Friday, December 31, 2021

Falcon MBB Appears Set for MAC Opener

 The Falcon MBB team will see the New Year open in Muncie, assuming that nothing happens to derail the game that will now be the MAC opener.  It will be a rare New Year's game....I don't recall another one.  I thought there was a game against Majerus but when I looked back in was on Janaury 2.

Anyway, New Year's Day it will be against Ball State.

The portal was rough on Ball State.  KJ Walton transferred to Akron (and then left the team), Ishmael El-Amin went to Rhode Island, Jarron Coleman went to Missouri and Brachen Hazen was forced to retire due to injury. That's what would have been their top 4 returning scorers.

They were picked #8 in the MAC.  Their current ken pom is 263, their lowest ranking since Whitford's first two years, when they had single-digit wins.

They are 5-6 with 4-6 against D1.  Their best win is UMass (133) on a neutral floor.  Two of their wins are against teams ranked in the 300s.  They lost @Georgia Southern (226) and to #242 FIU on a neutral floor.  They have not lost at home this year.

Last year, we split our two games, each team winning on the road.  BG has won 6 of the last 7 at Worthen.

The Cardinals are a decent offensive team.  They score 1.01 points per possession, a touch above average. What they do is shoot the 3FG well.  We have played some good 3FG%/low volume teams, but this is a good 3FG% team with high volume.  They take 42% of their FGA from 3FG and they make 38%, the latter being #28 in the nation.  They also get to the line a lot--#28 in the country, but don't shoot the FT well.  Their offense comes back to the mean with poor 2FG shooting and offensive rebounding and below average turnovers.

Defense is not a strong suit. They allow 1.09 points per possession, which is #313 in the nation.  They do not defend the shot fact, they are ranked #326 overall and #336 against the 3FG--they allow worse 3FG shooting than the produce.  They don't force turnovers and they give up a ton of FTs...their best stat is being slightly above average on the defensive boards.

Luke Bumbalough is their leading scorer at 12.5 PPG on 40% 3FG shooting.  He also leads the team with about 3.5 APG.  Tyler Cochran is scoring 10.5 PPG on 49% shooting and 5.5 RPG--he transferred from NIU. Freshman Payton Sparks is a guy to keep an eye on....9.5 PPG, 50% shooting at 5.7 RPG.  Came from a super-small HS but was compared to a Zack Randolph type player at 6'9" and 260.  Miryne Thomas also scores 9.5 PPG on 38% 3FG shooting.  

This will be interesting.  The road is always tough, but this is a team that's in the running to be in the final 8 but one you'd like to think a team on the road to a title run would beat.  Let' see how it plays out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Falcon Football Adds Transfer OL

BG has a 7th transfer for this year and their 3rd on the offensive line.  Coach's comments on signing day were that BG would have up to 10 transfers, with 2 or 3 of the additional (numbers 7-10) would be "big dudes."

This latest one is by for the most experienced of any lineman BG has.  His name is Jakari Robinson, and he's a graduate player who will have one year remaining.

He's originally from Munford, AL. He was a 2-star recruit out of HS and had a bunch of offers, most of them from the FCS.  He was all-state in 4A in Alabama and they made the state semis one year he was playing.

He signed at UC and played for four years.  Red-shirted his first year and then made 6 starts the next.  He played all 14 as a sophomore and 7 games in 2020.  He had COVID in 2020 and split time with another lineman and when Robinson was healthy again the staff told him they were sticking with the other guy.

He was graduate transferring and planned to go to Arkansas State until the AAC changed their rule about intraconference transfers.  On that very day, he flipped to Memphis where he played last year, He played 7 games with no starts for the Tigers.

He's 6'1" and 308. based on his last Memphis listing and appears to have played C and G.  UC had some big running attacks during his years there.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jakari.

Monday, December 27, 2021

One Last pre-MAC MBB note

 There's an oddity this year in the pre-MAC play...the MAC has 3 teams ranked in the 300's based on kenpom.

This is highly unusual.  Since 2002 (as far back as kenpom goes), the MAC has never finished the year with more than 1 team in the 300s.  It is rare for even one team to finish in the 300s...last year NIU did it and before that, it was 2013...NIU again.

So, one is unusual.  Three in the same year is big news.  (They are WMU, CMU and NIU).

It has driven down the MAC's overall ranking.  The conference is ranked #15 right now, which is the lowest since....2013.  Since then, the MAC has been as high as #9 and usually 12-14.

It also introduces an interesting element to the MAC race.

This year, the MAC is playing 20 conference games.  That means that you play 9 of the other teams twice and 2 of them once.

So who you play once makes a difference.  If you get 6 games against these sub-300 teams and someone else gets 4, then that's a significant advantage.

Of the 9 teams who are NOT below 300, 7 of them play all three of these teams twice:  UB, OU, BSU, UT, MU, EMU, UA.  Two of them play 5 games in this group....BG plays CMU once and Kent is the loser of this lottery, with BOTH of their play-once opponents being a sub-300 team...CMU and WMU.

Maybe it won't play like that.  Maybe WMU, CMU and NIU will exceed expectations.  But, at the start, Kent and BG are at a slight scheduling disadvantage. 

Of course, the only goal you can miss is to fall out of the top 8 and not get to Cleveland.  If those 3 teams are non-starters, than the remaining 9 teams are playing for 8 spots.

Friday, December 24, 2021

MAC MBB Pre-Conference Wrap Up

MAC MBB Pre-Conference Wrap Up:


D1 Record:  5-3

Starting KenPom:  140

Ending KenPom:  133

Difference:  +7

Best Win:  @Wright State (168) by 18 points

Worst Loss: Fordham, neutral (198)

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 253 out of 357

Ball State

D1 Record:  4-6

Starting KenPom:  208

Ending KenPom:  262

Difference:  -54

Best Win:  Umass, neutral (132)

Worst Loss: FIU (240) Neutral floor

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 248 out of 357

Bowling Green

D1 Record:  5-4

Starting KenPom:  139

Ending KenPom:  161

Difference:  -22

Best Win:  Oakland (120)

Worst Loss: Western Carolina (298) Away

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 310 out of 357


D1 Record:  4-4

Starting KenPom:  91

Ending KenPom:  81

Difference:  +10

Best Win:  @ North Texas (94)

Worst Loss: Canisius (282) Neutral floor

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 55 out of 357


D1 Record:  1-10

Starting KenPom:  300

Ending KenPom:  329

Difference:  -29

Best Win:  @ Eastern Illinois (349)  only win

Worst Loss: UIC (270) at home

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 45 out of 357


D1 Record:  4-6

Starting KenPom:  297

Ending KenPom:  265

Difference:  +32

Best Win:  Western Illinois (175) at home

Worst Loss: UC San Diego (251) Away

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 116 out of 357


D1 Record:  3-5

Starting KenPom: 144

Ending KenPom:  158

Difference:  +14

Best Win:  James Madison (165) Neutral

Worst Loss: Southern (264) Home

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 135 out of 357


D1 Record:  3-5

Starting KenPom:  137

Ending KenPom:  142

Difference:  -5

Best Win:  @ Georgia Tech  (107)

Worst Loss: Bellarmine (218) Home

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 152 out of 357

Northern Illinois

D1 Record:  3-7

Starting KenPom:  326

Ending KenPom:  320

Difference:  +6

Best Win:  @Washington (164)

Worst Loss: Little Rock (317) Neutral floor

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 171 out of 357


D1 Record:  8-2

Starting KenPom:  115

Ending KenPom:  102

Difference:  +13

Best Win:  Belmont (55) Home

Worst Loss: @ Kentucky (11)

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 218 out of 357


D1 Record:  7-3

Starting KenPom:  116

Ending KenPom:  106

Difference:  +10

Best Win:  Tulane (160) Neutral

Worst Loss: Oakland (120) away

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 104 out of 357


D1 Record:  2-7

Starting KenPom:  315

Ending KenPom:  324

Difference:  -9

Best Win:  IPFW (274) Neutral

Worst Loss: Valpo at home (200)

Strength of Schedule: Ranked 53 out of 357


Southern's victory over Kent #1 comeback in one point had a .6% chance of winning.  By margin overcome (22) it is #2.

EMU 4 OT win over FIU #7 most tense (tensest) game to date in D1

WIU win over CMU #2 most dominating performance to date in D1

NIU's upset over Washington is #3 upset in D1

CMU's 20-point rally over EIU is #3 comeback by deficit

UT's 19 point comeback vs Coastal Carolina (and winning by 9) is #10 comeback

Akron is 4-0 since losing KJ Walton.

National Rankings:

Dae Dae Grant #10 in A/T Rario

Lamar Norman (WMU) is #3 in 3FGA and #17 in 3FG made

Enrique Freeman (AK) is #13 in defensive rebounds and #12 in double-doubles, #10 in FG%, #5 in offensive rebounds, #5 in rebounds

Mark Sears (OU) is #14 in FT%

Monday, December 20, 2021

BG Takes on NAIA Carlow

 So BG finished pre-MAC play tomorrow against Carlow.  Carlow is from the NAIA.

