Thursday, January 31, 2019

The BIG Game

And here it is.  The big game.

Let's just pause and think about that.  BG has not really played a big game--like a standings-wise big game--since Chris Jans was here.  There have been exciting games, but no BIG games.

Only two teams in the MAC with 1 loss.  Ranked Buffalo team.  This is a big game.

So let's stop and be thankful for a moment to be playing in big games again.  It's worth noting.

I believe BG can win this game.  As I will detail below, Buffalo is very good.  BG will have to play their best game and get the home crowd into the game and I think they can win, but anything less than a stellar effort won't do.  BG has exceeded expectations all season.  Why not now?

Buffalo is just really good.  They are 19-2.  There's only 1 non-d1 win in there.  They won @WVU and @Syracuse and beat a good San Francisco team on a neutral floor.  Their only losses are @Marquette and @NIU.  They played the #110 non-conference schedule in the country.  Their average MAC winning margin is 15 points.  They have not won by less than 9.  They lead the MAC in offense and defense. 

This is a really good basketball team.  Yet, they lost @NIU.  They can be beaten.  It's just very difficult.

Look at these gaps.  Again, that's the best offensive and defensive efficiency in the MAC.  BG is very good--#3 in offense and #2 in defense--and yet look at the size of those gaps.  This has the potential to be a very good game.

One note. UB plays very fast, at 75 possessions a game.  The next team in the MAC plays at 71. Season-long, they play at the 10th fastest pace in the country.

Looking at the UB Offense/BG defense first, you see a team that does everything well.  They are #2 in shooting, #1 in turnovers, #4 in offensive rebounds and #3 at getting to the line, although they are #10 at making them when they get there.  They lead the MAC in 2FG% (57%), and are #8 in 3FG shooting, although they try a lot. 

This is where the game is going to turn.  BG won't outscore Buffalo.  BG leads the MAC in defending the shot, however, and that's going to be key.  The results need to be much closer to the BG numbers here than the Buffalo numbers.

Flipping it around, UB is number 2 against the shot, #1 in forcing turnovers, and #5 in offensive rebounding.  They do give up some FTs, but that's not something BG has been good at capitalizing on.  Note the TOs.  They only commit a turnover on 15% of their possessions and force them on 22%.  Right there, that represents a significant increase in offensive possessions. They are #3 in 2FG defense and in 3FG defense.  BG, interestingly, is last in 2FG% as an offense.  Even if BG has good defense, they will need to score as well.

Buffalo has some great players, probably led by CJ Massinburg.  He's the 7th most efficient player in the MAC on offense.  Noting that the fast pace Buffalo plays at will inflate these numbers, Massinburg is scoring 18 ppg on 47% and 41% shooting and is #3 in the MAC in terms of turnover rate (in a good way).  He also averages 6.7 rebounds and 3 assists per game.  He's also 3rd in drawing fouls and makes 77% at the line.  He's probably under-appreciated, despite being first team all-MAC last season.

Jeremy Harris is scoring 14 PPG.  All-MAC second team, he led the league in scoring in conference play last year.  He's less efficient, at 41% and 31%, and adds 6 RPG.

Their other double-figure scorer is Nick Perkins, who always comes off the bench.  He averages 14% on 46% and 36% shooting to go with a team-high 7.7 rebounds.

They are the 18th most experienced team in the nation.

Ball State's Coach said that Buffalo has a "relentless" quality to them.  They just keep coming at you and it wears you down.  BG's going to need to make a bunch of plays, keep the crowd in the game and not let the Bulls go on any big runs.  They can be beaten.  Why not us?  Let's back our boys.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Ranked Team Coming to the Stroh

So, the ranked Buffalo Bulls come to town on Friday night....

The University has a nice piece on some times this has happened in the past, including the big win in the 1960s over Loyola and the MSU win in 1990.

And, if so inclined, you can watch the 1990 win right here!  What a day that was.  It gives an idea what a hard place that was to play when it was rocking....this is the game where Heathcote said he'd never come back again.


All I can say is this...this is a huge game.  If you're a Falcon sports fan, we need you in the Stroh Friday.  Let's rock the place and back our boys.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Streak Ends in Oxford

And the beat stopped.

BG lost for the first time in 11 games Saturday in Oxford.  This is why winning titles is hard, because league games are tough and that is especially true on the road.  Buffalo lost @NIU and BG had one of those days in Oxford.  To win, you have to string a bunch of win together multiple times, and sometimes it isn't going to happen.  I believe in this team and await our next tests eagerly.

BG scored the first basket of the game, but did not lead again for the remainder of the contest.  In fact, they trailed 24-11 before getting the lead back to 5 at halftime.  BG came out hard in the 2nd half, as they usually do and had the lead to 2 with the ball early on, but failed to take the lead.  The game was close for a few possessions, but by the time there was 12 left Miami had the lead at 10 again.  This time, BG did not have an answer and Miami never led by less than 9 for the last 12 minutes of the game, eventually winning 67-53.

BG played defense well enough to win, but was simply not able to score enough baskets to take advantage.  The game was played at Miami's pace...66 possessions...but BG scored only .8 points per possession, their worst offensive game of the season, which previously was VCU.  BG shot well from 3FG at 10-22, but was a terrible 30% from the 2FG area.  That's the worst since 2016.  BG also had an unusual turnover rate (highest in MAC play) and had its second-worst offensive rebounding game of the season.  As a cherry on the sundae, BG got to the line only 11 times and missed 6 of those.

Meanwhile, Miami didn't shoot great either, (48% on 2 FG and 28% on 3FG), but took better care of the ball, was better on the offensive boards and got to the line 24 times, making 17.  It only added up to 1.02 points per possession, which is not great, but it was good enough to win because BG had such issues scoring.

Individually, the results are what you would expect.  Justin Turner led BG with 12, but on 5 of 13 and 1 of 4 shooting.  He added six rebounds and 2 steals, with 3 turnovers.

The only other double-figure scorer was Antwon Lillard with 10 on 4 of 6 and 2 of 4 shooting.  Demajeo Wiggins had 10 rebounds but shot 2 of 7 from the field.  Frye and Laster, in particular, struggled with their shots.

So the 10-game streak ends and the season's biggest game to date will take place at the Stroh on Friday when Buffalo comes to town.  This is why winning titles is so difficult.  You lose a road game against Miami and your toughest game of the season is next and you're looking at a possible two-game losing streak and things get tough.  Coach has to rally our guys, remind them how they got where they are, and prepare them to play their best game of the season in front of what I hope is a rocking Stroh Center.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Miami Preview

The next step on the magical season tour is Oxford OH. 

Miami is 10-9 this year.  They lost their first four MAC games but since then have won two in a row.  They lost at home to CMU and NIU, and then @Buffalo and @Toledo.  Then, they beat Akron at Millet and in the surprise of all, won in Muncie against Ball State.

The two teams split the games last year, with both teams winning a road game.  BG has won 3 out of 4 in Oxford, The teams are 5-5 over the last 10 meetings.

To date, in MAC only games, Miami is the worst defensive team in the MAC.  They are #9 in offense.  BG is #1 in both offense and defense in MAC play, so they're on the plus side of both of these matchups.  What is amazing is the BG offense.  Last year, BG was last in the MAC in conference games at 1 point per possession.  The team's ability to score this year is simply amazing.

Miami plays the #10 pace in the MAC, which is just above EMU and something BG's hopefully prepped for.

As mentioned, Miami is #8 in offensive efficiency in the MAC.  They are #7 in shooting and #8 in turnovers.  Their weakest area is offensive rebounding, where they were #11.  They are the top team in the MAC in getting to the FT line, though they are 9th in making their FTs.

They try a lot of 3s.  They are 2nd in the MAC in terms of 3FGs as a proportion of all FGAs.  However, they are only 6th at making them, which is going to impact your shooting.  BG leads the MAC in 3FG% defense, so that will be a key battle.  Miami is 5th at 2FGs.  Lastly, BG should be able to keep them almost completely off the boards.

Flipping it around, as mentioned, Miami is last in defensive efficiency.  That's surprising because they aren't awful in any of the elements.  They force almost no turnovers, but they are 8th in defending the shot, 8th on offensive rebounding and #7 in keeping their opponents on the line.  They are 9th in defending the 2FG, which could be helpful for BG.

