Saturday, December 31, 2022

BG Football Recap

 All right then.  Time to recap the 2022 football season and look ahead.

It was a crazy season--there was a ridiculous multi-overtime affair with Eastern Kentucky....surprise wins over Marshall and Toledo, a coach with blood clots that could cause a PE, and disastrous losses to Kent and was all over the map.

In the end, it was a 6-7/5-3 season, the best of what I expected when the season started. 

The dominant storyline inside all of this is the fate of our Coach. I think he needed six wins to stay and he got it, plus the rivalry win.  Also, the arrival of the new AD came pretty late to make a move in time for the December recruiting period.  Anyway, it is clear Loeffler will be back next year--either with the one year he still has on his deal or with an extension.

Neither of which is a great answer.

Here's the thing. Coach is under no illusions...he says we have moved the needle from really bad to "slightly above average." I'd say that's almost accurate.  At best, we were an average team this year.  The question is, what has to happen for us to be more than slightly above average next year, which is what we were promised in this rebuild.

I see all the comments about "we'll be lucky to win four games next year," which might be true, but it is also exactly what these same people said after last season.

The warning signs are there.  

BG was 5-3 in MAC play with a scoring deficit of 7 points per game.  UB had the same record and was +4.3. EMU was 5-3, and +.8. UT was 5-3, and +7. 

In other sports--see Bill James' Pythagorean Theory--teams with gaps like this between their wins and scoring often regress the next year.

Yards per game was less predictive.  BG, UB and EMU were all outgained by their opponents.

BG's 5 MAC games were won by 34 points.  Except for the CMU game, they were all within one score.  That's a warning sign too, especially when you had no close losses.

So, what has to happen for this team to win 8 games and compete for a MAC title.  I'm talking win the FCS game and one more MAC game.

Globally, BG has to play better and more consistently.  Those clanker games have to go away--and even deceptive 13-9 wins over WMU need to be improved.  BG played well in some games and played absolutely terribly in others.  That needs to be cleaned up.  There's a lot that will have to happen for us to take the next step.  Maybe a year of maturity does it, but then maybe a lot of your maturity walks out the door.  Either way, to be a championship team, BG needs to be much more consistent.

BG's offense has to get better.  BG was 11th in scoring offense.  BG scored 3 points less per game than they did the year before.  It's just not sustainable.

BG did it with the 4th best passing efficiency in the MAC.  As Coach has said, that's a high wire act and part of the unsustainability we all saw.  Matt McDonald showed what Coach always said he had.  He had a strong season, top 3-4 in the MAC in passing, played tough and injured.  And he did it with no running game to lean on.  BG was 11th in the MAC in rushing. 

Unpacking that, BG needs a strong QB for least as good as McDonald and hopefully better.  Yes, Orth played well in the bowl game, but that was one game against a sub-par opponent.  I have no problem if Orth wins the job, but I agree with Coach that bringing in a QB through the portal is "as urgent as urgent can be."  BG needs a competition at QB--there is also Owen Bainbridge in the program.  Without strong QB play next year, the rebuild will not progress as hoped.  It's imperative.

Of course, the running game is critical.  Coach says we are going to run the ball, come hell or high water.  It will be easier said than done.  Yes, Stewart will be back and Loeffler is really high on Jaylen Jennings, a FR who did not play much this year.  However, running begins up front, and PFF says BG was 10th in run blocking.  Jakari Robinson will not be back, and he was among our better run blockers.  Even assuming everyone who played this year is back, they will need to take a significant step forward.  Coach pledges to do that in the Spring, so we shall see.

Or we need to continue to look to the portal.

As an aside, PFF had BG #8 in pass blocking.  Last year, BG was #11 in pass blocking and #12 in run blocking. As noted in my preview, the line was due to get better...but it was unreasonable to think they would be better than average and they were well below it.

So, a lot has to happen on offense for this team to be better and they just have to be.  The scenario looks like this:  Loeffler creates strong run blocking, ensures a high quality QB and then rides that QB, good WRs and a dynamic run game to 29-30 points per game.

That's not all.  On this average team, the defense was slightly below average.  BG was #8 in scoring defense, #9 against the rush and #9 against the pass.  BG had the best pass rush in the MAC, which helped to limit the damage.  BG was 11th in the MAC in tackling (PFF), which is no surprise to any observer.

BG's defense did improve.  They were 3 points per game better than the year before. But it will need to continue to improve.  For sure, Brooks, Taylor, Bacon, Brand, Ferguson and Haire will not be back...JB Brown is in the portal, along with Sheppard.  Others could follow.

Special teams are not too bad.  We had some good returners.  Sir ended up #7 in the MAC in net punting. Lawler made 80% of his FGs...he has one year left and also we recruited a HS kicker in the signing class.

The big question mark is who else from this team leaves.  With the portal, you almost start to wonder if these long-term rebuilds are feasible anymore.  You try to develop a player, but if he starts to shine he wants to move on.  And if you want a guy to develop on the bench, you're risking him moving on for playing time.  You start to wonder if you don't have to gird yourself for non-stop churn and work to bring guys out of the portal every year.

So, here is the thing.  I favor Loeffler staying.  The best thing for the program is for him to succeed.  He has gotten us to each step, as promised.  I do not, however, favor a long-term extension.  I know many disagree with me and I may be proven wrong.  Maybe the whole approach is out of step.  But I think it's the best thing for the program and I hope he gets it done next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Sadness Accrues

At the beginning of the season, I noted that this page ranks on the front page for the term "sadness accrues."


Tough loss yesterday at Ford Field. You miss a makeable FG, fumble on the 2 yard line, throw an early make it harder to win.  And then you lose your starting QB and you're playing a hungry team.  BG gets 12 special teams points in the second half and one offensive touchdown to get it to one score, but can't stop the Aggies in the last they converted 3rd downs to keep the ball and run the clock out.

It was disappointing.  But nothing was a great surprise.  It was a pretty decent picture of who we have been this year.

A couple notes.

First, a sad ending for Matt McDonald.  In what will probably be the last time he will play football, he was injured on a cheap shot early in the game and did not return. He took a lot of criticism as QB.  He's a true warrior, playing through injuries multiple times.  He took a lot of hits on a lot of really bad teams.  I don't think we'll forget the image of his father leaning over the stands to comfort him.  Very tough way to finish your career.

Second, Coach was interesting in the post-game presser. He said, more than once, that we will be able to run the ball and defend the run next year, "come hell or high water."  Not sure which one we had at Ford Field, but our two backs had 3.8 yards per carry...and the Aggies main backs were over 8 and 5 and then QB runs on top of it.

Loeffler guaranteed a strong running attack next year.  That's going to be interesting.  Yes, Terion Stewart is expected back, but the issue isn't just the backs.  He would clearly help, but I don't see us moving the line of scrimmage very much. We were 11th in rushing and PFF has us 10th in run blocking.  Assuming our line starts next year looking more or less like it did this year...let's just say he could need all of the spring practice he pledged to fixing the problem.

