Friday, December 30, 2016

Falcon MBB End 2016 With Win

BG entered the 2nd half of the Norfolk State game with a 6 point lead and its normal starting line up on the court....Ali, Denny, Lillard, Alcegaire and Wiggins.  Things did not go well.  In 5:20, BG had been outscored 22-9 and now trailed by 7.  That's 22 points allowed in 5 minutes.

So, Coach Huger made a move he has made one other time.  He pulled his starters and put his freshmen in.  Specifically, Frye, Caldwell and Turner came in and Denny, Ali and Lillard came out.  As Coach Huger said, what BG got was energy out of the young guys and they are going to make mistakes, but you can't win without energy and effort.  "You gotta defend in order to play," he said.

None of the three older players were in the game much for the remainder of the game.  Huger:  "the underclassmen have to pick it up or you are going to see a lot more of the freshmen."

Well then.  I'd recommend taking a listen to the Huger presser.  It was pretty interesting.  He is very passionate.  "It drives me crazy," he said, when discussing his team's lack of defensive energy.  This is understandable, especially since, as he says, we are going to be the underdogs in every game we play for a while, including at Akron on Tuesday.

BG had the lead down to 1 in about 3 minutes, but did not finally tie the game until there were about 8 minutes left in the game.  At that point, BG was on an 18-5 run that left them up 10 with 3:16 left.  From there BG sailed home, leading by as much as 14 and finally locking up another game that they could expect to win but was in doubt into the second half.  BG won 86-77.

It was a 73 possession game.  BG had 1.18 points per possession, which is their best offensive game of the season.  Norfolk had 1.06 points per possession...and remember, this is a team that has struggled to score.

BG had their best shooting game of the year.  In fact, you'd have to go back to the SEMO game early last year for a D1 game where BG shot better.  BG shot 52% overall, but more importantly, 53% on 3FGs.  That's 8 of 14 from 3 FGs.  That's BG's second game over 50% from 3FG this year.  Anyway, the Falcons combined that with really solid ball handling to put together the strong offensive game.  Oh, well, one other thing.  BG shot a ridiculous amount of FTs.  They shot 40--their highest free throw rate since the '14 WKU game.  They made 70%, which is average and perfectly acceptable.  BG was +13 at the line.

On defense, the picture was not as good.  Norfolk State shot 47% from 3FG and 47% overall, which is still pretty good.  They also took good care of the ball and tried more 3s overall.

Neither team did any offensive rebounding.

BG's top overall player was probably Demajeo Wiggins, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds.  He shot 3 of 6 from the field and 9-10 from the line, continuing an already remarkable FT improvement.  Wes Alcegaire, who it should be noted was the one upperclassmen not included in the second half troubles, scored 17 points on 5/9 and 2 of 4 shooting to go with 6 rebounds.  Could have had more but was 5 of 10 from the line.

Rodrick Caldwell continued to improve, with 13 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 20 minutes.  He shot 4 of 7.  Perhaps the biggest addition is Justin Turner, who had 10 on 3 of 6 shooting in 24 minutes.  He makes the team better with his presence and it is good to see him in there.

Lillard actually had 9 points on 4 of 5 shooting 4 assists and only 1 turnover in 19 minutes.

Coach said that the lineup isn't going to change for Akron.  But, playing time is going to need to be earned.  If nothing else, for the future of the program, it is good to see the young players thriving as the programs looks to build and get stronger.

One note.  Rasheed Worrell played only 10 minutes.  Don't know if he is healthy or not, but he made 28 starts last year and isn't seeing much playing time on a small team.

So, on to MAC play.  BG is 6-7.  They start @Akron, probably the toughest assignment in the MAC.

Sentinel With Coach Jinks--MUST READ

So, as you know, I have been critical of the job Coach Jinks did this year.  Here's a year-end piece in the Sentinel that is a show-stopper.  It is an interview with Coach and he's incredibly honest.  I'm impressed.  He concedes they jammed Air Raid down the team's throat.  He concedes they didn't evaluate talent well.  He concedes part of that is the young coaches he brought along.  He concedes they make adjustments too slowly as the season unfolded.  He even concedes that he should have been here instead of coaching Texas Tech in the bowl game.

I'm not going to steal the piece's thunder.  Head over and read it.  A highlight.

The midseason adjustments...."somebody should have known. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but we wouldn’t have gotten embarrassed by 70. And that’s where we could have lost them. If you go lose by 70 in two out of the first four weeks, we’re lucky to still be coaching here." (emphasis added).

I give Jinks props for this.  There is not one excuse in the story and there's total accountability.  I give him credit for that.  And I think he's right.  Most of the things he talks about are things that came up in other places, including my post-season review.  This was a challenging year made worse by Coach Jinks and his staff.

This took some courage and not just any coach would have been able to do it.  Read the story again, and try to imagine those words coming out of the mouth of Lane Kiffin, Tim Beckman, Rich Rodriguez...or Dino Babers, for that matter.  Cannot be done.

He concedes his assistants are young and we paid a price for it.  The Sentinel story cuts him a break by pointing out that Jinks only had 3 years of Big 12 contacts and that we can't hire Big 12 assistants because the lowest-paid assistant in that conference makes more than our highest-paid assistant.

That's fine and I'm sure it's true.  It is just another reason why Coach Jinks was a poor fit for an FBS head coaching job at this point in his career.  Hiring assistants is one of the key elements of success, and a better-travelled coach would have had more contacts and been better able to bring in a staff where they wouldn't think they were "lucky to still be coaching here" and we could have had a guy like that.

But that is done.  Jinks is our guy.  And he's a stand-up guy.  Whether he can win at this level or the curve is just too steep...that remains to be seen.  OK, we learned some lessons, but remember the competition improves every year too.  We have to improve more.

He is certainly not happy.  He isn't letting the staff have things easy during December.  Since "we are supposed to be playing ball right now," he has his staff working around the clock on all kinds of projects, just to remind them that we not playing in December and it is not acceptable.

The staff is going to return in full, according to the article.  This is not a surprise.  It isn't great news, but it isn't a surprise.  Problem is, they're not going to go from what is described in the article to fully-formed assistants in one year.  They should get better and maybe by a lot, but some of them could be 10 years from being at the level we need them to be.  The assistants on the other side of the field in our conference have that kind of experience and seasoning.  And that clearly matters.

Anyway, here comes 2017.  As I noted earlier, big recruiting month ahead.  This didn't have to be this way, but it is how it is now.  He's our coach....until he wins and leaves or loses and leaves.  Let's hope it is the former.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 to end with Norfolk State

So, look.  Norfolk State is another low-ranked team from a low-ranked conference.  But we saw before Christmas that BG didn't play very well and let Alabama A&M hang around in a game where that should not have happened.  And this Norfolk State team is probably better than Alabama A&M.  What remains to be seen is whether BG responds with a stronger performance after a game in which they were clearly frustrating their head coach...and then a long break to think about it.  Or not.

Norfolk has had some quality teams over the past few years.  In 2012 they made their first NCAA tourney appearance.  They beat Missouri in a 2/15 game before losing to Florida in the second round.

They were 17-17 last year, but have won 20 games in 3 of the last 5 years.  Also, in 3 of the last 5 years they have had an RPI under 200.

They were picked 3rd this year in the MEAC.  In common opponent land, they lost @Evansville by 19 and BG lost @Evansville by only 3.

They lost some big players, however, and aren't off to a great start.  They are 3-10 and they are 1-10 in D1 games.  Their kenpom is 310.

Looking at their stats, there are no surprises.  Teams that are 1-10 have 1-10 numbers.  They are #311 in scoring and #272 in defense.  They play at a below average tempo, so the overall effect of these numbers is muted a little.

The biggest issues for the Spartans on offense are shooting and rebounding.  That's just a really poor EFG% and offensive rebounding.  They are about average taking care of the ball.  They aren't great at getting to the line, but they are about average as FT shooters.  They are are not a 3FG driven team...they are #295 in % of the 3FGs taken and #263 in making them.  They making only 41% of their 2FGs, which is a disaster for a team that relies on them.

Here, they have the normal deadly combo of not creating turnovers and being easy to shoot against.  They allow 51% on 2FGs and 41% on 3FGs.  They are average on the offensive boards and a little worse than normal allowing teams to the line.  But remember, this team has played 3 top 100 teams, and BG has played none.