The school is located in Pittsburgh and is named for a County in Ireland.  Their men's basketball team did not compete until 2014. The school is 84% female, according to Wikipedia.

Over their last 8 seasons, they are 21-167 (11.2%) and 3-78 (4%) over the past 4 years.

Tim Keefer is their coach, he has been there for all 8 seasons.

I honestly don't have any idea how we linked with these guys--The Celtics.

They have played D1 games.  They lost to VMI 111-55, to James Madison 135-40.  Their one win is over Pittsburgh-Greensburg, an actual NCAA DIII team.

There are 237 NAIA teams.  Carlow is #229 in offense and in defense.

As for players, Marcus Millien had 17 points in the JMU game.  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

BG MBB Romps Over Robert Morris

Unlike the Western Carolina game, unlike the Norfolk State game, that was what was supposed to happen.  BG took the lead in the first half, extended the lead and maintained their focus, forestalling any possible comeback and getting a 100-74 win.

BG last scored 100 in a D1 game when they blew out South Carolina State in last year's second game.  SC St. finished 1-17 and the 5th worst team in the NCAA.

Anyway, this is what should happen.

BG never trailed.  With 10 minutes left in the first half they had a 1-point lead.  BG scored the next 10 points to take an 11 point lead and the game was never close again.  The Colonials got the lead inside 10 just once but BG led by 14 at the half.  With 12 left they had the lead to 20 and it never was closer than 20 again.  It got as high as 28 and finished at 26.

BG had 1.27 points per possession, best since January of 2020 against OU. BG last lost a game scoring like this to Kent in 2015.  Anyway, BG made 53% on 2FG and 48% on 3FG.  RMU actually shot pretty well, (57% and 31%) but they had an awful night with turnovers and were totally dominated on the boards. They were blown out despite being +7 at the line.

Plowden had 19 points in 22 minutes.  He was 5 of 10 from 2FG and 2 of 3 from 3FG along with 6 rebounds.  Joe Reece had 19 points in 19 minutes, on 6 of 10 and 2 of 3 shooting.  Add 6 rebounds and 3 steals.  Chandler Turner had 13 and Breton Mills had 13, both on perfect shooting nights.  Trey Diggs had 11 on 3 of 7 3FG shooting.  Cam Young had 6 rebounds in 16 minutes and Fulcher had 5 in 17. Samari Curtis had 5 assists and no turnovers.

Coach especially mentioned Mills and Diggs, both of whom have been struggling to shoot.

So BG is now 6 and 4 and on a 4-game winning streak.  This was the last D1 game before MAC play begins.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Robert Morris Preview

BG returns to action tomorrow against Robert Morris--or at least I assume so.  Games are being postponed all over the place and teams are being shut down.  I also assume people will be in the stands, but it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't.

We're going to act like nothing is happening.

They are in the Horizon, where they were picked to be #9.  For reference, Milwaukee, who BG already beat, was #6 and Oakland #1.  Last year was their first season in the Horizon and they went 4-15 and 3-12 and finished last.  Prior to that, they were in the Northeast Conference, the 29th ranked league.  They had success there, winning 20 games in 5 of the last 9 years there.  There are a couple highlights.  In 2013 they shocked Kentucky in a first-round NIT game and in 2015 they won a play-in-game and made the NCAA main field, losing to Duke.

Their coach is Andrew Toole, in his 11th year.  He was the youngest D1 coach when selected and maintains a youthful appearance.

The two teams have played twice. RMU won a 2012 match up in Pittsburgh and BG won by 20 last year, also in Pitts.  This is their first visit to BG.

The Colonials are off to a rough start.  They are 1-8 with no D1 wins.  They have three losses to top 100 teams and three losses to teams ranked 243 or worse, including Milwaukee.  They lost by 14 to OU, one of the top MAC teams to date.

They are scoring .94 points per possession, which is #270 in the country.  Their offensive strength is shooting the 3FG.  They made 36%, which is good.  However, they are selection, taking only 33% of their shots from 3FG (D1 average is 38%).  They are poor on 2FG's and average on turnovers.  However, they are very poor on the offensive boards (#326) and getting to the line (#305) but they are a good FT shooting team.  

Here's an interesting stat.  Over 15% of their 2FG attempts have been blocked.  That is #351 in the country.

They are allowing 1.15 points per possession, which is #346 and really bad.  They are very poor defending the shot, #339 in the country, and that's poor against the 3FG and the 2FG.  They don't force turnovers and are weak on the defensive boards. The only thing they do well is not let teams get to the line.  Because of a lack of depth, they have been playing a zone, which is unusual for them.

They have four players who have started every game, but the fifth spot is spread across three different players, each of whom has missed time as well.  Also, a bench player (Flavors missed the last 5 games, OklahomaState transfer).

Their leading scorer is Kahiel Spear, a 6'7" transfer from Bucknell in his second year with the Colonials. He is scoring 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG on 49% shooting, which is not bad.  He played 4 minutes in the game last year.

Rasheem Dunn is scoring 12.6 PPG shooting 40% overall.  He is a 47% 3FG shooting (2 attempts/game)  and leads the team with 39 assists. He began his career at Cleveland State, went to St Francis (NY) and then St. John's and now is at RMU.  

Their other double figure scorer is Kam Farris, who missed the first 4 games of the year.  He is scoring 12 PPG and shooting 60% and 59% from 3FG.  That would lead the nation if he had played in more games.  He is a SO who DNP last year against BG.  

Overall, they have only 3 guys back who played significant minutes.

This is a game BG should win, especially at home.  It is their last D1 game of the year out-of-MAC and you'd like to see a W here.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

BG Lands 2 OL Transfers

Coach Loeffler talked at his signing day presser about having 2 OL transfers who were clearing the admissions process and they became public today.

The first is Marcelo Mendiola, who is transferring from UC.  He was listed as 6'3" and 330 pounds and was a 3-star recruit out of HS, which was Mt. Carmel HS in Chicago.  That team is coached by Jordan Lynch and was the HS that BG OL Jalen Grant played at.  He was first team all-conference and all area in HS.

At UC, he played one game his FR season--which was a redshirt--and then one game in 2020 and no games this season.  By my count, he would have 3 years left, but you can never be sure.

The other is from Abilene Christian.  His name is Bronson Watrner.  He's 6'3" and 310 and originally from MN.  He played five sports in HS, including rugby and hockey.  He started at Iowa Western Community College where he was for 2 years, playing 3 games.  He played 7 games this year for ACU. He had strictly FCS offers heading out of JUCO.

Welcome to the Falcons, Marcelo and Bronson.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

National Signing Day '22 is in the books

He started off by saying that we finally entering the "new world" of transfers and "free agency."  He talked a lot in an attempt to explain why we didn't go into the portal for this season, including that we could have won 9 games.  He says that if we had done that, we would have been good this year but fallen back to where we were because of  "depth."

I honestly don't think this holds up to a whole lot of scrutiny--so the only way to succeed was to put those guys out there when they are too young and not strong enough and then come back in the next year and replace them with transfers and then in two years they come back and play again?  How would depth be different if they had brought in transfers last year and let those guys learn and get stronger as redshirts, which is normally what happens?

Regardless, I'm glad we are doing it now.

Here is how he broke it down.  We had 3 guys greyshirt, which means they paid their own way: Ali Saad, Denver Warren, Tommy Guajardo.  Of the 3, only Saad played in a game this season.  They will all go on scholarships.

The most prominent one is Davonte Miles, a teammate of Jalen Holly at River Rouge.  He was three-time All-State for a team that was state runner up two years in a row (DIII).  Had a ton of P5 offers, had at one time committed to Michigan, de-committed and ended up with BG.  This has the potential to be a key one for this team.

Also, there was Trey Johnson, the brother of Jamal Johnson, who is already on the team.  He's listed at ATH but was all-state at RB/WR this season.

Joseph Sipp, a LB from Hillsborough (FL, Tampa area) which is where Max Warner coached.  Had 111 tackles this year and 122 last year.  Was all-conference player.

Jalen Huskey, a CB from Maryland.  He was on state title teams at 2 different schools, which is unusual.  Loeffler thinks he can play right away.

And Australian punter Sami Sir, who apparently was close with Ligashefsky and went to one of the kicking academies down there.

Sir, Bainbridge, Holly and Williams will enroll early.

Coach Loeffler also talked about the transfers at this point.  He can only announce the ones who are admitted to the University, which right now is these two players, who we have noted here.

S Chris Bacon, Georgia State
WR Odieu Hilaire, Alabama A&M. Brother played for Loeffler at UF.

