Sunday, February 28, 2021

Turner on MAC Scoring List

There's one more week left in the regular you know by now, Justin Turner is the leading scorer in our program's history.  He's the first to score 2,000 points and he's the #12 scorer in MAC history.  I thought it would be interesting to see what company he is in.  This is a pretty good collection of players.  At least a couple of them ended up taking their team to the Sweet 16.  One has numerous Championship rings from the NBA.  Many of them are the leading scorers in their program's history.

With 19 points, Justin would end up in the top 10.  We have between 3 and 5 games left, at his current average, Justin would end up either 6th or 5th.  Fourth would be tough to pull off....but who knows.

Anyway, a quick opportunity to appreciate Justin's career and the player whose company he has joined.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

BG Breaks JAR Curse, Wins by 12.

BG beat Akron last night by 12 at the JAR, the first home loss for the Zips this year and the first win in that venue in 11 years.  In that game--and in the last four--we've seen the team we hoped we had this year.  Last night's win was a comprehensive defeat of a good team on their floor.  It was the kind of game that might make you think you could win a title.

First a little history.  In 2009, BG was at the JAR.  The Falcons were in the running for the title.  There were about two minutes left and the Zips were turning the heat up in a 1-point game.  BG couldn't even get the ball in.  Finally they did, but Akron's defense was everywhere.  The ball ended up in the corner with Brian Moten who drained a late-clock 3FG to put BG ahead.  The Falcons then survived a late flurry at the basket and then a run-out dunk (also by Moten) made it a 50-46 victory.  The game put BG in first place and then ended up winning the regular season.  March 1, 2009.

It was an ugly streak.  Only 3 of the 11 games were inside 5 points.  Seven of 11 had double digit margins, 3 above 20 and 1 above 30.

And last night, it went the other way.

It was the kind of no-doubt victory that gives you confidence.

The first half was very entertaining.  The first 10 minutes were very close.  The first run went to Akron, who went up 7 with about 8 minutes left.  It was only 21-14...BG was struggling to score early, as they have before.

The scoring picked up on both sides, and with 3:38 left it was 33-27 Akron.  BG went on an 11-4 run to end the half in the lead by 1.

There were 8 lead changes in the first half.

The second half was impressive for the Falcons, who led for almost 18 minutes, while Akron led for :45.  

BG built the lead gradually, but steadily.  It was 6 points with 16 to play.  It was 7 with 12 to play.  It was still 7 with 6 minutes left, but Akron never got it within 3 over that span.  

The last media timeout came with 3:29 left and BG up 8, 72-64.  And then BG did what Akron had done to them so many times...closed the door with extreme prejudice.  BG got a stop, split a pair of free throws...and then Caleb Fields got a steal...that Matheny tapped forward...and then Fulcher converted to an and-one to put BG up 12 with 2:13 left.

And that was it.  There was no last minute drama, no clinging to the lead.  Akron never got closer than 11 and BG made all 4 last minute FTs.

That's how you win a good team wins a game.

BG scored 1.19 points per possession.  That's their 4th best offensive game of the year and the best since the second CMU game.  Meanwhile, they held Akron to 1.02, well below the MAC average for the season.

The spread was driven by shooting.  BG shot 55% from 2FG and 30% from 3FG.  Only 34% of their FG attempts were 3s, which is among their lower numbers for the year.  I would guess that's because of the offensive rebounds, which were really high--3rd highest in MAC play.

Meanwhile, Akron shot 41% from 2 and 26% from 3FG.  They came in as a very effective shooting team. It was their worst shooting game of the year.  The FG spread was so significant, in fact, that Akron was +8 at the free throw line and lost by 12.  BG made 31 FGs and AK made 21.

Individually, Justin Turner led BG with 19.  That was 6 of 11 and 1 of 5, 4 of 4 at the line and 1 assist over 3 turnovers.  Metheny continues to be hot, scoring 15 on 3 of 6 from 2FG and 3FG.  Also 5 assists over 2 turnovers.  Fields had a nice 13 on 4 of 5 and 1 of 3 shooting.  Dylan Swingle scored 9 on 4 of 5 shooting and Plowden had 6 rebounds.

For Akron, it was really interesting.  LCJ had 29, but it took him 20 shots to get there.  He was 2 of 8 from 2FG.  Meanwhile, no other Zip scored in double figures.  Trimble was 2 of 9 from 3FG.

