Thursday, January 30, 2020

UB Preview

On and on it goes.  BG will reach the half-way point of the MAC season at Buffalo on ESPNU Friday night.

The last time we saw the Bulls, we were in the Q.  The Bulls were celebrating--as well they should have.  They were on their way to the Big Dance for the fourth time in five years, where they would be a #6 seed, the highest for a MAC team in the 64-team era.

On the other side, BG had nearly broken its 50+ year tournament drought.  Nearly.

BG had almost everyone return from that night.  Not so, the UB Bulls.  First, Nate Oats, two-time Coach of the Year, headed to Alabama.  Then, as expected, they lost:

CJ Massinburg, MAC POY
Dontay Caruthers, the MAC Defensive POY
Nick Perkins, MAC 6-man of the year
Jeremy Harris, MAC Tournament MVP
Montrel McRae, started every game.

That's 72% of their scoring.  They had a highly prized set of JUCO recruits coming in to reload, but those guys flew the coop after Oats left.  After searching for a while, they named Jim Whitesell, an Oats assistant and former Loyola IL coach, to the head job.

They return both of their starting guards, and then had two players who were sitting out at transfers.

They are 14-7 this year.  They won @DePaul and at home over St. Bonaventure, but they also lost at home to Army and at Vanderbilt.  They are #139 in kenpom.

They are 5-3 in the MAC.  They are 2-2 at home, beating WMU and OU and losing to NIU and Kent.  They are 3-1 on the road, beating Miami, CMU and Akron, the last two representing a pretty big win.

UB has won 11 of the last 12 against BG, with the win being last year's thriller at the Stroh.  BG's last win in Buffalo was in 2011 in OT.

Here's the thing.  This isn't the UB team we saw over the past five years, but they are still a solid team and in this year's MAC they are capable of winning the tournament.

They are #6 in the MAC in offense and defense.  Meahwhile, BG is #5 in offense and #8 in defense.  This has the makings of a pretty decent game on both sides of the ball.

First, UB plays at a MAC-highest 74 possessions per game.  BG has been battling with some of the slower-paced teams in the MAC, so it will be interesting to see if they can adapt to a running game, which they claim to be more their speed.

UB's shooting overall is #8 in the MAC.  However, they take good care of the ball...and BG creates a league-worst turnover rate...and UB leads the MAC in offensive rebounding.   That should be intersting, as BG is #2 on its own defensive boards.  UB is last getting to the FT line and 8th in FT shooting.  BG gives up a lot of FTs.

UB makes 51% of the 2FGs, which is 3rd in the MAC.  They make 30% of their 3FGs, which is 11th.  These numbers are similar to Ball State, but UB seems to compensate with a 2FG-heavy shot mix.

On other side, BG has the same story they have all year.  BG is 9th in shooting in the MAC.  If they started to make shots, they'd be dangerous.  The Bulls are 5th in the MAC in defending the 3FG.

But BG takes great care of the ball--UB is 6th at forcing  them, that should be intersting.  UB is good on the defensive boards and they don't give up FTs.  

They have four double figure scorers.  Jayvon Graves is scoring a very rough 15 PPG, shooting 38% and 27%.  He's a returning starter from last year's club.  Jeenathan Williams--a FR reserve last year--scored 14 PPG, shooting 44% and 27%, which is also not great.  Antwain Johnson, a Sr. transfer from Middle Tennessee State who sat out last year is scoring is scoring 11.6 PPG on 49% and 29% 3FG.  Returning starter Davonta Jordan is scoring 10.6 on 41% and 26% shooting and 5.4 assists per game, 3rd in the MAC.

Their big man was Josh Mballa, a Texas Tech transfer who played against UB in the NCAAs last year and was immediately eligible this year.  He's scoring 9.4 with 9.8 RPG and 54% shooting.

And on we go.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

BG Wins 7th Straight

And that's 7 in a row.

That's the longest winning streak in MAC play since 1980--I mean 1980!!--which was the year BG made the first MAC Final at Crisler Arena.  They lost to UT.

Anyway, this was a good one to get.  Ball State is a tough team to score on, they are in the top echelon of the conference and we were coming off the big UT win...this was one that was set up to be trouble.  It also turned out to be trouble some of the way, too, but in the end BG got the job done and now sits alone in first place.

It's been a great month of basketball.  I love this team.  

Ball State bolted out to a 12-2 lead.  Then midway through the half, BG picked it up.  The lead was down to 2 with 5 mintues left than BG went on a 15-6 run to close the half leading by 11.

If anyone was feeling like that was the end of the story, they were mistaken.  BSU had the lead down to 2 in just over 3 minutes.  With 13:00 left, Ball State had tied the game and then they took the lead. They held the lead until there was 3:40 left.

They were up 2 with the ball.

Let's pause here and add an interesting fact.  Justin Thomas  (should have had more coffee) Turner has 7 points...he's struggled all night to make shots.  Just file that away.

BG gets a stop and on the other end Turner (10 points) drains a 3FG.  BG they will for the remainder of the game, 3:08 to play.

Dylan Frye got a steal on the other end and Turner (12 points) came down and hit a jumper.  BG up by 3 with 2:28 to play.

Daeqwon Plowden got a steal and Turner came down and hit a 3FG (15 points) and BG was up 6 with 2:02 to play.

BS missed a 3FG and the rebound went out of bounds.  BG came down the floor and Justin Turner (17 points) hit a jumper to go up 8 with 1:23 left.

BG didn't have its greatest last minute, missing some FTs and a turnover and aided by the fact that Marreon Jackson doesn't play for Ball State, but Turner hit 3 FTs (20 points) and the Falcons closed the door, 67-61.

The story of the game wasn't all Justin Turner--more to come--but MAN.  He stunk the place up for most of the game...but he didn't get discouraged or frustrated...he just rallied and took the game over in the decisive minutes.  It was something to see.  And it was a win.

It was a defensive struggle, meaning Ball State was able to get the game into a grind the way they want.  The preview had noted that Ball State had trouble scoring but was very good on the defensive end.  Both were true...defense first, they held BG to .95 points per possession.  They are a very active defense.  They doubled off screens, helped effectively and made life difficult for BG's shooters.  BG shot 37% from 2FG and 36% from 3FG...the latter number saving their bacon, but still a tough shooting night.

Not as tough as Ball State's though.  They shot 46% on 2FG and 19% on 2FGs and they tried 40% of their FG attempts as 3s.  (I'm not sure I understand why they have continually played this way).  That's the lowest shooting percentage for any BG opponent this year.

Turnovers are interesting.  BG continues to lead the country in lowest turnover percentage, but they force so few on the other end that in the last couple games BG is actually losing possessions on turnovers.  They are last in the MAC and 284th on forcing turnovers.  BSU came with turnover problems.  They had 7 turnovers...but two were in the decisive minutes.

