-4 Sun Belt (2nd place) RPI 140)

This win looks really nice for BG.

Xavier (17-8, 7-5 (3rd in  Big East), RPI 48)

This loss will join several heartbreakers for the Falcons.  Beat Providence and Georgetown, but lost 5 of last 9.

North Dakota (11-13, 8-6. Tied 3rd in Big Sky, RPI 234)

Have lost 3 of their last 5.

Morehead State (18-9, 9-3, T-3 in OVC, RPI 119)

This win--on the road--is BG's best non-conference win.  They have won 7 out of their last 9, with the only losses being to Belmont.

Detroit (12-15, 5-7 T-6 in Horizon RPI 198)

Playing better, won 4 out of last, including winning @Milwaukee and @Valpo.

Wright State 15-13, 7-8 , 4th in Horizon RPI 207)

Big win is @Cleveland State.  Lost 4 of last 6.

Which means....

BG's best non-conference win...Morehead State
Worst non-conference loss...Wright State
Biggest missed opportunity non-conference...Xavier and it isn't close.

Monday, February 17, 2014

MAC Standings...

Monday morning.  Here is how it looks.  WMU is now first based on tie- breakers but Akron still has the best schedule coming home.  I would still expect the top two byes to go to Akron and Toledo, but who can tell.  Yes, BG is 10th...and yes, there is a four-way tie.  Problem is, BG has lost to all 3 of the teams they are tied with.  Get second shots at Miami and Kent, though.  Anyway, BG can still get a home berth, but I'd say they are a slight longshot.

Win over Toledo would be huge.  If BG splits with Miami or Kent, the next tie breaker is how you do against the top a win over UT would be good.  If things ended today, BG would be heading to DeKalb.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Falcons WIN Close one

The Cardiac Kids were back again in Muncie as the Falcons played a game that once again came down to the final possession, but this time Ball State was unable to get a shot off, no foul was called and BG had pulled out a badly needed victory.

Yes, Ball State is not very good.  Yes, it was a struggle.  BG is in no position to be picky.  They badly needed a win and got it.  They remain in 10th place, however, and play at home against Toledo Thursday and then @Miami on Sunday.

BG got out to another fast start, leading 8-0, but a couple minutes later the Cardinals had the lead down to 3.  Still, BG was controlling the play, leading by 10 with about 8 minutes left.  From there Ball State took control again, getting the lead down to 3 points with about 4 minutes left and 2 with 2:21 left.  At the half, BG led by 4.

The second half was closely contested the entire way.  BG led for the first 8 minutes of the half, but always by 5 or less.  Ball State took the lead with 11 minutes left and popped the lead to 5 with 8 minutes left. You really start to worry at this point.  I heard Charlie Coles once say that you don't want to play a desperate team at home, because they will do anything to win (he was describing the Cole Magner game), and that was how it was starting to feel.

Ball State led until there were 3 minutes left, when Holmes nailed a 3 to tie the game.  The teams traded layups and then went into a pretty stagnant offensive period.  With 1:20 left, Ball State's FR PG Zavier Turner made a ridiculous 3FG to put the Falcons down 3.  Things were looking bad again.

As it turned out--and in perhaps a triumph of justice or karma or good defense--Ball State would not score again.

BG rallied though.  Parker was fouled and made both ends and then BG got a stop and Clarke fed Henderson for a layup and BG was up 1 with :44 left.  From there on in, it wasn't pretty.

Ball State missed a shot, Majok got the board but BG fouled him trying to strip the ball.  He missed the front end of a 1-1.

Richaun Holmes was fouled.  Missed the shot (still just in bonus).  Ball State comes down.  Turner (the PG) is only 5'9" and he drove right into the middle of the big guys, had nowhere to go with the ball, and Holmes blocked the shot and was fouled.

BG still up 1, :04 left.  He made the first and missed the second and then Turner came down and launched a 3FG where he was mostly worried about trying to lean in and draw contact, he did not get bailed out and BG had the win.

We had noted that Ball State is one of the worst defensive teams in the country.  For all that, they were well above their average against the Falcons.  Their MAC average was .89 points per possession and they got .95 against the Falcons.  Their defense has struggled, though, and while BG did not have a great offensive game, their .99 points per possession is above their average as well.

