Saturday, January 31, 2015

Falcons look to stop Zip domination.

"Last time Akron beat us like a drum."--Chris Jans.

  • Akron has won the last 12 over BG.
  • Also, 20 of the last 21.
  • Akron beat BG 67-50 earlier this year.
  • BG's last home win over Akron was in 2003.
  • BG has never beaten the Zips in the Stroh.

That's an ouch.  In both cases.   Akron has completely owned BG over the last 11 years in a way that no MAC team ever has.  It would be one thing if they beat us like a drum earlier in the month and that was it but this has been an ongoing act, one with a long run.

Our program is now on the upswing, having a much improved season and playing consistently basketball.  Sooner or later, if BG is going to compete for the MAC title, the road will run through Akron.  This is the night for BG to keep the streak from going from 20 to 21.

If that happens, there was nothing to suggest it in the first game the two teams played. The game was close for only 7 minutes or so until Akron blew it open and never looked back. As you can see below, the road a huge advantage in shooting to the win. Turnovers and offensive rebounding were more even and Akron had a bad night shooting FTs or the lead would have been even more one-sisded.

Akron is a really tough, physical team and they played really aggressively against BG in the first game, especially on the point guards.  I know Coach Jans wants our team to be tough, and I suspect he will have them in that mindset.  The Zips are 5-2 in MAC play, tied with BG.  They lost @UT--as BG did--but also inexplicably lost @NIU as well. They are 1-2 in the MAC on the road, with the only win being over WMU.

On the charts, we now move to MAC games only to get a more reliable read.  Akron is scoring very efficiently in MAC play...what's interesting is that there is a lot of scoring in the MAC so far.  Getting 1.06 points per possession is really good, yet only 5th in the MAC.  Anyway, it points out the key element in the game, as that scoring runs up against BG's stout defense.  As usual, that's where the game will be decided.

Akron is second in the MAC in effective FG% and they take the most 3FGs in the MAC and have made the 2nd most.  They are only 6th at 3FG%, but it is enough to elevate an overall 44% to a very good effective percentage.  BG is going to have to stop the shot and defend the 3-line, which is the key in most games.  Akron turns the ball over quite a bit for a good team and is very good on the offensive boards.  BG has not been as effective on the defensive boards as they were earlier in the season, and while that's partly amplified by one really bad game, BG still needs to win more of these battles.  Akron does not get to the line very much and they are 11th in the MAC in FT%.

On the other side, we see that the teams are evenly matched on the first two factors.  Akron is very good on the defensive boards, so that will be a battle and they give up a bunch of free throws  whereas BG typically does not get to the line a lot.

Individually, MAC Games only, Akron features its normal balanced scoring, with only one player in double figures but 8 players averaging 5 or more.  Pat Forsythe, their 6'11" JR is scoring 10.3 PPG on 64% shooting and adds 5.8 RPG and 1.7 blocks.  Deji Ibitaya is 6'4" and is scoring 9.9 PPG on 55% shooting.  Noah Robotham, the FR PG, is scoring 9 PPG on 37% shooting and 3.4 assists over 2.4 TOs.

In fact, when you look at the team's individual players it is tough to figure out how they are as good as they are.  One of the things that makes basketball great (especially in college) is that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.  Akron plays team ball, they know how to compete and win and they are well coached.  The know who they are as a team and they are tough to beat.  Just ask a decade's worth of Falcons.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rahn Bailey de-commits from BG to Navy

BG has its 3rd de-commitment from the class of 15, as DE Rahn Bailey from Texas switched from BG to the Naval Academy. That's a pretty huge lifestyle decision for the young man and I wish him only the best and thank him for serving the country.

He is actually the second player to switch from BG to Navy. The first was Ronnie Goble's little brother, though I forget his first name.

BG Men Gut Out Win Over NIU

The win last night was the kind of win you have to be able to get in MAC play.  It always amazes me how hard teams play--even teams that are struggling.  NIU really battled BG last night and BG was not playing well...but eventually put the run together they needed and won the game, 56-46.  Sometime that's what you need, just one more run.

In fact, heading into the 8-minute media, NIU was ahead 39-37.  Coming out of the timeout, Delvin Dickerson launched a 3 that hit the back of the rim, bounced six feet up in the air and straight down into the basket.  Better to be lucky than good...anyway, that set off a 16-2 run by the Falcons that included Delvin Dickerson with 6 (both on treys) and Holmes with 6 and of course a bunch of stops.  By the time that was all over, BG led by 12 with 2 minutes left and the game was over. That's basically a well-timed six minute stretch that won the game for BG.
I had noted in the preview that NIU struggled to shoot but was the top team in the MAC at offensive rebounding and getting to the free throw line.  BG held NIU to 36%/17% shooting while holding them well below their normal offensive rebounding effectiveness and to only 14 free throws.  In fact, BG never put NIU in the bonus in the 2nd half.  

Meanwhile, BG shot 43% and 39%, both above their average.  It was a 57 possession game, which is really slow and reflects the grind the game was.  With that in mind, 12 turnovers for BG was actually a disappointing number,  BG also had a poor FT shooting game at 54%.

Individually, Richaun Holmes had 18 points with 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He got their shooting 8 of 14 and had 6 of his 18 in the decisive run.  Zack Denny has been in a shooting slump, but he broke out with 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting, 3 of 4 from 3FG, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.  Anthony Henderson scored 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting and 2 of 4 from 3FG and 6 rebounds.  The Falcons are not getting scoring out of the PG position, and last night they had 8 assists over 5 turnovers.

Dickerson made a huge contribution off the bench, with 8 points and taking 5 charges in 15 minutes. 

BG has tightened the rotation up quite a bit, which is not unusual in conference play.  BG had 8 players play 10 minutes or more.  Mayleben and Tisdale did not play at all.

With 8 minutes left, that was a nervous time.  You lose that game and head into the Akron game and suddenly a 4-1 record goes to 4-4 in 7 days.  Instead, BG is now 5-2 in the MAC.  I hope we can put a big crowd there Saturday and break the stranglehold the Zips have had on our team.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NIU Preview

So, coming off a loss at UT, BG now welcomes NIU to the Stroh Center.  BG has tended to bounce back from defeats, and I would expect the same to happen against the Huskies, where BG is a 10 point favorite.

NIU is 8-9 and 2-4.  They did not have any real quality wins in the non-conference.  Best win was probably UC-Riverside.  They had a bad loss to Dartmouth.  They have won @OU and beat Akron in DeKalb--and they have lost to Kent, Buffalo, Eastern and Miami.  Worse yet, they are 2-4 after playing 4 of the first six at home.  This does not portend well for the remainder of the year.

The win over OU was their only road win of the year.  The basic match up shows us that NIU is actually a very poor offensive team.  At .99 points per possession they are 11th in the MAC.  Their defense is good, but BG out performs them both offensively and defensively.  Combined with home court, this is what 10 point favorites are made of.

NIU is a very interesting offensive team.  They are the worst shooting team in the MAC and they turn the ball over a lot as well.  On the other hand, they are the best team in the MAC in offensive rebounding and getting to the free throw line....and #13 and #8 respectively in the entire NCAA.  So you have a team crashing the boards like mad and getting to the line but still missing a ton of shots.  They shoot 69% which is in the middle of the MAC.

Based on the chart below, the offensive boards looks like it will be a great battle and it will be interesting to see if BG can keep NIU off the free throw line.

Flipping things around, we see the NIU does a really poor job defending the shot--even worse than BG typically shoots.  They do create turnovers effectively--first in the MAC, and then match up with BG pretty well on the offensive boards and in getting to the line.  The opportunities for BG are to have a good night shooting against a poor defense and then take really good care of the basketball.

Individually, the Huskies are led in scoring by Darrell Bowie.  He's a 6'7" JR who scores an inefficient 12 PPG, shooting 40% and adding 6.7 RPG and subtracting a shocking 3 TO per game.  Aaric Armistead scores 11.2 PPG but is also inefficient, shooting 41% and 37%...also 4.9 RPG.  Anthony Johnson is scoring 9.9 PPG and shooting 41%.  If you want to know why their offense is so inefficient, it starts right there, with the top 3 scorers being that inefficient.

