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....