Nobody did any offensive rebounding.  BG was greatly aided as BSU went 10-20 from the FT line--in fact, this is maybe the key factor in the game.  BG was 15 of 19 from the line, with 3 of the last 4 misses in the last minute.

Besides the Turner heroics, BG's Trey Diggs was phenomenal and kept the Falcons in the game.  Without him, the last 3 minutes are garbage time.  He scored 25 points, shooting 3 of 4 from 2FG and 5 of 8 from 3FG.  He was 4-5 at the line and added 6 rebounds.

Turner had the 20 already mentioned, plus 6 rebounds.  Plowden struggled with his shot but added 15 rebounds.  They covered Frye, but he didn't force it and added 6 assists and no turnovers.

So, that's 7-1.  BG has 4 home games left and 6 road games.  They play @UB on Friday night on national cable and then @ CMU on Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

New Football Verbal...

BG has landed a 2020 football verbal, and it is an interesting guy.  His name is Gabe Brown, and he's a guard from East Kentwood, MI.  The interesting part is that he has only been playing football for one year.  Before that, he was being recruited as a baseball player.  He had offers from WMU and BG, along with what 247 said were "numerous offers from other schools and preferred walk-on opportunities with Power 5 programs."

He's 6'4" and 300 pounds, so that obviously helps, but it certainly appears that he showed ability and athleticism in that one year.

Welcome to the Falcons, Gabe.

Monday, January 27, 2020

And the beat goes on....

The big challenge now is to refocus after the big signature road win and make sure you don't turn it back with a home loss.  This is the test of winning the MAC Championship (or any conference).  You gotta keep coming up with wins.

Ball State is next.  They are 11-8 with 1 non-d1 win, with a good win at Georgia Tech and a bad loss at home to Western Illinois.  Their kenpom is 106.  They are 4-2 in MAC play, with home wins over UT, UB and Miami and a road win over EMU.  Their losses are @ Akron and @CMU...two of the higher teams right now.  They are 1-2 in the MAC on the road this year.

The series has been in BGs favor.  They have beaten BSU 8 of the last 10 meetings.  BG last lost at home to BSU in 2016 and before that you have to go back to 2004.

Here's the thing about Ball State.  This is the best defensive team in the MAC and one of the top 50 in the country.  BG is third in the MAC in offense, so that's the battle worth watching.  Meanwhile, BSU is 10th in offense and BG is 8th in defense...which is a battle of a different kind.  Still, BG has won only 3 games at .91 over the past three years, and they'll need to score higher than that to get the win.

First, the not-so-good matchup.  BSU isn't a poor shooting team, ending up about 5th in the MAC.  However, they turn the ball over a lot and don't do much on the offensive boards and they don't get to the line very much.  Now, interestingly, while BG leads the MAC (and D1) in turnover percentage, they are last in turnover percentage on defense, meaning they're not actually netting any additional possessions right now.

Ball State is the best 2FG shooting team in the MAC but 8th in 3FG.  However, they try 3FGs on a higher percentage of the FGs than any other team in the conference.  As noted, they don't get to the line that much and they are 9th in FT shooting.

On the side, you get a good matchup.  BG is 8th in FG shooting--though much better in the last game--and Ball State is 2nd defending the shot.  They are #2 against 2FGs and #3 against 3FGs.

As you can see, BG has made its bones with OK shooting and very good ball handling.  BSU is #3 in forcing turnovers and #3 in live ball turnovers, so that's something to watch.  They lead the MAC in defensive rebounding--and BG is #2 on the offensive boards.  They don't allow a lot of FTs and BG doesn't get to the line much.  Again, this will match two teams that are used to success.

One last note...BG has tended so far to have its best shooting games so far this year on the road.  Let's hope that turns around.

They are led by Tahjal Teague, an all-MAC quality player.  He's scoring 17 a game on 52% shooting overall, 11 RPG and over 2 blocks a game.  He's a high-quality player.  Ishmael El-Amin, a 6'1" JR G is scoring 13 PPG on 44% overall and 44% from 3FG. Kyle Mallers is scoring 10 PPG on 35% shooting overall and 34% from 3FG.  Jarron Coleman leads the team with 19 assists but 23 turnovers, as BSU recovers from losing all-MAC Tayler Persons.

A real test for BG.  A good opponent on a perfect chance for a letdown.  Like everything else, this is a test of its own kind.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sweet Victory

I'll tell you can watch a lot of sports and there isn't much better than that.  It's just crazy how good something like last night can make you feel.  Coach talked about it in the post-game...even said he was a little tired of being asked about beating Toledo.  It's part of the coach at BG, your fan base, the one that's here year after year, coach after coach, wants to beat Toledo.  Good on ya, David Briggs said today, enjoy the silence.

It was a great night.  You can't ask for more.  Savage Arena was jammed to the rafters.  The place was rocking.  And it was a great game....well played on both ends, big plays on both ends, very few turnovers, made shots, a closely-fought was a great night to be a college basketball fan.  And a great night to be a Falcon fan.

So sweet to walk out of that place with a win.  So, so sweet.  The last time had been nine years to the day, and that was against a 4-28 Rocket team still swimming out from the Gene Cross mess.  This was a win that makes a statement.  We were looking for a win that showed a championship team and we got it at Savage Hall last night.

That's six straight and a tie for first place with Akron.  Long way to go...but we've seen the level of play that we haven't seen since the UC game.

BG broke out to a quick 6-point lead and then UT brought it back.  From there it was a one-possession game for quite a while.  BG went up 6 again with 3:45 left but then the Rockets rallied and had a one-point lead with :50 left.

And then one of those happened that happens in college basketball.  BG had Davin Ziegler in the game.  He had not played in any of the MAC games to date.  In the last :50, he drove into the paint and hit a jumper and then after a stop he hit a contested 3FG buzzer beat to end the half with BG having a 4-point lead.  I just think it's a big difference compared to sending UT into the locker room with the lead after trailing most of the half.

Coach says he works before practice with Zeigler and Turner to help them develop their skills when they aren't playing.  He said they work on that exact play...just crazy how things work out.

UT did not lead in the second half.  It was only tied once.  BG was in the lead the rest of the time.

With 11 minutes left, BG led by 8.  With 9 minutes left, BG was up 4...the game wasn't closer than that until there was :14 left.  That's hard to believe if you were in the arena--because you aren't going to relax until there are zeros on the clock.  But BG was in control of the game for most of the second half.

BG mixed in some 8-point leads and got it to 10 with 6:21 left.  With 2:42 left, BG's lead was cut to 6 and BG had the ball.  The teams traded stops and then with 1:42 left, Justin Turner hit a crowd-shooshing dagger 3FG to put the Falcons up by 9 points.  BG got another stop and then Turner was fouled and he split two FTs to go up 10 with 1:19 left.

Do I feel good?  I do not.  I am don't want to lose it now.