Individually, they are led by Nike Sibande.  He scored 20 points in the game last year in Oxford.  He was also MAC Freshman of the Year last year.  He scoring an inefficient 15 PPG, shooting 38% and 35%.  Also, in MAC games he has 1 assist and 13 turnovers.

Delonte Brown is scoring 11 a game, shooting 49% and 39%.  He's from Bowsher and scored 16 against BG at the Stroh last year.

Darrion Ringo is back.  During the off-season, he was gone at one point and then he was back.  He is scoring 10.8 PPG shooting 45% and 30%.  He leads the team with about 5 assists per game.

Their leading rebounder is 6'5" G Jalen Adway at 6.8 RPG per game.  JUCO Transfer Bam Bowman averages 6.5 RPG.  BAM!

So, that's the RedHawk story.  Even as BG has been winning, they have continued to bring their best game every time, and I think if they do it again, they should be able to win this one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

BG MBB Takes Sole Possession of First

und der Beat geht weiter

That's 6 in a row in the MAC and 10 in a row overall.  And, with Buffalo's defeat, BG's Falcons (MBB) are #1 in the MAC all by themselves, virtually unthinkable when they were picked to be dead last when the season started.

So much fun.  Every game gets better.

This one was EMU, playing a 2-3 zone which early this season had us completely befuddled.  On this day, in January, BG handled the zone and some, and continued to play solid defense, outrebounded a nationally ranked rebounding team and beat some pressure and it was all on the road and bundled into an 80-67 win.

The first half of the game was competitive.  With 8:25 left BG hit a 3FG to go up 19-16 and the Falcons led for the remainder of the game without interruption.  BG was up 9 at halftime.  Five minutes into the second half BG had the lead into double digits and it was never inside 10 for the remainder of the game, getting as high as 18.  Another night where the Falcons cruise to victory.

Not only did BG succeed against the zone, they had their best offensive game this year and the best D1 game since that UT 2OT game a couple seasons ago.  As mentioned in the preview, EMU plays slow.  This game had 63 possessions, so scoring 80 in that low number of possessions is impressive.  BG scored 1.275 points per possession.  That came not from one factor being great, but a number of them.  First, BG had an EFG% of 56%--only their 8th best of the year--but BG took excellent care of the ball, had good offensive rebounding and only did OK getting to the line, but made 72% when they got there.  BG shot 49% from 2FG--their best since the Ohio game--but made 47% from 3FG, which is also their best since the Ohio game.

On the EMU side, the Eagles were actually relatively effective at 1.07 points per possession.  That's the best offensive/worst defensive game in the 10-game winning streak.  They shot pretty well at 49%, with 48% on 2FGs but only 33% of 3FGs.  Overall, BG did outshoot them, though, and EMU also turned the ball over more.  Most importantly, EMU came in #14 in the country with 41% offensive rebounding, but BG held them to 29%.  Finally, EMU did get to the line and made 70% of their FTs.

Individually, BG had contributions from a few players.

Justin Turner led the scoring, with 19 points on 5 of 10 and 3 of 4 shooting, plus 6-6 at the line and 2 steals.

Demajeo Wiggins had a better game after slumping for four games.  He scored 13 points, on 5 of 8 shooting, made 3 of 4 at the line and only 1 turnover.  He added 10 rebounds.  He scored on a couple of dunks when BG broke the press and went for the rim rather than letting the opponent reset.

Dylan Frye scored 11.  Coach mentioned in the post-game that Dylan is letting the game coming to him and not forcing shots up.  He's been deadly on open looks.  He shot 4 of 11 and 3 of 6 and had 4 assists over 0 turnovers.

Jeffrey Uju had a big contribution.  That's 11 points in 11 minutes.  He shot 5 of 6 from the field...including some zone-crushing shots from in the paint.

Marlon Sierra also had 9.  He shot 4 of 5 and 1 of 1, and 4 assists.

Caleb Fields had 4 assists.  In fact, BG had 20 assists on 29 baskets.  Laster had 8 on 3 of 6 and 2 of 4 shooting. 

Just a nice game up and down the line. And another cruise to victory for BG.  No need to bite nails or stress.

Miami is up next after winning 2 straight, in Oxford.

Monday, January 21, 2019

EMU MBB Preview

BG will hit the court for their sixth MAC game and a nine-game winning streak and a two-game lead over the next teams (other than Buffalo).

The next on the menu is EMU.  As always, they are hard to judge.  They are 8-10, but that's with 4 non-D1 wins.  It also includes losses at Kansas and Duke.  They also lost to Detroit, as BG did.

They are 2-3 in the MAC, but they have played the toughest schedule to date in the conference.  They've played Buffalo twice, @ Ball State, Kent and @ Akron.  Their wins are Ball State, and Kent, who they beat by 34.

BG beat EMU twice last year--both in overtime, once in Ypsi and once in BG in the MAC tourney.  In the last 10 games, EMU has won 6 and but BG has a two-game winning streak at EMU.

They play the Syracuse 2-3 zone, which is their signature.  They play it right.  They were picked to win the West after an 11-7 MAC season last year and adding a big-man transfer from Grand Canyon.  To date the results aren't what they might have hoped for, but again they have some tough games behind them.  (For reference, Kenpom is the source for them playing the toughest MAC schedule to date.  BG is #11).

Following stats are MAC games only.  BG is #2 in the offense and #1 in defense in the MAC to date.  EMU is #5 in offense and #6 in defense.  They have a lot of size.

The first thing about how EMU plays is that they play at a slow pace.  SLOW.  They are last in the MAC and in the bottom four of all D1 for all games.  They play at a full 5 possessions below the national average.  They do ALMOST everything well on offense.  They are the 4th in shooting, 1st in offensive rebounding and 4th in getting to the line.  Their only weakness is turning the ball over, in which they are last.

They don't take many 3FGs on average, though when they do they are 2nd at making them.  Notwithstanding their big men, they are 9th in 2FG%.  They are 11th in FT shooting.

One huge key is going to be rebounding.  EMU is #1 in offensive rebounding and #14 in the country and BG leads the MAC in defensive rebounding.  That will be a key battle, as well as BG forcing misses to start with.

Flipping it around, EMU's strength is forcing turnovers.  That zone can be very tricky to move the ball around on and EMU has a long team.  BG will need to take care of the ball.  EMU is not great against the shot, which is unusual.  They are 6th in EFG% defense--that's 4th against the 3 and 9th against the 2, if you get inside the zone.  They are poor on the defensive boards and on preventing teams from getting to the line.  In general, this has not been the EMU lockdown D we have come to know in the past.

Their leading scorer (again, MAC play only) is Elijah Minnie, scoring 16.8 per game, shooting 47% and 46% from 3, which is really good.  He also averages 6 RPG.

Paul Jackson is their second-leading scorer at 14.4 PPG.  He shoots 39% and 27%, which is inefficient.  He does average 5.4 assists per game.

James Thompson IV is usually their top scorer.  He is scoring 12.8 PPG on 73% shooting to go with 12 rebounds.  Their transfer is Barbecar Toure, who came in from Grand Canyon as a grad transfer.  He's scoring 9.4 PPG and 8.8 RPG.

They are a big team.  They are in the top 10% of teams in terms of effective height on kenpom.  This will put pressure on BG's bigs, from Wiggins through to Uju and even possibly Mattos.

 EMU is also experienced, #30 in the team on that measure.