So, the Falcons move to 14 and 9 and 10-7.  They have clinched a spot in Cleveland, where it's going to be an 8-team show where you could see 5-6 teams have a shot to win it.  (We can argue about Ball State, I don't see it).  Two more regular season games, with Miami and Ohio both at home next week.  That Miami loss earlier is a rankler....time to right that wrong.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Football Updates: Biggers, Schoonover, First Verbal

 While we wait for the Akron game tonight, there are a few football updates.

Caleb Biggers is in the transfer portal.  He's the second prominent defensive player to be in the portal, with the other being Jerry Roberts.  We don't know of Roberts having found a home yet and, as noted, there are way more players than slots.  Time will tell.  He played three seasons at BG and made 19 starts.  He was 4th on the team in tackles.  If he doesn't come back, best of luck to him.

BG's assistant Jake Schoonover has left to take a job at Kansas, where he will work with Les Miles.  Schoonover was safeties and special teams for the last couple seasons.  He came with Loeffler and we will see how the vacancy gets filled.

Lastly, BG does have their first verbal for the class of 2022.  It's WR Jalen Holly of River Rouge, MI.  He had offers from Akron, Ball State, CMU, Kent and NIU.  He's 6'0" and listed as a 3-star recruit.

Note that a commenter has corrected me...Schoonover was hired here by Coach Jinks.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Zip Preview 2

The season is reaching the last week and we're getting to the point where you can't say there's a lot of time left.  Apparently some result today meant that BG has qualified for Cleveland, which means that we're going to get a shot to win 3 and go to Indy.

Tomorrow's game is going to be an interesting test.  Akron is one of the top two teams this year in the MAC--the type of team you have to beat to win the MAC.  They are 12-5 in D1 games and 12-4 in the MAC.  They have yet to lose at home this year.  

Akron at one point beat BG in 17 straight games.  Recently, BG has greatly improved that trend,  winning 3 out of the last 8.  Akron beat the Falcons by 12 at the Stroh earlier.

That was the first game in BG's six-game losing streak.  

BG was victimized by putrid shooting.  It was the second-worst game of the season and there hasn't been a worse one since then.  BG scored .81 points per possession, the worst of the year.  As you can see, turnovers weren't great, offensive rebounding was only average and BG shot only 5 FTs.  On defense, Akron didn't shoot great either and they also turned the ball over, but they were very good on the offensive boards and made 17 of 19 FTs.


I'd suspect that BG's ability to score will be key in this one as well.  Akron is the #2 defensive team in the MAC.  They defend the 2FG especially well.  They don't force turnovers, but they are very good on their own defensive boards and they don't put their opponent on the line.  BG will need to keep hitting 3FGs, I suspect, to open this up.

3FGs will be vital to Akron too.  No team in the MAC tries a higher percentage of its FGAs from 3FG.  In fact, they are 12th in the country.  They are 4th in making 3FGs and first in percentage of points from 3FG.  They take good care of the ball, are just average on the offensive rebounding and 4th at getting to the line.

They are a good team.  And this is the kind of team you need to beat to win.  Not tomorrow, of course.  But eventually.

They are led by last year's MAC POY, Loren Cristian Jackson, who is tied for the league lead with 20.2 PPG.  He's 2nd in the MAC in assists as well.  He uses a lot of possessions, shooting 41% and 33%.  He shot 46% from 3FG last year.  He had a tough 16 against BG in the first game.

The dagger in the first game was St. John's transfer Bryan Trimble had 18 points shooting 7 of 13 overall.  He's averaging 14.7 per game for the year, shooting 45% on virtually all 3FGs.  He's 6th in the MAC. 

Sophomore Enrique Freeman is leading them with 8+ RPG, which is 3rd in the MAC.

So here we go.  BG certainly struggled and seems to be playing better, including a win over UT--the #1 team in the MAC.  This will be a good test of whether BG is ready to go to Cleveland and come home with the title.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Falcon MBB Wins Again

 BG's MBB team suffered another slow start, but then eventually found their stride and defeated a struggling EMU team.  This is a game that BG should have won and did, by 13 in the end.

It didn't always look that good.  BG has historically struggled against zone defenses, and the first part of the game was no exception.  With 6 minutes left in the first half, (14 minutes and a third of the game), BG was down by 17 points, 29-12.  That's less than a point a minute.

From there, it was all Falcons.  BG went on a 16-2 run to close the half out only down 3, took the lead for good in the first 2 minutes of the second half, had a 10-point lead a couple minutes later and it was off to the races.  For the last 26 minutes of the game, BG outscored them 70-40.

There was one point where it got a little nerve-wracking.  BG was struggling under full-court pressure and also missing FTs and the lead was down to 6 with 2 minutes left.  BG got a couple stops and Fields re-found his FT touch and BG was able to turn the tide back.