There are 4 others he cannot mention until their admissions are final
2 OL (Haven't seen anything).
CB (I assume Oladokun)
K (I assume Rozanc)

There will be 4 slots remaining which they will address right after the dead period ends. He said 2 will be "big dudes," maybe 3.

He said there was a LB we really wanted who went to Kansas (I am assuming that is Eriq Gilyard, a UCF transfer).

Not from the presser:  we had 2 commits who did not sign.

One was Cass Tech WR Jameel Gardner, who flipped to Kent

The other is QB John Griffith from the St. Frances Academy in MD.  No idea on this one.  His twitter profile still lists him as a BG 22 commit.  (Not anymore).  I can't see anywhere else he committed.

So that's the class.  The promise is pretty clear...the offensive line gets cleaned up and we're back.  Time will tell.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Football Verball: Owen Rozanc, K

 So, the weekend's official visits went by this weekend, especially from transfers.  From twitter, I have seen that BG had a QB, some OL and a K/P in.  To date, they got a commitment from the K/P, which definitely fills a need.  

His name is Owen Rozanc and he is transferring from West Liberty, a DII school near Wheeling, WV.

He is a native of Sheffield Lake, OH.  He will be a graduate transfer.

I say K/P, but his bio lists him as a K.

He had a very interesting career.  His first 3 seasons he was stellar (includes the COVID year).  He made 25 of 29 FGs over that time.  And then last year, he was 8 of 19 with 3 blocks.  Not sure what that was all about.  He was money for three years and then very ineffective last year.  Anyway, there's presumably a reason or else he wouldn't be coming this way.

Also, he was an honorable mention all-league punter.  And, twice all-Mountain East as a kicker.  And he was all-Ohio in HS.

Welcome to the Falcons, Owen.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

2020-2021 comparison: Football

So, the question I think has been answered...the team was better in 2021 than 2020.  Also, that's a low bar, but it is better.  How much better?  Let's compare....starting with the offense.

Look, this whole exercise is a measure of how far we had to go at the end of 2020.  BG more than doubled its points per game (MAC games only) and only moved up to #11 in the conference.  That's a wow.  As bad as the offense was (more often than not) in 2021, it was twice as good as the year before and still far away from where we would need to be.

It's interesting...I doubt if too many teams score twice as many points while their yards per play got worse.  But that's what happened.  I think you can see why.  BG had a decent running game in 2020....and a much worse one in 2021.  BG was decent in 2020 on sacks, much worse in 2021.  Those are both artifacts of BG's losses on the offensive line.  I suspect that also impacted the pass efficiency, which increased by a ridiculous amount and was still last in the MAC.  

BG did some things better.  They were better on third down and in the red zone and took better care of the ball and actually had a positive turnover margin.  

Which helps account for the modest increase in offensive production.  I have already said that we need immediate help on the offensive line, continued upgrades at WR and a QB who can pressure McDonald when his hand is broken.  We can see why right here.  The promise from Loeffler is if we can get the line picked up and run the ball, than we will be able to pass the ball and we will see an offense that is capable of scoring in the top 4 in the MAC, something we need to compete in the MAC, for which, in Coach's words,"it's time."

Thursday, December 09, 2021

BG lands new football verbal

 BG has a new verbal commitment for football.  This player is a HS recruit.  His name is Markim McKinnie and he attends Archbishop Hoban in Akron. He's from Barberton, which is Loeffler's hometown. Hoban is one of the top DII programs in Ohio.  They lost the state title game this year but they have won 3 state titles in recent memory.

McKinnie is listed as a 3-star recruit as a RB on 247. He has offers, according to 247, from BC, UC and UT.

He is known as a speedster and played both ways.  In fact, he was second team all-district and HM all-state at CB. His Twitter profile says he ran a 4.4 and lists himself as ATH, mentioning WR in addition to RB and CB.

He is listed as 6'0" and 190 lbs.

Welcome to the Falcons, Markim.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Falcons With Nice Win Over Oakland

 Last night was a nice win for the Falcons, who started a little rough but then got the job done in the end in what turned out to be a thrilling finish and a little luck.  Missing Gordon, Curtis and Matheny (for most of the game), BG needed to make use of their depth and it came in handy.  This is a good Oakland team and even though BG could have played better, the win is a worthy one.  Remember, Oakland beat UT by 21 and also beat Oklahoma State and their only losses were to top teams.

OU came out fast with a 14-5 lead.  BG went on a 10-0 to take the lead back.  BG held the lead for about 6 minutes before a little GG run put them back up by 5 and they led for the rest of the half, by as much as 7 and ending at 3.

BG scored the first 5 points of the second and generally held the lead for the remainder of the game.  It was closely contested.  The second half featured 7 lead changes and 7 ties.  With 3 minutes left, BG was up 5.  Jalen Moore hit 3FGs on back-to-back possessions and led by 1 with 2:34 left to play.  BG turned the ball over, got a stop, turned the ball over again, and then eventually got a stop after OU got 3 shots at the basket.  

BG still down 1 with 1:21 to play.  Reece was fouled and split a pair and tied the game.  BG got another stop with :51 to play.  And there, Chandler Turner made the game's defining play, hitting a corner-3 with :36 to play to put the Falcons up 3.

Jalen Moore was fouled and hit both FTs to make it a 1-point lead with :27 left.  OU has to foul and they fouled Elsasser, who missed the front end of his 1-1.  There were :23 left.  OU came down and BG was playing good D and forced a long 3FG from one of their less likely shooters.  It missed, but after a wild frenzy, OU came out with the ball and threw it off a Falcon to retain possession with 1.9 left to play.

It was a BLOB.  Plowden was guarding the throw and tipped the first attempt out of bounds, killing a second off the clock.  With .9 left and maybe a slightly better angle, OU--after timeouts both ways--managed to get the ball inbounds in a great position in the paint and but had to rush the shot up and the ball didn't go down and the Falcons had the W secured.

It was a thriller.  The Plowden tip was huge.  On the other hand, BG can't let them get the ball in that position for the shot.  But, they put OU in a position to where OU had to to make the play and they did not.

Overall, a very close game, 9 ties, 12 lead changes and BG led for 17:08 and OU for 16:08.

BG really gutted out a win on both ends of the court.  OU played every possession in a 1-3-1 zone, which BG doesn't see often and won't see again.  OU came in allowing .93 points per possession and BG had .97.  That includes an EFF% of .48 against a .46 average for OU.  BG made 44% of their 2FGs (not good), but made 38% of their 3FGs (pretty good) and resisted the urge to jack shots up against the zone. BG turned the ball over way too much--29% of their possessions, their most since the VCU game in 2018.  Fortunately, they had their best offensive rebounding game since Buffalo last year and while they didn't get to the line a lot, they did make 75%.

Just as importantly, BG played strong defense, making an average offensive team below average.  They scored .96 points per possession.  They took 46% of their shots from 3FG and only make 28%, which is typical, they shoot the 3FG poorly.  The key was only making 43% from 2FG.  They had a huge edge in turnovers, had a good day on the offensive boards, and also didn't get to the line very much but made 77% of their FTs.

Individually, the night belonged to Chandler Turner.  BG was down 3 guards but Plowden and Reece also had foul trouble.  Turner played 24 minutes, shooting 3 of 4 from 2FG and 4 of 5 from 3FG.  He also made all 5 of his FTs, and grabbed 8 boards.  Given the number of possessions he used, it was probably the best offensive night we have seen this season.  Plowden also scored 16 on 4 of 9 and 2 of 3 shooting, and added 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.  Reece had 9 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes--a  technical foul cost him some minutes.  Josiah Fulcher had 8 points in 28 minutes, on 2 of 4 3FG shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 turnover.

The Metheny injury could be worrisome.  Looked like a high ankle.  Hopefully, Curtis and Gordon will be back for the Robert Morris game, which is almost two weeks away. OU forces a lot of turnovers anyway and I think BG was missing their ball handlers.

Jamal Cain hit his average, 21 points and 9 rebounds.  However, he was 7 of 18 shooting and 4 of 13 from 2FG, making it a minor success for the Falcon defense.

So a very nice win for the Falcons.  This is a quality team and BG got the W, gutting it out with some missing personnel.  The Falcons hit finals with two nice wins under their belt and can now move on to Robert Morris.  The trend is pointing up.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Ligashesky Leaves BG

 BG's special teams coach has taken a job at Syracuse, where former Falcon coach Dino Babers still is employed.  Ligashesky came to BG with a great resume, having coached special teams at the P5 and NFL level.  He was credited with helping Nate Needham develop into a first-team All-MAC kicker.  He was in BG for one year.

Best of luck to him.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Oakland Preview

 Next up is a very interesting game for BG...the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

Oakland is coached by BG grad Greg Kampe (played football and basketball).  He is in his 38th season there--only the coaches of Duke and Syracuse have been at their school longer.  He has built this program, starting at DII, moving to D1 and then into the Horizon Conference.  And the NCAA tournament, where they have played 3 times, with a play-in win to their credit.  They were last in the 2011 tourney.