More to come, but the rebuild is still tenuous.  We did reach our goal this year and I have said all along  that the best thing for the program is for Loeffler to finish the rebuild successfully.  So, 0 wins, 4 wins, 6 wins...the trip to 8 might require the most improvement of all.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Game Day! Let's look at our opponent....


So a quick look at the traditions at New Mexico State and prominent alumni

You can start with the best one...the WONDER DOG!  The current wonder is named Wave, and here you can see him doing his job (he's a good boy, he has a job!  YES HE DOES!) which is retrieving the tee after a kickoff.

Here is the mascot, the vaguely disturbing Pistol Pete. Very skeevy. 

This one is cool.  It is the Noche de Luminarias. I used to live in a town where there was a neighborhood that did these...on a dark winter night, they are just beautiful.  This is the 37th year and there are over 9,000 of the luminaries shining across the campus.

Painting the A is an important tradition.  They have the A on the mountain (stands for Aggies) and its highly visible across the campus and the town.  Students carry the material up the Tortuga mountain to "paint the A."

Two alumni notes.  Clyde Tombaugh, seen here with his homemade telescope. Here discovered Pluto.   Legend has it that ever since Pluto was downgraded to dwarf planet status, he has haunted the halls of the astronomy building at NM State.  Please note that everything after the word "Legend has it" was made up.

I also saw that Christine Aguilera was a graduate of NM State.  That got my attention, because I was thinking this....

Alas, the correct thing to think was this....

As in Christine Aguilera, the CEO of the former SkyMall--pushing insane products on bored people before they had televisions on airplanes.

Go Falcons....

Friday, December 23, 2022

Football Nabs WR from Canton McKinley

BG has a new commit who wasn't part of the NSD announcement.  His name is Cynceir McNeal, of Canton McKinley, where BG found Harold Fannin.

He's a WR who may eventually transition in to TE, similar to the path Loeffler projected for Jacob Harris earlier this week.  At 6'4" 220, you would think that could work.  His only other offer was from Akron.

From the Canton Repository:

McNeal suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 9 this past season, but was the Bulldogs’ top playmaker on the field before that. On offense, he led the Bulldogs with 31 catches, 571 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games, earning first-team All-Ohio honors.

Welcome to the Falcons, Cynceir.

25 Questions in the Quick Lane

 What is their body of work?

New Mexico State started playing football in 1894, 16 years before New Mexico became a state. They have really struggled to keep football alive here.  They were in the WAC and then the WAC dropped football following the big conference realignment in 2012.  The Aggies were an indepedent for one year and then joined the Sun Belt for four years.  They were football-only and the Sun Belt eventually dropped them (and Idaho).  The Aggies played the last 5 seasons as an independent, which is really rough in today's game.  For much of that time, they really struggled.  Still, they persevered.  Next year they will join C-USA.

Since 2000, they are 75-193.  Over the last 50 years, they are 162-412.

They have a very good coach now.  Jerry Kill is there.  He is a bona fide program builder.  He took NIU to 8-0 in MAC play before losing to Miami in the conference championship.  A kidney cancer survivor, he then went to Minnesota where he suffered seizures on the sideline that caused him to leave that job. He had off-field jobs for a while and now is on the sidelines again.

 They were 6-6 this year.  They got a waiver to be in a bowl game.  On their normal schedule they were 5-6.  Their game against San Jose State was postponed after the death of a Spartan player shortly before the game.  They were only able to schedule FCS Valpo to fill the spot.

So they were 6-6 and 4-6 in FBS games.  They lost their first four games, (Nevada, @MN, @UTEP and @Wisconsin) before beating Hawaii at home, losing to FIU at home, beating their rival New Mexico at home, winning @UMass, Beating Lamar at home, losing @ Missouri and then winning @Liberty and beating Valpo at home.

The Liberty game was noticeable.  They were 24 point dogs and they won the game by an amazing 35.  That was the week Hugh Freeze was leaving for Auburn, so it may have been a California Bowl situation.

This is the first game between the two teams.

How experienced are they?

They have 26 juniors and above on the roster, which is typical amount.

They lost 2 contributing players to the portal:

LB Nick Giacolone (16 tackles, 11 games)
P Josh Carlson--#1 punter, heading to Arizona State

Who are their nationally ranked players?

They have no players ranked in the top 20 in any category.

What is their turnover ratio? 

They are -5.


How is their QB play? 

His name is Diego Pavia, and he's a pretty good one.  Clear dual-threat QB, he completes 52% of his passes...but for over 15 yards a completion and 11 TDs over 5 INT. He is also their 2nd leading rusher.

Pavia was injured in the Valpo game.  Kill says he expects him to play, barring a setback. 

They actually use 2 QBs much of the time.  Their other guy is Gavin Frakes, a true-FR.  He completed 50% of his passes with 4 TDs over 7 INT.  He also has dual-threat ability.

What is their scoring and yards per play--Note that they played 2 FCS games, along with UMass, New Mexico, Hawaii, etc.

They scored 25.6 PPG, which is a little better than BG.  They had 5.7 yards per play, which is better than BG's 5.0.

Can they run the ball?

They average 4.5 yards per rush.  BG's is 3.0, 6th worst in FBS.

Do they pass the ball?

It isn't great.  They are #102 in the country and BG is #69.

How is their run/pass balance?

They have a very strong run identity, with runs on 60% of their plays.  This is the exact offense he ran at the ball and throw over the top.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are not great, 36%, 99th in the country.  Unusual for a run-focused team.  BG had 34%.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are pretty good at 5.5 per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

Yes they do. Sacks on 5.2% of pass attempts. 


Topline: Scoring and yards per play

They allow 24 PPG, while BG allows 33.  They allow 4.9 per play, BG is at 5.0.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are pretty good, allowing 3.9 yards per rush....noting that mixes with a very ineffective BG rush offense.

Can they be passed on?

They are pretty good.  #26 in the nation.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

At 37%, they are pretty good.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are decent at 4.8 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

Yes, they get sacks on 7.2% of passing attempts. BG has 8.3%.

Special Teams:


Their punter has left. Kill is not worried, he has a guy named George Eberle and feels he will be fine.  No in game punts, but he is a JUCO transfer.

Punt Return?

They get a lot of punt returns.  They returned 23 of 57 punts.  BG had 14 out of 51. No TDs but 7 yards per return.


He's OK, but not a lot of attempts.  6 of 9, long of 46.


Opponents start on the 23, which is pretty good.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 29, also pretty good.

Intangible Miscellany

BG is a 3.5 point favorite, which I think is about right.  This is not a slam dunk.  BG is a 6-6 team capable of good efforts and poor efforts.  Let's hope we bring the good effort in the cause of creating the consistency we need to be where we want as a program.  With a good effort, we should win this one.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

BG Football Nets JUCO LB

First, Abdul Fatai-Ibrahim was a little undersold when I posted his transfer yesterday.  Here's the full scope on the guy we are getting.  Based on this, he could make a real impact.