Senior Jordan Threloff--6'9"--averages 7.7 rebounds.  Finally, Jr PG Travon Baker has 3 assists over 1.9 turnovers.

This is Mark Montgomery's 4th season at NIU and he has found it slow going.  The Huskies did beat BG twice last year, including a 45-36 peach basket special at the Stroh in one of the season's low points.  This is one BG should win, but these guys did beat Akron (albeit in DeKalb).  I expect BG to come out hungry after the loss and win this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Yet another football verbal

Yet another verbal for BG and yet another one from the Sunshine State as Signing Day approaches.  This man's name is Blake Lucky, who is from South Fork HS in Stuart FL, which is on the Atlantic Coast side of the state.  Lucky is also another defensive player---a LB.  He's 6'3" and 197 lbs.  He had an offer from Marshall and is a 2-star recruit on Rivals and is not ranked on ESPN.

He was Class 6A all-state as a junior and a senior.  A paywalled story on the paper in Palm Beach says he is an old school player and there are reports that he knocked his 2 front teeth out playing football.  People in BG are going to like that sort of thing.  He has been ridiculously productive throughout this HS career.  He made 467 tackles in 30 games.  In his senior year, he had 10 TFL and 5 sacks to go with it.  He recovered 8 fumbles in his career.

The bias here is always for football players and I love to see players who produce.  His HS career kind of reminds me of Paul Swan, and he turned into a really good player for us.

Welcome to the Falcons, Blake.

Rockets Close Falcons Out

It was a close and competitive game--and one that unfolded without significant contribution from JD Weatherspoon.  Juice Brown was magnificent and the difference in the game for UT, which won its fourth straight against the Falcons.

That was a tough assignment.  The Rockets are better than their record, it was a huge crowd and UT absolutely had to have that win.  They were going to be tough to beat last night, and they were.

To the Falcon Nation, though, I recommend a little perspective.  UT was in the lowest possible depths just a few years ago, and look where they were last year.  BG was never that low, but the program certainly appears to be on the right track, last night notwithstanding.  Some epic BG/UT games are coming.

BG is now 12-5 and 4-2 and all the goals remain in front of them.

It was a highly competitive game.  There were 17 lead changes and BG led for over 11 minutes.  Neither team led by more than 7 points at any time.  Most of those lead changes came in the first half, though.  BG led at the half but UT came out on fire and had a five point lead by the first media timeout.  BG led for one possession with about 10 minutes left but UT led for the remainder of the half.

Even so, BG had late opportunities to steal the game.  BG had a chance to tie the game with 1:54 left but missed a FT, gave up a layup (now down 3) and then BG turned the ball over with 1:21 left in what was a crucial mistake.  Then, BG got a turnover on its end and Denny had an open shot to tie it and he missed the 3FG and then Brown hit 5 out of 6 FTs on the way home and they closed the door on the Falcons.

All you can ask for is a chance to tie the game that late, and BG didn't convert those chances, and that meant a Rocket win, but BG earned those shots.  Next time, they go in.

UT did come under their normal offensive performance--noting that Weatherspoon only played 20 minutes due to fouls and had 1 point.  UT scored 1.02 points per possession, which was well below their normal average.  BG, unfortunately, was also below their normal scoring as well, at .96 points per possession.  The stats below are for the entire game--as you can see, it is about as evenly matched as you might have expected.

BG outperformed UT in field goals.  The biggest difference was free throws.  UT got to the line 25 times and made 17, while BG was only at the line 16 times and only made 8.  That 9 point differential was decisive.

The second half stats also tell a better story.  UT shot 54% in the second half to BG's 39%.  The Rockets had a blistering 1.2 points per possession in the second half.

One key thing is that BG did defend the 3FG well, holding a normally very accurate UT team to 4 of 16 for the game.

Individually, the story of the game was Juice Brown.  He scored 28 points on 8 of 15 and 3 of 6 shooting and 9 of 10 at the line.  He was held to 2 assists, but Brown was clearly the difference.  He's a very good player and I am sure everyone outside Savage Arena will be glad to see him take his talents elsewhere.  Justin Drummond added 18 points and 9 rebounds, with 8 of 14 shooting and Nathan Boothe had 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting and 4 blocked shots.

For BG, Richaun Holmes battled foul trouble and never seemed to get into the flow of the game, which is why I was surprised to see him with 14 points in 26 minutes on 6-11 shooting.    He also had 6 rebounds.  Jovan Austin scored 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting and had 5 assists, but also 6 turnovers.  Jehvon Clarke had 12 points on 4 of 8 and 3 of 4 shooting.  Spencer Parker had 8 points and 6 rebounds.

Beyond those guys, BG struggled to shoot, most notably at guard.  Denny did have 9 rebounds.

So, on we go.  BG moves on to play at home against NIU on Tuesday and then a rematch with the Zips--also at home--on Saturday.  Similar to the Akron loss, BG needs to not let one loss turn into a losing streak.  Lots of teams are going to lose at Savage from here on in, and BG needs to protect home floor.  A 2-0 week puts things right back on kilter.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beat the Rockets Day Preview

And here we go.

It is rivalry day--the only rivalry day for this year, as basketball does not protect rivalries.  This one has the potential to be very interesting.

Neither BG nor UT are where anyone thought they would be when the season started.  UT was picked to win the MAC and BG was picked to finish near the bottom of the East.  BG has been winning and UT has too, but not as much as expected.  The Falcons enter 4-1 in MAC play and UT is 2-3.  So, in addition to the normal intensity of this game, before a sell-out crowd, you also have the fact that UT is in a little bit of a corner.  You don't want your 4th MAC loss this early and it would be their 3rd home loss in MAC play and that just makes things really tough.

Toledo has won the last 3 in the series, including a soul-crushing defeat for BG at the Stroh last year.  But this is a new year.  UT is favored by 4.5 and in my mind remains a threat to win a wide-open MAC this year and the teams have conflicting strengths and all that makes this a very fun matchup.

The Rockets are 10-8.  They lost to very good VCU and Duke teams as well as to a good Oregon team.  They also lost at home to Detroit (who BG beat on the road) and @Oakland.  Meanwhile, their best non-conference win was over Cleveland State, a team BG also beat.  So, they entered MAC play with a couple soft losses and no huge wins.

They lost to CMU at home to open things up, beat Akron at Savage (BG lost @Akron), won @Ohio (BG beat Ohio at Stroh) and then lost at home to WMU and @Kent (BG won @Kent).  There is a long, long way to go, but that's not how things were supposed to start, especially at home.

The key part of this game is obvious from the start.  UT is scoring 1.09 points per possession, which is 2nd in the MAC and 37th in the country.  BG is allowing .92 points per possession, which is 2nd in the MAC and 39th in the country.  Honestly, there won't be many D1 games with a spread like that this year.  As you can see below, the BG offense and UT defense are pretty evenly match...the game will be decided based on who wins the most possessions when UT has the ball.

When we compare the numbers, we see why UT is so potent on offense.  They shoot really well. and take care of the ball.  That shooting percentage is in the top 25% of the country as is the turnover percentage.  UT is very efficient from beyond the arc--they are 9th in attempting 3FGs in the MAC and 2nd in making them.  They are 3rd in the MAC in overall FG%.  Beyond that, they are decent on the offensive boards and while they don't get a ton of FT attempts, they lead the MAC in making FTs at 73%.  Bottom line, they're good at making the ball go into the basket...and BG has been good at stopping it.

The flip side is almost anti-climactic.  What BG is used to scoring is about equal to what UT is used to allowing in each case.  The Rockets are not a great defensive team, so if BG can get some guys going--especially from the outside--then it does take some pressure off the defense.

Individually, UT is led by Juice Brown, probably the best player at his position in the MAC.  Brown is scoring 15.5 per game on 47%/45% shooting and 87% from the line and 4.4 assists over 2.1 turnovers.  He's a legit MAC POY candidate and he's clearly first-team all-MAC and BG's first task is to guard him.