The big difference for Ball State was 3FG shooting. Their overall % was only 39%, which is pretty bad.  I had noted pre-game that they liked to shoot the 3FG but were not accurate.  Yesterday, they were.  They made 10 of 21 from beyond the arc while BG was 2 of 9.  So, you have 8 more 3FGs which is 24 points.

Free throws were exactly even, however.  We had also noted that Ball State is a terrible team for turnovers, and while they were a little below their average---23% as opposed to 27%--BG was very good and those extra possessions made a big difference.

Ball State had 10 3s and they only had 13 2s.    They shot only 34% on 2FGs while BG shot 47%.

Individually, Spencer Parker had 22 for BG on 9 of 14 shooting and 4 of 5 at the line.  Also, only 1 turnover, so a very solid game for Parker.  Richaun Holmes also came out of a slump, scoring 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting and added 11 rebounds.  Jehvon Clarke had a tough night...11 points, 5 of 15 shooting...6 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals, but 6 turnovers.  Cam Black had 12 rebounds.

BG is now 5-7 in the MAC and remains in 10th place, based on tiebreakers.  However, three other teams have the same record so BG is still competitive for a home court berth.  Downside is that BG has lost to all three of them, so tiebreakers are not pretty.

Next up is UT, late on Thursday.  They were smoked by EMU on Saturday...not exactly the lead-in I would have hoped for.  Still, BG was competitive with them at Savage and now that the game is being played down at the Stroh, so perhaps BG can pull what would be a pretty major upset.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rock Bottom in Muncie

BG heads into Worthern Arena today to play Ball State.  When they will do, they will be playing a team that is simply have a nightmare season.   Say what you want about our current regime...we have not been subjected to a year like this.

Ball State is 4-18.  They are 2-18 in D1 games.  They are 1-10 in the MAC and 1-5 on their home floor in conference.  Their RPI is 285.  Their BPI is 291.  There are 351 teams.

Just a very long season for a school with a great basketball tradition.  They made at least a couple bad coaching decisions and they are paying the price.  I think they have a coach who will turn it around, but they are paying the price this year.

Before we get too crazy, BG has lost 5 of its last 6 games.  As I mentioned after the Kent game, the unnerving thought it that while BG looks at Ball State as a team they should beat, Ball State looks at BG coming to town as a chance for a much needed win.

Here in a nutshell is what we have going on.  These are conference only stats.  Ball State is last in the MAC in offensive efficiency and 347th in the country.  This is a team that struggles mightily to score.  Sometimes we see that in a team that plays lock down defense.  This is not the case.  Ball State is 11th in the MAC in defensive efficiency.  Look, this is what you expect...a 1-10 team is going to score less than its opponents, by definition.

Here is how that happens.  First, they struggle to make shots--worse than BG.  They are 10th in the MAC.  Combine that with the truly shocking number, which is turnover%.  That rate is worst in the MAC and the 2nd worst in the entire country.  Those are the two most factors--so when you cough up that many possessions right out of the gate and then struggle to make the shot when you get the chance.  Offensive rebounding and getting to the line are average.

They are a decent free throw shooting team.  One last note.  They are 5th in the MAC in attempting 3FGs but 11th in percentage.

On defense they are 8th in the MAC in terms of EFG% defense.  They don't force many turnovers (last in the MAC).  They do a good job on the offensive boards and give up a bunch of FTs.  They are 10th in fouls and 12th in FT Rate.

Their leading scorer is 6'4" Sr. Chris Bond.  He is scoring 13 a game on 45% shooting and 6 rebounds a game.  Their second-leading scorer is 5'9" FR Zavier Turner, who is scoring an inefficient 11.6 ppg (36% shooting) with 2.6 assists over 4.3 turnovers.  He is also their best 3-FG shooter.

Their best player is Majok Majok.  He is scoring 10.8 PPG on 53% shooting and getting 9 rebounds a game.  That's 3rd in the MAC.

This is the 3rd youngest team in the MAC, based on minutes played by class.

Anyway, this is a program that is in the very depths.  BG has been losing, but ever so close to winning.  You'd like to see them pick up this win, but it is far from certain.