Every game is a new test for BG.  You can't sleep on EMU, that's for sure, especially in Ypsi.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Superlatives Round Up

Here are the curated superlatives from

  • For the first time since the 1961-62 season, Bowling Green has gotten off to a 5-0 start in Mid-American Conference play. The 1961-62 Falcons won their first seven MAC games.  (That was also a Harold Anderson coached team.  They went 21-4, won the MAC title and played in the NCAA tourney, losing to Butler by 1 in Lexington, KY).
  • Bowling Green has won five-straight MAC games for the first time in a decade. The Falcons won six-straight conference games during the 2008-09 championship season.  (That team won the regular season title).
  • The Orange and Brown have won nine-straight games for the first time since 2001-02. The 2001-02 Falcons won 12-straight games, but only three of the wins were MAC victories. (That team finished 24-9, lost to Kent in the MAC final and lost to Butler in the NIT.  The most at-large worthy team in program history).
  • The Falcons are 10-0 at home for the first time since the 1999-2000 BGSU squad went a perfect 12-0 at Anderson Arena. The Stroh Center record for home wins a single season for the men's basketball team is 12. During the venue's inaugural season, the Falcons went 12-4 at home.
  • Over the Falcons' nine-game winning streak, BGSU is outscoring its opponents by an average of 19.1 points, and outrebounding its opponents by an average of 10.0 rebounds. BGSU is shooting 46.7 percent from the field, while holding its opponents to 38.6 percent shooting.

Falcon MBB Move to 5-0.

Sequitur et percussio

Nine in a row.  Five in a row in the MAC.  Succeeding at levels not seen here in my lifetime.....MY lifetime, for crying out loud.  This is fun.  Let the beat go on.

There's no other way to put it, but BG dismantled WMU yesterday at the Stroh.  Yes, the Broncos are winless, but they had played Buffalo hard (albeit in Kzoo) and are always competitive.  It simply never was, 78-49.  An amazing result for the Falcons.  This is just not something I had expected to see.

BG led wire to wire.  The Falcons jumped out to a 9-0 lead.  Mid-way through the half BG was up by 3 and with 6 minutes left BG was up 6, 21-15.  Important to note the very low score.  At this point, neither team was scoring--BG was missing a lot of makeable shots.  Anyway, BG started to make their shots and WMU never did.  BG closed out the half 9-2 to lead 30-17.  BG stormed out in the second half, had the lead over 20 by the first media timeout.  From there, the game was never closer than 19 and BG led by as much as 33 in the second half.

In the words of the retiring Marty Brennaman, "haaaaaaaaaaaaave Mercy."

BG held WMU to .67 points per possession, BG's best defensive performance in a D1 game since a December, 2009 game at Fordham.  It's Western's worst offensive game since they played Northwestern in 2013.  BG simply played great defense.  WMU made 39% of their 2 FGs and just 13% of the 3FGs.  They turned the ball over, BG kept them off the boards and did pretty well keeping them off the line.'

One thing that's interesting is steals.  So, it's my theory that steals are more valuable than other turnovers.  I don't have data for that, but when you talk points off turnovers, it seems to be that a dead ball turnover just results in a half-court set, whereas a live ball turnover combines a stop with a transition attempt.  Anyway, BG leads the MAC right now in steals as a percentage of overall possessions (in MAC play), and I think it's noticeable on the floor.

Meanwhile, BG scored 1.11 points per possession, a winnable number on its own.  BG's shooting was below average, at 48% EFG.  That's 42% on 2FG and 41% on 3FG.  To compensate, BG took outstanding care of the ball, their best turnover game of the season.  BG was strong on the offensive boards as well.  Lastly, WMU was 13 of 19 on FTs and BG 12 of 16, so the actual point margin was only 1.

Individually, the really interesting thing is Demajeo Wiggins.  If you had said BG had won five straight in the MAC and Wiggins would have scored 21 points and shot 4 of 24 over the last four of those games, I don't think you'd have thought that was possible.  In the Ball State game, he struggled to score but had 15 rebounds, but in this game he had only 4 rebounds and played only 22 minutes in a game where WMU had a true post threat.

I'm not ripping him, these are just facts.  It's possible he's playing through an injury they are keeping quiet.  Also, there's no doubt that teams are focusing on him with their defense--but he'd always still kept rebounding.

One thing is that if teams are packing in on Wiggins, BG is compensating from the outside, something we did not do consistently when we had inside threats like Calhoun and Holmes in recent years.

Dylan Frye led BG's scoring with 14 points shooting 5 of 12 and 4 of 8 from 3FG.  He also led the team with 7 rebounds and had 5 assists over 0 rebounds.  Justin Turner had 13 on 5 of 13 shooting and 0 of 3 from 3FG.  He added five rebonds and 4 assists.  Caleb Fields had a highly efficient 10, making 4 of 6 and 2 of 3 and added 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.  Antwon Lillard had 10 on 3 of 7 and 1 of 3 shooting and 6 rebounds.   None of the players played their normal minutes due to the big lead.

Next up is EMU, playing a 2-3 zone that has stymied BG in the past.  Coach said after the game that you have to make shots to beat EMU and hopefully we're getting confident enough to make those shots.  Loving it.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Pelini Leaves BG. Back to Youngstown State.

So, the above news broke from the Saturday snow here in Northwest Ohio.  Carl Pelini leaving the BG program and heading back to Youngstown State as coach-in-waiting.

You had to wonder about the arrangement once Brian VanGorder came on board.  He's a long-time DC at major schools and in the NFL.  He had an existing relationship with Scot Loeffler and it was just hard to see him being a LB coach and Pelini running the defense over the long-haul.

A couple points.  First, I'm happy for Coach Pelini.  He was a 100% honorable and professional when Coach Jinks was fired.  He held the team together, kept the season from spiraling off, and was a true servant-leader.  He clearly had the respect of the people he worked with.  I assume he wants to head coach again and this is an opportunity for him to do it, and I'm happy for him.  He deserves it and he goes with our thanks.

Second, Brian Van Gorder has been hired for some big jobs.  I think he's certainly qualified to run our defense.  Now, being qualified is only part of succeeding--true of our entire staff--but he's certainly qualified.  The one thing I liked about Pelini staying was that we had made a little progress on defense and the players will now be under the third defensive system in three years, which is not optimal.

Third, both Van Gorder and Pelini bring a comparably-sized and motivated internet troll following.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bronco Preview

So, in the snow, here's come the Broncos.  They are winless in the MAC but there are no off days in the MAC and Hawkins always has his team ready to play.  They battled Buffalo very tough in their last game and they will battle the Falcons tough in this one.

They are 6-11 overall.  Their best win is over Detroit, ranked #197---a team that beat BG, FWIW.  They also lost 3 games to teams ranked 285 or's been a tough season for the Broncos.  By and large, they have been very good.  Hawkins took over in 2003-4, and in the 15 years he's completed there they have been to the NCAAs twice, won 20 games 7 times, and been over .500 in the MAC 11 times, both numbers BG cannot meet over roughly the same period.

In fact, WMU was picked to win the West last season, but injuries to four key players kept them at 9-9.

BG beat them last year at the Stroh, and the teams are 5-5 over the past 10 years.  We will play twice this year.

So, this year, they lost All-MAC player Thomas Wilder to graduation.  Double figure scoring G Reggie Jones transferred to Tulsa.  Their second leading scorer Bryce Moore had surgery and is expected to redshirt.  Brandon Johnson also played almost the whole season injured and had surgery and is out indefinitely, last I saw.

And so, you see why things might be tough.

This will be a physical game.  WMU is typically very physical.  In fact, here's a story about them practicing in football pads.

So, matching them up...actually, you never see this, BG and WMU's season production are perfect matches.  WMU is a poor offensive team and BG is good on defense, and BG is decent on offense and they are decent on defense.

Breaking that down, they are below average shooters who turn the ball over a lot.  That's a rough mix.  They aren't awful on offense, though, and that's because they are very good on the offensive boards and the are very good getting to the line, and they make 70% when they are there.  They take an above-average number of 3FGs, but they are well below average (31.5%).  For a power team, they only make 50.7% of the 2FGs, which is ever so slightly above average.  The boards battle will be key.....BG is #10 in the country in defensive rebounding.  If the Falcons take that away, they have an excellent shot of keeping the WMU offense in check.

When BG has the ball, you have a team shooting about average against a team defending about average.  The key is the WMU does not force turnovers (among the 10 worst in the country) and is about average on the defensive boards.  They do keep their opponents off the line, (top 50 nationally) and it all adds up to a subpar defense.

They allow 36% on 3FGs, which is subpar and they are slightly above average against the 2FG.

Michael Flowers is their leading scorer at 16.2 per game.  He's not proficient overall on this FGs (43%) but he's shooting 38% from 3FG, which is good, and adds 4.9 rpg and 3.8 over 3.1 A/T.