OSU-transfer JD Weatherspoon is also a beast.  Scoring 13.4 PPG on 57% shooting, he also averages 7.6 rebounds.  His match-up with Holmes deserves marquee-status.

Their third-leading scorer is Justin Drummond.  He is scoring 12 PPG on 42% and 35% shooting, which is not great.  He also average 4 RPG per game.

Note that all 3 players I mentioned are seniors.  I think that plays into the urgency for the Rockets.  This team loses a lot of talent after this season.

Their last double-figure scorer is Jonathan Williams, a sophomore who scores 10.7 PPG on 46% and 39% shooting.  Junior Nathan Booth averages 5.7 RPG.

One last note.  I was very impressed with how well BG used a couple days to prepare itself to beat the EMU zone.  I will be very interested to see how BG does with a couple days for UT.  This should be a great matchup in a great college basketball environment.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Falcon football verbal

As signing day drips closer, BG has another defensive verbal commit, this one from Marion Franklin High School in Columbus, Ohio.  He played ILB in High School and is 6-1, 220 lbs.  ESPN had a little blurb on him and they felt like he might be best positioned as OLB or as a S, either of which could be plausible at BG.  I also saw something that said he had pass rushing potential as well.  I couldn't find any evidence of other offers.

He was first-team All-City on defense in Columbus and he was special mention all-district in Central Ohio as well.

Hustle Belt says that something called 24/7 sports put him as a top 30 recruit in Ohio.

Welcome to the Falcons, Shemar.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two more verbals for football

BG added two new recruits for the next class--though one will be grey-shirted.  Based on the Orlando Sentinel, here's the scoop on the teammates heading to BG.

The first is RB CJ Lamar, a 6'2, 208 lb RB/LB/S.  No idea what they are thinking, but I am guessing they see him in the defensive backfield or bulking up to play LB.  In fact, he was 8A All-state at Db.  He is from Lake Mary HS and was committed to Florida Atlantic before he couldn't get admitted due to the lack of a couple foreign language credits (according to the article linked above).  You can find online that he had an offer from West Virginia.

The other player--also Lake Mary--is Zack Sharp.  He's an OL who is (brace yourself) 6'8" and 300 pounds.  Now.  He is going to grey-shirt, which means he won't go on scholarship until January of 2016.  He says in the linked story that he took too long commit and some schools lost interest, but he wanted to visit BG before he committed, which is entirely reasonable in my view.

So, CJ and Zack, welcome to the Falcons.

Falcons Wins #12, Equal last year's total

And the beat goes on.  Or, the beat rolls along.

The Falcons won their sixth out of the last 7, remained in what is now a three-way tie for the top of the MAC, and continued to show that they are a greatly improved program.

The win over EMU ended up being easy. In the preview, I noted that I didn't see EMU as being as good as their record, UM win notwithstanding.  Still, BG came up with a solid win in the conference over a team that has at least one good win.  We are 100% happy with the year.

BG won 74-58.  That's good, especially to get 74 points against a team that plays very tough defense.  More on that in a minute.  Right now, I want to look at how BG takes control of games and doesn't let it go.  BG took the lead about 10 minutes into the first half and led for the remainder of the game, uninterrupted.  A late first half run popped the lead over 10 and EMU never had the lead inside 9 for the remainder of the basketball game.  That's just not something we saw in the past.

The key was scoring.  EMU plays a tough 2-3 zone, they trap and they are very hard to shoot against.  Now, we noted that some of their numbers were put up against 4 non D1 opponents, but this has been their identity during the Murphy era.  BG scored 1.16 points per possession, which is a very strong effort for any offensive team.  It is the most points per possession scored against EMU in any game this year, even the Miami game where they gave up in the 80s but on a high paced game.

BG shot 46% and 44%--and the 11 out of 25 3-shooting for BG was a big difference in the game.  It was also the best shooting by any team against EMU.  BG didn't have a great day on turnovers. but had a great day on offensive rebounding--especially against a zone--with 40% of the available rebounds. BG got 22 FTs but shot only 59%, but EMU shot worse at 58%.

BG also played very, very solid defense.  They allowed EMU .9 points per possession, holding the Eagles to 36% and 29% shooting.  They took care of the ball better than BG, had a strong day on their offensive boards...the main difference in the game boiled down to making shots.

Anthony Henderson had a big game for BG, scoring 17 points on 6 of 12 and 3 of 6 shooting.  He also added 6 rebounds.  On top of that, both Holmes and Denny double-doubled.  Holmes had 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks.  Denny had 10 and 10, though he struggled with shooting.  Finally Dickerson had 12 points and 3 blocks.

Two other notes.  BG's PGs had 6 assists over 1 turnover and Spencer Parker started but had 2 fouls in the first 5 minutes and played only 11 minutes in the game.

So, BG is 12-4 and 4-1.  And next are the Rockets, who were picked to win the conference but currently sit at 2-3 in MAC play.  Starting to look really forward to that one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

EMU Preview....

So here come the Eastern Michigan Eagles.  Eastern Michigan posted a gaudy pre-MAC record at 11-2....and yes, that included a win @UM.  It also include FOUR, count them FOUR non D1 wins.  That's just shameful scheduling.  Honestly, the MAC should be stepping team should play more than 1 in a given season.  Anyway, beyond those four, they beat 3 teams with RPI of 327 or over.  This scheduling did not take long to rear its head in MAC play, as the Eagles went 1-3, losing at home to Ball State and @Kent and @Miami, before beating EMU NIU (ed. We regret the error) in Ypsi.  That's the nation's 291st ranked schedule NOT COUNTING the non D-1 games.  They are 2-4 on the road this year.

So, when we look at the stats, just keep in mind who they were generated against.  To be fair, BG has not played that tough a MAC schedule, but BG did win against Ball State and @Kent.  BG's only home loss was to Ferris this year and I'd expect this to be a game BG should win.

The game pits the two best defenses in the MAC.  EMU's defense is its calling card and has been.  Rob Murphy plays a stifling 2-3 zone in the Syracuse style, and they have been generating numbers.  As you can see, they have played very efficient defense.  They held Michigan to 42, but have allowed 60+ in all their MAC losses.  BG has been good on defense as well, and adjusted for schedule I think we might be as good as they are and certainly we are as good on offense or even better.

The forte of the EMU defense has been to be difficult to shoot against.  They are that again.  BG is going to need to figure out ways to make shots against a very difficult defense.  They also force turnovers--you can still be very active in a 2-3 zone, it does not have to be passive.  They also rarely send teams to the line.  Beyond all the cracks about their schedule, EMU is probably a decent defensive team, but I think BG can get into the 60s on them.

Flipped around, there are significant areas of difference.  BG is better on turnovers, offensive rebounds and keeping teams off the line, and they will need to win all those battles if the Falcons are going to win a game in the 60s.  EMU is a good FT shooting team as well and they take 3FGs but are 11th in the MAC at making them.

Their leading scorer is 6'3" G Ray Lee.  He is sophomore who scores 14.7 on 48% shooting and 38% from 3FG.  The second leading scorer is Karrington Ward, who was a JUCO teammate of Richaun Holmes.  He is scoring 13.5 PPG on 40% and 30% and leads the team with 6.8 RPG.  PG Mike Talley, who transferred from Duquesne, scores 10 PPG on 49% shooting and also has more than 4 assists.  Their highest volume 3FG shooter is Jodan Price, a DePaul transfer who has jacked up 95 treys and made 30%.

So, all in all, with home court and what we see above, this is a game BG needs to win. Home losses are deadly--and then factor in a beatable opponent.  Let's look forward to a Falcon W Wednesday night.

Two more football verbals

As signing day nears, BG has landed two more verbal committments for the class of 2015, and both of them from the fertile football grounds of the state of Florida.

Tony Soto is Antonyo Sotolango, who is a safety from Gulliver Prep in Miami.  He appears to be a pretty big get.