There's another commit today, JUCO MLB Malik Johnson, from San Mateo. He was a teammate of Shamoun Duncan-Niusulu, who signed as a DB transfer yesterday.

He played sparingly his first year, but had 53 tackles last season, 6 sacks, 14 TFL and 1 forced fumble. 

BTW, San Mateo was the junior college home of Julian Edelman and 7 other NFL players. 

Malik was all-conference this year, as well.

Welcome to the Falcons, Malik.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

National Signing Day at BG plus a grad transfer WR.

Welcome to National Signing Day, 2022.

BG brought in 13 young men.  Coach talked at his presser about how these things will roll into the future. It will be different.  Before, you would bring in 25 high school kids.  And Coach would prefer it to be that way again.  Alas.

He said that you might expect to see 12 players added even before school starts....some high school and some transfers.  And there will be another wave after Spring Ball as well, once guys don't like their depth chart location.  So, this is more of a landmark than a finish line.

One other note from the presser.  I know everyone is concerned about who the QB is going to be.  Ask how urgent it was, he said "as urgent as urgent can be."  He has Orth, Owen Bainbridge and then Lucian Anderson III, who is in this class and enrolling in January.  More on him in a minute.

The key point would be that he said he was going to go get 1-2 "older Qbs."  While the rebuild has made progress, we are far from out of the woods and you can't doom a team faster than with an inadequate QB.

FWIW, John Griffith from St. Frances Academy, who committed here last year and then walked on at Maryland, is back in the portal.  But I'm not sure he could as "older."

So:  urgent as urgent can be.  Agreed.

Now to the players.

I have put a few things that stood out to me.  Full information is here.

Two are legacy players.  There is Jacob Harris, the son of BGSU Hall-of-Famer Josh Harris.  He is from Westerville and is a WR, 2nd team all-district.

The other is LB Jabari Mitchell.  His father is Kinta Mitchell, who was here from 1995-2000.  Mitchell was a big star at Canton McKinley before BG.  Jabari committed to Kent originally, and then the coach changed and he came to BG.

David Afogho is a LB from Boston.  Offers from Buffalo, Bryant and Rhode Island.

Brody Bolyn, OL, also had offers from Navy and Illinois State.  Played line both ways, one of the top in Indiana.  Three-sport athlete.

Jackson Kleather is from Tipp City.  All-State kicker who has the potential to solidify the position for BG.  Should be used to windy weather.

Justin Lynch is a JUCO d-back from Cali.

Tracy Revels, S, is from Texas and is a UTSA de-commit.  Based on 247 the highest rated player in the class.

Shawn Thigpen, WR from Springfield, OH.  At 6'4" and 170, he was highly recruited, with reported offers from Indiana, Kentucky, UB, CMU, EMU, UA, Syracuse, Purdue, Toledo.

James Thomas, DL, also had a host of MAC offers along with Army and Navy.

Dayln White was all-district on the DL in Texas.  Had offers from Wyoming, SMU.

Alijah Williams from Buford, GA.  Projects as a big edge rusher. Also had offers from Duke, EMU, Liberty and WKU.

Lucian Anderson, QB.  BG landed him late.  Coach said he had committed to two other schools, only to have the coach leave. He had a lot of offers and was accepted at Harvard.  He's listed as a pro-style QB, but coach says he has speed as well, which I think is the kind of QB you need in today's game.  He did have an offer from Kent.

Shamoun Duncan-Niusulu is a DB from Cali.  He played two years in JUCO there.  They won the state title and he had 2 picks on the season.

And then....a bonus portal transfer.

Abdul Fatai-Ibrahim, a WR from Alabama A&M, where we found Odieu Hilaire. He played four years there, including 2020, which I believe leaves him one year of eligibility.  He had a bonkers season in 2021, with 1,000 receiving yards.  Last year he only played in 5 games, which I assume was injury related. 

Welcome to the Falcons, everyone!  Ay-ziggy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Signing day is tomorrow--New Football Verbal

There appears to be less of a big deal on this than we normally see.  Two factors in play, I would suspect.  First, the team is in bowl prep, which is a good thing.  Second, BG isn't losing very many guys and won't have many scholarships to give.  Of course, there is always a chance for the portal to take far 3 Falcons have entered the portal and one has come back, though we don't know if he is walking on or will be on scholarship.

BG did have a new commit a couple days ago...Tracy Revels.  He'd a DB from Texarkana, TX who is a 3-star recruit. At 6'1" and 175 pounds, he de-committed from UTSA and then narrowed it down to BG and Troy and then chose BG.

He also had offers from Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Colorado (I assume pre-Deion), FAU, UMass, Middle Tennesee and Tulsa.

He was first team in "8-4A II football."  This is Texas.

The current state of our class is here. No, I don't know why Josh Harris' kid isn't on there.  More tomorrow.


 Catching up on the last two games....

Saturday, the UT-Martin Skyhawks came in. At home, this is a game you just need to be able to win, and we did not. UTM never trailed.  In fact, they were up 19 with 14 minutes left in the game.  BG rallied with a 19-2 run to get the lead to 2.  But those comebacks are tough to sustain.  UTM made a 3, got a turnover and then made another basket to go back up 7 and the game was never in reach again.

By the numbers, it is BG's worst loss of the season.

BG then played Fairmont State at the Stroh, in front of 2,000 screaming school children.  BG won the game by 19, as they should have.  FSU led for 12 minutes and by as much as 7.  With 5 minutes left in the game, the lead was only 5 but from there home BG had a 16-2 closing run to win 93-74. 

One more game before MAC play starts, and that is Ohio Dominican, which should be an easy win for the Falcons.

Overall, the pre-MAC season has been disappointing.  BG is 4-7 in D1 games against the nation's 305th ranked schedule.  They are in a pack with six poor MAC teams fighting for 2 spots in Cleveland.  It's just a disappointing start with no real moments to focus on where the Falcons might be able to break out a little.  Let's hope they find something....

Friday, December 16, 2022

MBB Preview: Last D1 game of 2022

The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks represent the last D1 game for the Falcons this season.

In 31 seasons in D1,  UT-Martin has never made the NCAA tournament and has made the NIT once.   Heading into this year, they were 47-98 over the last five years.

They have won either 8 or 9 games each of the last three years, so having 6 already is a good start.  In fact, they were picked by Blue Ribbon to win the OVC.

Last year, incredibly enough, they turned over their entire roster.

They have faced BG only once, at the Stroh in 2018, and BG won by 14 points.

They are 6-5 this year, with 3 wins over non-d1 teams with their top win over Prairie View A&M (261). 

They are 0-5 on the road, with bad losses to Arkansas State (296) and UNC-Asheville (212). 

They play at 71 possessions a game, which matches and even slightly exceeds where BG has played.

They are a roughly average offensive team in D1, at 1.02 points per possession.  They are essentially at or near D1 averages in every factor....shooting, turnovers, offensive rebounding and FT rate. They also take a relatively typical number of 3FGs,   However, they are effective at making them--35.6% is #96 in the nation.