Thier main big man is 7-footer Seth Dugan, who seems to have played in Kalamazoo forever.  He scored 14.8 per game on 54% shooting to go with 8.3 rebounds and a blocked shot per game  Josh Davis also scores in double figures at 13.7 PPG, also with 6.2 rpg. 

Beyond the defensive battle mentioned above, another key is how the post play goes.  Both teams offer a traditional 5 with productivity on the inside.  Wiggins has been struggling on offense for three games under MAC-quality defensive scrutiny and I would be surprised to see WMU do anything else.  He either needs to be able to be strong with the ball or kick it out on the double team.  BSU said they wanted to make BG in a jump shooting team and it more or less work and it hamstrung BG, so they'll need an answer to that.

As well as BG is playing at home, you'd expect to win this one.  However, WMU is battling and we're not going to win forever.  This is one of those games that might not be pretty, but you have to figure out a way to win.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Notes from the BGSU Victory

Again, mostly from the BGSU staff, with some additional thoughts from me...

  • Bowling Green is on an eight-game winning streak for the first time since 2001-02. The Falcons won 12-straight games during the 2001-02 campaign and went on to be 24-9.
  • The Falcons have started Mid-American Conference play with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2004-05. Dan Dakich's team went 10-8 in the MAC that season.  (The Almanson/Reimold team that lost a home game or would have won the MAC West).
  • For the first time since 2014-15, the Falcons have won four-straight conference games.
  • Bowling Green is 9-0 inside the Stroh Center, marking its best home start since 1999-2000. The 1999-2000 edition of the Falcons went 12-0 at Anderson Arena.  (Anthony Stacey played on that team, which won 22 games and lost in Cleveland on the Miami shot).

BG MBB Goes 4-0 in MAC

Onward goeth the beat.

This is just terrific.  Thanks so much to all the players and coaches who worked hard to get this going.  I know nothing's done yet, etc, but this is just really fun to watch and I'm so proud of this team.

Here's part of why.  BG's first 3 MAC wins were kind of anomalies, in the sense that they were double-digit wins in conference play.  You just rarely see that, even from the good teams.  Noting that Buffalo played winless WMU last night, and the Bulls were up 2 with 5 minutes to play and only 4 inside of 2 minutes.  Yes, they won by 9, but it was a battle and that's what you expect.

This was an old-school, MAC slugfest.  Type of game that's played in a gym.  It was tough with both sides playing stifling defense in the second half and the game coming down the wire.  There were 44 fouls called.  It was an absolute brawl.  And BG came out ahead.

Remember, Ball State was picked to be at the top of the conference.  They've won at Savage this year.  They are a veteran team--#44 in experience in the country, according to kenpom.  True, they have not won since leaving Savage Arena, but that's a well-coached team with veteran players and the game still went BG's way.

And, it was a game BG was more or less in control of.  BG led for 32 minutes of the game.  Ball State never led by more than 2.  I think the result was the right result.

BG jumped out to a 14-5 lead and lead 29-19 with 8 left in the first half.  Ball State scored 8 straight to cut it to 1 with 4:38 left and then a minute later had the game tied.  For almost all of the rest of the game the lead was never higher than 6 and most of the time it was a one-possession game.  The early second half was marked mostly by no one scoring.  BG at one point was 1 of 18 from the field and Ball State was 2 and something.  Some of it was missed shots but both teams were working hard on the defensive end.

BG was up 4 with the ball with 2 minutes left to play.  Lillard missed a 3 and BSU raced down their floor.  Plowden got a steal from Tayler Persons--one of the best guards in the MAC--and fed Lillard, who missed but Plowden had the offensive board and the put back and BG was up 6 with 1:21 left.

Back on the defensive end, BG got another steal, this team from Lillard, who was fouled on the other end and sunk 2 free throws.  BG up 8 with 1:16 left, having played a winning and decisive minute of basketball in clutch time.

The Cardinals were not going away.  Persons drew a foul on Plowden and made both FTs to cut it to 6 and then they hit a 3 off a Turner miss and it was down to 3 with :33 left. 

Then, BG experienced an issue from the bad-old days, which is the inability to get the ball in-bound off the baseline in a clutch situation.  Ball State was in a hair-on-fire defense mode.  BG got the ball inbounds the first time, but threw it right in the corner and Frye had to get a bail-out timeout.  The timeout didn't help, there was still nowhere to put the ball and BSU got the 5-second call. 

So, that's a big turnaround.  Now BSU has the ball under the basket down 3.  This time, however, BG stayed poised and together, and got the stop on a 3-ball and Wiggins cleared the board and was fouled and he came down and hit both clutch FTs and BG was up 5 with :12 left.

Persons made a jumper to cut it back to 3 with :06 left.  After a lengthy hissyfit from James Whitford (I assume over the possession arrow, but I don't know), BG got the ball in.  This time, BSU had to foul right away, they got Frye with :05, he split the pair to put BG up 4 and Persons hit a buzzer beater to make the final margin 1.

Great game and a very good win for our team.  BG scored 1.02 points per possession, the lowest of the winning streak.  They allowed 1.01, which, as noted last time, is a winnable number.

In the local paper, Coach Whitford said that they wanted to make BG into a jump shooting team, and they certainly did that.  You're not going to win many games where you get outshot like this.  BG made 31% of its 2FGs, the lowest since NIU in the 2016 season.  BG, however, did make 40% of its 3s for the 7th time in 8 games, so that helped to balance it out.  BG got a couple possessions back on turnovers--including those two late steals--and dominated the boards against a good rebounding team.  Finally, and probably most vital, BG had a very good game at the line, making 29 of 33 FTs, as opposed to BSU's 19 of 25.  Without that FT shooting, Ball State probably gets the win.  Ball State's shooting was the reverse of BG....they made 55% of their 2FGs and only 31% of their 3FGs.

Individually, Justin Turner had 20, which he has had for all the MAC games.  He shot 7 of 17 and 3 of 6 and made all 3 of this FTs along with 3 assists and 3 turnovers.

BG has had success getting contributions from different guys.  In this game, it was Daeqwon Plowden, who has been pretty silent over the past few games.  In this one, he had a career game, scoring 19 in 27 minutes.  He was 4 of 7 and 3 of 5, 8 of 10 at the line, 8 rebounds and 2 steals.  Antwon Lillard scored 15 on 4 of 12 and 1 of 5 shooting--so not the most efficient night--to go with 6-6 at the line, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.  Dylan Frye scored 10 on 3 of 9 shooting and 1 of 4 shooting, 3 of 4 at the line and 2 steals.

Demajeo Wiggins is continuing to be challenged on the offensive end.  He's getting swarmed when he has the ball, he couldn't back down on Moses and it looks to me like he's not always strong with the ball.  He was 0 of 7 from the field with 3 turnovers, so 10 possessions.  He still contributed though.  He made 7 of 8 at the line and had 15 boards, putting him over 900 on his career. 

He's had 0 FGs in 2 of the last 3 games and is 2-17 in that span.  I think it's clear that teams are determined to keep him from beating them, which is fine if BG can use the space to make them pay for that decision.  You can bet that WMU will continue to play Wiggins very tough--they are typically among the most physical teams in the MAC.

BG tried to go without him, but I think you could see that BG just doesn't have another true 5 to matchup with inside players like BSU has.

Anyway, it was a hard-fought victory for BG.  Winless WMU is coming in Saturday in the midst of a predicted winter storm.  WMU will not lay down.  No chance.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ball State MBB Preview

Well, here we go.  BG has beaten Ohio, Kent and CMU, which was all well and good.  Now, they face a team that was picked to be a top contender in the MAC.

Though not without some issues.

They entered the MAC at 9-4.  Their losses were Purdue, Virginia Tech, Evansville and Alabama, so not a bad loss in the bunch.  They won @Loyola and they have a kenpom of 93 right now.  They are 10-6 and 1-2.

I watched them play Toledo and I was really impressed.  They just looked great.  They have 3 really good players--at least--and won by 15 at Savage.  Since then, however, they lost to EMU in OT and then to OU by 18.  Both games were in Muncie.

In other words, they are moving forward with 2 home losses, never a good thing.