BG had a poor sequence, fouling UT (made 2 FTs, lead to 8) and then committed a turnover (the one thing you can't do) and Willie Jackson was fouled and, fortunately for BG, again split the pair.  Still the lead was 7 with 1:00 left.

UT fouled Dylan and he missed the front end of the 1-1.  UT was down the court and Marreon Jackson was lining himself up for a short jumper and Caleb Fields blocked the shot from behind, a play I suspect fans have forgotten about this morning, but it was a huge play.  Turner was fouled and missed both shots (ugh!) and Knapke hit a jumper to get it back to 5 with :32 to play.

UT fouled Caleb Fields and things stabilized on the line.  Fields hit them both to go up 7.  Marreon hit a 3FG to make it 4 with :23 left.  They fouled Fields and he drained them both again to make it 5.    With :14 left, Marreon hit another 3 to make it a 3-point lead.  One possession.


They fouled Fields again and with :13 left he hit two more.  That's six straight in the final minute on the road in front of a howling crowd.  And a blocked shot.  If that's something you might be interested in.

I say that because Jackson was lining up for a 3FG and Fields fouled him on the close out and Jackson had 3 FTs with :08 left.  He missed the first two, made only the last, BG cleared the boards and Frye hit 2 FTs to make it 85-79 for the final.

Sweet, sweet victory.  How's that taste, Rocky?

In the preview, I emphasized that BG needed to start making shots to win games like this.  And they did...because this wasn't a defensive struggle and BG made the shots it needed to.  The game was played at 70 possessions, which is relatively normal. BG had 1.22 points per possession, their 2nd best game of the year on offense, beaten only by the OU game.  (Both on the road).

BG allowed 1.13 points per possession, their second worst game of the season...the only worst one was OU.

The difference was UT is one of the better offensive teams in the MAC.  They are going to get their points.  OU is 7th.

Anyway, BG did make shots.  They were 45% from 2FG and 52% from 3FG, whereas UT was 46% from 2FG and 36% from 3FG.  Both teams took great care of the ball.  BG had an average night on the offensive boards and UT rarely crashed them at all, preferring to get back and control the transition game.  BG shot more FTs and did pretty well, making 18 of 26 but UT made 19 of 23, with two of the four misses coming with :08 left.

Individually, before we look at the BG guys, let's look at Marreon Jackson.  Coach called him a "beast" after the game.  This kid is a player.  He scored 27 on 7 of 18 and 4 of 11 shooting with 5 rebounds and 6 assists.  Hit two clutch 3FGs and those two FTs he missed at the end were the only ones he missed all day.  He's guy you want on your side.

For BG, Dylan Frye led the way with 22 points.  He's been in a shooting slump, but he knows he has to keep shooting.  He was 6 of 14 overall, 3 of 5 from 3FG, 7 of 10 at the line and 6 assists over 1 turnover.  If you might be interested in that.

Justin Turner came alive after a slow start.  He had 20 on 7 of 15 shooting and 1 of 2 from 3FG...that one being the silencer.  Daeqwon Plowden--the best player in the MAC most people have never heard of--double-doubled at 12 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 5 of 8 overall and 2 of 4 from 3FG.  Caleb Fields had 11 points and the clutch 6 FTs in the last minute.

One bench player with a significant contribution was Matiss Kulakovsis.  BG was having trouble with Knapke.  He was able to score on Mattos and go right over Sierra.  Matiss came in and played the post and kept Knapke contained, making shots difficult for him and playing a huge role in holding the BG lead.

Laster had 3 assists in 14 minutes.  And Ziegler, 5 points in 3 minutes.

That's the tale.  Sweet victory indeed.  Next up is Ball State at home.  Need to keep the focus on and protect home court.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Hated Rocket Preview

One of two with the hated Rockets, this first one at Savage Hall.  The next couple weeks will tell us a lot, as would a BG road win in this venue.  We shall see.

The Rockets had high expectations this year...not as high as BG, but high.  They were 8-2 at one point, then had a five-game losing streak, including two MAC games (both away) to be 8-7.  Since then, they have won 3 out of 4, beating WMU and losing to CMU at Savage and then winning at Akron and OU.  The Akron win was big.  No one else has come close to the Zips this year.

They are playing well now and, as noted in the latest Briggs column, have as good a chance as anyone in a wide-open MAC.  They also have a long NCAA drought...not as long as BG, but long.  It's a solid program and Kowalczyk can coach.

The series is trending wrong.  UT has won 9 of the last 10, with the one exception being that OT classic at the Stroh a couple years ago with the Zack Denny shot.

They are scoring the ball.  In MAC play, they are second in offensive efficiency at 1.09 points per possession.  As you can see, their defense is not great (1.07) which is 10th.  BG is at 1.04 going both ways, reflecting the very close games they have played.  This will be a battle on both ends for the Falcons.  They will need to get UT below 1.09 a possession (would be my guess) but BG has to start to make more shots.  More on that.

Defense will be the first and foremost challenge for BG.  BG is 5th in the MAC in defending the shot and 4th on the boards. We don't force many turnovers--and UT is pretty good at protecting the ball.  The key is going to be to defend the shot.  The Rockets are 3rd in 3FG attempt rate in the MAC and they are 3rd at making them.  They are OK (7th) on 2FGs.  BG is 4th in the MAC in defending the 3FG.  This is the best offensive team BG has played since they were in the Virgin Islands.  If they force misses and clear the board, they have a shot to win.

So, on the other side, BG has been excellent at taking care of the ball and good on the offensive boards.  They are just not making enough shots.  UT is 9th defending the shot...but BG is 10th shooting the 3FG and 4th in making 2FG.  BG should be better on 3FGs than that (I don't think anyone doubts that) and this is the opportunity to start to turn that around to win a game like this.

UT is led by Marreon Jackson, the MAC's leading scorer.  He's getting 22.7 PPG, shooting a wicked 47% overall and 46% from 3FG and 6 assists in MAC play, which is 2nd in the conference.  This is a MAC POY-type player.

Luke Knapke is scoring 15 PPG and adding 7 RPG.  He's shooting 47%.  Willie Jackson is scoring 14 ppg on 53% shooting and 13 RPG, leading the MAC.  He's only 6'6", Missouri transfer.

This is the big show...the kind of game championship teams win.  I'll be there, hoping to get a win over the hated Rockets.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

BG MBB Squeaks By Eagles

BG MBB picked up their fifth straight win last night over EMU, 62-59.  BG goes to 5-1 in the MAC and EMU remains winless at 0-6.  BG is still tied for first place, one-third through the MAC season.

Things are set to become a little more real.  BG has had 4 of their first 6 at home and has played, statistically, the weakest schedule in the MAC to date.

On one hand, I remember hearing an interview with Sammy Sosa during the year of the HR chase and he said some people said he was hitting cheap homers in Wrigley Field.

He said:  "I hope I hit a cheap one every day."