One thing I noticed is that BG's defense--which can be hard to watch--seems to pick up when the Falcons go to full-court pressure.  It's the second game in a row where that has seemed to work.  It just seems to get everyone engaged.  It isn't really a press designed to get turnovers but just to slow the other team down and it seems to be good for the defense.

BG had 1.16 points per possession which is a winning number.  BG is 23-2 over the last 3 years when scoring that amount or more.  BG also had a solid defensive effort in the end, holding EMU to .97 points per possession.  BG benefitted from unconscious shooting.  They tried over half of their FGs from 3FG--the first time that's happened in a MAC game since the "suspension" game against OU in 2017.  BG also made 48% of them, their best in a MAC game this year.  BG turned the ball over more than normal, but got some help on the offensive boards and got to the line 21 times, all in the second half.  BG struggled, only making 13 of the FTs.

EMU didn't have a terrible shooting night, but they turned the ball over more and did nothing on their offensive boards.  Their mix of shots was heavily weighted toward 2FG and they only made 50% of those.  That's right on the MAC average, but in today's game if you are going to focus on getting to the basket you need to score more than that or get to the line, which also didn't happen.

On an individual basis, you only need to say "Kaden Metheny."  He was just unconscious from 3FG and helped BG shoot over that zone.  He made 8 of 14 3FGs.  The school record is 9 by Jay Larranaga.  He finished with 29 points, his second-straight 20 point game after struggling during BG's losing streak. Remember, he's a FR, so you do get some ups and downs.  I think he's going to be a good one.

Caleb Fields was in triple-double territory.  He had 13 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 turnover.

Justin Turner had 13 and had to work for it.  He was 2-9 on 2FG attempts.  He did have 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals over 2 turnovers, so there were other contributions.

Plowden also had 13 on 3 of 7 and 2 of 5 shooting and 9 rebounds.  Diggs had 10 and 6 rebounds, making 2 of 3 from 3FG.

BG moves to 9-7 in the MAC and still in 6th place.  There's a big one Friday, as BG takes on Akron.  The Zips are currently #2 in the MAC and beat BG by 12 in their last meeting.  It will be an excellent test as BG prepares to win the kind of game they will need to win in the MAC tourney.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

MBB Is Back, EMU Preview

 So, a quick preview for EMU tonight...

It has been a tough year for EMU.  They were predicted to be eighth in the MAC, returning 7 letterwinners, their leading scorer and bringing in four transfers.

It has been a tough year.  They are 4-9 with just one D1 win.  Their only win was a 12-point win over Akron, which is kind of the most EMU thing ever.

They were sidelined by COVID from January 26 to February 20 and they are in the middle of a five-game losing streak that has spanned both sides of the long break.  They have played 9 MAC games to date and are looking at playing three between tonight and Saturday.

They are really struggling.  They are last in the MAC in offense and defense.  They are the worst shooting team in the MAC--11th on 2FGs and 12th on 3FGs.  They are also last in defending the FG--10th on defending the 3FG and 12th on defending the 2FG.

Ty Groce was their leading scorer last year and he is again.  He's a legit player.  He is an Ypsi native, 6'8" and scoring 14 PPG on 53% shooting overall and a team high 6 RPG.  Bryce McBride is their second leading scorer.  He's a 6'2" JUCO transfer scoring a rough 12 PPG on 36% overall shooting and 27% from 3FG.  Third-leading scorer is Yeikson Montero, who a 6'5" SR who was a JUCO and is his second year at EMU.  He's scoring 11.4 PPG but shooting 37% overall and 11 of 50 from 3FG!  He also averages 6.1 RPG.  They also have Drew Lowder, a transfer from Holy Cross who is scoring 8 PPG on similar shooting numbers.

Just a quick look at the Eagles.  It would be a real let down to have BG seem to get things back on track and lose this one.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Victory in Muncie

 And now it's two in a row, as BG beat Ball State in Muncie.  It's the first two-game winning streak since the two CMU wins created a five-game winning streak which was broken only by losing to...well...Ball State.

The first half was very competitive.  No one led by more than 6 points, there were 13 lead changes and Ball State led by 1 point at the break.

The second half belonged to the Falcons.  BG took the lead with 17 minutes left and led the remainder of the way.  Even then, the game was close, with BG only leading by 4 with 7:42 left.  BG went on a 12-0 run over the next 3 minutes, leading by 16 with 4:40 or so left.  There were 6 points for Matheny and 4 for Turner on the run, while Ball State had four turnovers and a player ejected over the same period.