And they are scratching their heads over the loss to OU.  You just didn't see that coming.  So now, they get to come to the Stroh to try and put their season back together.  You don't want to start 1-3.

Meanwhile, BG continues to play well, but this is their best opponent in MAC play.  It's a great test to show our continued progress.  It's a good storyline for the game.

Ball State is a good offensive team.  Most of the teams BG has played to date have been.  They are scoring 1.09 points per possession.  They are also good on defense, allowing 1.02 points per possession.  Look at that left hand side of the chart!  BG playing good defense against a really good Ball State offense.  Should be interesting.

Their calling card is top flight shooting.  Their EFG is 55%, which is #34 in D1.  They make 56% of their 2FGs, which is #40 in the country, and they make 36% of their 3FGs, but don't shoot that many, which is actually a dangerous combination.  (BG is #29 at defending 2FGs, so that has the potential to be decisive.

The Cardinals are a little bit above average on turnovers and offensive rebounds and they get to the line OFTEN.  They are #16 in getting to the line and, unlike most of BG's opponents, they are making 70% of their FTs, which is about the D1 average.  In 3 of the 4 areas, you see strength against strength.  (BG is #15 in the nation on the defensive boards).

The Ball State defense gets its stops by defending the shot and not allowing opponents to the FT line.  They allow 48% EFG, which is #67 in the nation.  They are especially tough to shoot 2FGs against--46% and they also defend the 3FG well.  BG will need to work hard on offense to get good looks and then convert them.  The Cards don't force turnovers and they are below average on the defensive boards.

As mentioned, Ball State has three very solid players.  That starts with two-time All-MAC Sr. PG Tayler Persons.  He's scoring 16 PPG on 46% and 38% shooting.  He has over 5 assists per game and makes 83% of his FTs.

Tahjai Teague their second leading scorer.  He's a redshirt junior.  He's scoring 15 PPG on 63% shooting.  He also averages 7.8 RPG.

Their third stud (in my view) is Trey Moses.  He's 6'9" and has been All-MAC and All-Defensive.  He scores 9 PPG and 6.8 RPG.  He's blocked 26 shots and shoots over 50%.

Their new addition is KJ Walton, who transferred from Missouri, where he made 24 starts.  He's scoring 14 PPG on 56% shooting and almost no 3FGs.  He's 6'3".

Oh, and if you remember in the off-season there was a battle between BG and Ball State for Austin Nehls, a graduate transfer.  He's averaging 3.5 PPG.

This is one of the more experienced teams in the country.  Despite their struggles, they remain a formidable opponent and another good test for the Falcons.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Four Football Verbals

There were some visits for football over the weekend, and it appears to have netted some verbal commits for the later signing period.  That NSD will be in February, so we'll learn more then, but for now these four are saying on twitter they are coming to BG.

Coach said that we had four scholarships left after signing day.  One of the four below is saying he's a preferred walk-on and others might be as well.  That's one of the things we might find out.  Also, note that all four of these young men are from our general area...certainly in the four-hour radius.  (Other note:  Max Warner, our QB Coach, was coaching HS in FLA and he has been offering players down there).

First, BG has two players from Norwalk.  The "Truckers" had a huge season.  They were 10-4 and made the DIII semi-finals, their best year in 44 seasons.

The first is Treveon Raymore.  He played RB at Norwalk and was extremely productive.  Second-team all-state.  He is the school record holder for rushing attempts (40), yards (407) and touchdowns (6) in a single game; attempts in a season (349) and career (648). Raymore ran for 2,518 yards and 27 TDs in 2018.

He is 5'10 and 223, which is a pretty good sized young man.  I don't know if we project him at RB or on defense.

The other Trucker is Tche Leroux.  I assume it is pronounced "Shea" but I guarantee it is not a typo.  He was first-team all-state on the defensive line.  He had 70 tackles and 10 sacks in the regular season, while also recovering three fumbles — including one for a touchdown. He added six more sacks and more than 20 tackles in the four playoff games for the Truckers, who finished 10-4 and advanced to the state semifinals.  He's 6'3" and 225 and somewhere I saw he projects to a WDE.

In September he committed to Toledo.   No idea what was up with that.  We almost for sure have a quicker path to playing than UT does.  His brother is one year behind him, plays OL and has some big offers.

Austin Dorris is a graduate transfer from Indiana University.  He's 6'5" and 240 and caught 4 passes in his Hoosier career.  He is from Shadyside, Ohio, where he was all-state, playing QB and TE.  He was a 3-star recruit coming out of HS.  He played a lot of special teams, where we could also use some help.  At IU, he played for OC Mike DeBord, who Loeffler worked for at CMU. 

The last is Sebastien Moubarak,  He's a LB from McDowell HS, which is in Erie, PA.  That's the same HS as James Conner.  This blog has a bias for NE Ohio and Western PA recruits...they are born for football.  Based on this, he wasn't recruited until after his senior year.  The 6-0, 220 pound linebacker registered 136 tackles (85 solo), 13 tackles for loss and a sack.

That's pretty productive.  If he's a late bloomer, that's ideal for how MAC teams succeed.

Welcome to the Falcons, Tche, Treveon, Austin and Sebastien.

Some superlatives on MBB

There are a lot of superlatives and strong comparables for the BG MBB team.  These are all drawn from, with some editing and massaging by me.

On a team basis:

  • For the first time in school history, Bowling Green has started Mid-American Conference play with three-straight wins by double figures.
  • The Falcons are 3-0 in MAC play for the first time since 2004-05.
  • Bowling Green has won seven-straight games by 10-plus points for the first time since 1947-48.
  • Bowling Green has won seven-straight games for the first time since 2001-02. The seven-game winning streak sets a Michael Huger Era high.
  • Bowling Green is on its first three-game MAC winning streak since 2016-17, having won three-consecutive MAC games by double digits for the first time since 2001-02.
  • The Orange and Brown are 2-0 in MAC road games, marking the first time that has happened since head coach Michael Huger's debut season in 2015-16. BGSU has already matched the amount of MAC road wins it had all of last season.


  • For the third time in his career and first time this season, redshirt-sophomore guard Justin Turner scored 30-plus points. He's the first BGSU sophomore to get 30 in 15 years.
  • Turner eclipsed 800 points on the night, as he's now scored 821 points in just 51 games.
  • Antwon Lillard is just 113 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
  • Senior forward Demajeo Wiggins added eight points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Wiggins moved to third all-time in rebounds at BGSU, surpassing Len Matela, who racked up 890 rebounds as a Falcon from 1998-2002. Wiggins now has 899 rebounds for his career, and sits behind a couple of BGSU legends in Nate Thurmond (1,295 rebounds | 1961-63) and Cornelius Cash (1,068 | 1973-75).

A quick riff on that last number.  Wiggins is 169 rebounds short of catching Cash.  There are 15 regular season games left.  There's at least one MAC tournament game left, and let's hope for more.  So, with the minimum number of games, he'd need 10.5 per game to reach #2.  If BG were to play 20 more games--and that's possible--he'd only need 8.5.  So, all in all, that's doable but will require him to continue to produce at the conference-leading pace he has established.

Anyway, all this just underscores the level at which BG is playing right now compared to our admittedly sub-par performance since the WVU debacle.  (Correlation is not causation).  It is what we asked for--for the program to make some progress toward being competitive.  And we're getting it.

BG wins 3rd straight MAC game

And.  The.  Beat.  Goes. On.

The BG Men's Basketball team continues to provide a highly satisfying season to its fans and supporters.  This is just really fun.  Can't wait for Tuesday.

Yes, nothing is decided.  As Coach says, "we haven't done anything yet," and they haven't.  But they are showing that small steps have been made and they might add up to big steps.  We shall see.

One of the things I always said about teams like Kent and Akron was that they knew how to win.  They were ruthless.  You might be ahead with 8 left and be all excited, but they would just settle in and work the game plan and make the plays needed coming home.  To beat them, you had to play a very good game and there was no other way.

Again, we're not there yet.  But you saw elements of that kind of thing on Saturday in Mt. Pleasant. 