On defense, the story is different.  They allow 1.1 points per possession, with is #309 in the nation.  (BG allows 1.06). They are easy to shoot against and are especially poor at defensive rebounding.  They are average on turnovers but give up a lot of free throws.

Their leading scorer is Parker Stewart, at 17.5 PPG for all games. He shoots 47% and 40%.  That latter number is important, he takes most of his shots from 3FG. He's a good story....his father was Anthony Stewart, who was the Coach at UT-Martin and died tragically at the start of the 2020-21 season.  He did not play at all that season and then transferred last year to Indiana, where he made 31 starts.  This year he returned to TN-Martin.

KJ Simon is another big scorer, at 16.3 PPG and 44% and 35% shooting. He was first-team all-OVC last year as well as all-OVC newcomer.  He was picked by Blue Ribbon as the pre-season player of the year.

Chris Nix leads the team with 6.1 RPG.  He's a 6'9" JUCO transfer who played last year with UTM. 

Their leading assist man is Jordan Sears, who transferred from Garder-Webb.

BG is favored in this one.  Whether it ends up like that remains to be seen as BG continues to search for a formula that brings consistent success.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Falcon MBB Lose to Norfolk State

Well, BG is coming back from Norfolk with a win and a loss, after falling to Norfolk State last night.  Norfolk is a veteran team and a conference champion, but you'd still view losing three straight to them as telling.

BG started out playing really well.  I felt like they were playing with energy and they were making shots.  With 8 minutes left in the first half, BG led by 11.  That was the high point.  The Spartans had the lead down to 4 at the half and then BG came out pretty flat in the second half while NSU was playing hard and five minutes into the half, they led BG by 6.  So, that's a 13 minute swing of 17 points.

In all, NSU led for the last 16 minutes.  BG didn't fold...with 1:00 left the lead was only 2.  BG got the stop they needed and Agee was fouled going for the board.  Unfortunately, he missed the front end of a 1-1 and the Spartans had the ball back.

NSU was not in the bonus yet, so BG had to foul them twice.  When they did, NSU made their 2 FTs to go up 4 with :20 left.  BG missed a 3FG and a showtime dunk for NSU left with the final margin of 6.

It was a 69 possession game, more in BG's realm than NSU's.  BG scored 1.09 points per possession, which is a reasonable effort, but BG allowed 1.18 points per possession.  The Falcons have not won a game at that level of defense since the UT win at the Stroh in 2020.

The game was actually close in the statistics. BG outshot NSU by a little. As expected, BG took half of their shots from 3FG (52%) and made 38% and they made 57% of 2FGs. It was their best shooting game of the season.  Norfolk shot 56% from 2FG and 36% from 3FG...with a lot fewer 3FGs. Norfolk had a slight advantage on turnovers and on the boards.  There were hardly any FTs, but Norfolk was plus 2 in the game overall.

Individually, it was the Kaden Metheny night.  He's been injured and he's been in a weeks-long shooting slump, but you knew he was capable of this. He had 28 points on 2-2 from 2FG and 8-14 from 3FG.  He last made 8 3FGs in 2021 against EMU.

Samari Curtis double-doubled, with 11 points and 10 assists.  That's a career high in assists.  He also had 5 rebounds. Ayers had 10 on 4 of 6 and 0 of 3 shooting.  Agee led the team with 6 rebounds in 16 minutes...his playing time hampered by being in foul trouble most of the time he was on the floor.

Next up is TN-Martin and then two non-D1 games.  BG could hit MAC play at 7-6, which would probably be a little misleading.

Matt McDonald to Play Last Game in Detroit

The news came out yesterday that Matt McDonald will not apply for a waiver to play one more season and the Quick Lane Bowl will be his final game in a BG uniform.

This is exactly what we expected when the year began.  Late in the year, Loeffler floated that McDonald could get another year, which was the first I had even thought about it.

I don't blame McDonald.  First, the waiver is far from a sure thing, and as we know, they aren't necessarily ruled on in a timely fashion.  BG was probably going to need to address the QB position anyway.  He's been in college for six years and you're supposed to eventually go on and live your life and he's decided to do that, and I can't blame him.

He deserves credit.  He played in the worst years of our football program.  And he took most of the beatings, both physical and on social media.

Yet, he stuck it out and was a true warrior throughout.

And in the end, we saw what Coach Loeffler had been telling us.  With a decent line (not great) and a below-average running game, he was still able to produce.  I think he was the third or fourth best QB in the MAC this year and we were #3 in passing offense and #8 in scoring offense.  He made a bunch of plays and was indispensable to BG being 6-6 this year.

I was critical of him and others were even more critical.  But he proved us wrong this year and I give him credit for that.

His departure reveals a continuing weakness in our recruiting for that position. Dave Briggs mentioned this in his column and it has been discussed in this space, too.  Matt McDonald played two seasons with serious injuries...which meant that not only had we not found someone to challenge and push McDonald, but we had not found someone who could replace him when he was seriously injured.

He missed one game this year--one we were always going to lose--but the entire direction of the program was hanging on McDonald's health. 

So depth was an issue.  So is succession.  BG played Camden Orth this year and he looked ok, but it was never in a meaningful setting (beyond Mississippi State). He was a transfer from Long Island.  BG also has recruited freshman Owen Bainbridge, who red-shirted.  There are no QBs in the signing class to date.

At the beginning of the year, my assumption was that we would go into the portal for our next QB. That's still what I think.  We have offered at least one (from Fordham...he had a bunch of offers).  I would also think you want a guy now, so he can practice in the spring.  (Carrying that a step further, the McDonald announcement might have been timed to help that process).

It's a high pressure situation.  Everyone expects Loeffler to get at least a short extension, but no one thinks the program is out of the woods.  Going into next year with a sub-par QB would threaten to derail the entire effort.  It is very difficult to win without a quality QB.

Best of luck to Matt McDonald.  In a world where people walk away at the first sign of trouble, he stuck it out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Next Up: Norfolk State (MBB)

Next up is Norfolk State, a team we should be well familiar with.  This is the 5th meeting between the two teams since 2016.  When the series started, Norfolk was struggling...they were ranked around 300 or more for both games.  I remember that first game, because they pressed BG well into the second half before the Falcons pulled away, causing a relative freak-out in the fanbase.  

Anyway, BG won the first two meetings and then Norfolk beat BG during an extremely ill-fated trip to Atlantic City....losing twice while Justin Turner was injured.  Then last November, they beat BG at the Stroh, creating a 2-2 series record.

They have steadily improved since the series started. They broke into the 200s last year with a 24-7 season, a MEAC title and a #16 seed.

So now, things are largely reversed.  The Spartans have a kenpom of 186 and BG is 269.  