Winning is winning.  When you looked at the schedule before it started, you knew you needed to be at least 5-1 coming out of the stretch and we are.

Even so, every game has been a nail biter.  You don't get the sense that BG has played a championship game yet.  And, in Sosa terms, the fences are moving back.  BG has 7 of the last 12 on the road and against more successful teams.  I believe they're going to need to be more effective to consistently win.

For example, Coach said that EMU's defense makes it hard to get things going. Well, 4 of their 6 opponents scored better against them than we did and the other current top teams in the MAC beat them easily...Akron (24) and Ball State (17).

Or, as Coach was quoted in The Blade, "until you can really hit a stride and play well, and everybody is playing well for 40 minutes, you have to figure out a way to win the game."

Which is true...but I think BG also needs to hit a stride.

The first half was pretty even, though probably slightly favoring the Eagles on points.  They went up 8 but BG rallied and the game was tied at halftime.

BG scored the first 8 points of the half and led by 10 with around 11 minutes left to play.  EMU scored the next 8 points (over 4 minutes!) to get the game to even.  BG then fouled Marcus Gibbs shooting a 3FG--Gibbs had not scored all season and played only 9 minutes--and then Gibbs hit 2 of the 3 FTs to give EMU the lead with about 3 minutes to play.

BG then closed the way they have been.  Turner hit a jumper to go up 1 with 2:40.  BG got a couple stops before Plowden hit a jumper to go up 2 and make the lead 3 with 1:27.  Then, Gibbs (again!) got himself a hoop and an and-one chance.  He missed the chance to tie the game.

Turner hit a layup next time down (+3) and Frye poked the ball away from their big man from the blind side and Turner was fouled and he made both FTs to make it +5 with :18 left.  BG got another stop and it was over.  EMU hit a late 2FG to make it 3 points final.

For the game, BG had .87 points per possession, their second worst offensive game of the season, with only KSU being worse.  BG shot 43% from 2FG and 29% from 3FG...more or less what they shot against NIU.  What you see here is what happens when you shoot like that and don't get 40% of the offensive boards and to the line a lot.

Meanwhile, EMU shot 61% from FG but only 13% from 3FG.  They didn't do a thing on the offensive boards.  To help their cause, they got to the line quite a bit, but made only 13 of 20.  Meanwhile, they turned the ball over 19 times, probably costing themselves the game.

Individually, Justin Turner was certainly back from his cold game against NIU.  He was 6 of 12 from 2FG and 3 of 6 from 3 FG, 4-4 from the line and added 7 rebounds.

Daeqwon Plowden had a night, too.  First, he had a SC Top ten dunk that has been all over the web.  It was an amazing play.  He scored 17 on 7 of 13 from 2FG and 0-2 from 3FG to go with 9 rebounds.

Coach said that Plowden is an NBA wing roaming around the court.  No doubt, he's made incredible progress, it has been great to watch.

Dylan Frye is struggling.  He was 2-9 from 3FG and is 5-22 for these last 3 games.  He has 4 assists and 7 turnovers over the last 2 games.  It happens.  I felt like he maybe forced a shot or two, but in general they just aren't falling.  With him doing what he can, BG has three very good players and a capable bench.

Mattos had 5 rebounds but only 2-6 from the field.  BG had real trouble with Toure in the post, something they will need to fix before Luke Knapke is across from them.

So, at 5-1 BG has @UT, Ball State, @UB and @CMU.  This is a tough stretch.  We will learn a lot.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Winless Eagles Come to Stroh

Next up, the EMU Eagles.  This team is an interesting picture of what can happen in today's college basketball.  Here are the players EMU expected to lose last year...three really good players, in fact.  Be a problem on its own...

James Thomson IV  All-MAC
Elijah Minnie All-MAC HM
Paul Jackson, 14 PPG
Isiah Green

Then, on top of it, they lost five more players to transfer

Daivon Stephens and Tariq Silvers, transfer to Tallahassee Community College
Malik Ellison, transfer to Saginaw Valley State
Bud Jones, St. Thomas University
Kevin McAdoo, Bradley

So that's 9 scholarships Rob Murphy had to fill for this year.  That's also nearly impossible.  By definition, a lot of transfers happen after signing day...when the top players, even JUCO players, have already chosen a home.

It's just unbelievable...9 new players.  They have 10 players who started their career at another college or JUCO.  It's just a brutal way to go.

They are 10-8 with 4 non-D1 wins.  Their kenpom is 226.  Their best win is a good one, @ North Texas (#86).  They have lost their first 5 MAC games and their last 7 D1 games.  They have not won a D1 game since December 17.

BG has won 6 out of the last 10 but only 3 of last 5 at the Stroh.

So, what you get with EMU is a 2-3 zone and a consistently strong defensive unit.  You get that this year, as well.  Their problem is that they are just dreadful on offense--last in the MAC, one of tghe worst in the country.  Look at that spread on the EMU offense/BG defense!  (MAC games only).  The defense is good, 3rd in the MAC and will be a test for BG, which has struggled with this zone.

Starting with the EMU offense, this is just amazing.  EMU is last in the MAC in shooting and in turnovers.  They are last in 2FG% and 3FG%.  They are 11th in FT% and 11th in offensive rebounding.  They are first in getting to the line, but, as noted, don't convert very well.  If BG can hold NIU to .88, they out to be able to get EMU under .9 as well, and have an oustanding shot at winning the game.

The problem is, BG has had some absolutely dreadful, cringe-worthy experiences against zones, especially this one.  Coach said after the last game that BG needs to make shots to beat the zone, something they did not do against NIU and haven't been great at all year.  The Eagles are only 9th in FG defense and actually #10 in 3FG defense.  They are 2nd at forcing turnovers and #3 on the boards, both areas with big differences with what we seen for BG so far.  If BG takes care of the ball and makes shots even at their average, they should be good to go in this one.

One other note.  They lead the MAC in steals, which is a turnover that can yield a transition attempt, unlike a dead-ball turnover.

Still conference games, they are led in scoring by Noah Morgan, a 6'5" JUCO transfer.  He's scoring 13.4 PPG on 44% shooting overall and 33% from 3FG.  He leads the team with 21 of their 80 turnovers.  Yeikson Montero, also a 6'5" JUCO transfer, scoring 10.6 PPG on 36% and 21% shooting.  He leads the MAC in steals.

Two returnees also figure prominently.  Ty Groce (6'8") scores 9.8 on 33% and 32% shooting and 2nd on the team with 5.6 RPG.  He is 2nd in the MAC in steals.

Lastly, big man Boubacar Toure is averaging 9 PPG and 10 RPG...he's #28 in the country in tempo-free defensive rebnoudning.