This is the 10th meeting between the two teams, with Oakland leading the series 5-4.  BG won the last meeting at the Stroh in the MAC-final year.  Before that, OU had won four straight, in games that were generally not close.

They were not great last year, at 12-18 and lost their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers from that team. They were picked 4th in the Horizon this year.

They are off to a really good start.  They are 7-2.  They started at a kenpom of 193 but they are up to 121.  They won at Oklahoma State in the 6th biggest upset to date this year in D1 MBB.  They then beat UT by 21.  Their losses are to WVU (48) and Alabama (9), and other wins are Vermont (98), Rice (166) Delaware (141), UIC (273) and IUPUI (349).

So, this appears to be a pretty good team.

They are an average team on offense.  They score .99 points per possession, which is actually below average.  They aren't great shooters (#225), mostly because they are one of the 10 worst 3FG shooting teams in the country.  They are, however, VERY good from 2FG, making 55%.  They are average protecting the ball and on the offensive boards, and don't get to the line very much but are very good at the line, making 77%.

They make their bones on defense.  They allow .93 points per possession, #69 in the country.  They are very hard to score against.  They allow an EFG of 46%, which is well below average.  They are #17 in defending the 3FG, not so good against the 2FG.  The force turnovers (94th) and keep opponents off the line (30th).  You can get offensive boards against them.

They have used only one starting lineup this year.  

They are led by an outright stud, Jamal Cain.  He's a 6'7" graduate transfer from Marquette who is scoring 21.2 PPG on 53% shooting, 85% at the line and 10.7 RPG.  He also has 20 steals in 9 games.  He's the #11 scorer in the nation.

He is complemented by Jalen Moore, who led the nation in assists last year.  He is scoring 13.2 PPG on 31% overall FG shooting and 20% 3FG shooting.  He makes 82% of his FTs and is4th in the nation with 6.9 APG.  They also have Trey Townsend, a FR from Oxford, MI, who scored 14 PPG on 41% shooting and 6.4 RPG.

This is a good team and beating them would be a very nice victory for the Falcons, even at home.  Coming off the strong game at Duquesne and heading into finals week, you'd love to get this W but it will be difficult. Kenpom gives BG a 49% chance of winning and BPI is 58% chance for BG to win.

Three Football Transfers Announce Today....

Three transfers announced that they are heading to BG.  Interestingly, there is a WR and 2 DBs--we have offers at other position groups, but these three young men will be coming in right away.  Two of them are FCS players and one was an FBS player.

Chris Bacon, DB, Georgia State

Bacon played safety at Georgia State.  He was a three-year letter-winner who entered the portal in October of this year. He made 96 tackles over the 3 years with one INT.  He won academic awards while at Georgia State and had a number of other MAC offers, based on a quick review of the internet.

Odieu Hilaire, WR, Alabama A&M

He was a very productive WR for A&M, which plays in the SWAC.  He caught 17 passes for 4 TDS in the spring 2021 SWAC season and then led the conference in receptions in 2021.  He had 9 TDs.

FWIW, they have an All-American QB, Aqeel Glass, 

He is listed at 6'0" and 160 pounds.

Jordan Oladokun, DB, Samford

Oladokun was a 3-star recruit with 16 P5 offers reported on 247.  He committed to Iowa, de-committed, re-committed, and then de-committed for good due to concerns over the accusations of race-based intimidation against Ferentz.  He went to Samford, where his brother was the QB.  He played 6 games this year for the Bulldogs, making 7 tackles and having 2 pass breakups.  He was recruited in the class of  2021 so he will have significant eligibility left.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Football State of the Program

Time to review the 2021 football season.

When I did my pre-season preview, I thought this team had a ceiling of four wins.  There was no way we were going to be a .500 team with the lack of development on the offensive line and we weren't and I think that is largely why.

After the OU game, I had a commenter note this:
"Last year it was 40-something to 0 at halftime. The people that think there hasn't been progress are nuts."
You can only make a diagnosis in a clinical setting, but I would agree they are 100% wrong.  This team is better than the 2020 team, and I don't think it can be debated.

But, to be fair, 2020 was so bad that you almost had to improve. 

The better question is whether we were improved enough to indicate we are on the path to being competitive on the timetable that Loeffler established, meaning being competitive next season.

This is a question that has divided our fan base.  A coach with a 7-22 record is going to have detractors and Loeffler does, for sure.  You can't be surprised or even blame them.

I don't agree, though.  I wish we would have gotten a stronger signal from 2021--something that would have come from being more competitive in at least a couple of the games, say Akron, EMU and Miami...UT.  But I think there is a path forward for us that you can see.

I guess I always think that the progress is going to be linear.  You're going to get a little bit better each week and then by the end of 2021 you might be pretty good.  But that's not how it's looking.  BG was worse in the second half of the season than the first half.  Commenters have pointed out that BG's young line might have gotten tired and ground down over the season, which led to the problems in the latter part of the season.

Which is entirely possible.  The point is that there were positives to the 2021 season
  • 4 wins
  • Beat a Big 10 team
  • Played Kent and NIU tough
And there were negatives:
  • UT game
  • Southern Alabama loss
  • Akron Loss
  • EMU loss
  • Miami loss
(Yes, I know there were other losses, but these were all losses to teams that were around .500.)

The official line is that our problem is how young we are.  The problem with that line is that NIU had a younger team than we did and they hoisted the trophy.  What they did have was an experienced and effective transfer QB.

I also have a commenter who likes to track us against the Ball State road to the 2020 title.

In Neu's third year they were 4-8, 3-5.  BG was 4-8, 2-6.  So not far off.

They got one game better overall and in the MAC the next year and won the MAC the year after that.

So, we're on that track, to be sure.  I think there is a path to being competitive.

So what has to happen?

BG has to be better up front, both sides of the ball.  

The offensive line was so exposed that literally, they crashed the offense in a couple of the games.  BG has to be able to run the ball and protect the QB.  The Falcons have good RBs and WRs and the TEs are good and promising.  (More on the QB later).  But when your blocking is blown up on every play, you don't have a chance.

The good news is that we are now open to transfers.  They made a huge difference on defense this year and I think they are going to be part of college football moving forward.  We just have to adjust.

BG's returning players have to get bigger and stronger.  Coach has said this...he also said it after 2020 and it apparently didn't happen.  These guys have some hard knocks learning under their belt but they have to be more physical.  We're not on the path to anything without it.

BG also needs to supplement the lines with some transfers.  Internet traffic indicates that they are recruiting in these areas.  A couple solid, experienced, big O-lineman and even one d-lineman to be in the rotation would make a big difference.

BG has to return contributing players

The portal can give, the portal can take away.  BG needs its contributing players back.  This is still in flux, but retaining the players who contributed--and now have a case to make at another school--is critical.

BG needs a QB who can pressure Matt McDonald

For the second straight year, we found out after the season was over that Matt McDonald was playing with a serious injury, this time a broken hand.  As always, the QB receives a lot of criticism on a losing team.  That's how it goes.  First, the guy is clearly a warrior, playing through injuries over two seasons and being a tackling dummy for many of those games.  You have to admire his grit.

He has shown some promise.  He made some really nice throws against OU, with time to operate.  He also tends to miss some throws, too.

The biggest issue is that I don't think he's a great QB and even with a broken hand we didn't have anyone better.  He was last in the MAC in passing efficiency in 2020 and 2021.  That has to be a concern.  Whether it is a transfer or someone on the roster now, BG needs a QB who can push McDonald and be better than him when he is injured.

Perhaps the bigger worry is that I fear there might be a blind spot here.  I don't see practice, maybe he is better than everyone else we have.  Or maybe there's a blind spot.  If so, that needs to get addressed.  If you fix the line and then the QB is still below average, you aren't on the path to anything.

Special teams need to be upgraded quickly

Almost all the players with no returning eligibility are special teams players.  BG won at least one game on the back of Nate Needham.  There are three kickers on the returning roster--Mason Lawler who has been doing our kickoffs, Jack Sauder, from TN, and Alan Anaya, from Mexico.  Anaya's brother is on the men's soccer team.  If one of these guys is not the guy, we need to get a transfer.

Our all-MAC punter is also leaving.  He was 8th this year in punting in the MAC and will need to be replaced.  Both Lawler and Anaya are also listed as punters on the roster.  There is also Jarrad Kerekes, an all-state player from the Cleveland area.  Again, if one of these is not the guy, this is a chance to get a transfer.

Lastly, BG's return defense games need to be improved.  BG was 9th in net kickoffs and 11th in net punting.  

So, BG was better than 2020.  You'd hope so.  That's only useful if it is a step on the path, it doesn't stand on its own.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

BG delivers road win

 The BG MBB team put together its best performance to date, with a solid road win over Duquesne.  Duquesne is not a great team--right now they would be 9th in the MAC--but they are a MAC quality team that BG beat on the road.  The Falcons played well, battled from behind and most importantly closed out strong to defeat the Dukes.