They were picked to repeat as MEAC champs.  They are 3-4 on the year, in D1 games, but the losses are to Baylor (15), UCLA (8), Houston (2) and ODU (145).  They have beaten Monmouth (327), Alabama A&M (329) and William & Mary (295).  That's a schedule of extremes.  This is their first D1 home game.

Kenpom gives them a 76% chance to win against us and ESPN is at 81%, which must give them credit for the non-d1 wins.

This is an experienced team.  They started 2 seniors and 3 juniors against Bill and Mary and were without grad Student Kris Bankston, who DNP.  They are #78 in D1 in exerience....BG is #237.

Looking at the numbers....and knowing that on balance Norfolk State has played the #13 schedule...they play a relatively slow pace, at 66 possession per game, while BG plays 70.

On the top end, Norfolk State is struggling to score and defend, but remember their difficult schedule.  Their schedule adjusted numbers are 1.02 on offense and 1.04 on defense....I use the raw numbers because without it the other numbers don't make any sense.

They are a decent shooting team, right at the D1 average.  They take a slightly below average number of 3FGs, and make less than 30%.  Their strength is on 3FGs, where they make 54%, #63 in the country. They do not take good care of the ball, but they are good on the offensive boards and reasonably good at getting to the line, although they only make 68%. BG is not great on the 2FG defense, so that and rebounding will be key.

Norfolk State is known for playing a "floppy" zone it.  The zone defense, especially the 2-3, has typically been a chamber of horrors for BG over the years, so we will see how the Falcons adjust.  As you can see below, teams are shooting effectively against Norfolk.  They don't force turnovers and are terrible on the defensive boards, which is typical of zone teams.

They allow an average free throw rate...but get this.  Their opponents have only made 60%, a bit of complete luck which has benefitted them.

Teams take 46% of their shots from 3FG against them, again I assume due to the zone, and I'd be surprised if BG doesn't end in that range.  The question is the quality of those shots...if we don't move the zone and just pass around the perimeter and jack up a shot, it could be a long day.

Individually, they are led by Joe Bryant, with 14.9 per game, all games.  He had 24 last time out. He is shooting 49% and 33%, both of which are pretty average.  He also has 34 assists.  He is a 6'1" 5h year senior.  He had 16 and 5 rebounds against BG last year.
Their second leading scorer is Kris Bankston, scoring 13 PPG on 67% shooting, almost exclusively 2FGs.  He also leads the team with 7.1 RPG. He DNP in their last game.

Caheim Brown is scoring 12.4 PPG on 44% and 38% shooting. 

Christian Ings is scoring 11.1 PPG, very efficient, 66% and 43%.  He also has 41 assists.

Last note...Norfolk hung 90 on BG last year, shooting 48%, 56% with 9 turnovers.

BG has won a modest 2-straight.  This will be a better test....Norfolk is ranked about where Queens is.  It will be interesting to see what happens.  There is one more D1 game on the schedule, coming Saturday against TN-Martin before 2 non-d1 games and then MAC play starts Jan 3.

Monday, December 12, 2022

BG MBB Defeats Hampton

The BG men are in the Norfolk metroplex and picked up their first win, with one another game to come.  They cruised to a relatively uncontested win over the Hampton Pirates.  BG took the lead :46 into the first half and never trailed again.  They build the lead to 21 with about 7 minutes left in the first half, and led by 16 at halftime.  HU cut the lead to 7 with 12 left in the game, but BG ran the lead into double-digits and led by 10 or more....and usually considerably more....for the remainder of the half.

That's what you would hope for against a team like Hampton, which is #337 in the country. From Todd Walker's description, BG was relatively listless, only to be matched or exceeded by Hampton's lack of energy.

As mentioned, it was expected to be a game with a lot of possessions, and it was, at 73.  BG had 1.17 points per possession, almost exactly what they had against Morgan State.  They allowed .98, which was considerably better and the 3rd best of the year.

BG won the shooting, turnover, and rebounding battles, all of which was good enough to overcome the FT advantage the Pirates had, which was +7.

BG took a lot of 3FGs...49% of shot attempts, which is the most since Norfolk State last year. BG made 36% from 3FG which is above D1 average and their best since Oakland.  They made 49% from 2FG.  Hampton, on the other hand, made a stunning 31% of the 2FGs--a weakness all year and the lowest in two seasons.  They were pretty good from 3FG, with 45%, but only 36% of their shots were from 3FG.

BG also had a really good effort on turnovers and did a great job on the boards, both ways.  BG's defensive rebounding was especially good, based on expectations.  The preview noted HU would get to the line, and they surely did.  The Pirates got to the line 35 times but made only 23 (66%).  BG was 16 of 25 (64%).

BG put six guys into double figures.

Samari Curtis had 14, but it was tough, on 1 of 3 and 2 of 7 shooting.  He added 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 TO.

Rashaun Agee had 14...on 5 of 5 and 1 of 2 shooting, added 8 rebounds.  He did this in 16 minutes.  He is coming off the bench and appears to be our most productive player.  He does have an issue with fouls, or he would play more.  He averages 5.8 fouls per 40...which is a lot except when you find out that two Falcons are worse--Lightfoot and O'Neal.

Isaac Elsasser has a big game and a key role. He scored 13 on 4 of 5 3FG shooting and 3 offensive rebounds.

Willie Lightfoot had 11, on 2 of 2 and 2 of 4 shooting.  He added 5 assists over 1 turnover in 15 miutes.

Leon Ayers had 10, on 3 of 6 and 1 of 1 shooting.  He had 3 assists over 0 turnovers.

Sam Towns had 10 on 3 of 6 and 1 of 3 shooting, and added 7 rebounds in 23 minutes.

Others:   Turner had 7 rebounds and Kaden Metheny returned to the lineup after missing two game4s.  He continues to struggle with his shot--as in missing all 6 shots--but had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 turnover in 34 a game where BG took really good care of the ball overall.

BG had assists on 83% of their field goals.

Norfolk is up next Wednesday, at 8 pm now.  With a win, BG will be 5-5 on the year

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Hampton Pirates Preview (MBB)

BG is heading to Norfolk for a mini road swing, starting with a game against the Hampton Pirates.  Norfolk State will be next.

Hampton is most famous for their 2001 upset of #2 seed Iowa State in the Big Dance.  That victory was helmed by Steve Merfeld, a 10-year BG assistant.  (He went from Hampton to Evansville, where things did not go well and today he is "assistant to the head coach" at Creighton.)

Overall, they have been in the tournament six times, winning the Iowa State game and a play-in-game against Manhattan.

They played in the MEAC for most of their history and were relatively successful.  They moved to the Big South in 2018 and had dwindling success. culminating in a 9-19 record and a move up to the CAA, which started this season.

They are coached by Edward Joyner, Jr., who has been there for 12 years.

Blue Ribbon has them last this year in the CAA as did the CAA's official poll.

Their kenpom is #331, which is among the 30 lowest of the 367 D1 teams.  They are 2-6 in D1 games. Those are wins over Howard and Loyola (MD) at home.  Loyola MD is ranked just behind BG in the kenpom rankings and the game is projected to be 50/50 by kenpom and ESPN.