BG is 4-1 and heads to Toledo on Saturday.  This seems to be an everyone can win in the far, except EMU, but that can change.  BG needs to hold serve on this one at the Stroh.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Falcon MBB wins #4

After the game, Coach said that if you told him BG was going to win and have Frye and Turner shoot a collective 5 of 24 and you'd win the game in MAC play, he would have taken it all day.  That's just what happened--the shooting goes deeper than that, in fact.  BG has won 4 straight MAC games now and getting the W is the key.  And if winning when you aren't playing well is important, so is playing well.  I don't think BG has put together a complete performance in MAC play, but maybe it's that kind of year.  There clearly is no dominant team in the MAC right now.  It might be a dogfight to the end.  My feeling is BG still has to elevate the game to get to the title.

For the first, BG was clearly the stronger team.  About 7 minutes in, BG took the lead and led until haltime, with its largest lead, 9 points, at the break.  The second half was a different kettle of fish.  BG shot 28% in the second half.  The game was down to a one-possession game 3 minutes into the half.  BG maintained the lead, though, even as the margin stayed in the 1-3 point range.  BG popped it up to 6 with 9 minutes left but NIU finally put a modest run together and took the lead with about 6 minutes left, after BG had led for 27 straight minutes.

They only ended up holding the second half lead twice, but the game was tied with 2:06 left.  The two teams traded stops and BG had the ball and called time with 1:10 left.  They ran offense, didn't really find anything and then Laster got the ball to Frye in the corner.  This was right on line with my seat and Frye was behind the backboard when he launched this shot and he'd been cold all night and then in it went.  That took some stones.  BG was up 3.

Down on the other end, German missed a 3FG, Justin Turner got the board and was fouled and made both FTs to make it a 5-point lead with :29 to play.

BG got another 3FG miss from NIU but gave up the board and NIU made the follow and cut the lead to 3 again with :16 left.

BG was in-bounding from its baseline.  They got the ball into Turner, but it was in the corner and the had him trapped and didn't foul and BG called time.  That killed :04.  With :12 left off the TO, BG actually ran a nice play, getting a high pass to Mattos who then fed it to Frye who had looped through traffic and was in the clear.  He got down court and got the clock to :08.  He was fouled, needed one FT, missed the first but made the second after an icing and BG had the win.  NIU hit a buzzer 2 to get to the 66-64 final.

From a stats standpoint, it was an amazing game to win.  BG's EFG was 38.8%--36% on 2FG and 28% on 3FG.  Since 2002, BG has only shot that poorly and won five other times (D1) and only twice in MAC play:

Green Bay 02
Wright State 13
Ohio and EIU 08
UT 06

So, that was unusual.  What was really weird--and what has not happened since at least 2002--is BG shot that poorly and still scored over 1 point per possession...1.02, which is actually above the D1 average for the year.  That's fascinating.

How did it happen?  Three things.

First, BG turned the ball over on only 15% of its possessions, above where they have been but still a good result.

Second, BG got 40% of the available offensive rebounds...against a team that was #50 in the country on their defensive glass.  Those extra shots helped BG score when shooting badly.

Third, BG had a great game at the line.  BG has not excelled getting to the line.  It was only the third game when FTs exceeded 40% of FGA this year.  More importantly, BG made 21 of 24 at the line.

So, that's how BG got to 1-point possession on a dreadful shooting night.

The other thing was defense.  If you have read here, you know that BG's defense has been terrible in the last couple games.  Not so last night at the Stroh.  BG locked down NIU, holding them to .99 per possession, the lowest in MAC play to date.  (Caveat, NIU came in averaging .96 per possession).

They shot 46%, which is 4% below the MAC average, so that was a win.  NIU took good care of the ball but only had poor night on the offensive boards and hardly got to the line at all.  They made 12 of 14, which is good, but it's -9 on FTs compared to the Falcons.

One thing has to be noted.  Eugene German is an all-MAC player, top 25 scorer in the country and NIU's only double-figure scorer on the year.  Caleb Fields spent most of the night on German--Turner did some as well.  Let me assure you, when Eugene German went to sleep last night, he saw Caleb Fields in his dreams.  Fields hounded German everywhere he went.  They would pull German back to the center line.  Fields was there.  Send him to the corner.  Fields was there.  Fields didn't help on anyone.  He guarded German and often denied the ball.  The Huskies tried everything to pop him free, including sending 2 centers out for a double screen.  It was an amazing effort by Fields that should be recognized.

Yet, German got 19, nearly his average.  But, he normally shoots 47% from 2FG, for example, and this time he was 3 of 10.  He was 3 of 9 from 3FG.  Making him use those extra 2-3 possessions to get his points could have been the difference in the game.

Individually, Daeqwon Plowden led the way with an efficient 14 points and 11 rebounds.  He shot 4 of 9 overall but 3 of 6 from 3FG.  Frye had 14 on 4 of 12 and 1 of 5 shooting--yes, the only 3 he made was the one we had to have.  Tayler Mattos continues to improve, scoring 11 on 3 of 5 shooting, 5 of 6 from the line and adding 8 rebounds in 23 minutes.  If that's the kind of thing that might interest you.

Todd Walker on the post-game noted what BG is getting from Michael Laster.  Previous year, he was certainly an effective player but made a lot of risky plays that didn't always work out.  He's rock solid lately.  He's leading the MAC in A/TO and is #19 in the country.  He was 5 over 1 in 16 minutes, include the dime on Frye's dagger-3.

Winless EMU comes in next on Tuesday before the hated Rockets the following Saturday.  BG is in a 3-way tie for first, 5/18 of the way into the year.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Huskies Ride to Town

Next up for BG MBB is a two-game homestand, with NIU and then EMU coming to town.

The Huskies are 9-8 with only 1 non-D1 win.  Their best non-MAC win was Oakland (#205) and they have 5 wins over teams ranked 300 and below, which is an impressive scheduling feat if nothing else.

They opened up MAC play with a surprising win @ UB, lost @ CMU, beat EMU in DeKalb and were smoked by a scalding Akron team at the JAR.  (AK is up to #60 on kenpom.  Their average margin of victory in MAC games is 19 points).

BG beat them twice last year...once in DeKalb and once in the MAC semi-finals after NIU had knocked UT out.  Over their last 10 meetings, the series is 5-5 and 2-2 over the last four games at the Stroh.

Profile-wise, NIU is a good defensive team and a not-good offensive team.  d-1 average is 1 point per possession, so you can see where everybody stands.  BG has struggled on defense quite a bit and if you see the Huskies start scoring at will, you'll know we're struggling again.  Meanwhile, BG has been successful on offense and will be taking on a decent Huskie defense.  It has the makings of an interesting game.

So, struggling offense meets struggling defense...things should look pretty even and they do.  NIU is a poor shooting team--especially against the 2FG, where they make 45%, among the lowest 30 in the country.  BG has been excellent over the year against the 2FG, so that's an opportunity.  For 3FGs, NIU is right on plumb average and BG is #310 defending the 3FG.  They try about the same amount of 3s as BG's previous opponents.