Duquesne led most of the first half and controlled the play.  They led by as much as 11 and 10 with 6 minutes left.  BG went on an 11-0 run to take the lead with 3 minutes left but the Dukes scored the next 7 to lead by 6 at the half.

The game stayed in the 4-6 point range until about 6 minutes left, when a 10-0 run gave BG the lead.  With 2:47 left, the Dukes were leading by 4, 70-66.  That would be the last time they would score.  

Joe Reece split a pair of FTs to cut the lead to 3.  BG got a stop on the other end and then Reece put an offensive board back to cut the lead to 1 with 1:49 left.  The teams traded stops and then Duquesne was called for a charge, leading to the big play of the game.  Samari Curtis created space for himself and nailed a tough 3 to give BG the 2 point lead.

In the last minute, BG made 6 straight FTs--four by Reece, 2 by Curtis--and that was the end of that.

The model for BG is much as we have seen in recent years.  BG shot the ball OK--47% on EFG is a little below average.  That includes 37% on 2FG--well below average--and 53% on 3FGs with only 25% of total shots coming from 3.  That got matched--as it usually does--with low turnovers which helps.  BG had a great game on the offensive boards and made 13 of 18 at the line.  All that added up to 1.11 points per possession, which is a really solid offensive game.

The defense was even better.  They held the Dukes to .99 points per possession.  That included worst shooting than BG, at 39% on 2FG and 35$ on 3FG, with 42% 3FG attempts.  They also took good care of the ball, but a key part of their offense is crashing the defensive boards and BG held them way below their average at that.  Finally, they did get to the line and they have good FT shooters but only made 63% last night.

The player of the game was clearly Samari Curtis.  He has brought a new dimension to the team.  He can create shots but most importantly he has great vision and makes great passes.  He scored 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 2 of 3 from 3FG...he made 2 last minute FTs, had 5 rebounds, and 7 assists over 1 turnover.  That's a night.

In fact, the team seemed to function really well with him on the point and Metheny at off-guard.  Kaden also had a good game at 15 points on 6 of 14 and 3 of 5 shooting.  Joe Reece had a double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 5 of 13 and making 5 of 7 at the line, all of them in crunch time.  Plowden had 13 on 5 of 13 shooting and 9 rebounds. Josiah Fulcher had 7 on 3 of 6 shooting in 19 minutes paired with stifling defense.  Chadler Turner and Matiss both had 6 on 50% shooting in 12 minutes.

BG's had 9 players with more than 10 minutes and no player with 30.  Still, it felt like a little tighter rotation than other games.  Both O'Neal and Young were below their normal minutes and Myron Gordon DNP.

BG gets a nice break now before a game agaisnt a decent Oakland team.  The next four games are at home.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Seven Falcon footballers make All-MAC

 And congrats to them all.  This is a good showing for a team that struggled as much as this one did.  Five other teams had 7 or fewer, so it was in a reasonable range.

Three of them were on the first team...

  • Christian Sims
  • Darren Anders
  • Nate Needham

I had thought Needham had a good shot at special teams player of the year.  They gave it to Kalil Pimpleton, who is a PR at CMU.  He scored twice on PRs, one of only four in the country to do it and one was 97 yards.  Still, none were in conference play.  For my money, this should have been Needham.

Second Team...

  • Jordan Anderson

Third Team...

  • Karl Brooks
  • Devin Taylor
  • Matt Naranjo
Again, congrats to all of these young men.  At least 3 of them will not be back, but four of them can be back if they wsh....

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Duquesne Preview

So tomorrow night BG will take the court in Pittsburgh to play Duquesne.  

Duquesne plays in the A-10 conference, where they have had some decent teams but have failed to win the big prize.  In fact, their tournament drought is back to 1977, which is only 9 years off BG's.  They won the regular-season title in 1980 and 1981 and made the final four in 1940.

They are coached by Keith Dambrot.  No person living or dead has a better winning percentage over BG over so many games than Keith Dambrot.  During his years at Akron, they held a virtual stranglehold over the Falcons.  He left Akron, where he had been successful to go to the A-10, which is usually a multi-bid league.  He has gotten none of those bids. This is his 5th season and he is 68-51.

This is the 27th meeting between the two schools and BG has won 9.  They have won the last 4 against BG and 6 of the last 8.  BG last won in Pittsburgh in 2001.

They were 9-9 last year and they are picked by Blue Ribbon to be 9th in the A-10.  They lost 10 of their top 12 scorers from that team.  They lost 11 players overall, 8 of them to transfer.  So Dambrot went out and did what you do--worked the transfer wire to restock the team.

Their kenpom is 194 right now.  They have wins over Rider (256), Bradley (197) and American (307).  The losses are Hofstra (137) and Weber State (96)--both at home--and Northeastern (164) and Colorado (54), both neutral.  That equals one decent win and no bad losses, really.

They are scoring 1.01 points per possession, which is about average.  They are shooting the ball poorly, but don't turn it over and kill it on the offensive boards, which should be a worry after Chicago State feasted on offensive rebounds Sunday.  They get to the line OK and are making 73%.  Their shooting is mostly focused on 2FG and make only 46% from 2FG.

On defense, they allow 1.02 points per possession, which is below average.  They are #291 in defending the shot to date.  They allow 37% on 3FG and 54% on 2FG, both rankings in the 280s.  They make up for it a little by creating a lot of turnovers and not letting teams get to the line. They are not good on the defensive boards.

Like Dambrot's teams at Akron, scoring is spread across a number of players, four of who are averaging 12 PPG. 

They are lead by Kevin Easley Jr, a SO Chattanooga and TCU transfer who is 6'7".  He's scoring 12.9 PPG on 46% FG shooting and 46% 3FG shooting, 81% FT shooting and 6.6 RPG.  He was SoCon FR of the year.

Next is Amir "Primo" Spears at 12.7 PPG, but far less efficient, shooting 38% and 29% shooting.  Making 77% at the line and 3 APG, leading the team.  He's a 6'3" guy who played prep last year.

Leon Ayers III is scoring 12.4 PPG, also not efficient at 41% and 21% shooting.  He was a JUCO All-American at Henry Ford before going to Mercer.  He is a 6'5" G.

Then, there is Tre Williams, scoring 12.1 PPG.  He shoots 45% and 17%, which is obviously not great.  He has 6.7 RPG and has blocked almost 3 shots per game.  He's #55 in the country in block percentage.  He's a 6'7" transfer from Indiana State.

So, one thing is that Coach Huger is always saying that we get open looks, we just have to make them.  This would be the team to make them against.  On the road, this is a tough game.  Duquesne is a 3.5 point favorite, which is about right, I think.  It would be a nice win if BG is able to get this done, but it will take a better effort than we have seen to date.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Portal Updates

 So, it is that time of year.  We saw that Riley Keller entered the portal a few days ago.

Today there were two more.

One of them is Jack Wardzala, a D-lineman who was never listed on a national signing day.  He did play in the Murray State game.

The other is Gabriel Brown, an o-lineman from Grand Rapids who played in 9 games this year without making a start.

Best of luck to all three.

BG Beats Chicago State

The Falcon MBB team did what they were supposed to do Sunday...they easily beat a team that is not very good and should have been easily beaten.

It wasn't a great performance by BG, but it was never a game. BG led wire to wire.  As unbelievable as it sounds, it was 17-5 with 8 minutes left in the first half.  BG led by 10+ points for the last 25 minutes of the game, stretching it as high as 26.  With 9 minutes left the Cougars had it down to 15 on an 11-0 run, but BG was able to stall it and put the game away.  Final was 75-57.

It was certainly not a pretty offensive game.  Neither team shot well.  BG was 41% on 2FG and 32% from 3FG while Chicago State shot 34% on 2FG and 32% on 3FG...almost all of that in the second half.  The difference was that Chicago State turned the ball on a shocking percentage of their possessions.  That's the highest for a BG opponent since 2017.  BG was also 18 of 23 from the line and +12 on free throws.

Anything that the Cougars did get came from great offensive rebounding, but they still ended up at .75 possessions.  BG had .99 which is not great.

Joe Reece led BG with 18 on 5 of 9 shooting and 5 rebounds in only 25 minutes. That's a pretty good night.  Plowden had 17 on 5 of 8 shooting, plus 1 of 2 from 3FG, 6-7 at the line, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Diggs had 10 on 2of 8 3FG shooting.  Matheney and Curtis each had 4 steals.

Myron Gordon was a DNP..

Next up is the Duquesne Dambrots.  Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Past and Future Opponent Land--FINAL

 Tennessee (7-5):  Beat Vanderbilt

South Alabama (5-7) Lost in OT to Coastal Carolina

Murray State: (6-5):  Finsihed 6-5

Minnesota (8-4) Upset Wisconsin.  Unbelievable.