Scoring wise, the Spartans are a one-trick pony.  They have only one double-figure scorer, which is Jonathan Wade, a 6'4" R-JR G.  He was a JUCO player and only started twice last year.  This year, he's had some good success.  He is averaging 19.5 PPG on 47% shooting, 39% on 3FG and 5.8 RPG.  JR Zaynah Robinson is scoring 9.9 PPG, but on 36% shooting.  They also leads the team with 2.6 assists per game and a 3.5:1 A/T ratio.  Other than Wade, their leading rebounder is 6'8" So Alex Long, who also averages 5.8 RPG.  He's also blocked 20 shots in their 12 games, which is tops in the MEAC.

There is no way BG should lose this game or it should be close.  Having said that, the possibility certainly exists.  Over the last year and a half, the Falcons have had a worrisome tendency to not bring energy all the time.  Last year Coach Huger said he had to coach effort a lot.  That was attributed to the coaching changes, but it has persisted into this year, even by Coach Huger's admission.  This is something that he will need to figure out how to fix.  It will lead to the same results BG got last year in MAC play.  Right now, BG is looking pretty much like the team we were picked to be.

Additional Verbal....Long Snapper

So, I was tooling around looking at BG's recruiting, and I saw that there was one verbal I hadn't picked up...and that was James Carolan of Boulder Creek, AZ, which is in the Phoenix area.  He's a long snapper, and FWIW he is one of the best available long snappers in this HS class.  In fact, Kohl's kicking says he is the #3 long snapper in the country.  Follow that link to an incredible set of data on long snapping.

Special teams are key and you want 100% of your long snaps to work because one bad snap often loses a game.  So, welcome to the Falcons, James.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Football for the new year....

So, a very big month coming up for Falcon football.  Signing day is February 1 and the weekends in January are big official visit weekends.  These are huge for the program.  With our shortage in numbers and our shortage in talent at certain positions, this class has got to be a win.  A miss this year and the cycle just gets placed back even farther. It is always important, but this year is more important than ever.

Think 2010 class....Adjei-Barimah, Beck, Fllewellyn, Foster, Gates, Lynch, Martin (Gabe), Montgomery, Thomas, Ward.

Or 2011...Tate, Huettel, Sutton, Johnson, Samuel, Greene, Baird, Turner, Colvin.

That's what's needed and the coaches know it.  They have chosen--correctly--to build through HS recruiting, just as Clawson did.  Only 2 JUCOs.  So, it takes times.  And you can't have a class miss, it just takes longer and coaches don't get that kind of time and the cycle can get can take years to dig out.

There are going to be some tight stomachs in the Sebo Center. This is as much pressure as any game.  To me, this has to be the worst part of being a college football coach.

One trend to look out for is Florida.  The MAC--including BG--has recruited there because there is a shortage of mid-major schools there.  Both FAU and FIU now have high-profile--as in former NFL--coaches and they will be working their own state hard, including commits to MAC schools.  So, it might be a good time to have contacts in Texas.

Anyway, it happens largely below the radar, but this is the biggest month yet for the Jinks regime.  We will have an idea on February 1 how it went, but it will take time.  Coach Jinks and his team have shown themselves to be effective in the very early parts of recruiting, but that game is only in the first quarter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Mike Jinks Reading List

So with a little extra time on my hands, I decided to go back and see what was out there in the news media about Mike Jinks when he was a high school coach.  I must say it was pretty interesting....I'd recommend Falcon fans follow the links.  I have written plenty on Coach Jinks, and while I disagree with some of you on the whole thing, he's our guy until he wins and leaves or loses and leaves.  Let's hope it's the first.

So, here are some things that can be learned in the links below...

  • When Jinks was a HS QB at Judson, his team won 28 straight games (with one forfeit.).
  • Here is what his coach [Vandergriff] said in 2008 about him as a college QB
"He always had an unusual effect on the people around him," former ASU head football coach Jerry Vandergriff said of Jinks, who led the Rams to the 1994 NCAA Division II playoffs. "He was somewhat unconventional as a player, but he got the job done. He played hard, and everybody followed his lead."

"I can't tell you how many times I saw him get hit and thought there was no way he was getting up," Vandergriff said.

"I don't think you've heard the last of him. I think you'll see him go on and have a great career wherever it leads."
  • We've all heard about how he was waiting tables when he was drafted into coaching and had to borrow money to move for the job.
  • When he started at Steele HS...which was a new HS (but, to be fair, the kids were playing ball elsewhere), he told the team the following things:
“It was never about beating Judson. It was never about beating Clemens,” Jinks said of Steele’s neighboring rivals. “It was about doing what you needed to do to become a state power. And the kids bought into it.”

"From our initial team meeting, we kind of set a vision and set a goal and told them this is what would happen, that four or five years from now, when Dave Campbell’s (Texas Football magazine) comes out, when people talk about the top teams in the state, that Cibolo Steele will be mentioned in that voice,” said Jinks, who was Steele’s coach when the school opened in 2005."
That's interesting.  He said something similar in a presser this year at BG...that our vision is to be in the P5 bowl conversation every year.  That's a wow, as I said at the time.  It would make him BG's most successful coach since Perry.  Think that would be goood....  Now saying it and doing it are different things.  But, FWIW, he did say it once and he did make it happen.  Whether he can again, obviously no one knows.  And that was HS.  But he is not talking 100% out his ass.
“One of our players, Travis McKinney, he asked me, ‘Coach, do you really think we’re good enough to do that? Do you really think we’re good enough to go to the playoffs?’ I said, ‘I don’t think. I know.’"
  • We all know they won the State Title in only his fifth season on the job, starting from, mostly, nothing.  Along the way they won 28 straight games...which is pretty good.  During that streak they trailed at halftime twice and entering the 4th losing only 3 times.  They outgained their opponents 402-247.
  • I have always wondered why he went to Texas Tech.  I might be in the minority, but since Leach left (who, in my view is a successful scumbag), they have not been consistently good.  I have said they should be stealing our coaches.  His wife was a principal in the district where Steele HS was.  He was the AD and had a long-term contract.  Ten years to retiring.  Has passed up the job at his alma mater.
“I told my wife after the Angelo State deal I’d only leave for a Big 12 school in Texas. I just told her, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ So we started building our dream home. We did. We were two weeks from closing. We were two weeks from closing on our house when Kliff called.”

He knew the family, going back to the old man and Kliff's late Mom and felt it was a good fit, and "how often do you get to walk into a Big 12 school and its not a bottom feeder?"
  • Well, we'll leave that one where it lies.  Not a bottom feeder, true.
  • Anyway, on a more personal level, here is an interesting quote...
"Some people say I've made all the right moves at the right time," Jinks said. "That's not really the case. I made the moves I had to make. The Lord made it all work out for me.

"I went to Austin because my fiancee was finishing up school at UT. I moved back to San Antonio in 2001 because my mom got sick. I got to spend two years with her before she died on Super Bowl Sunday in 2003."

And this....

Jinks made history in 2010 when he became the first African American to lead a team from the San Antonio area to a University Interscholastic League football state title. That will be as big a part of his legacy as his sterling coaching record.

He talked about having the opportunity to make history a few days before Steele defeated Denton Guyer for the state crown in 2010.

“It is significant because it's never happened before, but I've had a lot of help from people,” he said.

“If what we've done this season can inspire more black kids to go into education and work as coaches and teachers, it makes me feel that much better about the whole experience.”

Jinks spoke about that again before he left for Tech.

“There are all kinds of stereotypes,” he said. “To me the toughest situation to get out of, knowing what I know from personal experience, is your environment. Coming from the inner city is hard. I know because that's where all my relatives come from, the inner city in Fort Worth.

“It's an unbelievable cycle. If inner-city kids see me and I look like them — or even if they're Hispanic or white — and that gives them hope that they can succeed, too, that gives me great joy.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve in the Falcon Nation

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the Falcon Nation. May the day bring you Peace...

The Magi (The Heart of Man is a Palace)

Oh the magi were the prophets
And they wandered through the desert
They saw the star above them
And they knew they'd find their way
Through the valley of the shadow
With the hope of human kindness
They were strengthened by the vision
Of a new and brighter day.

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed.
In the weaving of your fingers
In the whisper of a love that's born again
In the weaving of your fingers
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Well now each man is a pilgrim,
Yes, we all must make the journey
And it seems that time is telling us to be all that we can
To help lift up the fallen, we must sow the seeds of goodness
The torch is passed among us now to light the way of man.

For the heart of man's a palace
And his dreams are as the sunlight
They burn away the darkness, as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher, as a river through the canyon
The diamond star shines down upon, a pathway to the soul


In a promise that we made that never ends.
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Falcon MBB Enter Holiday on Win

Dan Dakich used to talk about the value of a win before Christmas.  He used to describe the two kinds of holidays you could could enter on a win and have a good holiday where you were relaxed, or you could enter on a loss and spend the whole holiday with that on your mind.