His rivals page shows nearly two dozen offers, including from Big 10 schools as high as Wisconsin.  There's plenty of evidence online he visited Wisconsin and Arkansas.  ESPN has him as a 3-star recruit and ranked at a 76.  Rivals also has him as 3-stars.

Not sure what happened to get him at BG (you just don't see this happen very often) lot of times it is something academic, but the dude also has an offer from Princeton (and Wake Forest).  Either way, this guy appears to be a player and it appears like a great recruiting job by our team.

Here's a story from the Miami Herald that says that he was a "terror" on defense with 2 INTs and a pick 6 in an early season game.

Janarvis Pough is from American Heritage HS in Plantation Florida, which is on the SE Coast of the state.  ESPN has him as a 2-star recruit and an ATH and projects him to be a slot receiver or a DB, though he played WR and QB in high school.  He is a 2-star on Rivals, which says he ran a 4.4.

He had offers from NIU, Bucknell, James Madison.

Here's a little taste from the Miami Herald.  In a state playoff game, Pough had 3 touchdown catches from his QB...who is committed to Ohio State.  (Pough transferred to Plantation and probably played QB at his previous school).

Here's what his coach says:

“Tremendous speed, good kid, he’s got to have about a 3.5 GPA,” said Heritage coach Mike Rumph of Pough, whose top offer currently is from Bowling Green. “[College programs] should be banging his door now. He’s totally under the radar.”

Looks like a couple of very good players for the Falcons.  Welcome, gentlemen.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

With Big Second Half, Falcon MBB Notches 3rd MAC Win...

At halftime it was not looking so good.  An improving Ball State team headed into the locker room up 4 on the BG Falcons.  BG was shooting 31%, 1-9 from beyond the arc...and while defending the shot well had allowed Ball State 5 of 12 from 3FG.  BG had 7 turnovers to 4 for Ball State...and to hear the players and Coach Jans talk in The Blade this morning, the Falcons knew they were not playing with the intensity required for conference ball.

Much as they did against Cleveland State, the Falcons came out of the locker room and had certainly fixed the passion issue.  BG scored the first 6 points of the half (in 90 seconds) to take the lead and Ball State never had the lead again.  The game was tied at 33 with 14:25 left and BG went on a game-deciding 10-0 run, which included a Holmes old-school 3 point play and a Denny longball.  That came with about 11 left and about a minute later BG punched it up to 11 and it was never again inside 10 points and the Falcons cruised to the win.

BG did it with some sick 2nd half defense.  Ball State was held to 29% and 18% shooting with 10 turnovers.  BG had a very good half with 1.2 points per possession, partly thanks to 11 second half FTS...but they held Ball State to .58 points per possession which represents complete domination.  Ball State turned the ball over on 30% of its 2nd half possessions and when they DID get a shot off...well, we already covered that.

What is interesting is that Richaun Holmes scored 9 points, had 4 rebounds and 2 11 minutes.  That's pretty impressive.  Holmes did not get in much once the BG had blown the lead open.  In contrast, Zach Denny had 10 points and 5 rebounds, but he never left the floor in the 2nd half.

Here's how it looks for the 2nd half.

For the game, the key difference was free throws.  Ball State had a 41-39 advantage on field goals.  However, they got to the line 13 times and had a really rough night, making only 5.  Meanwhile, BG got 26 free throws and had a good night, making 19 (73%).  So, +14 at the line and that's the difference between winning and losing in some other numbers that are pretty close.

On an individual basis, Zach Denny had a double-double, with 17 points on 5 of 9/2 of 5 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.  He played 39 minutes.  We already talked about Holmes in the second half, but he had a pretty soft first half and finished with 11 and 7 on 3 of 8 shooting.  Spencer Parker had 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting.  Pep Joseph got the start at PG and he and Austin both struggled, at least on the stat sheet.  As a TEAM BG had 4 assists.

So BG moves to 3-1 now and in a 5-way tie for the MAC lead.  Obviously, a long way to go, but so far, so good.  BG will continue with the West teams, at home against EMU Wednesday and then @UT on Saturday.

Eddy Wilson DeCommits

BG has had a decommit from the class of '15 as Eddy Wilson received an offer from Purdue and has decided to take that offer.  He also visited WMU (at least) but had de committed until this news came in.  As I always say, it takes a lot of dedication to be a D1 athlete and you want the guys you get to be fully on board.  He prefers to head to Purdue, and we wish him nothing but the best.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting Carded: Ball State Preview

So here come the Ball State Cardinals.  Coming out of the pre-MAC season, it was hard to see what they had.  Most of their  D1 wins were over teams with RPIs among the 30 worst in the country and there was a bad loss to IUPUI in there somewhere.  Since MAC play, however, we have seen a team that is pretty competitive.  They won @EMU (though I will content EMU's DII-laden schedule puts their gaudy record way ahead of where they should be), but then beat CMU by 18 in Muncie and lost in double OT @WMU.  They could easily be 3-0 in MAC play.

I am not too surprised.  I have liked their new coach from the beginning and I believe he will win at the MAC, especially at a school with the basketball heritage that they have at Ball State.

The upshot is that what might have appeared on the schedule as a nice chance to get a win is now turning into a dogfight.  BG played well after their last loss and I think we will play well again Saturday....and we will need to.

Taking a look at the game, as we can see, BG and Ball State are relatively comparable on offense this season, while BG has had the better of the defensive play.  Both teams are a little below average on offense and above average on defense.

When we look at the BG offense against the Ball State defense, we see that BG shoots about what Ball State allows, and the same is true of turnovers.  Both BG and Ball State are strong on the defensive boards, and that will be a big battle point.  BG does not get to the line much, and Ball State does allow a few more FTs, though neither stat really is remarkable.

Flipping it around, we see that Ball State is used to shooting better than BG is allowing, though turnovers are about the same (relatively high) and we see the same issue on the offensive boards as we saw on the chart above.  Finally, Ball State does get to the line a decent amount and BG has done a pretty good job avoiding that, so that would appear to be a decent battleground.  

Based on this, I'd say the key battlegrounds are going to be how well BG defends the shot and whether any team can generate any offensive rebounding.  Beyond that, looks like a grinder.

Zavier Turner is scoring 13 PPG to lead the team.  It is a little inefficient--he's shooting 40%--but he is also shooting 40% from 3FG, which puts a different light on it.  He also averages 4 assists a game over 3.7 turnovers.  He's a 5'9" sophomore.

Sean Sellers is their 2nd leader scorer.  He is a 6'6" sophomore and is scoring 12.6 PPG on 45% shooting and 47% 3FG shooting,

Jeremie Tyler is a 6'2" Fr G who is scoring 12 PPG on 46% and 43% shooting.  Franko House is a 6'6" SO scoring 9 PPG on 46% shooting and adding 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.  Finally, Matt Kaminiecki is a 6'8" SR who is averaging over 8 rebounds per game.

You see what Whitford has done in two recruiting classes?  They are the youngest team in the MAC and the 24th youngest in D1 and they are 2-1 in conference play.  Like I said, I think Whitford is going to bring them back and the game tomorrow will be a grind.  Obviously, BG has an advantage at home, but they will need to play well or Ball State will get the win.  I do like our odds after playing so poorly Wednesday, but, again, that remains to be seen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Akron Beats BG....Same Old Story

Ouch.  Honestly, it is pretty incredible.  Akron has now beaten BG 20 out of the last 21 games.  I would be very surprised to find out that BG has a similar streak against any MAC team and would actually be surprised to find out that there are too many similar streaks among any of the MAC teams.  It is just amazing.  The Zips have completely owned the Falcons and last night was the most owningest of the them all.

The game was close for the first few minutes, but then Akron went on an unbelievable 27-2 run to literally put the game out of reach.  That's 10 minutes of completely one-sided basketball.  From there BG was down 23 and never got closer to 14--and that was an anomaly--as the Zips cruised to an easy victory, handing BG their first MAC loss.

Look, lots of teams are going to lose at the JAR this year.  It is hardly a season-ender, and we had been on a nice winning streak.  There's still a long way to go.  That said, it was sobering.