Friday, February 14, 2014

MAC Standings

So here are the updated MAC standings.  As you can see, BG is in 10th.  Still just one game out of 7th, though and most of the teams have 3 home games left.  Still a shot for BG to get home court.  BG can start with a win Saturday against the worst team in the MAC...let's try not to let this one come down to the last shot, and if it does, hope it is our guy making it.

Looking around, because of the home/road thing, Akron is still dangerous and a favorite for the other bye.  OU needs to get moving to climb into that top group.  NIU and Miami are both surprising...EMU and OU maybe disappointing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Falcons Lose 2nd Straight Heart-Breaker

Another night in what is turning into a long season...BG lost their 2nd straight buzzer beater and this one was even more heart-wrenching than the first one.

Look, the Akron thing was a different story.  BG had been down most of the game and even if Diggs doesn't make that shot the game is still going into OT, and you don't know but you figure BG has at best a 50/50 shot.  The game was far from won if he missed that shot.

Last night was different.  BG had led the entire way.  Kent's biggest lead of the game was 1 point.  And, if Kent doesn't nail that 3, BG wins. In fact, if they just hold him to a deuce there's an overtime on the way.  BG had already stopped them once with a Black blocked BG had to defend the basket for 3 seconds.  And, Kent did not have a timeout to set up a play.

Nonetheless, they found their shooter and he was open and he drained a buzzer beater off the inbound pass and BG had another brutal defeat.

This one was different.  You needed to get this one.  You had it most of the way and you needed to defend for 3 seconds and Kent made the play.

BG has now lost 5 out of 6 after the back to back wins over WMU and OU and is now in 10th place in the MAC.

It was an up and down gain.  Senderhoff decided to bench his starters at the beginning of the game and was rewarded by seeing the Falcons rip off a 13-0 run to open the game.  He put the starters back in again and with 8 minutes left in the half Kent had the lead.  Things switched back again and BG went on a 13-4 run to end the half (about 6 minutes) and lead by 8 at the break.

BG punched the lead up to 11 early in the half, but Kent scored 10 straight in just over 2 minutes to make it close.  The remainder of the half was closely contested.  BG led by 5 with 4 minutes left, but Kent closed on an 11-5 run to win the game, including the sequence mentioned above.

It is difficult for a game to have closer stats than this one did.  It was not a pretty contest.  Both teams had 19 turnovers (27.5% of possessions) which is awful.  BG had .88 points per possession and Kent .9, both of which are borderline stagnant.  Nobody got to the line very much--in fact, Kent had 19 fouls and BG only netted 11 free throws.  Offensive rebounds were even as well.

The difference was shooting.  BG shot better than Kent--46.3% to 39.7%.  However, Kent had 22 3FG attempts, which are riskier shots, and they made 41% of them, which is a lot.  In total, the difference in the game was Kent making 9 3FGs and BG making 4.

Individually, the story of the game was Kent native Cam Black, who had a career night.  He scored 18 points on 9 of 11 shooting, added 9 boards, 3 assists and 3 blocks, including the last second block that set up the final sequence.

Jehvon Clarke also had 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting, which is reasonable, and he added six assists over 1 turnover.  Anthony Henderson had 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting, 8 rebounds and 5 turnovers.

Besides Black, BG's inside game struggled.  Spencer Parker had 7 points on 2 of 6 shooting and 5 turnovers, and Richaun Holmes had a season-low 4 points and took only 5 shots.  After 12 straight games in double figure for scoring, he has now been in single digits in 3 of the last 6 (during which time BG is 1-5).  I know teams are focusing on him, and I think Clarke and Henderson have produced as a result.

So, that is the story of a disappointing loss for the Falcons.  They play at Ball State on Saturday.  The Cardinals are 1-10 in the MAC and 4-18 overall.  Two of those 4 wins are non D1 wins.  You have to think that this is one you could win.  Problem is, that's exactly what they think when they see us coming.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Faded Flashes

Time was when Kent was the MAC's most consistent and effective program.  Year after year, coach after didn't seem to matter.  20-win seasons just piled up.