That says a lot right there.

This is the second time we have played Hampton.  You may recall the previous meeting in Detroit, when BG trailed by 12 at halftime and got a last-second tip-in from Demajeo Wiggins to win the game.

What we have here is two teams who struggle to score and play poor defense.  The difference is in the degrees, at which Hampton is below BG on both fronts.

The two teams are compatible on tempo, both going at a quick 70 per game.

This remains a not pretty story.  Hampton is a terrible shooting team.  They shoot a typical amount of 3FGS and a just below NCAA average at making them.  That means 2/3 of their shots come from 2FG and they make 41% there, which is in the 10 worst in the country.  The rest is not too bad.  They take above-average care of the ball, are slightly below average on the offensive boards and they get to the line a lot, though they only make 67%. 

They are also poor on defense.  They are #358 in the nation in defending the 3FG.  Against the 2FG they are roughly average. They don't force turnovers, they are poor on the offensive boads and they give up a lot of FTs.  However, everything they are bad at stopping we have been bad at doing.  (Except the offensive boards).

Individually, they are led by Jorden Nesbitt, a 6'6" So. transfer from St. Louis.  He scores 14.8 per game, but its rough.  He shoots 38% of 2FGs and 33% on 3FGs.  He also leads the Pirates with 7.3 RPG. He also has 25 assists and 28 turnovers.

Their other double figure scorer is Marquis Godwin, at 10.5. He makes 41% and 31% shooting, so also not good. 

They don't have any real big guys.  Luc Therrien is 6'10" and has started but missed the last game.

Deuce Dean leads the team with 28 assists, but pairs it with 27 turnovers and 30% and 33% shooting.

BG was much better against Morgan when their avoided half-court offense.  Maybe some pressure against Hampton and missed shots get BG in transition and this game gets where it belongs, which is in the win column.

The team is getting to spend some time together, as well.  The start to the season has been rough...we will watch for signs of improvement.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

BG Football Nets Transfer WR

Ok, so BG has the first known transfer, which is obviously good this time of year just for the expectation he will be in for Spring ball.

His name is Dominic Grguric.  He's coming from Valparaiso, but is from Cuyahoga Falls and attended Walsh Jesuit.  Coach says many of the players we get as transfers were guys we recruited out of high school, and I would assume that's the case this year.  

As a FR. he played in 3 games and was the Scout team player of the year.  This year, he made 9 catches in 11 games. He's 6'0" and 175. 

In high school, he two-time all-district and played basketball, baseball and ran track. His HS coach says he is a "gym rat."

Welcome to the Falcons, Dominic.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

BG Football to Play in Quick Lane Bowl Against New Mexico State

So, lots of time ahead to look more into the New Mexico State Aggies.  For now, a couple of factoids.

They were 6-6 this year, but had 2 non-D1 games, so for bowl eligibility purposes, they were 5-6.  However, their game against San Jose State was postponed due to a death in the Spartan program, so the NCAA granted them a waiver to participate in the bowl game.

They beat Hawaii, New Mexico, UMass, and Liberty (by 35) in D1, along with Lamar and Valpo.  They lost to Nevada, Minnesota, UTEP, Wisconsin, and FIU.

They have been out in the wilderness since the WAC dropped football 10 years ago.  They were in the Sun Belt for a while, compete as independents now and will join C-USA next year.  They have played in a bowl more recently than BG--2017, when they beat Utah State in the Arizona Bowl under former Kent coach Doug Martin, who finished his run there after last season, at 2-10 and 8-30 in the last four years.

Their current coach is former NIU Coach Jerry Kill. He reached #24 for them in 2010 (won the West, lost to Miami in title game), went to Minnesota, had some highly visible health issues, and now is back in coaching full time.

It is in Las Cruces.

Chris Jans was their basketball coach before moving to Mississippi State.

Famous Alumni include:

Paul Hale, who identified the Hale-Bopp Comet.

Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks

Lou Henson, basketball coach

A bunch of NFL players, notably:

Charley Johnson, QB, in the Denver Broncos ring of honor (and full professor of chemical engineering at NMSU.

Walter Jonson, member College Football Hall fo Fame

Joe "Butt Fumble" Pisarcik, where he was implementing a play called by former BG coach Bob Gibson, who went on to operate a bait shop.

BG MBB breaks losing skid

The five-game losing streak didn't get to six, as BG beat Morgan State in what ended up being an exciting game at the Stroh as the team heads into finals and then a roadtrip to Norfolk.

For much of the game it looked like it would be the sixth loss. The Bears got out to a 13-5 lead and lead the entire half from there.  They stretched the lead as high as 12 and it ended at 8 at the half.  At this point, it just looked really familiar to what we had been seeing in previous games.

The second half didn't start much better.  5 minutes in, the lead had stretched back to 13.

Everything changed at that point.

BG went on a 15-2 run over 3 minutes or so to tie the game.  It didn't stop there, as if often does.  Over the last 15 minutes of the game, BG went on a 50-27 run to end up with a 10 point win.

The game was still close with about 2 minutes left.  BG led by 5 and everything was still in play until there was a collision along the left sideline, in front of the scorer's table and the referee didn't call a foul and Morgan State's coach Scandal-Plagued-Kevin-Broadus lost his mind, drew two "Class A" technicals in about 3 seconds and was escorted to the exit by the police like a fired CEO.  Curtis nailed all four of the FTs and it was a 9-point lead and that was that.

That's an amazing turn for this team, which has often struggled to score 50 points in 30 minutes.  What happened?  First, BG went to some pressure and that sped the game up and it got BG into a transition offense, at which they were effective at scoring.  We've all seen that often painful half court game BG plays (as Coach stands on the sideline and yells "move!"

So that had to be better.  It was a 74-possession game, BG's fastest since Wright State.

I'm not sure if this is a model for us moving forward, but it has to be worth a try.

Of course, we won't continue playing the Bears, either.

One look at the chart shows you the difference in the game.  Yes, BG evened out the shooting battle.  (We won't mention how poorly Morgan State shoots in general).  Yes, BG kept the turnovers low given the Bears full court pressure. And offensive rebounding was high for both.

But the FTs.  OMG.  So the tempo-free way is to calculate the rate as FTA/FGA.  BG was 30-42 at the line, for 71%, which is a little bit above D1 average. It's the highest free throw rate since a January, 2018 game against Akron, which we, naturally, lost.  Our preview showed that Morgan State fouled a lot and that certainly came true and it was the deciding factor in the game.

Overall, it was BG's best offensive game since Oakland. BG made 53% of the 2FGS, a season high. They made 33% of their 3FGS...the second-best rate of the year. 

Defensively, this is OK but nothing to be proud of.  Morgan State came in one of the worst shooting teams in the country and they shot well against the Falcons.