From there BG ran the game out and took the victory, 75-62.

It was a nice win, and just what the doctor ordered coming off the Rocket win.  To be sure, Ball State is struggling this year, but this was a solid road win.

It was also different from the UT win.  That was a game where BG outscored UT, which had average offense. 

BG was actually outshot "a fair piece" as my Grandpa would say, yet still outscored the Cards. BG finished with 1.05 points per possession and held Ball State to .87 points per possession.  The key difference was turnovers.  Ball State had more than twice as many turnovers as BG, and those lost possessions more than evened out the shooting difference.

It was the most turnovers by a BG opponent since 2017 (Miami).

Coach said BG had looked at tape from the first game and found a place where Ball State could be trapped.  There was also full-court pressure, and while only 9 of the 23 turnovers were steals, Ball State did seem to have their rhythm disrupted.

BG also had an advantage in rebounding and was +5 at the line.  Ball State did not shoot a FT in the second half (and made only one 3FG).

Justin Turner led BG with a very efficient 27 points, making 9 of 12 on 2FG and 2 of 5 on 3FG.  Add 3 assists, 4 steals and 3 turnovers to that total.  Kaden Matheny had a game.  He made 3 of 4 on 2FG and 4 of 9 on 3FG for 21 points, 2 assists and 0 turnovers.  Daeqwon Plowden had a rougher night, with 11 points on 5-11/0-2 shooting and 4 turnovers.  Caleb Fields had 10 rebounds and Fulcher notched 7.

The schedule has filled out a little since the game ended.  BG is off for a week, plays EMU next Tuesday, Akron a week from Friday, Miami the Tuesday after that and OU the last Saturday. 

COVID-pending, of course.  BG remains in six, but is in a much more solid position than two games ago.  If the tournament started today, BG would open with Kent.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Ball State Redux

 And back it.  No time to rest on its rivalry win.  BG now moves to a re-match with Ball State.

The season is in complete flux.  BG is in 6th place at 7-7.  The two other teams with 7 losses only have 1 win.  It's hard to know how many games BG will even play--there are three left on the schedule and there's three more to be made up.  There's a big hole in BG's schedule but the teams we need to play have a lot of games to made up.  And more teams could be paused--even BG or UT, which have not been.

Tomorrow's game is a re-match with Ball State.  Ball State (it seems like so long ago) was the game that actually started the skid.  BG lost by 24 at the Stroh to the Cardinals, who, as you can see, are not having a great year.

The Cards are 2-4 since the BG game, beating NIU and UT and losing to Miami, Ohio, Akron and Buffalo.  They have played their last 3 games without their star guard, KJ Walton, who has been injured.  No idea if he can be expected back tomorrow, but if he doesn't play there's a much better chance for BG to win.

The first game was about as one-sided as they get.  In fact, when you look at the stats, it's hard to believe it wasn't way worse.  BG turned the ball over more than normal, got next to nothing on the offensive boards and got to the line but only made 65%.  Meanwhile, Ball State shot the lights odd, which sadly is only the second-worst defensive game of the year.  Also, at .86 points per possession, only their second-worst offensive game of the year.

Ishmael El-Amin is their leading scorer at 14.5 PPG.  He's shooting 44% and 32%, so not terribly efficient.  Walton was scoring 14.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG before he was injured.  Their only other double-figure scorer is Brachen Hazen, who is scoring 10.4 PPG on 51% 2FG  shooting and 5.9 RPG.  

El-Amin had 20 in the first game. with Hazen and Walton at 14.

BG certainly can't be happy with the result of the first game.  Hopefully, they will be on a burst of confidence and ready to continue to reverse the trend.  This is a game BG should win--and its even more likely without Walton.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Oh, how sweet the victory was

There's no better way to stop the bleeding than a win over Toledo.  No way at all.  It's just one blip, I know, it needs to be sustained, but for today, for the pure fist-pumping joy of it...there's nothing better than beating Toledo.

Interesting how those dopey Rumpus dudes are pandemic-eligible.  I wonder if they are getting regularly tested.

It was the first quality performance--by that I mean performance you can envision winning a title with--in weeks.  The second Buffalo win was almost a month ago, but BG's offense in that one would be tough to win regularly with.  I think you have to think about everything before January 9.

BG led the game for 27 minutes.  UT only for 8.  This is the top team in the MAC, the top kenpom, etc.  And undefeated at home.  Also kicked BG's ass a couple weeks ago and a Rocket team rubbing their hands with glee for this one.

Not so much.