When Geno Ford left for Bradley, they elevated Rob Senderoff to the main job.  He was a Kelvin Sampson at IU refugee and you kind of wondered if they might have warn the magic out and this year, they might really have done it.

They are 12-11 and 3-7 in the MAC and that is against a pretty soft schedule.  Their best win was @Temple (RPI 177) but they are down this year.  They have lost 6 of their last 7 in the MAC.  The win in that streak was against Akron (which BG did not do).  They lost at home to NIU (as BG did) as well as to WMU.

Normally, the MACC has been an impenetrable fortress.  This year, not so much.  They are 9-5 overall and 2-3 in the MAC at home.

Here is the basic layout.  As you can see, in MAC play Kent has struggled as much as BG has, and they are worse defensively.  In their last 6 losses, they have allowed more than 70 points in 5 of them.  This is a good opportunity for BG to get back into the defensive swing of things and continue to have some success on offense.

Here is the Kent offense.  As you can see, they are below average from the shot, average on turnovers, and poor on offensive rebounds (10th in MAC) and free throw rate (also 10th).  Not only do they not get to the line but they are shooting 65% which is not good.  All that adds up to a struggling attack.  You look for the Kent has been poor at offensive rebounds BG has been poor on preventing them and then the same on free throws, so those are the areas where it will be interesting to see what happens.

Their biggest issue with shooting is that they are 2nd in the MAC in 3FGs attempted and they are 10th in 3FG made.  This is taken into account for their effective FG%, but they are jacking the shots up and missing more than normal.  Obviously, if that changes they are capable of getting a big number.

On the other side, Kent is average defending the shot and at getting turnovers.  They do allow a lot of offensive rebounds and they are last in the MAC in allowing FTs (by rate).  Kent is committing 22 fouls a game in MAC play.  In most cases, BG's offensive numbers are pretty similar to their defense, except for the free throws.  BG will need to exploit this and get to the line.  The game could very well come down to a FT shooting contest.

Individually, they are led by 3 players who are pretty even in scoring.  Kris Brewer is scoring an inefficient 11.7 PPG (34% shooting and 20% on 3s and shoots 4 a game).  Darren Good is the second guy, scoring 10.8 on 48% shooting.  He also leads the team with 4.4 rebounds, which is not very many.  The third guy is CMU transfer Derek Jackson at 9.8 on 37% shooting and 33% from beyond the arc--almost 5 attempts per game.

Two other guys of note.  Mark Hemminger is their big guy, with 5 points and 5 rebounds.  And Devareaux Manley is their highest volume 3FG shooter with 58 attempts, but he is only making 31%.

Obviously, Kent has to be the favorite at home, but if BG plays as they are capable of, this is an entirely winnable game.  After a couple tough losses to good teams, it would be great to see the Falcons steal a road win and get back on the right track.  This is a winnable matchup for the Falcons.

Monday, February 10, 2014

MAC standings....

Here are the MAC standings as of right now, more or less with current tiebreakers, except CMU and Ball State.  Anyway, BG would be on the road right now if the season ended today and they are kind of behind the eight ball with only 3 home games left.  Also, they lot to NIU and EMU, which is not good tiebreaker wise.

The next two for BG are on the road...that's the bad news.  The good news is that we play Kent and Ball State, both teams which are below us in the standings.  It would be a nice time to put together some road magic.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Akron Deals Crushing Blow

Keith Dambrot has only lost once to Bowling Green--that was in 2009 on a wild shot by Brian Moten that led BG to the regular season title.  Tonight, you saw why.  His teams know how to win games.  They are just closers...their guys make plays when they need them.

BG had rallied from way back...the Falcons never led in the game at any point...and with about 9 seconds left Jehvon Clarke nailed a miracle bank-shot 3 to tie the game.  Akron had time outs and most teams would call one, but Dambrot trusted his guys and just let it roll and Quincy Diggs nailed a cold-blooded long jumper to win the game for the Zips.

Ouch.  That's how you do it.  It wasn't the first shot that the Zips made down the stretch, but it was the most important one.

BG did what it seems to do a lot lately, which is fall into a big hole right out of the gate.  BG was down 6-0 and trailed by 10 or more for the most of the last 10 minutes of the first half before getting it to 9 just before the break.