Based on media reports, Akron played very physically and according to Coach Jans, BG was simply unable to respond.  He put that mostly on himself...said he needs to figure out how BG responds when the other team gets very physical.  That's Akron's trademark, but you don't want to get a rep as a team that can get pushed around in this conference.

BG did not have a good night on either end of the floor.  The Falcons allowed 1.08 points per possession and scored .8.  When you look at the chart below, you can see what happened.  Remembering that the most important of the four factors is shooting, look at the gap.  No team can win (or lose) with that gap.  BG shot 33% and 20%, while Akron shot 55% and 32%.  The Zips made 84% of their 2FG attempts.  BG handled the ball better and rebounded better, but it could not be overcome.  The Zips made only 11 of 21 FTs, or the game would have been more one-sided.

Individually, BG was hamstrung inside from the beginning.  Parker was hobbling and Dickerson and Holmes had 2 fouls in the first half.  BG was at a disadvantage on the inside to start with and then that happens and, you know how it turned out.  Henderson finished with 11 points and Holmes 10, both on 4 of 9 shooting.  BG's point guards REALLY struggled shooting

So the team's goal moving forward is to make this game "one of those nights." No better chance will exist than a home game against an improving Ball State team Saturday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Zipper Problems, Akron Preview

Look. Akron is the MAC standard right. It was Kent, it might someday soon be Toledo or it might be...well, who are we kidding, it isn't going to be EMU...anyway, for now, Akron is the conference's most consistent winning team.   Before last year, the had made the final of the MAC tournament for 7 straight seasons.  Any program in the MAC would have traded places with them.

And, Akron has owned BG  over the last 10 years or so in a way that I doubt any MAC team has even owned the Falcons.  The Zips have won 20 out of the 21 games between the two teams.  That's simply incredible.

It is this mountain that the Falcons stare at.  This is a good team that has completely owned the Falcons and then the game is in their arena.

So, this is a very tough test.  On the other hand, this is a new era.  Wouldn't it be cool....

The Zips are 10-5 this year.  They have played the 230th ranked schedule and BG has played the 287th.

They have two marquee wins over USC and South Carolina--both of which now have 100+ RPIs.  They have 1 non-D1 win and wins over Maryland Baltimore-County, Pine-Bluff, Western Illinois, Marshall and Coppin State...all with RPIs over 297.  They also have a less than ideal loss at home to Middle Tennessee State.  In MAC play, they smoked WMU at the JAR and then lost @UT.

They have gotten where they are without the player who has been a central part of their rotation over the last few years:  Demetrius Treadwell.  Treadwell was suspended indefinitely in mid-November and then a month later released from the squad behind reports of an assault of a female UA athlete.

So, this isn't the greatest Akron team of the last few years...yet they have owned BG and are tough to beat in the JAR.  Let the game proceed.

So, remembering that Akron has played a slightly tougher schedule than BG, let's look at what we have in stats.  As you can see, Akron is slightly better than BG on offense and the Falcons are, to date, playing more effective defense than Akron.

Let's look at the BG offense against the Akron defense.  (That chart is supposed to say AK, not KS).  And, we can see that the match up is pretty even.  BG shoots about as well as Akron allows shooting...and the rebounding profiles are similar.  BG does not get to the line very much and Akron doesn't foul much.  The biggest difference is that Akron is used to creating more turnovers than BG so that will be a key.  This end of the court will be grind and a real test.

Flipping it around,  we can see the two areas that are going to be the biggest areas where the contest will exist.  First, Akron (as usual) is used to doing pretty well getting offensive rebounds and BG is among the top 15% of the country in preventing offensive that's going to be a key battleground.  Also, as always, defending the shot is critical and Akron is slightly better with the shot than BG has been allowing this year.  The other areas are pretty comparable.

Individually, Akron never has guys pump up big numbers because of the depth Dambrot usually plays.  They only have one double figure scorer, who is Pat Forsythe at 10.5 PPG on 57% shooting and a team high 5.5 rebounds per game.  He's a big guy at 6'11" and a legit challenge for BG, which has no one of comparable size.

They have Deji Ibiyato scoring 9.7 PPG in 19 minutes mostly off the bench.  He's a G shooting 44% and 35% from 3FG.  He was a role player last year, but has been much more productive in only a few more minutes.

Fr Noah Robotham is a 6'1" G who is scoring 9.4 PPG and leading the team with just over 30 minutes played per game.  He is shooting 41% and 34% from 3FG.  He also leads 2.7 assists per game.  Kwan Cheathem is also scoring an inefficient 9 PPG, with 38% shooting and 35% 3FG.  That's poor shooting for a guy who is 6'9".  He's also averaging 5.7 rebounds.

The size Akron has presents some challenges to BG.  For all this, Akron is only a 1 point favorite.  This would be a huge monkey to get off the back....look forward to watching it unfold.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Football Verbal--RB Matt Domer--Updated

BG has a new football verbal, and this is another player on the offensive side of the ball.  His name is Matt Domer, a RB from Chicago Mt. Carmel and he appears to have some upside.

He certainly has some credentials.  He was ready to go to Illinois.  He had committed there in the summer before his junior year, was "denied admission" and then went to a junior college.  The plan from there was to head to Illinois for the winter semester, but that never happened due to what Domer calls "some personal things on my end."

He rushed for 1,467 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013 as a senior at Chicago Mt. Carmel, where he helped lead the Caravan to a Class 7A state title. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry, and also caught seven passes for 64 yards and a score and returned four kickoffs for 139 yards and a touchdown (This is where Donovan McNabb, Chris Chelios and Jordan Lynch, among others played).  He was the offensive player of the year from the Times of Northwest Indiana.

According to this story, he was considered one of Illinois' top recruits and it was thought that he could contribute right away. Indiana, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kansas, Northern Illinois, Syracuse and Western Michigan.

Update"  BGSU did an official announcement today.  Domer has signed as in school today.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Holmes MAC East Player of the Week

Richaun Holmes has won the MAC East Player of the Week for the second time this season.  He is having a monster season and had big games against Kent and against OU.  Here's the combined line.

Holmes on the week averaged 19.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 4.0 blocks per game while shooting 60 percent from the field, 75 percent from the three-point line and 83.3 percent from the charity stripe.

Boom.  That's an All-MAC player right there.  Scores, scores efficiently, shares the ball, plays defense.  Congrats Richaun.  Looking forward to watching you for the remainder of the season.

For your viewing pleasure, the Holmes dunks from I saw on twitter, dunk you very much.

BG in Today's Bracketology

I know....I know.  Just enjoy it and dream a little.

Babers Shuffles Coaching Staff

So, we already knew BG was going to need to replace two offensive assistants, as our CO-OC...and QB and OL coach/combos went to Tulsa.  What was announced late last week will surprise the Falcon Nation and, depending on how you feel about Coach Babers either reveals his fundamental lack of ability or gives you hope that he is a good enough Coach to learn and adjust.

Here is what actually did:

DC Kim McCloud was moved to assistant Head Coach and WRs.
Sean Lewis was moved from WR Coach to QB Coach (Replacing Gilbert who left)
Mike Lynch was moved from RB Coach to OL Coach (Replacing Mattox who left)
Tom Freeman was moved from D-line Coach to "assistant OL Coach"

That's a WOW.  Let's review.

First, Mc Cloud being moved off DC to be a position coach is huge.  BG's defense had a huge fall off this year and, as we have noted many times, we playing its worst at the end of the year when relatively health.

Second, Tom Freeman being moved to an essentially unheard of position is significant.  He was originally not slated to come here from EIU, but was brought in after Larry McDaniel left to go to Indiana.  I'm not going to say anything else, I think it speaks for itself.  (Freeman was an assistant at Hawaii when Babers played there and they have coached together at four different spots).

To me, the changes reflect a recognition that he needed different people to succeed at this level...and a Coach who understands that this season did not go as it should have--even if says different things.  I understand putting a positive face forward, but you can't hide from the results and I hope that will eventually be the thing.  (Note, in the season-ender I posited a RichRod scenario, where in the end results did not matter).