Leading for 27 minutes in that scenario is what you expect out of a championship team.

The first half was tight.  BG led by at most 7 and UT at most 4.  There were 7 lead changes.  It was highly competitive.

BG led by 4 at the half and got up 9 2 minutes into the half.  Then, UT did what you expect...they tightened up and went on a 5-minute, 12-1 to take a 2-point lead.

At this point, you're at the point of maximum danger.  You're on a six-game losing streak, you have a freight training running at you.  This could easily go the wrong way.  Or you can be the team we think we have and you can punch back.

Bowling Green did the latter.

From 52-50 for UT with 13 left, BG went on a 21-3 run to hold a 16-point lead with about six minutes left.  That streak runs through two media timeouts.  

BG had an 18% chance of winning at the beginning of the run and 96% at the end.  That's the definition of high leverage.  

Won't lie, it didn't feel like 96% to me, but that's just what happens when you are emotionally invested.  Plus, we can remember other teams closing games out better than us during the streak.  The game could...not...end...soon...enough.

Marreon Jackson started hitting threes from unbelievable range (like he did in a similar situation last year) and the lead melted.  UT was applying pressure and BG was struggling to handle it.  They turned it over once or twice and it put chaos in the operation.  It did get fixed as it went on.  Still, UT chipped away and had the lead to 6 with 1:30 left.

No doubt, you should always close that game out.  The game could...not...end...soon...enough.

Things got even a little better when Plowden hit 2 FTs to go up 8 with 1:13 left.  Jackson missed a 3FG and Turner split the FTs and it was 9 with :43.

Still pacing across the floor.

UT misses, get an offensive board and makes a 3FG to make it 6 with :30 left.  UT plays for the turnover first, so Diggs didn't get fouled until there was :22 left.  Normally (like Turner) very reliable at the line, Diggs split the pair and it was a 7-point lead.

BG conceded a layup to Jackson to make it 5 with :14 left.  They fouled Fulcher, who is a poor FT shooter.  I assume in this situation that Fields would generally be out there, but he only played 10 minutes due (I assume) to the lingering effects of the injury that caused him to miss a game recently.  Fulcher had a chance to ice it but missed them both and UT came down, had a couple open looks but missed them, Plowden added 2 FTs late and that was it, an 88-81 win.

During that last sequence, the announcers were freaking out like it was a potential buzzer-beater but even making a 3 only gets the game to one possession with single digits left to play.

It was a perfect close out for BG.  They missed four FTs in the last minute, including two by their best FT shooters.  A time (we hope) will come when that will really matter.  And Coach runs clock way sooner than I would recommend...but listen, there's one person paid to coach basketball and one who paces in front of the TV for free.

Because sports makes him happy.

Anyway, the key element was shooting.  BG made 51% from 2FG and 53% from 3FG.  That's the best shooting in a MAC game this year.  We haven't shot that well and lost a MAC game since the UB game at the end of 2016 (Huger Year 1.  We also shot this well and lost to St. John's).  

That and a really good turnover game (10.6%) made for a 1.16 points per possession, a very solid performance.  The pace itself was 76 possessions, with a MAC average of 70.8.

On the other side, UT shot poorly.  Their second poor shooting game in a row, though not as bad as Ball State.  They shot 59% from 2FG (obviously really good) but only 29% from 3FG and that 3s were 54% of the overall attempts, their highest in a MAC game this year.  It is the higher % of 3FGs attempted against BG in a MAC game since Miami in 2019.

So, you try that many of your shots from 3FG and do it poorly, you will have a hard time winning.  Honestly, they missed open looks but I thought BG played stronger defense as well.  There were still probably too many open looks.  Their turnovers were not terrible--although a few lost possessions to BG.  They still had 1.07 points per possessions, which is above MAC average.

The other difference was FTs.  On all FGS, BG was +1 point.  BG was 16 of 22 at the line and UT was 10 of 11.  The Rockets started fouling early with their pressure defense.

Daeqwon Plowden had a night.  UT pays a lot of attention to Turner, daring someone else to beat them, which yesterday happened.  Plowden had 22 points, making 5-5 from 2FG and 2 of 5 from 3FG.  He made all 6 FTs, and 9 rebounds.  Turner had 21, but he had to work for it.  That's 3 of 14 from 2fG and 3 of 4 from 3FG.  Mix in 6-8 at the line and 5 rebounds.  

Trey Diggs had 17.  That's 2 of 2 from 2 FG, 3 of 7 from 3FG, 4 of 6 at the line and 4 rebounds. He's put together 2 straight strong shooting games.