BG then did what they also seem to do, which is to fight back.  BG got the lead down to 4, Akron pushed it back up to 10 with about 9 minutes left in the game.  BG went on an 8-1 run to get it to 3 with 6:38 left.  It kind of bounced around there for a few minutes and BG got it to 1 with about 3 minutes left.  BG was down 2 with 1:14 left.  Akron got a put back to go up 4.  

Spencer Parker was fouled and the ball appeared to be goaltended, but the refs did not give the +1 and he missed the front of the 1-1 ( meaning that the foul must have been on the floor), and he missed it and that set up the sequence I listed above.

Statistically, it was as close at it could be.  BG held Akron to 1.02 points per possession while stepping up to .98 themselves.  It was just one possession short.

The shooting was pretty much even and both teams had a bad game with turnovers.  BG got to the line 9 more times than Akron did but didn't shoot very well, netting out only +6.  The true difference was offensive rebounding.  Akron just devastated BG on the offensive glass and that got them 7 more shots than BG and 3 more FGs and 2 more 3FGs and that was enough for the narrow difference.

Jehvon Clarke had a good scoring game for BG.  He had 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting, which is a good night.  Ball-handling was not so good, as he had 4 assists over 6 turnovers.  His outside shot is not always there but I would love to see him drive to the basket more...he is very difficult to defend when he does.

Richaun Holmes had a double-double, with 14 points and 13 rebounds.  He was also incredibly efficient, making 4-5 FGs and 6 of 7 FTs.  He had 4 steals, 3 blocks and 3 turnovers. show-stopping dunk in the first half.

Spencer Parker had a struggling 12 points on 4 of 11 shooting.  Even so, when he is on the BG offense is a different story.  Finally, Cam Black showed a lot of offensive energy, with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting.

So, BG falls to 4-6 in the MAC and right now is fighting for the a home berth in the tourney.  Also, they have only 3 home games remaining in the last 8.  They will get the opportunity for a couple of road wins as they play @Kent and @Ball State this week.  They have beaten OU and WMU on the road, played UT and Akron tough, beat would be great to see them build on those performances and turn them into a couple road wins.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Zipper Problems Come to BG

The Akron Zips are the most consistent program in the MAC.  They are always near the top and this year is no exception.  Heading into the weekend's games, they are tied with UT for the top spot and have to be considered a favorite to win one of the two semi-final byes.  This team is good every year without exception.

Akron seems to have found the one thing MAC teams dream about---getting a winning coach that wants to stay.

In total, it has been a good if not great season for them.  They are 15-7, but 7-2 in the MAC.  They had nice wins over Oregon State and @Cleveland State.  In conference, they have lost at home to UT and @Kent.  They are 5-4 on the road, and have won @OU, @EMU and @CMU in the MAC.

Here is how the teams stack up.  You can see precisely how Akron is winning.  Note that we are now using MAC-only stats for these analysis to eliminate pre-season biases and to get a better reflection of how teams are playing now.  Akron has a good offense--that efficiency is #4 in the MAC--and they are playing very good defense especially in the MAC season.  In fact, during MAC play their defense is now better than BG's, which has been steadily creeping up.  Now, BG is also playing better offense of late.  You can see where BG might be able to get this game in a winnable range.

Let's see how that all happens, starting with the Akron offense against the BG defense.  Two of the four factors look pretty evenly matched.  The AK offense and BG defense are comparably average in turnovers and offensive rebounds.  The two areas where there the contest will be decided is shooting and free throws.  BG is going to need to hold Akron's shooting below that number and they have to do it without fouling.  BG is allowing a ton of FTs in MAC play and that's going to need to be fixed.  To BG's advantage, Akron is not a good FT shooting fact, they are worse than BG.  This is a good team but not a terrible matchup for BG.

Flipping things around...I mentioned that Akron has a strong defense in MAC play and BG, in total, has struggled on offense in MAC play.  Some of that is held down by the dreadful start BG got off to, but as you can see here, what BG gets and Akron allows are exactly the same.  I think BG has a shot at putting some numbers up here, however.  I would expect Akron to concentrate on Holmes--as other teams have done--and the game will fall onto the guards and Parker.