It means that the team will have new people at both coordinator positions and that neither position will be filled by an internal promotion.  That is pretty meaningful and gives Babers a pretty big opportunity.  On the defensive side of the ball, BG on paper expects to have huge talent and someone needs to harness that.  On defense, there will be youth and someone needs to develop that.

Here is what Coach Babers said, however, that has tongues wagging, from The Blade.

“This allows some of our assistants to get back to their natural positions which they have played and coached at in the past, which will make our coaching staff more experienced and allow us to get the most out of our student-athletes.”

<<Mushroom Cloud>>

The implications that guys were at "unnatural" positions has some elements of the Falcon Nation exercised.

So, let's take a closer look.

First, and most importantly, he is not talking about Kim McCloud, OK?  In fact, McCloud played defense in college and has been a defensive coach for every year except one, when he was a WR Coach at Nevada.  So, if anything, McCloud is moving to an unnatural position.  Again, if you are saying that Babers had a DC who was not an experienced defensive coach, you should limit yourself to BG's defensive results, which are enough.

The statement does apply to Freeman.  His career has been spent on the offensive line, and he was moved to defensive line at EIU when he joined Babers there for Coach's second season.

The statement does not apply to Sean Lewis, who played only one year (at UW) at QB before moving to TE and his coaching career has been WRs and TEs.

The statement barely applies to Mike Lynch.  He did play O-line in college, but his natural coaching position has been WR and RB.

So, I think the statement is probably a little overstated and unnecessary.  Coach may well be trying to protect his guys, but there are other ways to put it.  On the other hand, what Coach says is getting blown up.

Anyway, that's the move.  Pretty interesting.  Again, I am not sold on Coach Babers either way, but to me this is a guy committed to getting the job done at BG and not stuck in his ways or on specific guys.  He has a chance to continue that progress by bringing in the rights guy as his coordinators and get BG back on the right track.

New Football Verbal

The Falcons have a new verbal, and for a chance of pace he's on the offensive side of the ball.  Hustle Belt reports that he had offers from a number of other MAC schools and that he was First Team All-Division II for his senior year.  On the internet, you can also see where he visited Purdue.

He attended Hamilton Township High School, which is in the Columbus area.

The key thing is that he is 6'3" and I see where he was a strong track athlete, setting a school record in the 60M.  The size is important.  Spread teams need to be able to throw fades in the red zone because they sometimes lack the pure power game.

He was productive, netting 66 catches for 1,069 yards (16.2 average) and 13 TDs in his senior year.  He established school season and career receiving records.

Welcome to the Falcons Deric.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Football Opponents now firmed up

Just a quick football interlude....the MAC rotation has been announced for next year's schedule.  Frankly, next year is stacking up to be a really tough schedule for BG.

BG will have have the same cross-over games next year with the West...and we know how that went this year.  Only difference is BG goes to WMU (who I would expect to continue to improve) and Ball State, who I would expect to be better than this year and then gets the Rockets at the Doyt.  That's tough...BG also goes to Buffalo and to Kent.

Meanwhile, OU, UMass and Akron round out the home schedule, which is good, since (I would imagine) Akron and OU would be our biggest opponents for the East.

No Miami again this year.

#BGSU football gets Ohio, UMass, Akron, Toledo at home in 2015. Buffalo, Kent, Ball State, WMU on the road. No Miami again next season.

The non-conference schedule is also tough.  BG plays At Tennessee, At Maryland, HOME v. Memphis, At Purdue.

Besides being undefeated at Purdue, that represents a tough set of games with no FCS opponent.  Babers' supporters are proud of pointing to his year 2 record at EIU, but that's going to require at least 4 big road wins.

Falcons Win #10, Stomp OU

The BGSU Falcons won their 10th in easy fashion on Saturday, using a powerful second half to put the OU Bobcats down by a 69-54 score.  It is BG's biggest win in the MAC in two seasons an over a team that is a traditional power in the MAC.  I doesn't look like it is exactly OU's best team--time will tell on that--but even if the Bobcats are weak, the Falcons went out and beat them easily, in the end.

With 10 wins, the Falcons are now 2 wins short of last year's win total.  The win was achieved without Jehvon Clarke, who was injured at the Kent game and in a boot on the sidelines.  I understand that BG doesn't think the injury is a long-term issue.

BG came out hot, scoring the game's first 6 points and forcing OU to burn an early time out.  BG never lost the lead.  BG led by as much as 7 but didn't stretch away from OU.  The lead at the half was 5.

Five minutes into the 2nd half the lead was still 5 for BG.  Just after the 12 minute media timeout, a Spencer Parker layup put BG up by 10.  In all, a 15-2 run ballooned the lead out for the Falcons.  BG led by as much as 21 before the final 15 point margin.

BG had a very good defensive game holding OU to .89 points per possession.  The key was the 2FG.  BG was 8 of 21 on 3FG and OU was 8 of 22...BG was  9 of 11 from the line and OU was 8 of 11.  Those are even.  And, BG had only 2 fewer turnovers than OU.  The difference in the game was that BG shot 18 of 38 from 2FG and OU shot 11 of 35, which is 47% versus 31%.  That percentage for OU on 2FG is just terrible--you'd consider that below average for 3FG.  The advantage of 7 2FGs was the difference.

BG ended up at 1.13 points per possession, which is very solid.  BG now has 5 games over 1.1 points per possession.  Last year there were 3 and one was Earlham.

On other note, we did notice that BG had a tough night on the defensive boards against Kent.  They were back on point this time, holding OU to 25% offensive boards.

On an individual basis, you have to recognize that Richaun Holmes is playing like a beast and is beginning to develop his consistency as well.  In 26 minutes of action, Holmes scored 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting, 12 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.  It is very difficult to have a better game than that.  he was a big part of OU struggling so much in the paint.  When a player is near the basket and feels the need to locate Holmes before shooting?  Dang.

Zach Denny had another nice game, with 11 point on 4 of 9 shooting and 9 rebounds.  Denny is a really solid player.  We expected a shooter, but he defends and plays defense as well.  Against OU, he showed the ability to run a shot fake at the 3-line, get the defender off his feet and then step inside the line for an uncontested 2.

Anthony Henderson had 10 points, also on 4 of 9 shooting.  Jovon Austin only had 2 points, but had 6 assists over 2 turnovers.  He is very active with the ball and is clearly much better an opening things up than BG had last year.  Joseph had 4 assists and 3 turnovers, as the two PGs continued to essentially split time...though sometimes they are on the court together.

Replacing Clarke, BG used JD Tisdale, who played 10 minutes and was solidly in the flow without generating any big numbers.  He made both his FTs, which is something after his nightmare year last season at the line.  Walk-on Matt Fox also played 11 minutes, drilling 2 treys.  Coach Jans noted after the game that when you have injuries you can develop depth for use later, and BG got very solid minutes out of these two young men.

So, at 10-3 and 2-0, BG continues to makes the Falcon Nation happy with the turn-around in the first season of the Jans era.  BG has won 4 straight since the Ferris game.  They have held 8 teams under .9 points per possession.  A real test looms Wednesday as BG travels to the JAR to take on the Zips.  East titles run through Akron..not sure this Akron team is up to their normal standards, but they present a big challenge and they are coming off a loss.  Can't wait to see how our boys do.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not too cold for Chris Jones....

What's the windchill?  Did you say 11?  And who is that practicing in shorts for the Patriots?

That's right....former Falcon and MAC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Jones.  Here's an interesting story about it....Jones says he isn't trying to prove anything...and his teammates don't use the word "tough" to describe it.

Roll Along, Chris.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

And here we go.  The 1-0 Falcons now take on the OU Bobcats...perennial power in the MAC, but with a new Coach and maybe a couple holes.  Getting the feeling there's going to be a big crowd at the Stroh and we're going to be jacked up.  Honestly, have not looked this forward to a Falcon game in many years.