The arc of the game was interesting.  Note that CMU had a good record but a poor schedule.  Still, they were undefeated at home this year...just like us...and the game was sold out.  This is a tough situation in a conference where the home team won 67% of the games last year. 

BG bolted out to a 7 point lead early in the first half, but CMU had it tied again with about 9 minutes left.  CMU never took the lead in the first half, and BG pumped the lead as high as 9 again and then lead by 7 at halftime.

BG came out of the locker room hot (note, if you will, when the opposite used to happen) and stretched the lead to 11 a couple minutes in.  With 13 minutes left, BG led by 16.  With 10 left, BG was still up 10. 

Then it happened.  CMU went on a 13-0 run to take the lead by 3, with about 5 minutes left.  Guirk is rocking.  They are finally hit 3s, even guys that don't make them.  BG struggling on the offensive end.  This is tailor-made for any team to get swept away in the flood.

CMU held the lead for a few minutes.  In fact, with 90 seconds left they led by 6.  Based on kenpom, BG had about a 1% chance of winning at that point.

Dylan Frye made a steal and went all the way to cut the lead to 4 with 1:10 left.  BG fouled Larry Austin, who then missed both of his FTs.  BG came down the floor and had the offense in Juicemode, which is when they feed Turner at the top of the key and he drives and scores a basket.  Which he did for a layup to cut it to 2 with :43 left.

DiLeo missed a 3FG, Wiggins cleared the board and BG raced down there floor.  Juice drove again, but was fouled this time with :07 left.  Turner made both clutch FTs to tie the game.  CMU had one last possession but Austin turned the ball over and it was OT.

BG bolted out to a 4 point lead in the OT, but with 3 left CMU had it tied again. BG pumped it up again to go up 3 but then CMU had it tied again with 2 minutes left, 87-87.

From there, BG scored 10 and CMU scored 0.

Turner hit a 3 to put BG up 3.  CMU had a possession with two shots, the last of which was an errant Austin 3, cleared by Wiggins.  (1:21)

Working in Juicemode, Turner got into the lane and showed his skill because once he's rolling the defense is on their heels and he has more than one way to score.  He hit a jumper to make it up 5.  On the next possession, Caleb Field stole the ball, fed Turner who was fouled and made 2 FTs.  BG up 7 with :46 to play.

Just look back at those three possessions.  Seven points for BG, and a missed shot and a steal for CMU.  That's the kind of thing Akron used to do to you.

CMU came down and Fields gets another steal and feeds Turner again and he's fouled and makes both FTs again and BG was up 9.

That's 9 straight points by Justin Turner in crunch time and two steals from a true freshman.  Michael Laster made a late FT, but it was over at that point.  BG had come into the sold-out gym and got the win.

Just for reflection, how many times did we feel that from the opposite perspective?  Losing a game in OT we should have won in regulation?

Here are the numbers.  Remember, this was an OT game.  BG scored 1.13 points per possession, which is their lowest since the Western Carolina game, but still in winnable territory.  BG was 7-1 scoring at that level last year.  BG allowed 1.01 points per possession, which is not as good as in other games but still below D1 average and winnable.  BG was 10-3 last year playing that kind of defense.  Just as importantly, they held a team that came in with a high-powered 1.07 points per possession to a below-average total. It was their fourth-worst offense this year.

That's the kind of thing Akron used to do to people.

You can see how that played out.  BG shot well, but not great...lowest since Findlay.  BG made 46% from 2 FG and more 3FG.  Obviously, that's great on the 3s, but should be better on the 2FG.  BG missed a lot of zero footers in there.  However, the Falcons had an edge taking care of the ball.  Their only better game was NC Central.  Perhaps the key number is the offensive rebounds.  CMU came in with really good offensive rebound results and BG kept them off that game in a big way...TCU held them to the same number.

CMU does get to the line and they certainly did against BG. They are a poor FT shooting team, and though they made about an average 69% and were +9 at the line, it wasn't enough to make up for BG's lead on the other categories.

BG continues to struggle at the FT line.  BG made only 65% of its FTs.

Individually, the name of the day was Justin Turner.  He scored 30 points on 10-22 shooting, 3 of 8 from 3.  He made all 7 of this FTs, however, and was flawless in clutch time, as we have noted.  He also had 6 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 steals.  He might be the best player we have had since McLeod, but I might need to think about that.

Wiggins struggled.  Here's the thing.  So far, MAC teams have seemed to say that they aren't going to let Wiggins beat them and his offensive opportunities have been limited.  He shot 2 of 7, 2 TOs and made only 4 of 10 FTs.  So, that's not great.  He did get 16 rebounds though, and is largely responsible for keeping CMU off the offensive glass, which was a key element.

He's leading the MAC in rebounding and is 3rd in the country.  Here's the thing.  We have two guys that you would want to take away, and taking them both away is going to be difficult.  That makes you tough to beat.

Michael Laster is growing by leaps and bounds.  He's just playing great.  He scored 18 points on 8 of 17 shooting, made 1 of 3 from 3FGs, had 6 rebounds and 3 steals.  Right now, he's our best guard.

How about Dylan Frye?  He scored 11 points, on 4 of 8 and 1 of 3 shooting.  The best thing is that he is playing within the offense and isn't forcing shots.  Also, he's on the floor during all the defense.

Antwon Lillard is also playing well off the bench.  He had 11 points, on 5 of 9 and 1 of 3 shooting and added 6 rebounds.

Lastly, Matiss Kulackovskis, who hasn't gotten off the bench in a couple games, added some real energy in a dead part of the first half for BG.  He ended up with 10 in 12 minutes on 4 of 7 and 2 of 2 shooting.  The Sierra/Plowden/Uju rotation didn't seem to click today, but Matiss did.

And Caleb Fields with 2 huge steals in the last minute of overtime.

That's the kind of thing you used to see from Akron, too.

Last thing.  Depth.  BG had 10 players play over 10 minutes.  (Remember, 45-minute game).  Turner played 39.  CMU had 8 play over 10 and 3 play 38 or 39.  Coach felt in the post-game that the depth was a factor in BG's hard close both in regulation and overtime.

This is fun as hell.  Ball State next, coming off a blow out loss in Muncie.  Enjoy the ride.

Friday, January 11, 2019

MBB Chips Preview

Saturday, the only matchup between unbeaten MBB teams in the MAC will take place at McGuirk Arena when BG takes on CMU.  Let's take a look.

First, CMU is always hard to predict. The Chips are 13-2.  However, as usual, that can be a little misleading.  First, they beat 3 non D1 teams.  And then second, according to kenpom, they played the 351st ranked non-conference schedule in all of college basketball...that's out of 353.  It doesn't even count the non D1 wins.  I straight up admire the ability of CMU to schedule such a high proportion of lousy D1 teams.  It's a feat.  Their BEST non-conference win was over the #174 (Bakersfield) team on a neutral floor.

So, you get thinking about all of that and they open 2-0 in the MAC.  That's a road win @ Miami and an OT win over Akron at home.  Larry Austin scored with 2 seconds left to seal the second of those wins.

So, it will be interesting to see.  From BG's perspective, the Falcons are playing really well, including one game on the road.  Winning on the road is tough in conference play, but who knows?  BG is playing at a level we have not seen in quite a while.

CMU has beaten BG 5 of the last 6, with the only BG win coming in the Huger Year One tourney run.

Looking at the matchup, and keeping in mind CMU's soft schedule which does impact numbers, we can see how this will shake out.

CMU plays their normal style, which is high offense and low defense.  They play 72 possessions per game, which is slightly more than BG.  So, there's no big secret here.  BG needs to execute what it has been doing, which is to play the defense they have been playing which seems to key them into making shots.  (It is only 2 games, but in MAC play BG leads the conference in defensive efficiency).

CMU does everything well on offense.  They are ok shooters, but #34 in protecting the ball, #52 on the offensive boards and #13 getting to the line.  In three of the four areas below, there appears there will be a real contest.  BG needs to succeed on the boards and kept the Chips off the line.

Speaking of which, CMU would be dangerous if they could make FTs.  They make 64% which is among the 30 lowest in D1.  In fact, it seemed to me that a lot of MAC teams are poor FT shooters, and in fact in MAC play the conference is 30th out of 32 in FT%.  Still early on that.