Akron plays a very deep rotation, and this year is no exception.  This keeps down some of the overall stat totals.  The guys leading them are no surprises.  They have 3 seniors who are all between 6'6" and 6'8" who are leading their team in scoring and will put the pressure onto Holmes, Black and Parker on the inside.  Demetrius Treadwell is scoring 15.9 PPG on 45% shooting..with only 4 3s, which makes him relatively inefficient.  He is also getting 10 rebounds and 4 offensive rebounds per game, which is pretty huge.  Averaging a double-double.

Quincy Diggs is scoring 13.4 per game.  He's also pretty inefficient though, at 41% and 27%.  He is 2nd on the team with 5 rebounds per game.

The third leg of the stool is Nick Harney.  He is scoring 10.8 on 56% shooting.  He has 4 rebounds a game to go with that.

A couple other notes.  Their best 3-shooter is Jake Kretzer at 36% and he's 6'7" as well, which could be a matchup issue for BG (or any team, given the inside guys).

The PG position was well documented here last year, and there's no reason to get into it again.  Rafael Bettancourt is on the point, and he is not getting a ton of assists (3.1) but he is still at a 2:1 ration with 1.6 assists.

Akron is a good team and they know how to win.  This will be a game where BG has to play its very best game.  I don't think this is an awful matchup for the Falcons, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing BG keep the Zips off the line and win this one.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Fouls and Free Throws Doom Falcons

I have said this before.  You have to give our guys credit.  They are not a great basketball team and they are short-handed but they are not quitters.

BG went down 11-0 to what is probably the top team in the MAC in their arena with a big crowd that was rocking.  Just inside of 10 minutes, it was 26-10 and with 2 minutes left in the half UT was up 41-27.  BG scored the last 5 points to bring it to 9 at the half.

And then Falcons more or less brought it all the way back.  In less than 5 minutes, the deficit was down to 2.  With 11:30 left it was 1 and BG was only down 2 with 3:16 left.  From there, UT did what they do, scoring 12 points and allowing 7 in the stretch run to put the game away with a 83-76 final.

BG started short-handed and then had ridiculous foul trouble that stretched things even further and yet the game was still very much in doubt with 3 minutes left and this on the road with an opponent that hasn't lost at home and has only lost 3 times overall.  Richaun Holmes had 2 quick fouls are barely played at all in the first half.

There's no doubt.  At 26-10, this could easily have gone the other way and it didn't.  No, BG didn't win and no, there are no moral victories...but they deserve credit for their performance last night.  It took a lot of guts and we should be proud of that.

In fact, the difference was free throws...and 3FGs and offensive rebounds, to a lesser extent.  BG held UT to 37% FG shooting, which is 10% below their average.  If anything kept BG in the game, that was it.  Now, UT made 8 3FGs (40%) and got 41% of the available offensive rebounds, which is even higher than their MAC leading norm.

Even with all that, it was still a game.  However, BG was whistled for 24 fouls and UT for 11.  Yes, you read that right.  BG was fouling at the end, but that wasn't the issue.  BG just committed a ton of fouls.  Now, maybe that's how they kept the shooting percentage for UT tend to foul when you are out of position, so maybe a foul is a similar outcome as a made shot.

It was widespread.  Tisdale fouled out and five other BG players finished with 3 or more fouls.  It is a borderline miracle that BG did not have a worse problem with DQs.

The problem was that UT was great at the line.  UT was 29 of 35 shooting FTs...and BG was 7 of 8.  That was the difference in the game.

All those FTs gave UT an offensive efficiency of 1.19 points per possession, just a hair over their season average and the 3rd best game against BG this season.  BG had 1.09 points per possession, which is their fourth best D1 game of the year and their best offensive game in a defeat.  In my preview, I said that BG needed to hold UT to 70 to have a shot to win, and I was not far off.

BG shot the ball well and limited turnovers and had a better than average game on the offensive just came down to FTs.

BG got very strong guard play.  I think most teams are guarding BG by trying to control Holmes, and the guards simply must produce for BG to win.  Anthony Henderson had an incredible night...23 points on 9 of 16 shooting and 4 of 7 from 3FG...with 7 rebounds, six assists, 2 steals and only 1 turnover.