So, the Falcons should have a good Christmas.

But not too good.  This is still a team that is struggling and in some trouble.  At this point, I would worry about MAC play.  As far as this game goes, this is a team (Alabama A&M) that has an average loss of 27 points and BG only won by 13.  Coach Huger talked after the game about BG's inability to string together even consecutive minutes of effective basketball.  He talked about it in the context of two good minutes and then the team relaxes.  RELAXES.  Oy.  And Coach said, "I'm tired of it."

How this team gets the feeling they can relax is not exactly clear to me.  Ultimately, it is a coaching issue.  The program is not going to consistently succeed until we play like Akron does...which is 40 minutes of cut-throat, ruthless basketball that does its best in the last 2 minutes.  I think the recruiting is promising for Coach Huger and I think he can get us there, but at the same time I'd like to see more progress on the competitiveness--much like Coach Jans did--in advance of getting the talent shored up.

Anyway, I'm not sure given the last couple weeks how ready for MAC play BG is.  Perhaps they will surprise me.  Young teams can come together quickly, but right now (as evidenced by Coach's frustration) we have mostly the same.

They will, however, head to Christmas on a win.

So remember, Alabama A&M is the worst defensive team in D1 basketball.  Against the Falcons, they had their best game of the year on defense.  BG had only 1.02 points per possession, a full .2 below the Bulldog's average It was the best they have done against any opponent this year.  T

BG did keep them off the scoreboard.  A A&M scored only .84 points per possession, which, while far from their worst this year, is still a very low and generally unwinnable number.

Anyway, here are the numbers for the game.  That's just average shooting for BG...against the nation's worst FG defense.  BG did take good care of the ball, but didn't take advantage of a poor A&M defensive rebounding and didn't get to the line effectively.

On the plus side, BG did defend the shot well and turn the Bulldogs over.  BG has its second straight poor game on the defensive boards and put the Bulldogs on the line.

The big worry here is the same as it has been all year.  BG's attack is not consistent.  A A&M is a team others have scored on with success, and yet BG...on its home floor...provided only an average night.

BG led for 30 minutes of the game, so I don't want to make it sound like the game was really ever in doubt.  It just seems like BG produced less against the Bulldogs than other similar teams did.

A positive thing is the ongoing performance of BG's young players.  FR Dylan Frye led the team with 16 points on 6 of 11 and 4 of 7 shooting.  He honestly appears to be the real thing.  Demajeo Wiggins double-doubled at 10/10.  Antwon Lillard had 7 points on 3-6 shooting with 5 assists and only 1 turnover.  Rodrick Caldwll shot poorly but had 2 assists over 0 turnovers.  And Justin Turner made his Falcon debut with 5 points in 12 minutes.

They were supported by BG's upperclassmen.  Wes Alcegaire had 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, Denny had 11 on 5 of 12 shooting (1 of 5 from 3FG) and Ish Ali with 6 assists over 1 turnover.

Rasheed Worrell had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.

So, BG takes their Christmas break.  In the week between the holidays, they will take on Norfolk State, who are 3-10 and 1-8 in D1 games and #308 in the country.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hello Alabama A&M

Last game before the holiday. Alabama A&M are coming to town.  This is a pretty interesting story.  These guys were 11-18 last year, somewhere in the middle of the SWAC.  Lost their two stars to graduation.  Still, they were picked to be 6th in the SWAC.

There's no other way to put this...on kenpom they are the lowest ranked team in Division I coming into this game.  They are 0-9.  Get this...they have played only ONE home game.  Since the season started, they have been to Missouri State, Missouri, Tennessee Tech, Southern Miss, Murray State, UAB, Troy and Georgia State..and now BG and then Kalamazoo a full 7 days later before starting their SWAC schedule.  That's amazing.  Their average margin of defeat is 27 points.  They've played a decent schedule...there are no DII teams on there, and as noted, those are all on the road.  Still, they also haven't been playing ranked teams.  Their best opponent was Missouri State, #130 in kenpom.

For a common opponent, they lost @Murray State by 37.  BG beat Murray State, albeit at home.

I give these guys credit.  That's a grueling schedule and an incredibly difficult way to go.  It cannot be easy.

So, looking at the numbers, all of this becomes clear.  They are the worst defensive team I can recall us playing.  I had to change the scale of this chart and the next one to accommodate them.  They allow 1.21 points per possession, which is dead last in the country.  The score .94 which is in the bottom 20.

Their defense is just a deadly mix.  They are the second-easiest team to shoot against in the country and they are second-to-last in creating turnovers.  That's tough.  If you give up a lot of shots and they tend to be made, you're in trouble.  They allow 62% of 2FGs to make (second to last) and 40% of 3FGs (Bottom 30).  They are also 347th out of 351 in allowing offensive rebounds.  So, they have been scorched on each of the top three factors.  They do keep teams off the line.

This is also not a team that plays rotten defense but singes the nets on the other end.  They are a 2FG based team that is #312 in making 2FGs. They are #336 in shooting overall.  They are about average on turnovers, poor on the offensive boards and average getting to the line.  They are overall better on offense than defense, but it isn't much to talk about.

Individually, their leading scorer is Quinterrian McConico, a 6'8" SR who is averaging 12 PPG on 50% shooting and 8 rebounds.  He had 30 in their last game.  De'ederick Petty scores 10 PPG on...get this...30% shooting.  Rakiya Battle is their PG, he has 5.6 assists over 2 TO per game, which is pretty good.

Anyway, this game----which is at noon on a Thursday----was designed to be a win for the Falcons and anything less than a win will be a significant disappointment.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Squeaker in San Jose, still a loss

BG hasn't been to California to play since 1950, literally...and the might was to consider not going again until 2085 after a wild game that ended in a last second loss to the San Jose Spartans.

I can't remember a game with crazier swings.  BG started out with a 15-4 lead.  San Jose then roared back--to say the least--out scoring BG 40-14 over 15 minutes to lead by an incredible 15 at halftime.  They stretched the lead to 18 points in the first 5 minutes of the second half, making it a 29 point swing in roughly 20 minutes of basketball.  At that point, the game was 55-37.  Then, WHOA NELLIE, it turned completely around and BG went on a 27-8 run over 10 minutes to retake a 1 point lead with 5:38 left.

As the game neared the 2 minutes mark, BG had 2 blank possessions--one on a missed putback by Wiggins and one on 2 missed FTs by Wes Alcegaire.  The Spartans took a 5-point lead with 2:16 left.  BG responded with a Wiggins layup and a Denny steal and 2 Alcegaire FTs from the resulting run out and BG had it back to 1.

San Jose State got 2 FTs to get it back to 3 with 1:16 left.  Denny missed a shot and BG fouled.  SJ's Isaiah Nichols missed both FTs, and Ish Ali got the layup to get it back to 1 with :31.  BG fouled and Nichols missed them both again.  (He was 4 of 19 coming into the game).  BG came down, ran offense, had Alcegaire miss a shot and then Denny followed it up after the offensive board to put BG up by 1.

Unfortunately, the Spartans came down without a timeout, got the ball to their leading scorer, Brandon Clarke, and he converted the shot with 1 second left to take the victory home.

BG falls to 4-7.

The big issue was on defense.  As noted, San Jose State was one of the worst offensive teams in the country coming into this game, and they got well against BG.  They shot 53% on their 2FGs and 44% on their 3FGs.  That's a 56% EFG, which is their best against D1 opposition.  They made this harder by turning the ball over much more than normal but they made it much easier by getting a ridiculous number of offensive rebounds off BG.  And, they got to the line a lot and the game would not have been close had they made more than 58% of their free throws.

So, from a BG perspective, they allowed a team to have their best shooting game of their season.  BG had its worst game on the defensive boards since the EMU game in the MAC tourney during the Jans year.  And BG fouled a lot.  Overall, San Jose State had 1.1 points per possession their second best D1 offensive.  Only UC has made more success against BG then the Spartans did...and San Jose State came in ranked #304 in the country in offense.

BG had a good offensive game...with 1.08 points per possession it was their best offensive game as well, just a nose ahead of Murray State.  As you can see, BG shot well, and took excellent care of the ball against a pressure SJ defense.  However, they were just average on the offensive boards and only got to the line for 14 free throws, making 10.

This game was lost on the defensive end.  It is the second game in a row where BG was just torched in the first half of a game on defense, only to improve in the second half.  You'd certainly like to see that turn around to have a shot to compete.