CMU shoots 37% of its FGs from 3 and the average is 38.7%, so a little below.  They make 52% of their 2FGs and 35% of their 3 FGs, both slightly above D1 average.  This is a solid team that has played effective offense in all parts of the game.

They also scored efficiently in both their MAC games, for whatever that is worth.

On the other side, CMU defends the shot decently, creates turnovers and keeps their opponents off the line.  Their weakest area is BG's strongest, which is on their own defensive boards.  (Sometimes happens to teams trying to force turnovers.)

They defend the 3 really well (#61), but aren't great against the 2FG, so BG will need to get the ball inside to score.

Individually (remembering both the opposition and the fast tempo), the Chips are led by Grad Transfer Larry Austin.  He came from Vanderbilt.  He's scoring 18.2 PPG on 52% shooting.  Even at 6'2" he's an inside player, not a lot of 3FGs.  He averages 5.7 RPG and averages 5.4 assists per game, too.

Shawn Roundtree is scoring 15.8 per game, shooting 48% and 32%, which is less efficient.  He's also a senior guard.

Kevin McKay is scoring 13.1 per game on 57% shooting and a team high 7.3 RPG.  He's a 6'5" JR.  Scored 16 against BG last year.

David DiLeo is scoring 11.5 PPG on 42% 3FG shooting.  He's their best distance threat.  Also averages 5.5 RPG.

Lastly, JUCO transfer Rob Montgomery is 6'6" and scoring 10.3 per game on 45% and 41% shooting and adding 5.5 RPG.

CMU plays without a true big man for almost the entire game, but adjusts with tempo and playing strong all-around offensive basketball.

It's been a great 6 weeks to follow this team and I'm looking forward to what we might see tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

And the Beat Goes On: BG Romps Over OU

Who would think we would be here right now?

BG beat OU 82-63 last night at the Stroh.  That's the team picked to finish last in the MAC at 2-0 with wins over Kent and OU in the East Division.  Not to be that guy, but it's just a start, is also a start, and you can't have a middle and a finish until you have a start.

A few superlatives from

  • BG has won six-straight games by double digits for the first time since the 48-49 team.  That team was coached by Harold Anderson, featuring Charlie Share, Mac Otten, and captained by Leo Kubiak.  All played professionally.  (I added the last part).
  • The six-game winning streak matches its longest of the Michael Huger Era. 
  • The Orange and Brown are 8-0 at home for the first time since 1999-2000. Prior to this season, the Falcons had never started a season 8-0 inside the Stroh Center.
  • BGSU has won eight-straight home games by 10-plus points for the first time since 1997. 
  • Bowling Green is 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play for the first time since 2014-15. 
  • For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, Bowling Green has opened Mid-American Conference play with two-straight wins by double digits.
  • The 19-point win for Bowling Green marks the program's largest margin of victory over Ohio since a 75-41 triumph on March 8, 2009 at Anderson Arena. The win, which came on the last day of the 2008-09 regular season, clinched a regular-season MAC title for the Falcons.

All right, then.  We're on a good run.

This game was VERY interesting.  Going to spend some time on it.

Here's the thing.  OU came out and was taking it to the Falcons.  Bobcats led 13-4 heading into the first media timeout.  You sort of felt that the same old thing was happening.

What did Coach do?  He took four of the starters straight out of the game.  He put Lillard, Laster, Uju and Sierra in and he took Frye, Wiggins, Plowden and Fields out.  Only Turner stayed in.

And what happened?  Well, six minutes later, when Plowden and Wiggins checked back in, BG was down 21-20, so a 16-8 run for the reserves.  BG up was up 9 with 6 minutes left in the first half, but did not score for the remainder of the half while OU nailed 3 treys in that time to tie the game at halftime.

So, the second half starts tied.  It's a battle.  The first 10 minutes are what you expect of a MAC game...close score, tough possessions, leading by one possession or so.  With 9 minutes or so left, BG was up 3.  Then, the Falcons took the game over.  Lillard 3, Sierra steal from Carter, Lillard 3, BG stop, teams trade stops, Frye 3, BG stop, UJU fastbreak layup.  In 2:30, BG goes 11-0 and up 14.  And, 14 points was as close as it ever got, as BG closed the deal and got the lead as high as 20 and won by 18.

First, the game was played at a slow pace for BG, at 68 possessions per game.  So, you need to filter all the game stats with that knowledge.  BG had a very good offensive game, scoring 1.21 points per possession.  That's second best this year, and BG had that efficiency only one in a MAC game last year.  It isn't hard to tell why.  BG's shooting equalled its shooting against Green Bay for season-best...BG was 57% from 2FG and 48% from 3.  They only shot better in one MAC game last year.

BG held OU to .93 points per possessions, which is a little more than at Kent but a winnable total.  BG is 15-1 over the last two years when opponents score .93 points per possession.  OU had average shooting, with 50% on 2 FG and 35% on 3FG.  Their turnovers weren't too bad.  However, much of their game has been built on offensive rebounds and getting to the line, and you can see here BG allowed neither to happen.  OU shot only 4 FTs, while BG was 9 of 11.

Individually, as noted, this was the night when the reserves ruled the floor, more or less.

Except Justin Turner.  Turner had kind of a quiet 20, 7 of 13 shooting and 2 of 4 from 3FG.  Also 3 assists and 2 steals.

Micheal Laster had 15 points.  He's a JUCO player who really seems to be finding his form at the point.  He shot 5 of 8 and 2 of 2, added 4 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers.  Todd Walker says it is 18 assists over 2 TOs in the last 5 games.

Antwon Lillard is hot.  He scored 13 on 5 of 8 and 3 of 5 shooting.

Dylan Frye also had 13, on 5 of 9 and 2 of 5 shooting.  He had 4 assists and 1 steal over 3 TOs.

Jeffrey Uju played a fantastic game filling in while Wiggins was ineffective.  He had 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting (5 of 5 from 2FG) and a team-high 6 rebounds.

Marlon Sierra didn't do a ton with the numbers, but he also played a huge role in the win.  In the second half, he guarded Jason Carter, who torched BG in the first half.  He had 14 first half points on 5 of 9 shooting and 4 of 4 from beyond the arc.  In the second, he shot 3 of 8 and 1 of 3 and looked exhausted when the game ended.  Exhausted.  That's going to go on tape and I think you will see teams try to make him work like Sierra did, because OU runs through him.  BG outscored them 52-33 in the second half, partly on Sierra's back.

Lastly, Daeqwon Plowden found his way onto ESPN with another poster block...

OK. We might have something here. One thing at a time. CMU is next in Mt. Pleasant, at 2-0 in MAC play.

Briggs on Huger

So, David Briggs has a nice column about Coach Huger today...kind of laying out his view that it is now or never for Huger.

Certainly, I think everyone felt like it was time to start seeing some things moving forward.  In a fourth season, you wanted to see the team be at least competitive...and, as Briggs notes, that isn't what it looked like after Cleveland State blew the Falcons out earlier in the year.

I'm certainly not looking for Huger to go.  The last thing we need to do is reboot again.  Best thing for the program is for Huger to deliver a program that competes every year.  Having said that, you can only move forward with that plan credibly if you are getting some proof of performance.

The last two games are certainly nice payments on that promise, but the deal is not done yet.

One quibble with Briggs.  He refers to the Chris Kingston "reign of error" which is funny, but I'm not sure it's fair as it goes for the Huger 6-year deal.  Most deals are 5 years, I understand that.  But whcn Huger came in, the program was in peril.  You didn't know how many guys you were bringing back and it was possible that it might be next to none of them.  Like, the 2010 4-28 UT season was in reach for the next year.

Given that, I think it can be argued that you give Huger that year in addition, because at the time he was standing at the podium, he could well have been inheriting an empty locker room.

Monday, January 07, 2019

OU Preview

All right, then.  OU comes to the Stroh Tuesday.  BG raised the stakes, in a big way, with a 22-point road win at Kent.  A 2-point road win would have been a statement.

Also, BG is on a streak they have not seen in a long time.  It has been 60 years since a streak of double-digit wins this long.  BG is 6-0 at home this year.  This is a tough conference and the team we want to be has to bring it every game like that.