Kaden Matheny had 14.  That's 4 of 6 from 2FG and 2 of 6 from 3FG.  Also 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals over 1 turnover.  His measurables have been a little inconsistent, but remember he's just a freshman.  Think he's going to be a stud.

Fulcher had 10 points on 5 of 8 2FG and 0 of 1 3FG shooting.  Add 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 turnover.

Let's stop and appreciate Marreon Jackson.  Man, honestly, he's amazing.  He had 27 points on 5 of 6 and 4 of 11 shooting.  He made all 5 FTs, added 14 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 turnovers.  His last games against BG are 27, 15, 31 and 27.  Oof.

So, finally the streak ends.  We're not out of the woods.  We need to string together good games to get things back on track.  I think this model is what we are going to need.  A number of you have commented to me that we are not set up to play good man defense.  Seems to be true, which means we need to score to win.  I also think we've felt that we were underperforming on offense.  If that's true and we can score consistently, we can win.  If this was an outlier, we won't.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Rockets Part 2

BG, losers of 6 straight and 7 out of the last 8 now head to Savage, home of the first-place Toledo Rockets.  On the surface, it doesn't look too good for the Falcons.  The Rockets are 9-0 at home and they dismantled BG a couple weeks ago by 18 on BG's home floor.  Haven't seen a line, but kenpom says UT has an 84% chance of winning.

Preview-wise, there isn't much to say.  UT played a masterful game last time out.  They penetrated, moved the ball and hit open shots.  It was much like the Wright State game.  A really good team picking BG apart.

Meanwhile, BG set a season-high for % of FGs shot from 3 and made 22%.

UT is an offensive juggernaut.  They are the best offensive team in the MAC and #11 in the nation.  They lead the MAC in 2FG%, 3FG% and FT%.  They are #5 in the MAC in defense, and BG is #6.

So, if BG is going to win this one, it's going to need to summon up its best effort.  It would make a big difference, but it's going to take a significant improvement.  It's going to have to start on the defensive end of the court.  Obviously, if UT shoots like that Saturday, they won't be beat.  They did shoot poorly in their last game--a loss to Ball State--so hopefully a cold snap is here.

A rivalry win would be just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

BG MBB Loses 6th Straight

 And the beat goes on.  Sadly.

BG lost their sixth straight last night at home against Kent.  Yes, they played closer and BG had a chance to win at the end...on the other hand, this was at home and a Kent was playing without their second-leading scorer.  BG lost by 5 at Kent and then at home by 4 without Naga.  It's just an ongoing issue with winning a game.

That's 6 straight and 7of 8.  And Toledo on Saturday.

BG lost 6 in a row at the end of 18 and 7 in a row in 2016, on the way to losing 10 of 11 to closing out the season.

So, it's flashing back to some seasons we would rather not think about.

BG led for 11 minutes of the game, which is a big improvement over the past year.  Kent led for almost the entire second half. BG tied the game with 10 minutes left and then Kent took the lead back. 

BG was down 5 with 3 minutes left and Diggs hit a 3FG to get the lead down to 2.

Here, BG had chances to get capture the game.  They got 3 stops and had 3 empty possessions on the other end, including Turner and Plowden missing the front end of a 1-1. Kent had the ball with :45 left.  BG needed another stop.  Late in the shot clock, Kent had a Baseline In bounder and they got it to Pippen on the baseline, he was surrounded but he muscled up the shot and made it and it was  4-point lead.  Diggs missed a layup at the other end and that was that.

To be clear, not the worst performance of the streak, but not good enough.

It was fairly evenly matched.  Kent had 1.06 points per possession and BG had 1 point per possession, which is below average.  It's the same offensive efficiency BG had against WMU.  The biggest different was at the line. Kent completed only 10 FTs and BG shot only 8 FTs.  Their only two misses were those front-ends in the stretch run.

Meanwhile, BG had 15 fouls, Kent had 13 FTs and made 12 of them.  So +6 at the line.

Trey Diggs had 18 points for BG, 2 of 4 from 2FG and 4 of 7 from 3FG and 5 rebounds.  

Justin Turner had 18 points, but it was a little bit of a struggle.  He made 6 of 12 on 2FG but 1 of 7 from 3FG.  He also had 5 assists. Daeqwon Plowden had 15 points on 3 of 7 on 2FG and 3 of 7 3FGs.  He added 8 rebounds.  Chandler Turner had 7 rebounds in 13 minutes.

BG is now 7th in the MAC.  With 7 losses, they are in the same neighborhood as WMU and EMU--who have more games to play.