The game was played as a homecoming for Ish Ali, who is from the Bay Area.  He had a good game, scoring 12 on 6 of 11 shooting with 7 assists and 0 turnovers.  Zack Denny had 16 and 7 rebounds on 7 of 15 shooting and Alcegaire had 16 on 6 of 10 shooting.  Dylan Frye had an efficient 10 on 4 of 7 shooting in 21 minutes.

BG continues to be forced to go with a small and tight rotation.  With Uju and Wilson continuing to be injured and Worrell really struggling--BG just has to play very small.  In fact, Wiggins only played 21 minutes and Worrell 15.  Both were in foul trouble.

SJ State is a long team with a lot of mid-range height, so they were well positioned to take advantage of this weakness.  Their star, Brandon Clarke, torched BG for 20 in the first half and then 4 in the last minute to go with 14 rebounds, 7 of them offensive.

Anyway, this is another road game for BG that got away.  The Falcons just don't play consistent basketball on both ends of the floor.  Their offense has been much more efficient since the Green Bay game, but they've gotten worse on defense.  This is still a young team so maybe it starts to come together.  In the meantime, they aren't going to win games without a full effort.

Except, I would imagine, this Thursday, when literally the lowest ranked team in D1 basketball arrives at the Stroh for a matinee.  This is one BG needs to win.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Doege and Wilcox enroll early...and JUCO comment

So buried inside the story about the JUCO players enrolling at BG was news that two Falcons are going to be enrolling early.

Those players are Matthew Wilcox, a WR from Wayne High School Dayton in Dayton and Jarret Doege, a Lubbock TX QB who is also the brother of BG's WR coach Seth Doege.

Here's what I wrote about Wilcox when he committed.  Since then, he made all-district and all-state teams, though as a defensive player.  He played both ways in HS and ran and caught the ball on offense.  The extra spring will help him adjust to the WR position and be ready to contribute.  He's 5'10" and 185 lbs so I would think figures in the slot.  He's a three-star recruit who played at the same HS as BG's FR PG Rodrick Caldwell.

Here's what we said when Jarret Doege committed.   He's also a 3-star recruit, and is 6'2" and 190 pounds.  You might say he had a productive year as a SR.

This past season Jarret Doege threw for 3,629 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the Pirates to the Region-5A semifinals. He completed 293-of-481 passes (60.9 percent) and threw 15 interceptions.
He adds significant depth to the QB position, where BG was in tough straits last year.  In addition to Morgan, BG will have R-FR Elijah Cunningham and Doege, who is getting in early.

There are no other QBs in the class as it stands right now.

I saw a couple comments out in the wild about JUCO transfers.  As a rule, I'm not crazy about them either...but I don't see any reason to worry here.  First, even Clawson, the prototypical methodical builder, used JUCOs to fill things out.  That would include Kamar Jorden and Paul Swan Senn and possibly others.  Anyway, I remember when we played Temple a ways back and they had about 30 JUCO transfers. I don't want that and that isn't happening.  A couple guys makes perfect sense to me, provided that the bulk of your scholarships are committed to long-term player development.

As for the issues that Guyton had at Oregon State, I will just point out that you don't see very many times when a dismissed player is lauded like he was in leaving the Beavers.  I was early in raising concerns about Robbie Rhodes, but I'm a lot more optimistic about this guy.

And, you know, when I have had concerns about Jinks, I have said so.  I'm not worried about this part of it at all.  And, to be fair, Jinks could be forgiven if he got the idea BG fans didn't want to wait four years to compete again...and take minor steps to compete as soon as possible.

San Jose State Preview

Picked last in MWC  not close.  And it was one step ahead of mac  BR picked them 8th.

9-22 last year.  Haven't won 10 games in 6 years.  Were 2-28 the year before that.  Coach has a 18-74 record coming into year.  Since 1988-89, only 2 winning seasons.

Made the 1996 Big Dance with a losing record, lost to #1 seed KY in round one. Also made it in 1980.

5-4 this year.  2 non d1 wins.  However, they won @Washington State and @Idaho.  They also lost by 19 @Montana and at home to Portland and Denver.  Their Kenpom is 206 and BG's is 201.

San Jose State is one of the worst offensive teams in the country...#304 in points per possession.  They are a good defensive team, ranked #92.  As you can see, their defense is as good as BG's offense is poor.  The key will be whether BG's defense can take advantage and hold the Spartans in that .97-.95 range to have a good shot at winning.

So, why is San Jose a poor offensive team?  Mostly, its shooting.  They are #301 in EFG%, shooting just slightly worse than BG has all year.  They take above-average care of the ball, but are below average in offensive rebounding and getting to the line.  They only shoot 68% from the line when they do get there.  They don't try many 3s and they are #271 in the nation at making them...and @78 at making 2FGs.  They are as shot-challenged as BG.  In fact, very similar to BG.

Looking at it the other way, San Jose State is just average defending the shot, which is unusual for good defensive teams.  They are, however, good at forcing the top 60 in the country, and very good on the defensive boards, at #41.  Those things often don't go together.  They also defend the 3FG very effectively.  I have a feeling the game will be very low scoring.  The test for BG might well be whether they can avoid turnovers and get enough shots to or two possessions might make a big difference.

Individually, it is important to know that San Jose State plays a very deep rotation.  They have 11 players averaging more than 10 minutes a game and only four of them over 20 minutes.  Their leading player has 28 minutes a you aren't going to see eye-popping numbers necessarily.

Their leading scorer is 6'8" SO Brandon Clarke.  He scores 13.8 PPG on 54% shooting, 7 rebounds per game and 17 blocks (not per game).  Their second-leading scorer is also a SO, 6'9" F Ryan Welage.  He scores 12.9 PPG, but is an outside threat, leading the Spartans in 3 point attempts.   He also averages 5.4 rebounds per game.

These two guys are a concern for BG, as they present length that could be difficult for BG to match.  In fact, while they don't give big minutes to any really big guys, they have a lot of 6'6" to 6'8" guys which will present a problem for BG.  For example, their 3rd leading scorer is Jaycee Hillsman, a 6'6" G, also a SO.

This is a pretty even match up, but being on the road and a length struggle for BG might make it a challenge.  BG has a couple guys who play up in size, like Denny.  Coach said after the last game that he wasn't changing his lineup, but it will be interesting to see if Frye and Caldwell continue to play a bigger role and if Lillard and Ali rise to the challenge, which might be the biggest benefit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Football Signs Two JUCO players

So, the football team announced today that it had signed two JUCO players who will be enrolled in January and eligible for the Fall season.  As I understand it, the top JUCO players--the ones with strong playing records and their academics in line--sign in December, after their JUCO graduation and before the start of winter semester.  Both players will have two years of eligibility.

So, BG has two of those guys, one of them a S and one of them a tall WR.

The S is Fred Garth of Northwest Mississippi Community College.  Based on the BGSU press release, he "became a starter for the Rangers as a true freshman in 2014. He started all ten games and led the team's defensive backs with 52 tackles. He also had five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. As a sophomore in 2016, he led the team with 81 tackles (55 solo) and posted two interceptions, which he returned for 84 yards."  He's 6'1" to 6'3" and 190 pounds.

That's a pretty high level of productivity.  The only odd thing in there is the 2015 season...I don't know if he red-shirted or if he was injured or what that year.

Anyway, this Northwest Mississippi Community College is not messing around.  They won the 2015 national championship and have a 168 page media guide.  This is a strong JUCO program.

The other is WR Datrin Guyton.  One thing Falcon fans are going to enjoy is the fact he is 6'5", which makes him an immediate force in the MAC.  He started his career at Oregon State, where he caught 14 passes as a R-FR.  He was dismissed from the team during the season for violating team rules.  The same story reports that he was put onto the scout team for a week and argued with an official at another point.

What's interesting is what his Coach had to say...

"I'm excited for his future when he decides where he wants to go, and I'm here to help him. I'm not excited that he's not with us. He is a good kid. It's just, it is what it is.
Then, he transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College  (in Texas) where he caught 31 passes for 474 yards.  According to 24/7, there were offers from Syracuse, Iowa State and Mississippi State.

Anyway, clearly Mr. Guyton has physical skills and if he's matured he could be a contributor for us.

Welcome to the Falcons, Fred and Datrin.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Falcon Freshmen Spark Win

BG got a win they really needed on Saturday, beating the Detroit-Mercy Titans in Saturday afternoon game at the Stroh.  It wasn't always pretty and BG didn't roll the entire way...BG led for only 18 minutes of the game and in fact trailed at halftime by 7.  But, the Falcons came out and played some improved basketball in the second half on the backs of a personnel shift, didn't let the Titans back into the game late and won 74-61.  BG is now 4-6 and UDM is 1-9.