OU is 5-7 this year.  Their best wins are over Depaul and UNC-Wilmington, the first on a neutral floor and the other at the Convo.  They also lost at home to St. Bonaventure and, in their MAC opener by 10 to NIU, of all people.  Astonishingly, they have played only 2 true road games, losing them both.

As we look at the matchup, we can see a team that is a little less effective than BG on offense and significantly poorer on defense.  On our floor, that would seem to give our boys the advantage.

As you can see above, BG's offense and OU's defense are relatively closely matched.  And that is pretty evident in the chart below.  What BG is doing on offense is pretty comparable to what OU is doing on defense in all areas.  If BG continues to shoot well, that's a new story, but basically this looks like a pretty even and predictable match up.

Flipping it around, we can see how the OU offense and BG defense compare.  It is a little hard to see how OU is only getting 1 point per possession...they are a pretty good shooting team...they are hurt by relatively high turnovers, poor offensive rebounding and worst-in-the-conference FT production, both getting to the line, where they are last, and making shots, were they are 10th.  This end is the big challenge for BG.  The Falcons need to defend the shot effectively and then get their offensive rebounding mojo back and they have a shot to keep OU in check.  

Individually, it is important to keep in mind that OU is third in the MAC at possessions per game, so that will juice their scoring a little bit.

OU's leading scorer is Javarez Willis, a Texas Tech transfer who played sparingly last year but is getting 33 minutes this year.  He's a 5'11" G who is scoring 15.7 PPG on 45% shooting, which is pretty good for a guard.  He's a 38% 3FG shooter on 83 attempts (a lot) and 86% at the line.  He leads the team with 3.3 assists per game.

OU does have a nice inside game, and will pressure BG to defend inside.  The Falcons only have one true paint defender, so Dickerson and Parker are going to have to stretch up a little bit or this is a matchup issue.

The second leading scorer is Maurice Ndour, who you will be familiar with from last year.  He is scoring 14.9 PPG to go with 8.4 RPG.  He's shooting 45%, which is not great for a big man.

Antonio Campbell, a 6'8" SO is scoring 10.4 PPG on 52% shooting and adding about 7 rebounds per game.  He has also fouled out 3 times, so the Falcons could help themselves by getting this young player into foul trouble.

Finally, 6'5" FR Ryan Taylor is scoring 10.4 PPG as well, on 49% shooting but only 27% from 3FG.

Again, this is an exciting day for us as fans.  This is a winnable game at home, and, dare we say it, one we expect to win?  Looking for a nice crowd and for the joint to rock a little bit...looking forward to seeing the Falcons keep the good times rolling.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Orange Dagger! Falcons Start out MAC Play with Road Win...

So, last night was a pretty good night.  BG went into a place where they have not won in a long time, faced some severe adversity, rallied and then closed out a tightly contested game with Kent State to go 1-0 in the MAC with a road win and a win in division.

Just to get the disclaimers out, Kent was playing without their starting PG, Derek Jackson, who was suspended for the game.  Even so, this was a very nice win for BG and should provide some significant confidence moving forward.

It was not always easy, and there were a couple periods where BG was outplayed pretty significantly. With 7 minutes left in the half, BG was up 18-16, but Kent went on a 19-2 run in about 5 and a half minutes, which obviously represents a serious collapse on both ends of the court.  Down 15, BG did an important thing, which was to sneak 6 points in over the last minute of the game to get the lead inside 10, including a Joseph steal and run-out layup in the final seconds.  Coach Jans identified that at halftime as an important part of keeping BG in the game.

BG followed up on that momentum.  Five minutes into the half they were still down 7, but went on an 8-0 run to pop into the lead with 12 left in the half.  Kent wasn't done...they went on another run and with just inside 7 minutes left to play they led by 8 again.  In 4 minutes, BG came back on a 13-4 run to get back into the lead.  Spencer Parker scored 7 of those 13 points, and he's the hero of the second half.

BG never trailed again.  With a minute left Kent had it down to 1, and Parker pulled out his orange dagger and splashed another 3 to put the Flashes up by 4 points.  BG was up 4 until almost the end, when Brewer dropped an uncontested layup in to give the final margin.

Even with Kent playing without their PG, this is a very solid win for our team.  The two rallies were great to see, especially on the road.  In a way, the second one was even better, because it seems that on the road is when you often see a team gas out when they fall behind that late in the second half.  As we continue to see what we have, we continue to get positive results.

The preview I did indicated this would be a tight game.  Both teams presented pretty similar profiles and it certainly was a tight game.  BG did not play great defense.  Kent scored 1.04 points per possession.  However, the Falcons had a better offensive day (obviously), with 1.08 points per possession.  The difference...believe it or not, was 3FG shooting.  BG has lacked a consistent outside shooting game for years, but BG was 8 of 15 from beyond the arc for the game and Kent was 6 of 21.  The preview noted that Kent normally makes more than their opponents, so this was big for BG.

The other thing BG showed was some adaptability.  They went to some full court pressure to take Kent out of their rhythm and also played some second half zone.  I think it is a sign of a well-coached and hard to beat team that can take multiple approaches on defense, especially if they are not committed to one style as a defining characteristic, like EMU.

Anyway, BG had a +4 edge in turnovers, which doesn't sound like a lot, unless it is a tight game.  Those possessions were critical.  BG only had 10 turnovers for the game, which is excellent.

Coach won't be happy with the offensive rebounding, as Kent had their way on the offensive boards.  Finally, the teams ended up even on FTs made, even though Kent tried 4 more.  BG went 10 of 11 from the line and didn't miss until the last 30 seconds of the game.

On an individual basis, Richaun Holmes was the team's leading scorer with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.  He shot 8 of 16 and 2 of 3 from 3FG, and the only serious blemish was that he made 5 of BG's 10 turnovers.  As mentioned though, Spencer Parker was the guy who pulled the game out.  He had 16 points all in the second half on 6 of 11 and 2 of 2 shooting, and each of the treys were at critical gave BG the lead they never gave up and one pushed the lead to 4 with a minute left.

Jovon Austin was back after an ankle injury against Chicago State.  He's starting at 1 now and had 6 assists over 2 turnovers in 24 minutes.  Pep Joseph had 3 steals.

One note on Kent...this Jimmy Hall guy is going to be a player.  He is a sophomore transfer from Hofstra and had a career high 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting and 7 rebounds.  Todd Walker was comparing him to Jovan McCrea of Buffalo, which is not good news for the rest of the conference.

BG is now 9-3 with 4 road wins.  Excitement is continuing to grow.  OU comes in Saturday.  We have been drawing better and we could get a really nice crowd for that one.  OU lost at home to NIU and is having a disappointing season.  Be great to see us grind one out over them...and the cool thing is, you're starting to expect this team to succeed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

MAC Opener: Kent Preview

So here we go kids. Buckle in. The MAC season is about to begin.  Let's get 'er going.

BG opens on the road at Kent.  The Flashes have historically been very tough at home, although that has softened a little bit in the last couple of years, BG has lost the last four games at the MAC Center.  Overall, Kent has won 6 of the last 10, though the teams split last year.

Kent is 9-4 so far.  As noted in the MAC reset, they have some soft wins, and their best win was @North Dakota State.  Having said that, they have no bad losses....all are to a team with an RPI under 100.  So, without any big wins or bad losses, we are kind of at a loss as to how good they are.

Looking at points per possession, we can see that on an overall basis, the teams are pretty similar through the pre-season.  Kent has been a little bit better on offense but BG has been a little bit better on defense.   Therefore, both teams have a solid spread between scoring and defense, and on that basis, this shapes up to be a pretty interesting matchup.

The chart below compares the four factors for BG's offense and Kent's defense.  BG shoots slightly better than Kent normally allows, and Kent forces a few more turnovers than BG is used to making.  Rebounding is pretty even and the only place where there is a real spread is on free throw shooting.  Kent has put people on the line quite a bit and that presents an opportunity for BG, which does not typically find its way to the line a lot.