It doesn't get easier.  Saturday is scheduled to be UT.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Kent Preview

 So, BG gets a rematch with the Kent State Golden Flashes tonight at the Stroh.  The current trajectory is well known, BG has lost 5 straight and 6 of 7, one of them to Kent.  Coach said in The Blade that the team is still "dangerous" and that once they put a win or two behind them, then they will find themselves competitive again.

Let us hope so.  

Kent is 2-1 since the Bowling Green game.  They beat CMU and Miami and then lost to Akron by 11.  The biggest change for Kent has been the last of Michael Nuga, who was playing at a high level.  He came into the first BG game as the most efficient offensive player in the MAC.  He's injured now and probably gone for the season.

In their first full game without Nuga, they had their worst offensive game of the season.

Justyn Hamilton also missed the last game with an injury he has been fighting in other games.  I don't have any idea what his status is for the game on Tuesday.

So, in the first game BG had its only decent shooting game of the 7-game downward streak.  Unfortunately, Kent shot even better.  They also made 81% of their FTs and ended up +6 at the line over BG.

Overall, Kent is #4 in offense and defense.  They are the best offensive rebounding team in the MAC but in general they are neither great nor awful at any specific element.  

In the first game, their clear star was Danny Pippen, who just went off against BG.  He scored 34 points on 6 of 10 shooting at 2FG and 5 of 9 from 3FG.  Also, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots.

He's making a real play for MAC POY.  He's #1 in scoring, #2 in rebounds, #15 in FTs, #1 in blocked shots, He's the #2 most efficient player in offensive rating, and 2nd in the MAC in drawing fouls.  He's certainly have a player of the year quality season.

With Nuga out (he was averaging 17.5 highly efficient points), their only double figure scorer is Tervell Beck, scoring 10 PPG on 58% shooting.  Giovanni Santiago who also had 14 in the first BG game on 4 of 5 3FG shooting.

BG has 8 games left, only five of which are on the schedule, which is chaos due to teams being forced to postpone games due to not having enough players.  Three more games were postponed today, two for CMU and one for WMU.

BG had a game postponed Saturday so maybe the time off was helpful.  This game, at home, would be a great time to take the first step toward a turnaround, with the WMU debacle as a springboard.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Andrew Clair Enters Portal

So, more news from the football team, as Andrew Clair has entered the portal.  It's certainly disappointing but can't be considered a big surprise.  He played over four seasons for BG and was clearly a game-changing talent.  He averaged 5.4 yards per carry for his career.  He was third-team all-MAC twice.  As a FR he broke the school record with 6.8 yards per carry, though he didn't have enough carries to qualify for national rankings.

Best to Andrew and thanks for his efforts playing for BG.  Wish him the best, if the transfer plays out.

Just to recap, the worst offense in the MAC has now lost their second-leading rusher (and most carries), it's #1 WR and #2 WR and starting C.

Update:  I neglected to include Bryson Denley, our #3 rusher, who is leaving as well.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Sadness Accrues: BG MBB Loses to WMU

 The sad thing is that the situation with BG MBB is as bad as we thought it was.

Just a very disappointing season.  Coming in, we felt like we had the best team we have had for the last 20 years.  On the court, we have a team much like the 2010-2017 teams.  Very disappointing.

Of course, it can still reverse itself, given the right opportunity.  But, after Wednesday's game, it is much harder to see it happening.

I covered it in the preview...WMU was just a struggling team.  Just to make the point, they were 11th in the MAC in 3-FG shooting and they made 46% against BG.  And it was at the Stroh.  (By the way, home teams in the MAC are up to 58% winning %, which is what it was in 2019 and higher than 2017).

Just very disappointing.  This team with one D1 win led BG for 39:31. The lead was as high as 14 points.  And they closed coming down the home stretch.

WMU was up 10 with 5:41 left.  BG made a run, 10-3, to cut the lead to with under 2 minutes to play.  You'd expect the home team and the better team to take this momentum and win the game.  That's not what happened.

BG never had the ball with the game within one possession.  After BG cut it to 3, WMU ran the clock into the single digits and drew a foul and nailed both free throws to go up 5 with 1:06 left.  BG came down, Fields got blocked a 3FG attempt and then following the inbound Turner hit just an unconscious 3 to make it a 2-point lead with :48 to play.  

So here it is.  Get a stop and you have a shot to win.  Instead, WMU got the ball to Greg Lee, isolated him on Plowden and he drove into the side of the lane and hit a runner to make it a four point lead.  From there, WMU played out the string with 4 made FTs and had a 6-point win.