As mentioned, it wasn't so great at halftime.  BG was down 7 at the half.  There was an extra-long halftime because the teams broke the basket on the East side of the arena, and it took a while to haul a new one out and get it set up.  When BG came out, Coach Huger made a change.  He sat Lillard and Ali down and moved Frye and Caldwell into their spot.

And it made a difference right away.  You could just sense the team playing with more intensity--coach called it energy in the post-game--and the results started to appear immediately on both ends of the floor.  In five minutes BG had the game tied and in about 7 had a 7-point lead on a 16-2 run.  UDM never got closer than 5 again.  With 7:47 left in the game, the Titans had 7 points in the half.  BG was struggling on offense about this time as well, keeping UDM afloat.  

With 5 minutes left, BG was up 5.  A key sequence occurred.  A scramble under the basket occurred and UDM was fouled for a common foul and a flagrant foul.  Caldwell made 3 of the 4 FTs and then Dylan Frye followed his own missed shot to get a basket and in a few seconds the lead had doubled to 10.

The Titans got the lead back to 9 right away, but an Alcegaire FT pushed it back to 10 with 4:04 left.  Here, during a time when BG has typically struggled to execute, the Falcons ground it out, never letting the lead get inside 10 points on their way to the win.

Caldwell played 18 minutes in the half, scoring 11 points and Dylan Frye played 17 minutes and had 10 points.  Ali played 2 minutes and Lillard played 0.  BG outscored UDM by 20 points and held UDM to 33% shooting, 0 for 6 from 3FG and forced 10 turnovers.  They had .68 points per possession.

For the whole game, BG managed 1.03 points per possession against a pretty poor UDM defense.  They allowed UDM only .85 points per possession, however.  The victory was built more on stops than it was on scoring.  Anyway, you can see here how they stacked up.  BG shot very well and UDM didn't.  BG wasn't great at taking care of the ball, but UDM was worse.  BG did an unusually poor job on defensive rebounding, but got to the line a lot more.  BG took 25 free throws and UDM took 18.  However, BG was dreadful for most of the game at shooting them, and it ended up with both teams making 13 FTs for the game.  BG at one point had missed something like 10 out of 12.  Anyway, with better FT shooting BG could have had an even easier win.

Four Falcons scored in double figures.  Dylan Frye had 18 points for BG, shooting 7 of 11 overall and 4 of 7 on 3 assists.  Pretty good night.  Wes Alcegaire had 16 on 6 of 13 shooting--though only 2 of 7 on 3FG--to go with 4 assists and 4 turnovers.  Rodrick Caldwell had 13, with 3 of 7 shooting and 6 of 8 from the line.  Zack Denny had one of those games...10 points, on 3 of 11 shooting, but 8 rebounds.

A couple things that don't show up on the stat sheet.  UDM likes to run half court pressure with a big guy out top trapping the ball.  Teams used to run this on Jordan Crawford.  Caldwell was very composed and effective in that setting, spinning out of trouble.  Second, while he is at first known as a shooter, Dylan Frye also handles the ball really well and helps break the press a lot.

Lastly, you'd like to have Jaleel Hogan on your team.  Guy had 16 points and 6 rebounds on 6 of 9 shooting.  He killed BG in the first half until the Falcons picked their game up.  He fouled out in the final minutes, something that helped BG feel secure about the win.

So, it is finals at BG next week.  The Falcons take the week off.  Next Sunday, they play at San Jose State.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Titan Preview

So, BG hits a much easier portion of their schedule from now until the end of MAC play, with 3 of the 4 remaining games being at home and winnable.  The first of these is the Detroit Titans.

Detroit is a good D1 opponent for us and we play them almost every year.  There's a little bit of a different twist to this team, because they have a new coach.  Former MAC great Ray McCallum coached them for 8 seasons, including 1 NCAA trip before he was fired after 3 straight average seasons.

The new coach is Bacari Alexander, who was an assistant at Michigan and often (often) rumored for head coaching vacancies.  Also, a former Titan player.

I don't know how the fan base is reacting to their start, but Alexander might want to commiserate with Mike Jinks while he's in town.

They were 16-15, 9-9 in conference and lost only 2 starters.

So, this year they are 1-8, with an additional loss to Ferris State in an exhibition game.  They are off to a rough start.  He had some additonal difficulties...SO Paris Bass, who was the team's most productive offensive player did not return and another player was dismissed.  But, it has been a long slog for the Titans.

Now, they are perfectly capable of beating BG.  They went into Savage, led UT by 9 at halftime and led with inside 9 minutes to play in the game before succumbing.  They lost by 10 @ Murray State...BG beat the Racers at the Stroh...but they also lost to EMU by 26, at home to a poor Manhattan team...etc.  They do have some tough games on their docket, with losses to E. Tenn State, Florida State, and Illinois.

But if they win Saturday, it will be their first D1 win of the year.

Here, we see the basic issue.  They are among the worst defensive teams in the country.  That defensive efficiency is #310 in the country. And, as you can see, their offense is no great shakes and about equal to BG.  The question here is whether BG has the offensive horsepower to exploit this lack of D to its fullest.  (Note:  they were better against Toledo---in fact, their best this year, but they had two awful games before that).

Looking first at the offense, it looks pretty similar...UD's output looks pretty much the same as BG's offensive opponents to date.  The biggest thing is that they are very poor on the offensive boards.  The shooting is just below average as are the turnovers, and the FTs are just a bit ABOVE average.  They are #258 in taking 3s and only #256 in making them, so in that respect they are similar to BG's last two opponents.  They are terrible at the FT line, shooting 62%.

Now, when looking to understand the defensive struggles...well, you don't have to look too hard.  They are #330 in terms of being easy to shoot against, #324 in turning the ball over and #344 in allowing teams to the FT line.  Yeah.  That's going to leave a mark.  Teams make 61% of their 2FG attempts, which is one of the 5 worst in the country.  That's the key issue...their 3-defense isn't too bad but they are easy to shoot against close up.  Again, though, you can see the gaps between where BG is and what they allow.  The question is, can BG be good enough on offense to exploit their defense.  Again, it helps a lot that it doesn't have to be 3FGs, but BG needs to make close shots, too.  Nice day for Lillard to get untracked.

Their games have been at a good pace...71 possessions a game, which is above average and different from BG's last 2 opponents.

Individually, they are led by Josh McFolley, a 6'1" SO.  He's scoring an inefficient 13 PPG on 41% shooting.  To the extent they shoot 3s, it's him.  He makes 39%.  Jakeel Hogan is shooting 12.7 PPG at 56%.  He's almost single-handedly responsible for their FT problems.  He has tried almost 1/3 of their attempts and made 46%.  Chris Jenkins, a 6'9" Colorado transfer, scores 11.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG...but a 40% FG%, which is poor for a big.  Somehow, he has been allowed to launch 31 3s, of which he makes 19%.  Finally, Corey Allen is FR G from YPSI scoring 10.9 PPG on 44% shooting.

This is a team that BG should beat on their home floor.  And, frankly, given the way things are going, BG needs a win in this one.  UD is looking like they would be a lower level MAC team, and BG is hoping to at least not be that.  On our home floor after playing well but losing at Evansville, BG could convert that kind of effort into a W.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Evansville Exceeds BG

BG went to Evansville and actually played a pretty solid game, losing by 3 only when a game-tying 3 rimmed out at the buzzer. The Falcons stayed with the Purple Aces the whole way, put sustained pressure on them throughout the second half and could easily have won the game. They did not, falling to 3-6 on the season. It was a good bounce back, however, from the Cincy game. Three of the next four games are against teams in the sub-300 rankings of kenpom and are at home, so the Falcons have a chance to shore that record up a bit before heading into conference play.

The first half was not good to the Falcons. Eight minutes in, Evansville was up 8. BG got it down to 3 with about 5 minutes left, but then gave up a 12-4 run to go down 11 inside of 22 minutes and trailed by 9 at the half. Things did not look good at that point.

The first four minutes of the 2nd half were amazing. Evansville was called for 6 fouls...WOW...and were outscored 11-2 and BG had tied the game going into the first timeout. EU went back up by 7, but BG got it back to 1 and the last 8 minutes were very competitive.