Kent (7-5) Beat Miami in OT, won East

Akron (2-10) Lost to UT

NIU (8-4) Lost to WMU

EMU (7-5) Lost to CMU

UB (4-8) Lost to BSU

Toledo (7-5): Beat Akron

Miami (6-6): Lost to Kent in OT

MAC vs. P5:  3-17 

MAC vs G5:  7-9

MAC vs. FCS:  10-1

East vs. West:  14-4, West

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Chicago State Preview

Next up for MBB, the Chicago State Cougars.

This is one of the most challenged--and least successful--programs in college basketball.  Over the last five years, their top win total is 6 and their best kenpom is 335.  There are 358 teams in D1.  Last year, they lost their first 9 games before COVID and injuries forced them to cancel the remainder of the year. 

They are picked to finish last in the WAC.

They do have a new coach.  His name is Gerald Gillion.  They announced him as an elite recruiter, and he was an assistant at Samford, where he would have run across Myron Gordon.  He's actually an interesting hire and you'd think in Chicago you could compete given the HS talent there.  They did try that with the last coach--Lance Irvin--whose Father was a godfather of Chicago basketball.

 They returned only 3 players from last year's team.

They did open the season with two wins, over #312 St. Thomas and #325 SIU-Edwardsville, both at home.  They have since lost to Loyola (31), UCSB (92) and Pacific (161), all away.

They are not a great offensive team, averaging .9 points per possesions, which is #282 in the country.  What they do get is from the 3FG.  44% of their FGA are from 3FG and they are not bad, they make 34.7% which is above average.  They are, however, terrible on 2FG, turn the ball over a lot, don't rebound on offense, and don't get to the line and make only 60% when they do.

They are equally bad on defense, allowing 1.09 points per possession, which is #292 in the country.  They are good on the boards but they are among the 10% worst teams in defending the shot and they give up a lot of FTs and don't force turnovers.  Almost 47% of the FGAs against them have been 3FGs, which is a staggering number.

Tomorrow's game appears to set up to be a jump shooting contest.  They also allow 57% on 2FGs, which is terrible and should be an opportunity for BG, should they choose to attack the basket.

They have only one double-figure scorer.  He is a G named Brandon Betson who is playing at his first D1 college, but his third college in 3 years.  He was all-conference at those other schools and he's having a good year.  He is scoring 17 a game on 50% overall shooting and 45% from 3FG with 92% at the line.

They also have Bryce Johnson, an honest to god FR, who is scoring 9 PPG on 46% 3FG shooting.  Their leading rebounder is Coreyoun Rushin, a Chicago native who transferred from Idaho State.  He's 6'5" and a senior.

Overall, they have 6 FR and 8 transfers.

BG has a 98% chance of winning per kenpom and 95% from ESPN.  This was put on the schedule to be a win and BG will be looking to make it happen.  Anything less will be very disappointing.  The last time they beat a team with a kenpom better than BG's is right now was January, 2017 @Utah Valley.  Before that was 2014.

Sweet Victory


And the flag flies to end the season.  I'm happy for our guys, who have endured a lot and deserved to get a little bit of a reward.  I think it also provides us a little hope for the process we are undergoing, as we move into the "fill our holes" phase.

To be sure, OU is not a top team in our conference.  They are, however, a team in our conference.  They had the same record as us coming in and had beaten a couple teams we lost handily to.  At this point, beating anybody in the conference is at least notable.  We lost to Akron, for heaven's sake.

BG took the opening kickoff and ran 14 plays, only 2 of them passes but also they drive's key play--a 31 yard completion--converted a third down and a fourth down before stalling out inside the 5 for a FG.

The teams traded punts before OU went on an 86 yard drive to score a TD on the first play of the second quarter.  On the next play, BG was faced with a 4th and 1 on its own 37 and went for it and lost a yard.  Loeffler said after the game that he literally wanted to see if we could get a yard.  We could not.  And it happened another time, too.

So OU had a short field, they drove inside the BG 10 but the Falcon defense kept them out of the end zone and it was a 10-3 OU lead.

I think the next sequence is one of the key sequences of the game.  You could feel an old pattern emerging and it would have been easy to fall into it.  But BG did not, instead driving 70 yards on a 10 play drive with 4 plays over ten yards before McDonald and Osborne connected on a TD pass and it was 10-10.

OU came out and on their third play Deshawn Jones got BG a pick and the Falcons were in business again.  The drive ended up with Needham's only missed FG of the season, but it was all good from there on in.

The teams traded 3 and outs to end the half.

OU got the ball for the second half.  How many times has this gone wrong for us?  Not this time...OU went 3 and out.  BG drove to the OU 30 and pooch punted into the end zone.  On the next drive, OU got one first down but then BG forced them to punt.  The punter dropped the snap and BG was in business inside the OU 30, ending with a Nate Needham FG.  13-10 BG.

OU went 3 and out from a sack by Karl Brooks.

BG took the ball on the 50 and moved to the OU 1 for a 3rd down play.  We are in the 4th now.  BG could not convert on 3rd down or 4th down but on OU's first play they tackled Armani Rogers in the end zone for a safety and BG led 15-10 with 13 minutes left in the game.

BG took the free kick and drove 51 yards on 12 plays--converting 2 3rd downs--and ended with a Needham FG to go up 18-10 with 7 minutes left.  OU moved the ball on the next drive, including a 25-yard completion and they were at the BG 31.  A holding penalty set them back and they were forced to go for it on 4th and 12 when Trent Simms picked the ball off for the Falcons.

BG started on the OU 28 with 3:47 left.  They forced OU to use all their timeouts and ended up with a game clinching FG.  OU's last desperate drive ended with another Jones INT.

You start with the defense.  OU came in #8 in the MAC in scoring, but BG came in #12 in scoring defense.  Also, OU was a run-focused team and that had to be a worry.  Now, OU made an odd choice.  They usually have 62% runs, but it was actually 50/50 here and using their "passing" QB, Kurtis Rourke instead of a running QB that would have been suited to the conditions.

Still, BG held them to 10 points.  Created 3 turnovers and 2 sacks.  BG held them to 4.3 yards per carry, well below their average.  OU also completed only 50% of their passes and had only 8 yards per completion, 103 total passing yards.  The Bobcats had 10 first downs, 2 of 11 on 3rd down and 1 of 3 on 4th down.  It was a defensive effort to build on, as Brand and Ferguson return and other holes are filled.

On the offensive side, BG did not have a great game.  BG ran 80 plays, a good sign on its own.  They kept on schedule (more or less) and generated 21 first downs.  BG struggled to run the ball and missed some throws and failed to convert twice on 4th and 1 and ended up with one touchdown and four FGs and a safety to get to 21.

It was, however, good enough.  For all the problems with McDonald, he had time to throw and he missed a couple but he also made some really nice throws.  He was only sacked once.  He completed 24 of 37 and of his 24 completions, 14 were for a first down.  He also ran for at least one first down.

BG was 8 of 19 on 3rd down and had 37 minutes of possession, which is pretty good when run the ball for 2.2 yards per play and get only 4.4 yards per play overall. 

Again, not a great offensive performance, but good enough.  With OU's mistakes in their own territory, this could have been a blowout.

And how about Nate Needham?  Are you kidding me?  Decidedly average a year ago, he missed only one FG this year--it was in this game, when he said the wind quit blowing just as he kicked it--and his four FGs, three 39 or over, on a windy November day in the Doyt-wind-tunnel...well, that did as much to deliver the game as anything.  He's a great story.

More on the season wrap-up.  It promises to be a busy off season.  The portal will continue to roll---just today Riley Keller announced he was transferring--and BG has talked about using transfers to fill some gaps.  "It's time," Coach says.  And it is.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

25 Questions That Signal The End


What is their body of work?

So, Frank Solich created a new paradigm for OU football, which had been historically poor.  He won the East four times, is the winningest coach in MAC history, but never won the MAC Championship.  He resigned in mid-July and was replaced by the OC and associate Head Coach Tim Albin.

They haven't had a great year.  They are 3-8, the same record as BG, and dropped their FCS game.  They did beat Akron, EMU and Miami...all teams BG decidedly did not beat.  They did lose to UB.  A couple of their coaches have announced their retirement and Albin will have the opportunity to put his stamp on the program soon.

OU has won the last 3 meetings over BG and BG won the three before that.  OU is a 6-point favorite.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 27 which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders? (Top 20 Nationally)


What is their turnover ratio? 

They are -4


How is their QB play?

So, you will remember Nathan Rourke, their excellent starting QB, who has graduated and now plays for the BC Lions.  They now use his brother Kurtis in a split with UNLV transfer Armani Rogers.  Kurtis throws most of the passes....he's OK, #7 in the MAC in pass efficiency.  Rogers is the #13 rusher in the MAC.