They take OK care of the ball, but are good on the offensive boards. D1 average is 38%.  The last place with a big spread is at FT shooting.  They are #279 at getting to the line and BG is #278 at allowing FTs.  They make only 67%.

On the other side, it's good on good, but still evenly matched.  BG is not a great shooting team, but to the extent the Falcons have relied on 3FGs, NIU is #50 in the country defending the 3.  You're going to need to attack the basket as well.  Maybe that back door play will work like 10 times like it did against NIU.  As has been the case all year, BG makes up for not great shooting by not turning the ball over...they are #1 in the country in turnover percentage.  BG is average on the offensive boards but NIU is #19 on their own defensive boards, which will keep BG from extra possessions if it holds true.  They don't put people on the line and BG doesn't get to the line.

NIU has only one double-figure scorer and he's the MAC's leading scorer...Eugene German at 20 PPG.  He shoots a lot to get there, which you would expect.  He's #25 in the nation in terms of percentage of possessions used.  He's shooting 43% overall, which is nothing special, though he is above average at 35% from 3FG.  He leads the team in assists but has an even A/TO ratio.

Lacey James is a 6'9" Sr.  He's scoring 9 PPG and adding 7.7 rebounds, but his 43% shooting is not very good for a big.

BG needs these early wins and at home they should win this one.  Hopefully. the defense will clamp down on a weak offense and BG will get the win.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Falcon MBB Wins Third Straight

And the second straight on the road...

The Falcons are 3-1 and in a tie for second in the MAC.  Remember, BG is in the softest part of its MAC schedule.  We have statistically played the softest MAC schedule, according to kenpom.

Having said that, you're supposed to beat these teams and BG is winning the games.  The test for a championship team is to translate that to the better teams in the MAC.  BG has faced one--Kent--and had a decidedly bad night.  That's going to need to change when the time comes.

Just to put it in perspective, BG could easily end up at 6-1 following Tuesday's EMU game.  Anything less would be a disappointment.  They will have played 4 home games and 2 away games, so 5 home left and 7 on the road.  After that, Kenpom has BG favored to win only 3 more games--just to illustrate the schedule difference.

So, to get to 12 wins (let's say), you need home wins over EMU, NIU, BSU, UB, UT, OU and a win at Miami.  That's certainly doable.  Bonus opportunities are @UB and @CMU and AK at home.

Anyway, with championship expectations, I would say two things.

1.   You need these early wins badly
2.   This team needs to defend better to win a title.  And there's time to get that done.

BG's two worst defensive games of the season have been the last two.  BG is currently 11th in the MAC in defense and 3rd in offense.  Last year BG finished 6th in defense and 2nd in offense.  That's going to have to adjust itself against better competition moving forward, or BG will have a hard time meeting expectations.  BG's 3 best offensive games have been the last two and Hartford, so BG is scoring with Turner back, but I just feel it will take a more rounded effort to win pressure games.

For this game, WMU led for most of the first 10 minutes.  BG took the lead with 9 minutes left and WMU lead for only :35 the rest of the way.  There's more to the story than that, but BG essentially was in the lead for 29 straight minutes, with leads reaching as high as 10 at 64-54 with about 12 left. 

WMU then went on a 15-5, though, and the game was tied with 8 minutes left.  BG responded well and had the lead back to 9 with 2:51 left to play.  (At that level, the winning team wins 97% of the time, as they did in this case).  Over the next 1:45 or so WMU scored 7 straight points, leaving BG with the ball and a 2-point lead with 1:07 left.

So, the pressure's on.  You don't want to drop this one after having that kind of lead with 3 minutes left.  BG got the ball to Marlon Sierra and he made a shot from the key and drew a blocking foul to make it an and-1.  Hawkins was apoplectic at the call...I watched the replay several times.  The WMU player was moving when the contact happened.  He seemed to be moving sideways, though, which is allowed if he had established legal guarding position, which for my money was a bang-bang call.

Anyway, Sierra hit the FT and BG was up 5 with :40 to play.

You'd like one stop here, one buckle down effort where you seal the game.  Unfortunately, BG couldn't contain Flowers and he hit a layup with :30 to play to make it 3.

Even so, you're in decent shape with the ball.  WMU pressed like crazy and Justin Turner showed some serious handle, basically driving down the sideline against pressure and into the front court before turning back.  They didn't get a foul until :20 left.  WMU needed 3 fouls to get BG into the bonus. 

So, basically, BG has to inbound the ball 3 straight times without a turnover.  We've all sat through some cringe-worthy BG pressure inbounds, but BG made it happen this time and relatively easily.  On the third one, the ball ended up with Sierra as opposed to one of the guards...Coach said after the game he's looking for the guards to work harder to get to the ball in that situation.

Anyway, Sierra missed the FT so WMU had a chance to tie.  Once again, BG did not foul in this situation (because the data indicates that's the better move ;)  ) and Flowers launched a contested 3 with :03 left.  Thankfully, he missed, BG knocked the rebound out and WMU did get a shot off in .7 but missed again and the Falcons had the win.

BG scored 1.15 points per possession and WMU had 1.11 (see discussion above).

Here's what you have.  BG shot well--best of the year.  BG made 56% of 2 FGs and 42% of 3FGs.  As mentioned, WMU also shot well, with 57% from 2FG but only 32% from 3FG.  Turnovers were even as were offensive rebounds.  The other key difference was fouls.  BG had 17 fouls...WMU had only 11 until they had to start fouling at the end.  WMU made 14 of 19 at the line while BG made only 5 of 7...a -9 deficit for BG.

Daeqwon Plowden led the way for BG.  He scored 19 on 8 of 11 shooting and 2 of 3 from distance.  He added 6 rebounds...a good day in any book.  Frye had 16 on 7 of 17 and 2 of 8 shooting, so a relatively rough road to those points.  Justin Turner had 12 on 5 of 13 and 2 of 5 shooting and 7 rebounds.  He was quiet until late.  Coach said after the game that he wants Justin to attack double teams more...said he can be too passive when doubled-team.

Probably the key performance was Marlon Sierra, who scored 12 on 5 of 6 shooting and added 8 rebounds in 21 minutes.  That's just solid and allows BG to go without a true 5 much of the way.

The bench was productive.  Trey Diggs was 3-4 from 3, Laster had 8 assists over 1 TO, and Matiss and Swingle were both productive when they were in there.

Next up is NIU back at home.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Falcon MBB Visit Kalamazoo

BG's weeknight game this week is in Kalamazoo against the WMU Broncos.  They Broncos are 8-8 with a Kenpom of 259, the lowest in the MAC.  That's with 2 non-D1 wins.  Their best win this year was at home against Kent   Ohio (we regret the error), before Youngstown State.  Their worst losses were Seattle and Oakland.  They have had a rougher MAC start than BG, losing at Akron and at UT.