BG tied the game at 58 with 2:46 left. They got a stop on the next possession and had a real chance to set the tone for the stretch run, but turned the ball over and gave up an and-one on the run out, and they were down 3. With 1:26 left, they were still only down 4, but had another turnover and went down 6 on the resulting free throws. BG made 2 3FGs and was fouled on another one (making 2 of the Fts) to get the game back to 2 with :09 left. Evansville split a pair of FTs, Lillard grabbed the miss and got down the court and had a 3 go in and out in what would have been a game-tying effort.

Coach Huger said after the game that turnovers at key times put the Falcons into a losing position after playing a pretty good half.  BG just has to execute those possessions better to be a winning team...this is what we consistently see teams like Akron do against those exact possessions.

It was a slow-paced game at 65 possessions.  That's almost exactly what the UC game was and those are BG's only games under 70--the national average--this season.  So, Evansville had 1.06 points per possession and BG 1.02.  It is BG's only loss so far this year while being over 1 point per possession.  BG shot the ball reasonably...that EFG is about the national average...but struggled with turnovers.  Nobody had any offensive rebounds, and the game was ridiculous with FTs.  BG was 21-31 and Evansville was 19-26.  Two players--Wiggins and Jaylon Brown--shot 28 FTs between them.  BG ended up +2 on FTs due to late game fouling..for much of the game they had a big advantage...since they were in the bonus for almost the entire second half.

Demajeo Wiggins is doing a great job for BG.  He had a double-double, scoring 18 (5 of 9 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds.  His confidence at the line...he was 8 of 13 but is shooting more than double what he did last him permission to make power moves in the paint, knowing if he gets fouled he can convert at the line.  It will help BG a lot.

Denny added 11 on 5 of 12 shooting and 6 rebounds.  Rodrick Caldwell is also improving quickly, he had 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting including a key 3FG in the last minute.  He did that in only 17 minutes and had 5 points in the last minute.

Lillard also had a bounceback game, with 9 on 4 of 6 shooting and 4 boards.  Ali had 6 assists over 4 turnovers.

Ish Ali, FWIW, is #20 in the country in assists per game and #136 in A/TO ratio, which is 2.2 and pretty good.

When you look at the rotation, I think it is interesting.  Coach said before the year he didn't want people playing more than 30 minutes, but the injuries to Uju and Turner have stretched that.  Wiggins and Denny both played over 30 minutes.  Despite having a shortage of bigs, Worrell played only 7 minutes and committed 3 fouls.  For that matter, Lillard played only 22, but was prominent at the end.

Next up is Detroit, a very winnable game for the Falcons at home.  Let's hope that BG can convert this good effort into a win.  We are a very young team and we just aren't making the plays that winning teams make in key situations and we aren't sustaining long periods of good play. This was a winnable road game that got by.  We watch for signs of further improvement.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Next Up: Purple Aces

So, BG gets a quick turnaround, heading directly (I assume) from Cincinnati to Evansville to take on the Purple Aces Tuesday night.

They were 25-9 last year, losing by 2 in the MVC tournament championship and did not go into one of the post-season tournaments, despite finishing with an RPI of 92--their 2nd straight year of sub-100 RPI.  From that team, they lost 3 starters who started every game and then lost a 4th to a season-ending injury.  Due to all this, they were picked #9 in the MVC.

Even so, they are off to a good start.  They are 4-4.  Three of the losses were to teams with a sub-100 Kenpom...Louisville (7), Wilmington (66) and Middle Tennessee (82), the last two on a neutral floor and the Wilmington game was close.  They also lost to UT in 2OT on a neutral floor.  Their wins (Alcorn State, Morehead State, Wabash) weren't great, but then they beat Boise State (#103) in Evansville, which is a very nice win for them.  Their kenpom is 145 right now.

As you can see, their scoring and defense are pretty much the same as BG's have been to date.  They've played a better schedule than BG so far, but that is supposed to be adjusted.  Anyway, it isn't a completely unworkable match up from that perspective.  They also play of the 40 slowest game paces in the nation.

So, when BG has the ball...well, looks at it this way, Evansville's opponents have been more effective on offense than BG has.  The P-Aces allow teams to shoot a little bit better than BG does.  They do force an above average number of turnovers and, but they are poor on the defensive boards and give up a lot of FTs.  They do defend the 3 well.

For the second straight game, BG is playing a team that does not attempt 3s.  Only 17% of their shots have been from 3...which is literally LAST in D1 and the second to last team has 21%.  The difference is that unlike Cincinnati, which is deadly from 2FG, Evansville makes only 47% of their 2FGs. They also turn the ball over an above average amount of time.  They are not invested in offensive rebounds.  The key element of their offense is FTs.  They are #25 in the country in getting to the line and just a tick below average (68.6%) in making them.

Individually, they are led by Jaylon Brown, their PG, who is their one returning starter from last year.  He's scoring a very efficient 18 a game, shooting 48% overall.  Ball-handling wise he isn't the greatest, with 22 assists and 24 turnovers.

Their second leading scorer is 6'6" SO Ryan Taylor, who is a transfer from Ohio U.  He's scoring 15 a game and is their best 3FG shooting at about 40%.  They don't have one big rebounder...just a bunch of guys with 4 a game or so.

They have a 6'3" G named Duane Gibson who has battled some injuries but is now coming back.  He may have started slow, but had 10 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the Boise win.  Finally, Willie Wiley is a 6'7" JUCO All-American scoring 8 pts and 4 rebounds.

They do have height, but the quality is suspect.  They have a 7+ foot Serbian C who averages 13 minutes a game but they have 7 players who post from 6'6" to 6'9".

So, look, this isn't a great Evansville team.  However, they are at home and would appear to be good enough to beat BG.  BG will need to bounce back quickly with a really good effort to get this win.  The Purple Aces have played 5 years in this new arena and won 72% of their games there.  That said, it doesn't look like it is undoable to me.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

UC Delivers Expected Blow Out

It was what we expected.  The UC Bearcats are just too much for BG to handle.  The Falcons did 1 point better than they did last year at the Stroh, which means they lost by 29, 85-56.  The game was close for the first few minutes, but then UC blew the lead open and the game was never in question for almost the entire way.

The preview mentioned that UC likes a slow pace, and this one had a slow pace, too, ending at 64 possessions.  So, you score 85 points in a 64 possession game...yeah, that's not a good story for the BG defense.  UC had 1.33 points per possession, which is crazy high.  They made 61% of their 2FGs and 40% of their 3FGs...while getting rebounds on 35% of their already rare missed shots.  They had only 8 turnovers and while they got to the line only 14 times, they made 11 of them.  That's a blueprint for having a big offensive night.

BG's offense was poor, though not as bad as it might have looked given the game pace.  BG had .88 points per possession.  They shot 38% on 2FGs (!!) and 35% on 3FGs.  For all those missed shots, BG only got offensive rebounds 24% of the time.  The Falcons did take good care of the ball with 14% turnovers and made 8 of 12 free throws.  Still, the scope of the blow out can be seen here.

Just for perspective, BG allowed a 61% EFG or higher 6 times last year and lost 5 of the games.  The OU game in February is the one exception.

Zack Denny and Wes Alcegaire both scored 16 for BG.  Denny shot 6 of 12 and Alcegaire shot 6 of 11...and he also added a team-high 5 rebounds.  No other Falcon scored in double figures, with Lillard, Ali, and Wiggins all having tough shooting nights.  Ali had 6 assists and 4 turnovers.

Anyway, no surprises and no mystery here.  UC is just a lot better than the Falcons are.  BG heads over to Evansville for a game on Tuesday and a chance to try and get a win in tough circumstances, though not this tough.

MAC Bowl Schedule Revealed

2016 MAC Bowl Schedule:

  • Toledo vs. Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Dec. 17, 5:30 pm ET (ESPN)
  • Central Michigan vs. Tulsa (American Athletic), Miami Beach Bowl, Dec. 19, 2:30 pm ET (ESPN)
  • Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (C-USA), Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 23, 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)
  • Ohio vs. Troy (Sun Belt), Dollar General Bowl, Dec. 23, 8:00 pm ET (ESPN)
  • Miami vs. TBA (I keep hearing Mississippi State), St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 26, 11:00 am ET (ESPN)
  • Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten), Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Jan. 2, 1:00 pm ET (ESPN)

And there it is.  The MAC Bowl line up.  Some thoughts.  First, I don't know why the MAC is putting it as TBD, but I have seen that Miami is playing Mississippi State.  If that turns out to be wrong, then fine.

This used to be a day of great anxiety, as the MAC fans sat around on Outrage Alert as we waited for a snub.  Now that 6 wins all but guarantees you a bowl trip, that isn't an issue as much.