OU is 8-5.  Their best win was over Marshall and their worst loss was South Florida.  They did lost to Purdue and Xavier and have 1 non-D1 win.

They opened with NIU at the Convo.  OU had a big lead in the first half and then NIU rallied and OU had to resort to some magical Xs and Os to send the game to OT, but NIU was clearly better in the overtime and won 72-66.

NIU is decent (#5 in MAC based on kenpom), but you don't want to lose that game at home, especially when you had a big lead in the first half.

OU has won 3 of the last 4 at the Stroh.  The last ten have been split evenly.

OU plays at a fast pace, event faster than BG.  Overall, they are struggling on offense.  That's the #291 ranked offense you see there.  Worst in the MAC.  They are, however, really good on defense--#3 in MAC and #79 in the country.  BG hasn't played a team that plays above average defense since the VCU game, so that will be interesting to see.

Looking at OU on offense first, their issue is in the first two factors.  They are poor at shooting and even worse at turning the ball over.  They don't try many 3s, which is good, because they are #318 at making them.  Their 2FG is 51.9%, which is OK but not good enough carry the offense.  This looks a little bit like a Louis Orr line.  Also, BG is #22 in the nation at defending the 2 FG.

They are good on the boards and at getting to the line, although their FT shooting is almost as bad as BG's.  In short, this appears to be a match-up that is good for BG.

On the defensive side, OU builds their defensive with all-around strength, not strength in any one area.  They are average defending the shot and forcing turnovers.  They are really good on the defensive boards...better than BG...and keep teams off the line at an average rate.  They are also pretty much average defending the 2FG and 3FG.  Honestly, I feel like their getting a better overall defensive output than you would expect, given these numbers.  They allowed .96 to NIU, right about their season average.

Their leading scorer is Jason Carter, at 17.3 PPG.  He's a 50% FG shooter and 6.8 rebounds per game.  He was all-Freshman two years ago and then missed almost all of last season with an injury.  He's 6'8 and just a really good player.

Next is Kirk Teyvion, scoring 16.4 PPG, a 46% FG shooting and 6.5 RPG.  He has 22 steals this year.  One downside to his game...I watched the NIU game and he's an awful FT shooter.  He's 6'4" and was all-Freshmen last year.

Their other double figure scorer is Ben Vander Plas, a 6'8" Euro-style F from Wisconsin.  He was redshirted last year due to an injury.  He is scoring 10.5 per game on 37% 3FG shooting.  He has by far their most attempts. 

Their leading rebounder is Doug Taylor at 8.8 per game.  He's a 6'9 Sr.

They are a relatively young team.

BG has played well at home, and you just want to see this be a W.  I hope we have a nice crowd and reward them with a nice home win and a 2-0 MAC start.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

BG MBB Changes Conversation

One night in Kent, and it's a whole new way of looking at the season.  Of all the things I expected to see, I did not expect to see what actually happened.  BG had been playing well against poor opposition at home, but their last road games had been so bad, you just didn't know if they were going to be able to compete at Kent, a team with 2 P5 wins.  Maybe they could win.  You certainly didn't even imagine winning by 22.

And yet, that's what happened.  It was highly enjoyable.  I spent the entire game afraid to jinx the success BG was having.  But whereas in other situations BG has taken a big lead only to end up in a close game, the Falcons closed this one out.  BG outplayed a good Kent team for 40 minutes in their gym, and now they have to be viewed seriously in the MAC.

Of course, there's a game Tuesday, right?  Coach Huger said you could enjoy it on the road trip home, but you need to be back at work on Sunday morning.  And I don't say that in a "what have you done for me lately" sense.  I mean it to say that teams competing to be in the top of this conference string games like that together.

I am looking VERY forward to Tuesday.  Cannot wait.

Post-game, Coach Huger was obviously very happy.  Kent is a proven offensive producer and my preview said BG needed to defend really well to compete...not a genius observation, I know.  And they did.  BG played solid defense, Kent was off their rhythm and missed some open shots, BG managed Jaylin Walker.  Coach said BG played well for 40 minutes, kept the pressure on Kent.

It's probably the best game the Falcons have played since Coach Huger came back.

To get the magnitude of the win, let's see some quotes from Coach Senderhoff in the Record-Courier.

This is the worst loss I can remember being a part of, said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. We weren’t ready. That’s on me. We’ve got to get better. That’s the bottom line. 
...We’re not 11-2 anymore.  To me it was just a bad overall effort. That falls on my shoulders. I’ve got to do a better job getting us understanding what this conference is about. We’ve got to move on.

All right then.  When you're getting quotes like that out of your opponent, it had to be a good night.

BG went up 7-0 in 1:11.  For the last 24 minutes of the game, the lead was never within 10.  BG led by 14 at halftime and led by as much as 25 points in the 2nd half.  BG completely and totally outplayed Kent.  It was a night to remember.

BG had 1.17 points per possession, which is a monster game.  They eclipsed that total only once last year in MAC play, and that was against WMU.  They allowed .87 points per possession, a total they bettered only twice last year in MAC play.  And the two things came together on the same night.

Let's start with the defense.  As noted, Kent is a proficient 3FG shooting team.  They were the #83 team in the nation in offense, and #53 in 3FG shooting.  Against BG, they shot 29%.  They shot 47% from 2FG, which is below their already below-average track record.  They have been very good at taking care of the ball, but had a season high 22% turnovers against BG.  They are a good offensive rebounding team and they did well there.  Lastly, though, they came in very good at getting to the line and yet shot only 11 FTs against the Falcons.

I don't have data for this, but my observation is that BG is just much better on offense off a stop.  Even if there's no transition and we end up in a half court set, BG just seems to be more effective on offense off a defensive rebound or turnover.  BG had a great game on offense.  BG shot 55% from 2FG and 41% from 3FG.  Since the Cleveland State debacle, BG has shot at least D1 average in every game and usually better.

BG did have some turnover issues but was strong on the defensive boards.  The Falcons also only shot 11 FTs.

Individually, as you would expect, BG got contributions up and down the line.

Justin Turner is a beast.  Straight up.  As good a player as we have had here in a long time.  He scored 20 for the 8th time this year.  That's the most in the MAC.  And he doesn't do it pouring shots up.  He was 9 of 14 and 2-2 shooting, if that's something you might be interested in.  Also, 5 assists and 1 turnover.  He also did the majority of guarding on Jaylin Walker, who was essentially reduced to a non-factor.

Demajeo Wiggins, (or Demajo if you work on the Kent broadcast), had another big game.  He scored 19 on 8 of 14 shooting and 14 rebounds.  He made 3 of 4 from the line and SHOT A TECHNICAL FOUL for BG.  He's tied for first in double-doubles in the nation.  It is interesting.  He definitely impacts defensive spacing and sometimes does it without getting the ball.  Seems so much more effective than when BG used to force the ball into (for example) Calhoun, and then try to work off that.  Anyway, Wiggins is having a special year.

Dylan Frye?  Yes, Dylan is still struggling with his shot.  He had 12 on 4 of 13 and 2 of 7 shooting.  But the 2 3FGs he did make extended runs and he also had 4 assists and 2 turnovers, and he's on the court for all the defense, too.

Antwon Lillard is coming off the bench now and he's been super productive the last couple games.  He scored 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 3 of 4 shooting.  In 21 minutes.

Who else?  Michael Laster has 14 assists and 2 TOs over his last 4 games.  Coach said after the game that he's learning he doesn't have to shoot and score.  THIS TEAM needs him to distribute the ball and he's doing a great job.  In this game, he had 5 assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes.

Marlon Sierra?  Played 11 minutes, 2-3 and 1-1 shooting.  Solid presence.

Daeqwon Plowen had 4 points, 5 rebounds and a monster block and also just was a solid presence.  Similarly, Caleb Fields is still finding his shot as a true FR, but when's he's out there he's moving and moving the ball quickly.  He isn't afraid to shoot.  And, obviously, both of these guys were part of the big team D BG played.

Look.  I have a full and happy life.  I am blessed.  But it is crazy how good it makes me feel when my team plays like they did yesterday.  See you Tuesday.  Let's get people to the game.