The game was played at a relatively slow pace--69 possessions.  BG had a poor offensive game but not awful--1 point per possession.  BG shot about their season average at 46%...10th in the MAC, but salvaged the whole thing by taking excellent care of the ball and getting more possessions.  On the other hand, though, WMU shot the lights out.  They had 1.1 points per possession, shooting 50% from 2 and 46% from 3.  That was enough to make up for the turnovers, especially when their rebounding edge is factored in.  It was BG's second worst offensive rebounding game of the season.  BG is definitely not getting to the line like they did before...BG shot 14 and only made 8 of those.

Justin Turner had a very strong game offensively.   He had 25 points on 6 of 12 2fG and 3 of 5 3FG shooting.  He added 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  Daeqwon Plowden had 18 points on 6 of 10 and 2 of 7 shooting.  He was also the only BG player with a positive plus-minus, at +4.

 No one else was in double figures.  Caleb Fields had 5 assists over 1 TO.  Trey Diggs had 6 rebounds. 

Justin Turner became our all-time leading scorer for our program.  More to come on Justin, but he's a special player and we have been blessed to be able to see him play. 

Beyond that, the year is just a huge disappointment to date.  BG 6-6 in the MAC.  While unlikely, BG is not out of the woods in terms of making the tournament.  If they win two coming home--and that's not a gimee--they'd only be 1 game ahead of the last team out.  It's going to be tough for two of those teams--NIU and EMU--to do much given they have to play 12 games between now and the end.  

But who knows.  Anything could happen.  Even no tourney, in theory.

As for our team, Coach focused after the game on BG getting better starts and not waiting until they get "punched" but punching the other team back.

I mean, I guess that would be a good thing.  They just seem lost to me.   And there does not seem to be any idea on how to turn it around. The offense is too fast and doesn't work for good shots--we have the 3rd shortest average possession length in the MAC--and on defense we just give up a ton of open looks.

I have no inside information but I can't help but thing there's something wrong with the team--either missing a team leader or an assistant or something.  I don't think this is just a slump.  But I could be wrong.  That's just a gut impression.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

BG MBB WMU Preview

 Well, two teams heading on the wrong path will meet tomorrow at the Stroh.  Somebody will take a step in the right direction--either BG, loser of 5 of 6 or WMU, loser of 7 straight.


So, after a long string of success in MBB, WMU has fallen on hard times.  They are set for their 3rd straight losing season.  They got rid of Steve Hawkins last year and then found themselves hamstrung for their coaching search.  They hired Clayton Bates, who was an assistant there.  They were expecting to have all their starters back last year, but then Michael Flower and Brandon Johnson, the two leading scorers, transferred.  Flowers went to South Alabama and Johnson went Minnesota.

It's been a rough year.  They have 1 D1 win...a 15 point win over CMU.  They have lost their next 7 in the conference, all of them by 10 points or more.  It's just a tough year.

Even as BG is struggling, they are clear favorites in this game.  Kenpom has us at an 84% chance of winning.  That's a little hard to believe given what they have seen...but it magnifies the point...this is a win BG needs to get.

WMU really struggles to score.  They are 11th in the MAC in scoring and 9th in defense.  As you can see, if BG gets their average scoring, WMU would need a total they have only gotten once this year--and that was their one win.

WMU is in the middle of the pack in shooting in the MAC.  They don't do anything else well.  They are 11th in turning the ball over and last in offensive rebounding and getting to the line.  They are 11th in making 3FGs, 5th from 2FG and 9th at the FT line.  They are 9th in the MAC in attempting 3FGs, which is kind of the style they have always played.  58% of their points are 2FGs. BG has especially struggled on the defensive boards and in giving up FTs, so if you see those things start happening, you'll know we have a problem.  Or if WMU starts making 3FGs.

Defensively, WMU is average defending the shot but last in forcing turnovers.  They are pretty good on the defensive boards and keeping opponents off the line and they are #5 at defending the 3FG.  It isn't a gimmee that BG will score without a better offensive approach.

Two Broncos score in double figures.  The leading scorer is Greg Lee, a graduate transfer from Cal-Bakersfield.  He's 6'9" and scoring 13.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG.  He shoots 55% from the field, so he's pretty efficient.  B. Artis White is scoring 12.9 PPG but on 41% shooting overall and 32% from 3FG.  Their 4th leading scorer, Rafael Cruz, has not played in 3 games.

So, this is a game that BG really needs to win.  The schedule is going to be pretty tough from here on in and BG isn't going to have much better of a chance to get back on track.