Our first goal in a bowl season is to play P5 teams.  The MAC just gets a lot more out of a win over a P5 team than a non-P5 2 MAC teams got that assignment, first, obviously WMU in the Cotton Bowl against what will be very interesting match up...and then Miami and Mississippi State.

The second goal is not to play the Sun Belt conference.  We get nothing as a conference out of beating the Sun Belt.  On that front, there's the CMU game against Tulsa and EMU against Old Dominion.  Then, you have two Sun Belt games...OU and Troy and then UT against App. State that is actually a pretty good match up.  App. State is at least the Sun Belt Champion.

Everybody got a good location...nobody is in Idaho or DC.  I guess Montgomery isn't great, but Miami, Bahamas, Mobile, St. Pete and Dallas are all pretty good.

In the BGSU Alumni division, Dave Clawson has led Wake to its first Bowl Game in 5 seasons.  They are playing in the Military Bowl, where BG played in 2012.  Wake was 6-6.  Syracuse did not make a bowl game.  OSU will play Clemson in the national semi-final.  The Colorado School of Mines made the NCAA Tournament, won a game and then lost to Ferris State, finishing 10-3.  They were 3rd in the nation in scoring offense and #1 in total offense.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Bearcat Preview

So, BG has a big assignment coming up Sunday, as they head to UC to take on the very tough UC Bearcats.  The Bearcats are 6-1 and ranked #25 in kenpom.  Furthermore, they are coming off a very big road win @Iowa State on Thursday...the Cyclones had won thirty-something straight non-conference games at home.

They were 22-11 last year, lost to UConn in their conference tournament in 4OT and then lost to St. Joe's in the first round of the Big Dance, which they have been in six years in a row.  They beat Bowling Green by 33 last year at the Stroh as part of the Bill Frack Challenge.

They returned a lot from that team and were picked to win the ACC this year.  In addition, Troy Caupian, a G, is a co-AAC preseason player of the year and Gary Clark returns as defensive player of the year...and they have a flashy newcomer, see below.

This a very good program.  First, on tempo, they play very slooooooooooow.  Their only game over 70 possessions this year was Lipscomb.  Their win over Iowa State was played at 63 possessions, which is very slow.  They are very good on both ends of the floor.  They are the #8 defensive team in the country based on Kenpom rankings and the #52 offense.  As you can see, they regularly outscore and outdefend where BG ends up.  (Note, not conference only, forgot to take that off the chart).

How do you get that kind of disparity?  Well, BG 307th in EFG% and UC is #27 in EFG% defense.  That's a bad combination.  Plus, the Bearcats are above average at forcing turnovers and are #8 in the country in not allowing FTs.  This is a tough team to score against playing a team that has struggled to score.

Flipping the elements around, we can see why UC is effective on offense.  This is a team that is not interesting in the 3FG.  They don't take many 3s and are bad at making them.  However, they make 55% of their 2 FGs and are #17 in the nation in the # of points they have coming from 2FGs.  They take average care of the ball, but are very good on the offensive boards (#17 in the country...see their size below).  And they get to the line a decent amount and they are an average FT shooting team.  This is much different than the teams BG has been playing, and the Falcons will need improved defense on the interior to keep this game close.

Actually, Caupian is not one of UC;s leading scorers so far this year.  The team's leading scorer is 6'6" SO Jacob Evans, who is scoring 16.9 PPG on 55% and 42% shooting to go with 4.4 rebounds per game.  NC State transfer Kyle Washington is also a beast, scoring 16.3 PPG on 55% shooting with 9.4 RPG...he's 6'9" and will be a handful for BG.  Caupian is only scoring 9.1...he is really struggling to shoot.  He is at 35% and 23% after shooting 38% and 32% last year.  He is contributing 4.5 assists per game and has a better than 2:1 A/T ratio.

The Bearcats play a tight rotation mostly consisting of 8 guys.  They are tall and have a lot of long guys to go inside with.

One possible thing working in BG's favor is that UC played @ Iowa State on Thursday and their next game is at Butler, so they might not have their minds completely on BG on Sunday.  Even having said that, they are the best team on BG's schedule and a very strong favorite in this game.

I was at the BG-UC rugby game and someone asked me what a Bearcat was.  I told the person that they had made it up...which turns out actually to be true.  The origin of the name--and the fact that another college has now COPIED it--is pretty interesting.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Big News: Davidson First-Team Academic All-American

This is a huge honor.  He was 2nd team last year and becomes only the 4th Falcon ever to be first team all-American.

You know already what a good punter he is, so we're not going to rehash that.  What you probably did not know is that Davidson holds a 3.94 grade point average with a double major in mathematics and finance.  Which you didn't.  I'm just saying.

Davidson joins Tyler Tate (2014), Patrick John Jackson (1989, 1990) and John Boles (1975) as the only first-team Academic All-Americans in program history.

Along with men's soccer's Pat Flynn and Joe Sullivan, BGSU Athletics now has three First-Team Academic All-Americans in the 2016-17 school year, only the second time that has ever happened here.

So congrats to Joe.  First-team All-MAC and first-team Academic All-American.  Making us proud on the field and off the field.

The State of the Football Program

So.  2016 didn't go as expected.  No.  No, it didn't.

Here, I am going to take a shot at tackling the questions of why, and where I see the program standing as we head toward 2017.

To begin with, the season was an almost total debacle.  Picked to win the East, BG instead had a lost year.  That included the two worst losses in program history--yes, one of them to Ohio State, but a worse defeat to an 8-4 unranked Memphis team.  (Once again, an unranked 8-4 team dealt us the worst defeat in our history).

BG lost to Toledo again, went 3-5 in the conference, and "salvaged" a 4-8 season only by passing tired horses at the end of the track.  The last 3 games represented improvement only by the incredibly low bar the program had created earlier in the season.

I see three primary reasons for why the season was less than what was expected...which I will discuss and then talk about where the program stands now.

First, we over-estimated how good we were.  This seems clear to me. Most predictors recalled that James Knapke had a much better season in '14 than he actually did, something we pointed out here.  In '16 he was as advertised, only to be replaced by a freshman.  BG's receivers were much less effective than anticipated.  The team never truly developed an outside receiving threat.  Finally, the 0-line had injury issues and in some games were not as effective as they were expected to be, as the most experienced unit in the country.

On defense, we were better in '15 than people remember and there was every reason to think that they could compete in the MAC East.  I think on defense the larger issue was injuries, but a severe lack of depth and numbers was revealed.

Speaking of which, the second reason BG underperformed was injuries.  Yes, every team has injuries.  This one had a lot and more than they could handle.  On offense, there were not too many, just a couple on the line and they were only a couple games.  On defense, however, it was BAD.  You had linemen injured, Austin Valdez played injured a lot, Sanford was injured, both of your safeties (Walz and Hale) were injured, both of your projected starting CBs--Clint Stephens (injured) and Will Watson (suspended) missed significant time.  Behind them, there were injuries to Antonio Sotolongo and others...BG ended up playing freshmen who weren't ready and transfers I don't think they ever thought would play.  BG started 24 first-time starters and four true freshmen.

So, a team that isn't as good as you thought with a lot of injuries that involves a lot of new players.  That's enough, right?

Even within that, however, I think our team was hampered and the season made worse by the inexperienced coaching staff.  The most general complaint is that they spent too much time asking players to do things they could not do and were slow to adjust to a strategy that could help the team win games.  At one point, Jinks said that we could run the ball 65 times a game, but that wasn't who we were.  Until it was, and he revealed that his true self as a coach was running the ball.  And said that would be the program identity.

Coach also kept the wrong QB starting for far longer than he should have.  It was apparent as soon as he made the change that BG had a better chance of winning with Morgan at QB. Lastly, at one point he announced they weren't going to run Donovan Wilson anymore, until it turned out he was "built for November."

By sticking with the air raid and an ineffective QB, BG had 1 minute possessions that put ridiculous pressure on that undermanned defense.  Beyond that, Coach said that they had to make things "simpler" for the defense...that they were asking the players to do things they could not do.  Unfortunately, in this area as well they waited too long to make that adjustment--and probably should have seen it before the season even started.

I have written here many times that we have a head coach with minimal college experience and a staff that had virtually no coaching experience up and down the line.  It is my contention that they mis-evaluated the talent they had and adjusted slowly to the reality that existed.  Had they acted sooner, I think the EMU game could have been saved and the OU and Miami games could be in play.  And the Middle Tennessee and Memphis games could have been competitive and the Memphis game didn't have to be a total embarrassment.

Yes, I hear you.  FIRST YEAR COACHES.  Hiring Coaches like this was a choice the university made.  I believe a more experienced coaching staff with a proven record of college success would have given us a better season and maybe a shot at winning the East.  We'll never know, but that's what I think.