Jehvon Clarke also had 23 points, but was less efficient, shooting 9 of 21 and 1 of 7.  He also had 7 rebounds to go with 8 assists over 2 turnovers.

Spencer Parker had 16 points and 7 rebounds, though he shot 43%.  Cam Black had 10 rebounds.  UT did keep Holmes under wraps...6 points and 4 rebounds.

Anyway, certainly would have been sweet to come all the way back and pull this one off, but I am proud of our guys for the fight they showed.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Signing Day Event Report

So, the whole thing is in the books now.  The first signing day for Coach Babers...which consisted of mostly players who were retained from the previous staff.  Anyway, here are the appropriate links:

First, you can watch the video of the presser.

Second, you can read about our players.

And third, you can watch the highlight video.

I watched the whole thing online.  The format was that they played the video and then Coach talked, so we didn't get a player by player commentary on the recruits.  Nonetheless, Coach Babers had some very interesting things to say.

Let me say this on a big picture level.  I don't know Coach Babers and have never met him, so I don't know what kind of person he really is.  However, he seems to be somebody we can really get behind.  He has an electric personality.  Definitely seems like someone people would want to follow.  I was very impressed with him at the opening and then again today.  I recommend watching the video so you can judge for yourself.

He said some interesting things.

First, he had the class to compliment Coach Clawson and the previous staff, since they recruited most of the players we signed.

Second, he said that when Kingston interviewed Babers, he asked Babers if he would be willing to honor the commitments made by the previous coach.  Babers said he would and he says he did, 100%.

Two things.  First, based on what I have seen, Chris Kingston is the right guy for us.  He is just starting, but this is not the first time I have seen something like this which suggests he gets the culture of what we want to stand for.  Those young men made a commitment to BGSU--not Coach Clawson--and the University should honor its word.

Second, you may have heard one player and his coach complaining about his treatment at the hands of BGSU.  Just a reminder that when those charges were levied, BGSU was not able to comment, based on NCAA rules.  So, an accusation that can't be answered should be taken with a grain of salt.  Which is why you didn't see it here.

We had a couple guys de-commit for their own reasons, but Coach says he honored all of our commitments.

Babers gave much of the credit for keeping the recruiting class together to Kingston.  As expected, "latecomers...were trying to disrupt the class."  Kingston got the players together during the interregnum, and created camaraderie among them as a group, using social media.  Babers said that when he arrived, the recruits were telling him about BG.  They included him in their fold, and not the other way around.  They were committed to BGSU and stay committed to the University.

So more points for Kingston.

Moving along, four of the new players are in school now.  They are:  Roger Lewis, Marcus Milton (both prep players), Nick Johnson (HS) and Clayton Nichols (Texas Tech transfer).  Especially for Johnson, this is a huge advantage.

Coach talked a lot about recruiting Ohio.  Coach Clawson did too, so we will see how far this actually goes.  89% of the players in this class are within 3 hours of BG.  Coach Babers said that we want to "live off Ohio," and that our recruiting patterns will be like a spirograph, which is something us older guys did for fun before there were video games.  That means that your start your efforts near home and go out from there, but that the most effort will be near home.

Finally, he had very interesting things to say about how young players will interact with the system.  He said that his system is "simplistic."  Which means that it doesn't take players a long time to learn it.  So, they will start camp off with the players in the depth chart as expected, and then they will stop and force the younger players onto the first strings to see how they do.  If they can play, he doesn't want them to languish on the depth chart coasting toward a predetermined redshirt.

Worked correctly, this makes everyone better, including the incumbent players.

Finally, he said that he looks for three things in players.

First, players who are leaders and (usually) Captains.  "Most people are followers," he said.
Second, players from winning programs.
Third, players who are capable.  And that requires good evaluation.

Anyway, really good stuff, I thought.  Check it out for yourself.  Whether Coach Babers wins or not is still to be decided, but I don't get the sense it is going to be boring.

