Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Falcons Conquer Dunk City

The trip to Florida did not start out so well with a lopsided loss to North Dakota, a team that went on to lose both its other games in Florida.  However, BG rallied from there, picking up wins over Youngstown State and Florida Gulf Coast, the first an "away from home" win and the second a true "road win."

I'd be careful about projecting too far much with these wins.  For BG to have a good record this year (or even a respectable record) they had to win a couple of these and they did.  I do like what I have seen and I look forward to getting a chance to see them compete against something between UC and FGCU, something which might best come with some early December games.

It was a very solid victory for BG.  The Eagles never led after taking a 3-2 lead and the game was last tied at 9-9.  BG led by 10 at the half, built it out to 16 in about five minutes in the second half,  FGCU battled back into the game and never had it closer than 5.  In fact, with 1:18 left BG led by 5 and BG made 5 out of 8 FTs in the closing seconds to finish the game at a 5 point margin.

There were a few key issues in the game.  Perhaps the most important was controlling the tempo.  We all remember the "Dunk City" Big Dance run, and these guys play very much the same way...up tempo and above the rim, like, a lot.  For example, in their game with OU there were 78 possessions.  The Falcons deliberately seemed interested in keeping things slow and the game had only 70 possessions, which is pretty slow, especially with the new shot clock.

That number of possessions puts the final score in a difference perspective.  You have an 82-77 final with only 70 possessions?  That's actually a lot of scoring.  BG had 1.17 points per possession and FGCU had 1.1.

The chart below shows the deal.  First, shooting was very even.  BG shot 49% overall and FGCU shot 48%, but FGCU was 7 of 13 from 3FGs, which gave both teams an equal amount of points on field goals.  As you can see, both teams took excellent care of the ball--a credit to BG because FGCU was running an aggressive trip with pretty long guys.  The difference was that BG had a much better day on the offensive boards--best day of the season, in fact, and BG had +5 at the free throw line.  Both teams made 70%, but BG got to the line more and that and the rebounding was the difference.

Spencer Parker had another great game.  If he is set to be a consistent force this year, it will make a big difference in how the team competes.  He had another double-double at 22/10.  He shot 10 of 18 overall and 10 of 13 on 2FGs.  He had a very solid game, even with 3 turnovers.

Zack Denny had 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting and 3 of 5 from 3FG, all a very efficient offensive night.  He also had 11 rebounds for a double-double of his own.

BG had two other players in double figures, both off the bench.  Ismail Ali continues to impress, getting 13 points on 3 of 5 FG shooting and 6 of 6 FT shooting, to go with 3 assists in only 19 minutes.  Antwon Lillard had 10 points and could have had more, making only 6 of 11 FTs.  I like Lillard and think he will be a good player.  He is making some freshman mistakes, so people will need to be patient with him.

Pep Joseph had 4 assists in 22 minutes.

BG is playing very small.  The only legit inside player they started was Worrell and he only played 22 minutes.  Off the bench, Wiggins played 9 and Mayleben 3.  I'm not sure how sustainable that is.  They are getting rebounding from Parker and Denny...anyway, all that will be seen.  For now, the boys are 3-2 with a holiday break and Urbana coming back on Sunday, so we'd like to think we'll be looking at 4-2 heading into December.

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