What is their scoring and yards per play (MAC Games only from here on in)

They are #8 in scoring and #6 in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

This is how they were built.  They are #3 in yards per rush.  DeMontre Truggle is their lead back at 6.3 yards per carry.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 8th in pass efficiency.  They complete 66% of their passes, with 8 TDs and 2 INT and 12.2 yards per completion.  Normally, a lot of short passes and running after the catch.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 62% of their plays, which is how they are built.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Teams that plays this style almost always do...they are 5th in the MAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

Not great, 4.84 points per trip.  They have 10 red zone FGs in 25 attempts.

Do they protect the quarterback?

Not great, sacks on 7% of attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play

They are 5th in scoring defense and 8th in yards per play allowed.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 6th in yards per carry allowed.

Can they be passed on?

They are #9 in pass efficiency defense.  They allow 68% completions (most in the MAC) and a 13:5 ratio.  

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 6th in getting off the field.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They allow 4.7 points per trip which is not bad.

Do they pressure the QB?

They get sacks on 5% of passing attempts, which is average.

Special Teams:


They are 3rd in net punting.  No TDS, no blocks.

Punt Return?

They are 8th in punt returns.  No TD, no blocks.


He is not great.  15 of 22 with a 44 long.  3 misses under 40.  


Opponents start on the 27.  No TDs.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 29.  1 TD

Intangible Miscellany

The teams have the same record, but one is playing better than the other.  The first thing to watch for is if BG's offensive line has benefitted from a couple extra days off.  They appear to be exhausted and really struggling.  If that's the case, then it's going to be difficult to impossible for BG to win this game.  If they can get Stewart going than and protect McDonald--and OU isn't a great pass rushing team--than there might be a shot.  On the other side, BG has the worst defense in the MAC in conference play.  The Falcons got some stops against the Miami running game and they will need it again or else the offense might never get onto the field.  Neither team has anything but pride to play for.  It would be great to see us end the year on a high note, but it would take a sharp departure from the previous weeks.

Trip To Fort Myers Ends Badly

 After one promising performance against Milwaukee, BG reverted to form Wednesday, losing to Southern Utah 87-73 in a game that wasn't that close.

The first half was competitive with lead changes etc.  SUU led by 4 at the half.  SUU came out on an 8-2 run to stretch the lead to double digits for the first time about 3 minutes in.  The Thunderbirds got the lead to 10 again about 5 minutes in and it never got inside 10 again.  On the contrary, with 13 minutes left it was 16 points, with 8 left it was 21,  It was still 20 with 3 minutes left...BG hit a couple 3s in garbage time to make it look closer, but this was a 20-point game.

BG's shooting was poor again--the worst since Western Carolina.  They took 45% of their shots from 3FG and made only 20%.  Their 2FG was 50%, but it ended up with 42.7% EFG.  They also had 18% turnovers and 28% offensive rebounding, neither of which helped the cause.  They only salvaged the night by getting to the line 29 times and making 26.  Overall, it was .99 points per possession, which is below average.  Last year, BG was winless at this level of offense.

Having said that, the defense was the bigger issue.  The Falcons gave up 1.18 points per possession.  SUU took 44% of their field goals from 3FG but they made 33% and 59% of their 2FGs.  They had some turnovers but killed it on the offensive boards and got to the line 27 times, making 20.  BG did not win last year at this level of defense and only one time the year before that.

Plowden had 18 points to lead the team.  He shot 5 of 13 overall and 2 of 4 from 3FG.  He also had 6 rebounds.  Fulcher had 11 points on 3 of 3 shooting in 20 minutes of play.  No one else scored in double figures.

Dakich always said you wanted to get a win before a break so you could enjoy the holiday.  On that theory, everyone will have something on their mind this year.  BG has Chicago State on Sunday--they are the 3rd lowest ranked team in D1.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Falcon Nation


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Southern Utah Preview

So next up in Ft. Myers is Southern Utah--the Thunderbirds--out of the Big Sky Conference.  This is a very solid mid-major program.  They have been in the Tourney once (in 2001) and won a game in the CIT in 2019.  They were very good last year, finishing 20-4 and winning their regular season title with a kenpom of 135.  They lost the conference tournament and would have been in the NIT in a normal year.

They return four starters from that team and Blue Ribbon picked them to win the Big Sky again.  This year they are 1-3 in D1 games.  They lost @ Dixie State (311), which is not good, but then @ St. Mary's (36) and in 2OT to Cal (126).  FWIW, their coach claims an error by the scorer's table cost them the win. They beat Yale yesterday in OT.

Their kenpom right now is #136.  They are 2 point favorites.

Their coach is Todd Simon, who attended CMU.  He isn't listed as a letterwinner so I assume he didn't play for them.  He was interim coach at UNLV when Dave Rice was fired mid-season.  From there he went to Southern Utah, where he has taken the team from 6-27 to 20-4 last year.

Their leading player heading into the season was Tevian Jones, Blue Ribbon's pick for Big Sky POY.  He's not off to a great start, with 14 PPG on 31% overall shooting and 27% from 3FG.  He did have 24 against Yale.

Their leading scorer is John Knight III, a 6'3" G who is a redshirt senior.  He was pre-season All-Big Sky and is scoring 19 PPG on 57% shooting--virtually all 2FG.  They also have 6'6" Maizen Fauset, who averages a double-double, at 10.8 and 10.4.

They are #6 in the nation in experience.

Offensively, they are struggling at .92 points per game.  They are taking 46% of their FGs from 3FG and only making 26%.  They are about average taking care of the ball and a little above average on the offensive boards and getting to the line.  They also shoot FTs poorly.

Defensively, they are allowing 1.02 points per possession, which is also below average.They are well below average defending the shot and forcing turnovers, but do a good job on the defensive boards and a very good job keeping teams off the line.

This is a solid opponent and well-coached.  It will be a good test for BG to string together two strong games as part of putting a little run together.  I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

BG MBB Gets Winning Performance

 BG got their first win against D1 opposition yesterday, pulling off a nice victory on a neutral floor against Milwaukee.  Milwaukee is a good team--not great--but MAC-level opposition.  Given that BG had already lost two games to sub-MAC quality teams, it was worrisome, but the Falcons put the right effort together and got the win by 14.  They were underdogs doing in.

BG led most of the way.  They were up as much as 8 in the first half before Milwaukee brought it back to a tie in the last couple minutes and BG led by 1 at the half.  

Patrick Baldwin hit a 3FG to start the second half and then BG went on a 9-minute, 19-2 run that essentially won the game.  Clearly, runs like that are built on stops and when you can hold a team without any points for over 7 minutes, you have a pretty good shot at winning the game.  To be sure, BG also did a nice job closing it out--the Panthers never got closer than 9 points heading home.

BG had a big offensive game at 1.22 points per possession.  The overall pace was 67 possessions, which is slow for a BG game.  That kind of offensive output would usually be among BG's top 5 games in a season.  They built it the way we are used to seeing them build it...with good but not great shooting, but creating extra possessions with low turnovers and good offensive rebounding.  They also made 15 of 19 FTs.

BG shot 35% of their FGs from 3FG, which is actually below the national average.  BG did make 39% of them, but only made 48% from 2FG, which is a little below the average.  Remember as well that Milwaukee had defended the shot very well this year.

Meanwhile, they held Milwaukee to 1.01 points per possession.  While hardly a stifling defensive performance, it is good enough to win most nights.  Coming in, the Panthers had been very 2FG-focused, but they shot 54% of their FGAs from 3FG and made 34% which is OK, but tough for that many shots. They turned the ball over more than BG and had just an average night on the offensive boards.  They were 11 of 15 at the line.

Individually, BG was led by Daeqwon Plowden, who responded to a challenge from Coach Huger to be the toughest guy on the floor with a career-high-tying 26 points.  He made 5 of 7 from 3FG and 2 of 5 from 3FG, 7-9 at the line, 2 blocked shots, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Myron Gordon had a rough 11, shooting 2 of 8.  Joe Reece had 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes. Fulcher had 6 points in 13 minutes and made all 3 of his shots.  The team clearly benefitted from having Matheny back.  It doesn't necessarily show on his stats line but the offense seems to run much better with him at the helm.

One last thing...Patrick Baldwin Jr played only 17 minutes.  He turned his ankle at one point and didn't play much after that.  He had 9 rebounds while he was in there, but was 3 of 11 shooting.

Next up this afternoon is Southern Utah.  More on that in a minute or two.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Milwaukee Preview

So next up, from Ft. Myers, is BG and Milwaukee.  The Panthers were previously known as Wisconsin-Milwaukee before rightsizing their name.  They have played in four NCAA Tournaments.  In 2005, they were a 12-seed and beat #5 Alabama and #4 Boston College before losing in the Sweet 16.  They also won the next year in the first round as a #11 seed.  

They fired the coach who had taken them there (Rob Jeter) and cast themselves into the wilderness.  They have had 5 straight losing seasons since Jeter left.