BG is on a nice run against WMU, winning 8 of the last 10 and 4 of 5 in K-zoo.

The Broncos are not good on either side of the ball, though the defense is worse than the offense.

Looking first at how WMU does when they have the ball...the biggest here is shooting.  WMU is #300 in shooting in the country.  They are terrible from 3FG...29%, and despite that they take 3FGs on 40% of the FGA, which is above the D1 average.  They also make only 47% of their 2FG, which is below average.  Lastly, they are poor on the offensive boards.  They do take excellent care of the ball and they do get to the line, which helps their offense be as good as it is.  They are good FT shooters at 72%.

When BG has the ball, they will find a poorly performing WMU defense.  They are #206 in shot defense, which is their best asset.  They are right at the national average defending the 3 and below average defending the 2.  Beyond that, they are among the 60 worst in the country in forcing turnovers, allowing offensive rebounds and allowing other teams to the line.  BG's offense, which is above average, is built on taking care of the ball and decent offensive rebounding.  They need to make 3FGs to score.

Their leading scorer is Jr.Michael Flowers.  He's scoring 17 PPG, but on 44% shooting.  He's an excellent 3FG shooter (42%) and makes 87% at the line.  He's the 2nd leading scorer in the MAC.  Their other double-figure scorer is 6'8" R-Jr F Brandon Johnson.  He had started almost every game in his first two seasons, and then missed last year with injury.  He's scoring 15.1 PPG, shooting 45% and 24%, which is unusually low for a big man.  He also averages 8.4 RPG and 1 block per game.

So based on what we have seen, this is another winnable road game.  WMU is the lowest ranked team in the MAC and don't have anything on the resume that suggests they are better than that.  Having said that, it's a game-by-game thing.  BG doesn't need to do anything special.  If they defend the way they have been and score the way they are capable of, they should win this one.  A 40-minute effort would certainly not be unwelcome.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Road Win!

Dakich used to say that when you grow old as a coach, you remember three things.

  • The day you got married
  • The day your kids were born
  • Road wins

The order depends on who you beat.

And the Falcons picked up that road win Saturday at the Convo, moving to 2-1.  No doubt, it wasn't a flawless performance and no doubt that OU is not a top team in the MAC, but BG needed the win and they got it.

At the beginning, BG was playing very poorly.  The defense was a mess and OU was sinking 3FGs like layups.  It wasn't hot shooting...they had guys wide open with time to gather their shot.  Many of them were little more than warm up shots.  OU led 11-2 and midway through the first half they were up 28-14--the exact same deficit BG faced against Miami.  It never got closer than 7 in the first half.  It was 13 late when Dylan Swingle his an and-on to get it to 10.

The second half was another story and shows how good this team can be when they are on their game.  Early in the half, BG went on a 7-0 run---in one minute--to cut the lead to 3.  With 14 left the game was tied and with 13 left BG had the lead.  It was a close affair for a few minutes, but then Trey Diggs hit a 3FG with 8 left to put BG up 6 and it wasn't a one possession game again.

BG closed out the game the way you need to.  Just inside 4 minutes, BG was up 6 and Dylan Frye drained a 3 after being cold the entire night.  Preston made an and-on to get it back to 6 and Frye nailed another one to make it 9 again with 3 left.  OU got it to 5 with a minute left, they fouled Frye, who had been missing FTs all night but on this one he dropped them both and the lead was 7 again.  He made 2 more to get the final to 83-74.

Here's the way the numbers played out.  BG made 57% of its 2FGs and 33% from 3FG, while OU was 50% on 2FG and 41% on 3FG.  BG won the turnover battle, had its best game of the season on the offensive boards and got to the line more.

How does this add up to a win, if both teams shot the same?  First, BG was +1 on FTs.  Next, BG took 64 shots, making 32, while OU was only able to shoot 56 and make 26.  BG picked up 8 extra attempts at the being +3 on turnovers and +4 on offensive rebounds.

BG scored 1.29 points per possession, their best game of the season.  They also allowed 1.15 points per possession, their worst defensive game of the season.

For fun, I ran the number for just the second half.  In the second half, BG scored 1.61 points per possession and allowed 1 point per possession, outscoring OU 50-31.  OU made 9 of 15 3FGs in the first half and was 1-9 in the second half.  BG shot great, took care of the ball and was great on the offensive boards.  This was what the second half looked like.

Individually, the biggest story was Justin Turner, who almost single-handedly kept BG in the game in the first half.  For the game, he finished with 29 points on 12 of 23 like to see it over 50%.  He still doesn't have his 3FG stroke back (1-5) but he was willing to take the ball in the first half when no one else seemed to want it.  You can clearly see his game coming back.  He also had 5 rebounds.

Dylan Frye had 19 on 6 of 10 and 2 of 5 shooting, both of the 3s clutch, 4 clutch FTs, 5 assists over 2 turnovers.

Plowden had 10 on 4 of 8 and 1 of 2 shooting. 

The other key was the bench.  Marlon Sierra played 20 minutes, had 7 points on 3 of 6 shooting and 9 rebounds.  Mattiss had 6 points in 12 effective minutes, Diggs and Swingle each had a big was a full effort for the win.

So, BG is now 2-1 with another winnable road game Tuesday at WMU.  This is definitely a soft part of the schedule, so BG needs to take advantage with Ws.  Obviously, you'd like to start better in games and not be down far would we be behind, say, Kent, with the same performance--but we don't apologize for winning. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

BG Hires New Football Assistant

The only departure to date has been Louis Addazio joining his dad at Colorado State.  He was the TE coach.  Chris Hedden, who was RB coach, will move to coach the TEs.  He's a highly seasoned coach and TE is a position where BG needs critical development to execute the offense we envision.  So, Nosal will work with the RBs.

It is his first official position as an assistant coach.  He played at Va Tech on the o-line, moved to the University of Miami as a grad assistant and quality control guy before heading to East Carolina where he was an offensive analyst.

Welcome to the Falcons, Gre.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Next Stop Athens

So, BG heads down to Athens for the first MAC road game of the year.  Ohio U. has a new Coach this year after the Saul Phillips experiment was called off.  Jeff Boal, a former Bobcat, coaches there now.  They weren't expected to be great this year and they haven't been.

They are 9-6 with a #206 Kpom.  They have two non-D1 wins in there.  Their best win was over St. Bonaventure (#116) in the opener, and they lost a couple rough ones...Campbell (#228) to end the pre-MAC season and WMU (#268) to start the MAC season.  They did rebound with a win over EMU at the Convo on Tuesday to be 1-1 in the MAC.  According to kenpom, their home court advantage is #59 in D1.

Looking at the matchup, we wouldn't expect a ton of surprises here.  National average is 1.001 points per possession, so when OU has the ball, both teams are right around average and we'd expect things right around there.  When BG has the ball, you have a slightly better offense for BG and even a little worse defense for the Bobcats.  Essentially, all of BG's losses have come below 1 point per possession and/or over 1.03 points per possession on defense.