But they chose these guys.  And they aren't (and weren't ever) going anywhere.  BG was not going to do a one and done or even a two and done and I'm not sure I want to be the kind of place where we do.  We're going to sink or swim with these coaches.

Now, to look to the future.  You're not going to get anywhere with me by saying PJ Fleck was 1-11 in his first year, so Jinks is going to be great.  First, Jinks took over a successful program where the coach was hired to go elsewhere.  Fleck was hired to fix a dead program where the coach was fired.  Second, it is ridiculous logic to suggest that an awful first season somehow increases the chances for eventual success.  To the point, Stan Parrish started out poorly and finished poorly.  So did Don Treadwell....4-8 in fact.  There are others...far more than there are PJ Fleck stories.

Also, I don't buy that the team was significantly improved at the end.  Yes, the team won games that it looked like they might lose, but that's only after the team gave up its worst defeats in history twice in four games.

When the season started, you would have expected to beat Akron with a WR at QB, Kent with a RB at QB, and Buffalo with anyone at QB and even that one nearly didn't happen.

This team has a long way to go to be competitive again.  They lose a lot on the offensive line and remain strapped for depth at WR.  They could get some guys back in the d-backfield but lose their top linebacker. And depth at d-line is a continuing issue.

And the staff itself remains a question mark. Nothing they did this year convinced me that they are ready.  On the other hand, we don't have enough to say that they are not going to work.  Four games in I feared that BG had made a historic error.  Those fears softened in the last 8 games, but there's a lot of room for improvement  before they are ready to be competitive with the top teams in this conference on an annual basis.

They are our coaches and we will win with them until they are gone or suffer with them until they are gone.  Even Babers did some shuffling of his staff after his first season , including moving Kim McCloud off of defensive coordinator.  It will be interesting to see if Coach Jinks makes adjustments or not.

Ultimately, Coach Jinks says he has "seen this work before," by which he means what happened at Steele HS where he took a new school and eventually won the state championship.

Whether "this" is "that" remains in question.

Hopefully, Coach Jinks--who frankly inspires confidence when he talks about this--is capable of doing what he says...never mind this talk about being in the G5 bowl talk...hopefully he and his people are learning fast enough on the job to not cause this program to go into the kind of long tailspins we saw at Ball State and Miami.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

All-MAC Teams Announced, BG Has Seven honored

So, the All-MAC teams are out....with the season BG had, they received the honors you would expect, I think...,though I did think there were a couple surprises.  Here they are....

First team

P--Joe Davidson
WR-Scotty Miller

Second team:

LB--Trent Greene

Third team:

RB--Fred Coppet
OL--Tim McAuliffe
OL--Logan Dietz
DB--Jamari Bozeman

So, in terms of surprises of who is on the list...I'm surprised Scotty Miller made first team.  I wouldn't have seen him as having that kind of year.  He was 4th in receptions and 7th in receiving yards.  He's clearly at least second team and I'm glad he was recognized.  Perhaps teams knew they were spending time taking him out of the game.

Also, I think a lot of Falcon fans will be surprised that Jamari Bozeman is on the 3rd team.  He was in on some high-profile misadventures early, but that's partly because of the position he plays and they flawed way we were playing defense.  I'm looking forward to seeing Jamari develop into a true playmaker back there, because we could use it.

Joe Davidson should have been special teams player of the year.  Darius Phillips was named Special teams player of the year by the coaches, but was not even on the first team All-MAC.  Basically, he made 2 returns for TDs whereas Davidson was a stud all year, early on many times a game.  This one should have gone to us.

I think the other picks were all pretty much where they should have been.  If there was one guy who might have deserved third-team honors that didn't get it, it would be Gus Schweiterman.

You can see the rest of the list here.   I think Chris Creighton deserved consideration for coach of the year, but hard to argue with Fleck as the overall choice.  They found a way to honor Terrell and Davis, both of whom were deserving, although Logan Woodside got first-team QB.

BG Easily Defeats Notre Dame College

After NDC took BG into OT last year, the Falcons were ready for the assignment and easily dispatched the other Falcons 86-60.  BG scored the first 10 points of the game, had the lead over 20 mid-way through the first half and the lead was never below 19 points for the remainder of the game.

It was a FAST game.  There were 83 possessions.  NDC likes to move the ball and BG played along.  Which means that even though BG had 86 points, that was only 1.04 points per possession, which is good but not great.  The held Notre Dame to .72 points per possession, which is really good.  In particular, the other Falcons are known for 3FG shooting, but they made only 3 of their 28 attempts.

Wes Alcegaire had 20 and 5 rebounds, Wiggins 13 and 7 rebounds, Lillard 13 and 10 rebounds, Denny 11 and 6 rebounds and Dylan Frye had 10 points.  Ali had 9 assists over 2 turnovers...both of which are mitigated by the fast tempo of the game.

The Falcons made 78% of their free throws, including 5-5 by Wiggins, who might be making the biggest one-year improvement at the line in program history.  Truly amazing.

So, BG is 3-4.  Things get a little tougher.  They play @UC on Sunday and then @Evansville the following Tuesday, both of which are tough assignments.  More to come on those.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Preview: Hot Falcon-on-Falcon Action

So Tuesday night the Notre Dame College Falcons come into the Stroh in what is supposed to be a guaranteed win night for the Falcons of Bowling Green.  Last year, it nearly was not so, as BG had to go overtime to beat the Falcons of Notre Dame in an early November tilt.  NDC were 21-11 last year and were picked #4 in their conference this year.  This year they are 3-2.  This is their first D1 game.  (They play tonight as well against Lake Erie College so their record coming in will be different one way or the other).

They are a DII team.

They had two guys go for 20 in last year's game.  One of them is gone----and the other, Will Vorhees--is back.  He had 20 points and 6 rebounds against BG last year.  He's 6'8" and a JR from Columbus Grove.  He's averaging 23 with 9 rebounds this year and shooting 49%.

They also have Kyauta Taylor, who is scoring 19 points, with 4 3FGs/game.  That's #8 in the country in DII.  He's a 6'2" JR G.

They have two other players in double figures and they score 80 a game.  Also, they are #7 in DII in blocked shots, due mostly to Ja'Sean Lewis, a 6'8" SO F.  He's #2 in the nation on an individual basis.

Anyway, this is a game that Falcons of Bowling Green should win, but last year struggled to get done.  I think everyone in orange and brown would like it not to be this year.

Also, the game is the opening match between BG and Notre Dame, who will also play for the national I-AA Rugby Championship on Sunday.

Trent Greene MAC East Defensive POTW

Trent Greene's last game as a Falcon was a big one.  See below:

Greene led the Falcons with eight tackles in a 27-19 win over Buffalo last Friday. Among those eight stops were three tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. 
Greene also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as well as a pass break-up in the victory.

BG has had some pretty good brother bloodlines...Villipiano, Haneline, Redd...I'm sure there are others.  The Greene men certainly can hold their own in that've got the program's number one rusher and an All-MAC LB (2nd team 2015) who was in on 238 tackles over the last two 17 TFL, 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.  And I'd expect All-MAC honors again.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Football Verbal: Jamari Rouse

Coach Jinks told the media after the Buffalo win that the coaches had Saturday off and then it was on the road to recruit for them.  This is huge for BG.  The Falcons simply must restock the program with players--and then hope the coaches get better in the meantime.  But you have to have them both in place.  So far, recruiting has appeared to be a strength for these guys, but that game is only in the first quarter.

So, they nabbed a quick commit yesterday, right on the heels of the Buffalo win.  The young man is Jamari Rouse, a DT from Deerfield Beach, FL.  He's 6'2" and 262 and listed as a 3-star composite recruit on 24/7. He had offers from Temple, Syracuse, North Carolina, Buffalo, Charlotte, Georgia State, Idaho, Middle Tennessee, Ohio, Southern Miss and Youngstown State.  They have him ranked as the #7 DT in Florida, which sounds pretty good to me.

This is good to see.  Coach has made it clear that his vision for the program is to win in both phases of the game...unlike a coach we won't name (rhymed with Shmino Shmabers).  We definitely need bodies on the d-line.  Graduation is OK to us this year, but you need 8-10 rotation lineman.  Of the recruits we know about, there are four D-lineman now and maybe a fifth depending on how Walter Haire is classified.

Rouse is a big upside get for a team that can use guys like him--fast, athletic and football-saavy d-lineman.

Deerfield Beach is still playing, making their way into the state semi-final last Friday.