Their coach is Pat Baldwin (Sr), who was a star player at Northwestern and was an assistant with Chris Collins at Northwestern before coming to Milwaukee.  He is 48-71 with the Panthers.

Blue Ribbon had them 6th in the Horizon this year. They were 10-12 last year with 3 starters lost.

BG and Milwaukee have played three times.  BG won a 1975 meeting (the BG team that lost to CMU in the league finale) but then BG lost to them in 09 and 10 under Orr.  Milwaukee is a 2-point favorite tomorrow.

They aren't off to a great start this year.  They beat North Dakota (320) but then lost to Eastern Kentucky (196) and Florida (18).  Eastern Kentucky would probably be a lower-tier team in the MAC.

The news with Milwaukee is a guy named Patrick Baldwin....JR...who is the son of the coach and a 5-star recruit who chose Milwaukee over Duke.  He is presumed to be a 1-and-done.  He is a 6'9" 3, although his bio lists him as a guard.  He was actually the top-ranked recruit in the country before an injury his senior year knocked him down to #4.  He's scoring 17.7 PPG (though on 38% shooting), 85% FT shooting and 8.3 RPG.

So that's a legit cause of excitement.  He will be a handful in the Horizon and the MAC and BG will work to have the length and athleticism to handle him.

Their second-leading scorer is 6'5" DeAndre Gholston, who was their leading scorer last year.  He is scoring 13.7 PPG this year on 41% shooting overall and 36% 3FG shooting.  He makes 83% of his FTs and adds 5 RPG.  In 101 minutes he has contributed zero assits.

The other double-figurer scorer is Josh Thomas, a 6'4" G, scoring 11.3 PPG on 50% shooting and 88% FT shooting and 4.3 RPG.  FR Donovan Newby leads the team with 11 assists.

Overall, they are struggling to score the ball, at .89 points per possession, which is #274 in the nation.  BG is only scoring .91.

They are very much focused on making 2FGs--only about 30 teams in the country try fewer 3FG attempts.  Sometimes a team like that actually makes the 3FG they do take, but Milwaukee makes 26%, which is poor.  They only make 45% of their 2FGs, which explains the poor offensive production. They take good care of the ball, but are poor on the offensive boards and are average at getting to the line, though they make 73% when they do get there.

The defense is also not great, at 1.02 ppp, which is #202 in the country.  (BG is playing terrible defense at #311 in the country).

They defend the shot very well, allowing only 41% on 2FG.  They are less good on 3FG (36%).  They do not force turnovers, which is often true of teams that defend the shot well.  They are good on the defensive boards and teams RARELY get to the line against them.

Teams try a lot of 3FGs against them, which should fit well with what BG wants to do, although has yet to actually do.  BG is #322 in the nation in 3FG while #37 in 3FGAs.

They are tall--#41 in the country for average height.

You don't know what to expect with BG to date.  Or, you don't want to know.  The Falcons have not had a strong performance in any game yet, and this might be the time for it to happen. Even with Baldwin, Milwaukee is not impossible to beat, even though they are formidable.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Past and Future Opponent Land

 Tennessee (6-5):  Beat Southern Alabama

South Alabama (5-6) Lost to Tennessee

Murray State: (6-5):  Beat Eastern Illinois

Minnesota (7-4) Beat Indiana

Kent (6-5) Destroyed Akron, sets up title match with Miami

Akron (2-9) Run over by Wagon Wheel

NIU (8-3) Beat Buffalo, Won West

EMU (7-4) Rallies to beat WMU

UB (4-7) Lost to NIU, no bowl

Toledo (6-5): Beat Ohio

Miami (6-5): Beat BG

Ohio (3-8):  Lost to UT

MAC vs. P5:  3-17 

MAC vs G5:  7-9

MAC vs. FCS:  10-1

East vs. West:  12-4, West

Fields to Redshirt

Thanks to the commenter yesterday who pointed me to social media (IG) where I saw that Caleb Fields had posted that he will redshirt this year and return for next season.

Caleb has been a warrior for our program and I wish him nothing but the best as he recovers  Get well soon.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

BG Loses At Home to Norfolk State

Woof.  Thank goodness BG has soccer...and volleyball...and hockey..because right now things are really tough in the football and men's basketball world.

BG dropped its home opener Friday night against Norfolk State...a game they should expect to win, especially at home.  Yes, as Coach pointed out after the game, Norfolk State is a tournament team, but they're a play-in team.  On the other hand, they have now beaten us twice in a row.

Coach says he "loves the direction" we are headed...says we competed hard, except for 8 minutes...we have to remember it's a 40-minute game, etc.  He's hopeful we will get Metheny back soon.  (Didn't mention Fields).

I guess I understood that we might have some coalescing to do.  I thought we would be a team that would still be able to beat Western Carolina and Norfolk State while coalescing, but apparently that isn't how it is.  Whether the team grows into a competitive team in our conference remains to be seen but it wasn't out there last night.

There was one period in the second half that cost BG the game.  The first half was close--it was tied with 6 minutes left.  BG went up 6 with about 4 left, led by 5 with 2 minutes left and then Norfolk State scored the last 3 to go to the locker room down a bucket.

BG scored the first two baskets of the second half and led by 6 with 18 to play. Norfolk called timeout and that's where the wheels fell off.  

The Spartans got a hoop and then pressured Gordon into a turnover bringing the ball up, which turned into another basket.  In total, they went on a 18-2 run over the next 3:30...yes, that's 18 points in 3:30...and led the game by 10.  There were three turnovers and a ton of missed jumpers on the BG side.

The game was never close again.  Struggling against a zone (as they often do) BG got it to 5 once and then gave up the next 6 points.  Norfolk led by 15 with 2:28 left to play.  BG did come back in the last minute, had it down to 5 with :26 left to play (without the ball), but Norfolk nailed 2 key FTs and led by 9 before BG hit a meaningless 3 to end the game and finalize the margin at 6.

Offensively, you can't talk about the game without talking about 3FG shooting.  BG took 61% of the field goal attempts from 3FG.  That's the highest percentage since an early January 2015 (Jans) game against Chicago State and in bulk numbers it is the highest in school history.

The problem is that BG made 30%.  That was 25% in the first half and 33% in the second half.  The D1 average is 32.7% this year. (Interestingly, it was 35% before the line moved back and has fallen just a bit since then).

BG has been trying more 3FGs so far this season--not THIS many, but more. It's 47% of FGA up from 39% last year.  The overall concept is clearly toward the position-less basketball you see more and more.  BG has no traditional 5 and even when Matiss is back, they will have a stretch 4 in that slot.  Nothing wrong with that, just needs to get turned into wins.  Position-less or not, BG needed to be tougher under the basket last night.

Overall, BG's offense was productive.  The game had 76 possessions, which is on the fast side of normal.  BG scored 84 points...BG had 1.11 points per possession which is a winning number.  Have to say it never felt like a winning offense.  Part of it is watching those offensive sets ending up with a jacked-up was a zone, of course.  BG made 50% of their 2FGs, which is slightly above the D1 average.  Together, BG ended up with an EFG of 47%, which is below the national average.  However, that was matched with an overall strong turnover rate, good offensive rebounding, good rate of getting to the line and 76% makes to end up with a good offensive game.

One reason it felt different was that while BG made only 10 turnovers, 4 of them were very poorly timed.  Three came in Norfolk's decisive run--decisive runs are built on stops--and one was in the late first half when BG looked to be ready for a decisive run of its own.

It was BG's best post-Turner offensive game, FWIW.

On the defensive side...while that was less good.  Norfolk ended up with 1.19 points per possession.  Since 2018, BG has 1 win with that kind of defensive struggle.  It's only a little less than OSU did.

Norfolk tried only 25% of their FGs from 3FG, while making 56%.  They also made 48% of their 2FGs to end up with 57% EFG, which is really good.  Usually, shooting wins the game.  They were also a little better on turnovers, equal on offensive rebounds and comparable on getting to the line, though they made only 65%.

Individually, BG settled into a slightly more normal rotation.  Yes, 10 guys got 10 minutes, but 3 of them played 30.  Having said that, I don't understand how Reece only got 18 minutes.  He had 10 points, 4-5 shooting and 7 rebounds in those 18 minutes.

Myron Gordon led BG in scoring, with 19 points on 5 of 10 shooting overall and 3 of 6 3FG...4 assists over 2 TOs.  Diggs had 17 on 5 of 12 shooting from 3FG.  Plowden's shooting woes continue, but he made 9 of 10 FTs to go with 5 rebds and 3 blocks and 14 points.  Fulcher had 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes.  Can't quite understand why he isn't seeing more minutes, either.

So, BG is 1-3 and 0-3 in D1.  BG has Milwaukee up next on Tuesday.  That's no joke...Milwaukee has a 5-star recruit, Patrick Baldwin, who is 6'9" and at Milwaukee because he is the coach's kid.  He has double-doubled twice in the young season.