OU shoots well.  That's the #89 shooting team in the country.  They shoot almost 45% 3FGs, which is #32 in the that's a lot of 3FGs.  They make 34%, which is above average and they make 52% of 2FGs, which is good.  This is worrisome, because BG has been terrible defending the 3FG (#306) in the country.  Beyond that, the rest is pretty evenly matched.  OU turns the ball over more than they should and is poor on the offensive boards.  The other difference is that OU doesn't get to the line but BG does give up FTs.  The Bobcats shoot 68% from the line, which is below average.

One note...BG is #1 in the MAC in not turning the ball over in MAC play...but they have forced so few turnovers that they are actually still losing the turnover battle for those two games.

Flipping it around, OU's shot defense is right smack-dab on the national average, while BG shoots below the national average.  Both of the MAC games have found BG at about 47%.  This has been an issue all year, and the Falcons have compensated with a very low turnover rate, something which has continued.  Neither team is very good on the offensive boards and OU does put people on the line...whereas BG has not been great at getting to the line.

Here's an interesting thing.  OU's opponents are shooting 81% against them from the line.  That's the best in the nation.  You don't see that...but it's totally bad luck, right?  You don't like to see that...because "regression to the mean."

Honestly, this game matches up to be pretty even.  The key is that BG has shown its ability to score more if it can get Turner going and then have Frye going in the open spaces.

Individually, OU is led by two members of last year's all-FR team.  (These two guys are part of why I thought it was weird that Phillips was let go.)  Anyway, Jason Preston is scoring 15.4 PPG on 49% shooting and 34% from 3FG.  He also averages 6 RPG and 7.7 APG.  He's an all-around star.  Those assists are over 4.4 TPG.

Ben Vander Plas was also All-MAC FR.  He is scoring 13.7 PPG on 51% shooting.  That goes with 7.1 RPG.

Jordan Dartis is also scoring 13 PPG, who leads the team in 3FG attempts and makes 35% 3FG.  He missed some games in December but has been back for the last 2 MAC games.

One guy to watch is Lunden McDay, a true FR G from Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary.  He has started every game this year.

This is a winnable game for BG.  In fact, the kind of road win you need to get to get a home seed.  It isn't a great matchup for BG but you'd still like to close this one out.  Last note...OU has a wealth of young talent.  If they can keep the guys from transferring, they'll be good in years to come.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

More from Springdale, Arkansas

If you recall, BG at one point had four football verbals from Springdale, Arkansas...Har-Ber High School.  All of which is really odd...that's a lot of players from one school and for it to be in Arkansas on top of it...just not something you see.  But, I can only deal with what's out there...

Anyway, the four guys were JB Brown, Jay Burns, Torrance Farmer and JaJuan Boyd.

Of them, only JB Brown signed on signing is the bio BG provided

High School: Played three years of varsity football for Chris Wood at Har-Ber High School … 2019 all-state outside linebacker … 2018 all-conference … Earned Jonesboro Sun’s “Best Under The Sun” recognition in 2018 … 2017 defensive skill player of the year … Named a team captain … Ranked No. 26 on the Fab40 ranking of the top college recruits from the state of Arkansas.

People have been wondering about the other three.  A couple of hours ago, these three tweets came out one on top of each other.  Again, no sounds like we were still in contact with at least one of them and possibly (just a guess) talking PWO, but anyway we can close the books on this one.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Falcons MBB 1-1 Out of the Gate

So, back in the saddle.  Heard most of Todd Walker and Kirk Cowan on last night's nutty game in the car on the ride home.  A few thoughts two games in.

It might not seem like it, but gutting out that win was pretty huge last night.  BG was 12-6 last year in conference play and finished start out 0-2 and both losses at home and that you need to go 12-4 from there on out needing five road wins to get 12 wins...not that it can't be done or can't happen, but you don't want to be there.

Alas, down 14 it seemed pretty certain.  Credit to BG for digging down and gutting it out.  That's what you need to do.  They got the game close, played tough down the stretch and got the W...and in this case winning mattered.

Having said that, you're not going to win a championship like that.  First, the Kent loss was not a championship performance on any level, and you'd like to get to the point where maybe you have the 14 point lead over a team like Miami on your home floor.

Suffice it to say that the start has been far from what we hoped for.

Now, I think there are some positives and provided that you finish in the top 4 you're starting a new season at the there's time.

Obviously, the biggest positive is that Justin Turner has yet to return to form, meaning this team can get back to being what they were meant to be.  He played 36 minutes last night...and finished with 16 on 5 of 11 2FG and 0-3 3FG.  He made all 6 of his FTs and added 5 rebounds and 3 assists.  Nothing wrong with that, but he can make an even larger impact than that, and when he does I think everyone else's role comes together.

This is especially important on defense.  BG's defense over the first two games is 10th in the MAC.  We're not going to consistently outscore defense that poor.  BG has struggled to contain dribble drives and Turner is key to that.  Caleb Fields is good but anyone would need help---that's how man-man defenses are designed.  BG held Miami to 33% on shooting 2FGs, which sounds like a good start.

Another positive was Tayler Mattos, who had a really nice game and a first career double-double.  I have felt like he has looked pretty decent for a guy getting his first serious D1 minutes and his continued growth as a scorer and rebounder would be really important.  

Dylan Frye remains key.  Even with a healthy Turner, Frye is needed to take advantage of defenses keying on JT.  He was over 20 points last night for the first time since Dartmouth and shot 50% overall, so he was efficient.

Coach played last night's game like it was important.  The rotation was very the bench, Laster played only 14 minutes and Sierra played 12.  No one else played more than 10...Diggs played 4.

So, a win was needed and earned.  A long road rests ahead.  BG has a winnable road game on Saturday at Ohio.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Quick Post as MAC MBB kicks off

So, as we start MAC MBB play, here are the kenpom rankings.  Based on what has happened to date, BG would be picked to be #6 in the MAC at 9-9.  Obviously, the ranking is seeing those losses in New Jersey and some other lesser performances with Turner out.  If Turner is able to contribute for the remainder of the year...and the Hartford game certainly seemed to be a good sign...BG is much more the team that they were when they beat UC...#100, which would put them back in bye territory.

Kenpom was never high on the Falcons...not sure why, but the stats didn't have BG winning the MAC at the start either.  It loved UT, which has fallen back to the pack with their current losing streak.

And, of course, they are just projections...let the games begin.  BG has five of its first 8 games at home and really needs to get off to a strong they did last year.  Kent is always good and appears to be very good this year...and at's a good time to return to form.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year to the Falcon Nation

"Brothers and Sisters, let us begin anew.  For until today, we have done nothing."

---St. Francis

And..if we need to recap 2019...