National Signing Day Update

So, the signing day is underway.  I write pretty much the same post every year.  There is no doubt that recruiting is vital to success in college sports.  Having said that, you can't tell anything by today.  The ratings services might or might not have good evaluations, there's always a lot of smoke and mirrors and....these are 17-18 year old young men.  Some of them have peaked and some of them are late bloomers.  Think of yourself at 18...see what I mean?  Also, good coaches make players better.

Anyway, I always find one example.  Travis Greene, who just had the most rushing yards of any player in our program's history, was unranked on ESPN coming out of a HS and was a 2-star on Rivals, which basically everyone is.

A bonus:  remember seeing Paul Swan kill it in the MAC title game?  Guy was an unheralded recruit.

So don't over-react today.  Everyone is going to say they love their recruits.  Only time will truly tell.

BGSU has a blog they are running as the signees come in.  So far, there have been no surprises.  We had been carrying a Thomas Jones on our list, but Falcon Fodder said last night that he was going to Wayne State.  Other than that, all the players we had expected to see are in, so far as I can tell.  We could always have a surprise addition.

There was a little bit of shifting with the coaching change, but most of the guys are guys we had all along.  One other pleasant surprise is that Nick Johnson is enrolled, putting him in spring practice this year.

As of this minute, BG has 17 signees.  Also, there were last year's greyshirts, not sure what is up with that, plus a transfer QB.

Dino's presser is at 2.

Note: Based on this, it appears that everyone is in.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Hated Rocket Preview

So the rivarly renews itself again Wednesday night (weather permitting) as BG and the Rockets tangle for the first of two meetings this year.

Look, there's no way to sugar coat this.  The Rockets are huge favorites.  They have come all the way back from the depths and are now probably the best team in the MAC, or at least in the neighborhood.  They are 18-3 against the 139th ranked schedule and have an RPI of 31.  At 6-2 they are tied for first in the MAC.  Their losses are @Kansas, @WMU and @OU (in OT).  They are 10-0 at home.

Unlike most college basketball teams, this is a team built on offense.  They are very efficient, at 1.19 points per possession.  That is #6 in the nation.  BG has been effective on defense, but has played poorly of late and that is simply going to have to be fixed.  UT is not especially efficient on defense, so there is an opportunity there.  BG played poor defense yet scored enough to beat Buffalo, so maybe that's in the cards, but if you want my bet, BG's a lot more likely to win if UT scores about 70 instead of the 83 they average.

What makes the Rockets offense so good?  They are a team without blemishes, really.  They lead the MAC in Effective FG%, Turnover %, Offensive Rebounding % and they are #3 in free throw rate.  In fact, they take ridiculously good care of the ball.  That turnover rate is in the top 10 in D1.  Finally, FT Rate is a measure of getting to the line.  They are #3 in converting FTs as well.  They don't take a lot of 3s (9th) but they have the best %.  This is an offensive juggernaut.

The flip side is that UT is not especially good on defense.  They are 10th in the MAC in defensive efficiency and they are as poor against the shot as they are good with it.  They force an average turnover rate and an average offensive rebounding %.  They are very good at keeping teams off the line...2nd in the MAC.

Individually, these guys have some very good players.  It all starts with Juice Brown, their PG.  He's scoring 14.5 PPG with 6.6 assists against 2.9 turnovers.  That assist number is 6th in the nation, though they do play an uptempo style that provides more FG opportunities.  He also makes 89% of his FTs and has a ridiculous ability to make shots in clutch times.  He's among the best players in the MAC and probably the best guard.

Justin Drummond is their 2nd leading scorer.  He scores 14.4 PPG on 53% shooting and 4.9 rebounds per game.  Rian Pearson is scoring 13.7 PPG on 48% shooting and 40% from 3FG.  He also averages 5 rebounds per game.  OSU transfer JD Witherspoon is scoring 12 on 58% shooting and 6.3 rebounds.  Nathan Boothe is scoring 10 a game on 47% shooting and 4.7 rebounds.

Anyway, that's 5 guys in double figures.  They are built this program very effectively and this is a very good team.  They are huge favorites over BG.  The Falcons are going to need to keep the game around 70 and play their very best game to win...something they have done on the road twice this year.  BG won @WMU and @OU, both places UT lost.  That's the kind of effort they are going to need.