Flipping the situation, we see basically the same shooting situation....Kent is used to shooting better than BG is used to allowing.  BG is used to forcing more turnovers than Kent is used to allowing.  In this case, the biggest challenge will be on the offensive boards.  This is a point of emphasis for Coach Jans, but Kent has been at least decent on the offensive boards. 

One other thing to note is that Kent shoots 38% from beyond the arc, which is 3rd in the MAC.  They are +39 on 3FGs for the year, so BG will need to defend the perimeter effectively.

Individually, Kent is led by Jimmy Hall, a 6'7" SO who is in his first year in the MAC after transferring from Hofstra.  He's efficient, shooting a straight 50% and leads the team with 7.8 RPG, which is 5th in the MAC.  He is a poor FT shooter, so a Hack-a-Hall strategy is not outside the realm of possibility.

The second and third leading scorers are more familiar names, Deveraux Manley, a real weapon at 12.1/46% and 46% 3FG, and Kris Brewer (10.7%, but 38% shooting on all FGs and also on 3FG.  Brewer also averages 3 assists per game, slightly behind team leader Derek Jackson at 3.5.  Khaliq Spicer, at 6;9" also averages 6 rebounds per game.

Kellon Thomas played six games before being injured and has not appeared since.  He was supposed to be out a month, which started on 12/9.  Kent plays a deep rotation, with 10 guys averaging 10 minutes or more per game.

I think this has the potential to be a really competitive game, as both teams have presented similar profiles over the course of the season.  If Kent has the advantage, it is because they are at home (and giving away free tickets to fans who tweet pics of themselves in Kent gear) and because they played a slightly tougher pre-MAC schedule.  Having said that, BG has been able to play well on the road and has been very competitive.  The results of this will be very interesting and a win puts BG one MAC East road win up early.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

MAC Basketball Reset....

So, tonight the MAC season starts out for 2015.  Always fun....little hint, look for UT to put the lie in CMU's face at Savage tonight.  Anyway, this is a good time to check in on the MAC and how teams have done so far.  Stats are courtesy of the incomparable  For each team, I give the record, their RPI, their top wins (in the top half of D1 teams), their worst loss, and then their average RPI of wins and losses, followed by D1 losses, for reasons which will be obvious.

Followed by some commentary, in each case.

Buffalo (9-3, 35 RPI)

Top Wins:  @Texas Arlington (126), So Dakota State (157)
Worst Loss: @St. Bonaventure (156)
Avg RPI Win: 215
Avg RPI Loss:55
Non D1 wins: 0

In my opinion, Buffalo had the best pre-season in the MAC.  There are no non-D1 wins in there, and their worst loss was to a decent team on the road.  Their other losses are to Kansas and Wisconsin, so the Bulls have no serious hits on their record.  The East is down this year and the Bulls look to be the clear favorites.

EMU (11-2, 92 RPI)

Top Wins:  @UM (139), @Missouri State (159), Oakland (166)
Worst Loss: @MSU (53)
Avg RPI Win: 147
Avg RPI Loss: 36

Non D1 wins: 4

EMU is off to a gaudy start.  But what self-respecting team trying to prepare for a MAC title run plays 4 teams that are not D1?  Honestly, I think it hurts the MAC and there should be a rule limiting teams to 1.  Anyway, they have a big win over a down Michigan team and a couple of other decent wins and no bad losses...MSU and Dayton.  I still make UT the favorite in the West until I see more from EMU against D1 opposition.

CMU (10-1, 113 RPI)

Top Wins:  @McNeese (100), @Northwestern (102)
Worst Loss: @Bradley (289)
Avg RPI Win: 156
Avg RPI Loss: 289
Non D1 wins: 3

Look CMU is almost just as bad with 3 non D1 wins.  They do have two wins better than EMU and only one loss, though it was too a bad team.  Not sure the Chips aren't the second best team in the West.  The thing here is they are scoring points by the truckload.  They are 3rd in the nation in points per possession and are 2nd in the nation in effective field goal%.  They have the lowest turnover% in the MAC as well as the best rebound percentage.  How much of that came playing 3 non D1 teams?  Time will tell.

BG (8-3, 115 RPI)

Top Wins:  Wright State (98), Cleveland State (173)
Worst Loss: Ferris State (non D1)
Avg RPI Win: 236
Avg RPI Loss: 47
Non D1 wins: 0

BG has one of the best wins in the MAC against Wright State but also has the conference's only D loss.  Fortunately for BG's RPI that doesn't count in the calculations.  The average RPI win number is important.  Looking very forward to seeing how the 8-3 start translates to MAC play.

UT (8-5, 117 RPI)

Top Wins:  @McNeese (100), @Cleveland State 173
Worst Loss: Detroit (213)--Neutral Floor
Avg RPI Win: 218
Avg RPI Loss: 97
Non D1 wins: 0

UT was supposed to be the best team in the MAC and it wasn't supposed to be that close.  UT can't be thrilled about the season to date...especially the neutral court losses to Detroit and Oakland.  Also, for the team they are, I am sure they would have thought they could beat Oregon, though that one was away.  Anyway, I still make UT the favorite to win the MAC.

Kent (9-4, 144 RPI)

Top Wins:  No Dak State (168) Neutral floor
Worst Loss: UTEP (78) Neutral Floor
Avg RPI Win: 242
Avg RPI Loss: 52
Non D1 wins: 1

Last year broke Kent's streak of 20 win seasons.  Are they back?  I am not a Senderhof fan, but they don't have any bad losses or any great wins.  In a MAC East which is appearing to be more wide open than expected, Kent is a threat.

Akron (9-4, 163 RPI)

Top Wins:  South Carolina (87) USC (107), both neutral.
Worst Loss: Middle Tennessee 225
Avg RPI Win: 206
Avg RPI Loss: 133
Non D1 wins: 1

Akron is trying to put things together without Treadwell.  They have two really nice wins, though their worst loss is pretty bad.  They have a bunch of soft wins to go with their 2 good ones....5 wins against teams over 225 in RPI.  Akron is the East's most dominant program and I think they are a threat to win the East, though they have yet to show that without Tree they can be a serious threat for the whole MAC.

NIU (6-5, 199 RPI)

Top Wins:  Mississippi Valley State (262)
Worst Loss: @Dartmouth (218)
Avg RPI Win: 233
Avg RPI Loss: 139
Non D1 wins: 1

I'm not sure how NIU is ranked above WMU...honestly.  Anyway, NIU has been benefitting from a really soft schedule.  Their average RPI win is comparable to BG's, but they have not beaten anyone at all of any significance.  

WMU (8-4, 202 RPI)

Top Wins:  @Oakland (166),
Worst Loss: @San Diego (180)
Avg RPI Win: 215
Avg RPI Loss: 105
Non D1 wins: 1

Defending MAC Champs are off to an average start.  No real big wins to speak of and no really bad losses either.

OU (5-6, 215 RPI)

Top Wins:  App. State (175)
Worst Loss: St. Bonaventure (156)
Avg RPI Win: 229
Avg RPI Loss: 104
Non D1 wins: 0

Hustle Belt says this is the MAC's most disappointing team.  That's possible, just because you are used to them always being good.  Their win quality is obviously not good, though they don't have any terrible losses to speak of, either.  Those are all D1 games, so that's something.  I would still not be surprised to see OU line up a quarter final bye for themselves.

Ball State (5-6, 278 RPI)

Top Wins:  Indiana State, 219
Worst Loss: @IUPUI (265)
Avg RPI Win: 230
Avg RPI Loss: 127
Non D1 wins: 1

Ball State has really been struggling for a few years and this year is no exception.  No great wins (I mean NO great wins) and at least one bad loss.  I like BSU's coach, but progress is hard to come by.

Miami (5-8, 309 RPI)

Top Wins:  UMKC (315)
Worst Loss: @IPFW (290)
Avg RPI Win: 261
Avg RPI Loss: 141
Non D1 wins: 1

Clearly the worst team in the MAC.  All four of their D1 wins are at home against teams with an RPI of 315 of above, and they only go to 351.  They have some quality losses, but then also losses to Virginia Tech and IPFW.  Miami might be better than this, but they have do nothing to show it.