Individually, to me the story was Rashaun Agee.  Coming off the bench, he played 24 minutes. scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting and had 9 rebounds and was +30.  He just brought energy to a team that can tend to have....not. I mean, +30 is something else, especially in those minutes.  Coach said that he will have a difficult decision as to whether to put Agee back in the starting lineup and that he isn't starting due to "consistency" issues.

BG's leading scorer was Leon Ayers IIII.  He had 22 with 5-7 2FG shooting and 1-3 with 3FG, 9-11 at the line.  He had 3 assists and 1 turnover and was +13.

Agee and Ayers drew 9 fouls each.

Samari Curtis had 18, 1 of 5 from 2FG and 3-6 from 3FG.  He made 7 of 8 at the line, including all four of the technical FTs.  Chandler Turner had 143 on 3 of 5 and 2 of 3 shooting and 6 rebounds.

Other little notes.  Anthony McComb struggled shooting but had 3 assists over 1 turnover in 25 minutes.  Willie Lightfoot had 3 steals.

And Kaden Metheny missed his second straight game.

So, the team has the week off to study.  Hampton and Norfolk State are next, starting a week from today.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Morgan State MBB Preview

 So, BG hits their next game with a five-game losing streak and playing pretty poorly.  This is a game you'd expect to win, but you never know...

The play in the MEAC.  While they made their tournament in 09 and 10, they were 13-15 last year.  They were picked #4 in the conference this year in their official poll.  Blue Ribbon had them #2.

They are 3-5 overall, 1-5 in D1 play.  That win was over a decent Utah Valley team (148) in OT.  They lost @Akron by 6 and to Queens by 10 on a neutral floor. 

They have played BG once, with BG beating them in 2016 at the Stroh by 90-58.  Matt Fox (!!) led BG with 18 points.

They are coached by Kevin Broadus, who rained scandal down upon Binghampton.

When you look at their numbers, it is important to keep an eye on their schedule, which is #28 in the country, excluding the non-D1 games, which are also excluded from the team stats.

Profile-wise, they are not a good offensive team, scoring .91 points per possession.  Even adjusted for their schedule, it is .95.  They are #333 in the country in offense. The primary issue is shooting, where they are #309, which is bad but not as bad as BG.

They take only 27% of their shots from 3FG, which is the 13th lowest in the country. They actually aren't bad on the 3s they do take, at 35%, which is probably a reflection of decent shot selection.  They are terrible on 2FGs at 43% and #332 in the country....worse than BG. 

Unlike BG, they combine poor shooting with 22% turnovers, #317 in the country.  They also do not get to the line and make only 65% when they do.  The only positive offensive stat is offensive rebounding, where they get 33%, #70 in the country.  BG is really good on the defensive boards, allowing only 24%, so that should be an interesting part of the battle.

But, big picture, if Morgan State is making shots we have a problem....and BG is #312 at defending the shot.

On defense they are not as bad on defense, at 102.7, which is #202 in the country.  Of course, BG is #267 in scoring. They are really good at defending the 3FG (#75) but not good at the 2FG, which is #274.  Importantly, they force turnovers on 26% of possessions which is #17 in the country.  So decent against the shot and a lot of turnovers.  What could go wrong?  Well, they are #362 in protecting their defensive boards (probably due to their pressure defense) and they are #358 in allowing teams to the FT line.

They are led by Isaiah Burke, a 6'1" Sr. G who also has been at Morgan his entire career.   He is scoring 17.7 a game at 45% on 2FG and a scorching 48% on 3FG and 9 rebounds a game.

Next is Malik Miller, scoring 15 a game, but at 44% and 11% shooting.  He is a 6'4" SR G and has played at Morgan State his entire career.

Their next leading scorer averages 8 a game.

So, we shall see.  BG is playing poorly.  At home, this should not be a discussion, but it is.  

Thursday, December 01, 2022

MAC Football Awards

The MAC Football awards are in and it was a good day for four Falcons, who received recognition that was well-deserved.

Karl Brooks was BG's only first team selection.  He lost out on defensive player of the year to Jose Ramirez of EMU, who actually led the MAC in sacks and TFL.  We didn't play EMU, so we aren't familiar with him but he also had a monster year.

On the second team were Odieu Hilaire, Taron Keith as a returner, and Christian Sims as TE.

BG had no one on the third team.

Congrats to all of them.  These awards are well-deserved.

As the BG release points out, the Falcons had the lowest number of honorees despite being one of five currently bowl eligible teams. It is odd.  I looked through the stats.  We don't have guys who have big numbers, even on defense.  These are the coach's rankings, so you wouldn't expect them to be too number driven, but it is a fact. 

Based on PFF rankings, Jakari Robinson was the #8 lineman in the MAC, and Jordan Anderson was #5 D-back, both using the 50% usage threshold.  FWIW.

And I agree that DJ Irons is a poor pick for #3, McDonald and Schlee both could have made strong arguments for the spot.

In fact, Karl Brooks was a PFF All-American and graded out the highest in the MAC on the d-line.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

MBB Defeated Again

 BG MBB fell again last night, their fifth straight.

We lost to Queens University of Charlotte, a team ranked higher than us on kenpom.  They were a DII team last year, but this is a well-coached team with good players.  They beat Marshall (picked #6 in Sun Belt) and are #206 in kenpom.  They also beat Morgan State, who we play Saturday.

The issue isn't Queens...only 5 teams in the MAC have a better kenpom today...the issue is why is BG ranked #286, our lowest in the history of the ranking.  Why aren't we beating the #206 team in the country on our floor?  It doesn't matter if it is Queens, Norfolk State (similarly ranked, also on our schedule) or High Point...whatever.

I listened to Todd Walker and Coach Huger after the game.  They discussed what appeared to me to be the difference in the game...which is that we don't finish at the rim and Queens did.

The Royals made 51% of their 2FGs and BG made 46%.  You could see it...BG just doesn't make what Coach Orr called "zero footers."  We just don't make those shots and it costs us games.

Here's why.  We are a terrible 3-point shooting team. The NCAA average is 33% and we have made under 30% for each of the last 5 games. Last night it was 19%.  We are #327 in the country in 3FG shooting.

Which means we need to score with 2FGs. Across the NCAA, 38% of shots are 3FGs.  BG takes 34% and took 30% last night.  That's logical, given our lack of success from 3FG.

To succeed that way, you need to make 2FGs at a good clip.  The NCAA average is just under 50% and as mentioned, we made 46%.  We have been over the NCAA average only once this season.  And that's the succeed with our shot mix you'd need to be above average.

We had this same dynamic when Orr was here...heavy 2FG focus and not making them at a high rate.

To illustrate, Ayers, Towns and Turner were 8 of 27 on 2FGs last night.

The other issue is just winning basketball.  After playing a lackluster first half, BG actually played with some energy in the second half.  We trailed by 9 at the half, but several times got the game within 1 point in the second half, but never tied or took the lead.  There was always an untimely turnover or missed shot and then Queens would come down and score.

But the key illustration came with :39 left.  We are down 3.  Get a stop and we have a shot to win the game.  Apparently, there was some confusion and one of our players thought we needed to foul and did foul and that was it.  We lost by 6.

Coach talked about it after the game.  We need to be smarter than that, he said.  Claims it was talked about in the huddle.  

I would just ask this....would Kent, Akron or Toledo have done that?

It's discouraging. That's 5 losses in a row...yes a couple tough games but winnable home games as well.  The schedule gets even softer from now until the end of the year...and it's possible BG only loses once from now until then.  It's also possible BG hits conference play 5-8 with 3 D1 wins.

Monday, November 28, 2022

MBB Preview: Queens University

So, if you never heard of Queens University until they popped onto our MBB schedule, that would make two of us.

They are located in Charlotte and are the Royals.

It was a woman's school that changed its name to Queens in 1912 and then started to admit men after World War II.

It is a small school, with 2,400 students.  

Like USI, they are in their first year of D1 competition, and will be eligible for the NCAA tournament after Ohio State goes through two more Presidents. 

They qualified for the DII tournament 15 times, making the final four twice, most recently in 2018.  Last season they made the regional final.  Their previous coach, Bart Lundy, is now coach at Milwaukee.  Grant Leonard, his longtime assistant, is now head coach.  He got off to a rough start, getting a DWI right as the season was beginning and was suspended for the first five games.

They play in the ASUN, where they were picked #13 in the pre-season poll. 

They are 5-2 this year, but 3-2 against D1 competition. They beat Marshall (115), Green Bay (358) and Morgan State (266), with losses to LaSalle (201) and George Mason (130). Their kenpom is 211.  Kenpom gives BG a 51% chance to win.  Queens is 0-2 on the road.

They play at 67 possessions per game, which is slower than the NCAA average.  As you can see below, they are a strong offensive team--top 100 in D1.  BG, as we know, struggles to defend.  On the other side, they are not great defensively and BG is not great at scoring.  I guess you could look at it like we know how the left side will go....about 72 points per the Royals and can BG get to 72.

They combine great shooting and great offensive rebounding to get their points. They shoot a lot of 3FGs--44% of their shots.  They aren't great--32% of them are made, below national average.  However, they make 56% of their 2FGs, which is #38 in the country.  They are #18 on the offensive boards, which makes up for a terrible record on turnovers. They do get to the line.

They are not great on defense. They are easy to shoot on, don't force turnovers and are pretty average on the offensive boards.  They don't give up many FTs.  They are more vulnerable to the 2FG.  The question here is whether BG can make shots.  BG is #310 in the nation in EFG.

Individually, their leading scorer is Kenny Dye, who scores 16.7 PPG on 57% on 2FG and 42% on 3FG. He also averages 5 assists per game. He's a 6'0" SR G.

AJ McKee is their second leading scorer at 12.6 PPG on 56% and 33% shooting. He's a 6'2" G.

Jay'Den Turner is scoring 11.9 PPG on 51% and 27% shooting and a 7.1 RPG.  He's a 6'5" Jr.

Gavin Rains gets 9.5 RPG and is number 64 i the country in offensive rebounding. He's a 6'7" Jr.

Look, this is similair to USI.  This team is new to D1 but brings a track record of success from DII, have DI wins this year and should give BG all it can handle tomorrow.  That's not a great statement about where we are, but it is an accurate expectation.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Past and Future Opponent Land

There are 79 bowl eligible teams right now, with UB playing for eligibility against Akron.  So 2 or 3 five win teams with make a bowl.  MAC has 5 bowl eligible teams right now, could have 6.

CBS has BG playing Utah St. in the Potato Bowl

UCLA--(9-3) Beat Cal

EKU--(7-5)  The magic run of the Colonels ended in the first round of the FCS playoffs

Marshall--(8-4) The "could win out" Herd beat Georgia State

Mississippi State--(8-4) Won the Egg Bowl

Akron--(2-9) Blast NIU.  Suspect maybe the Huskies didn't feel like playing 

Buffalo--(5-6) Lost to Kent

Miami--(6-6) Beat BSU

CMU--(4-8) Lost to EMU

WMU--(5-7) Beat UT

KSU--(5-7) Beat CMU

UT--(7-5) Lost to WMU

OU--(9-3) Beat BG

East Vs. West: East 11, West 7

MAC vs P5: 2-19

MAC vs. G5: 6-9

MAC vs FCS: 10-2

Rough Afternoon at the Stroh for MBB

 It is tough to imagine a rougher start for BG's MBB team.  They are now 2-4 and on a 4-game losing streak where no game was closer than 9.

I talked about Southern Indiana in the preview.  This is a decent team, would be competitive in the MAC etc.  I just didn't want people to think that it was a walk-over.

Having said that...big picture, our program should have a team that beats them in our arena.  That this team lost to them was not a surprise, but we should have a team that beats Southern Indiana at home.

The first half wasn't too bad.  BG led for 11 minutes and trailed by 3 at the break, with the Falcon's largest lead at 7.

USI bolted out on an 11-4 run to build the lead to 10.  From there, it was never close again. BG got it to 7 once but most of the time it wavered between 8 and 12 points and BG never made a serious run at the Screaming Eagles.

It was a tough watch.  BG scored .8 points per possession, which was what they did against OSU this year.   Since 2002, BG has won once when scoring at this level. (2013, EMU).  It is BG's worst offensive game in the losing streak, during which we have been at our below 1 point per possession in each game.

BG shot the ball terribly. They took 40% of their shots from 3FG and made 29%--their best 3FG shooting game during the losing streak.  They made 39% from 2FG, worst of the season.  Then, add in a poor turnover game, below average offensive rebounding and not getting to the line much and then only making 62%, and you have a terrible offensive performance.

We are #243 out of 357 in offensive efficiency.  We are #306 in shooting, with #274 in 2FG and #295 in 3FG. We are #319 in getting to the line.  All of which are no surprise.

USI didn't have a great game, at .97 points per possession.  They outshot BG by a lot and made 47% of their 2FGs, which while not great was good enough.  THey also took better care of the ball, neutralized rebounding and FTs ended even.

Chandler Turner led BG with 12 points. He was 2 of 5 from 2FG and 2 of 4 from 3FG.  He also added 7 rebounds. Sam Towns had 10 on 5 of 6 shooting and 5 rebounds in a head-scratching 24 minutes. Ayers had 10 on 3 of 7 and 1 of 4 shooting.

Agee, who had been starting, had 7 rebounds in 14 minutes but missed all 6 of his shots. Curtis and Metheny struggled with their shots as well.

Just a rough effort.  BG just doesn't seem to have enough good players and lacks a strategy for putting them in a position to succeed.  Let's hope things improve or it will be a long season.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Southern Indiana MBB Preview

So, the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles are coming to town.

First, a look at who these guys are because they are fairly new to us.

USI is outside Evansville with about 10,000 students.  Founded in 1965, it started as a branch campus of Indiana State and became its own unit in 1985. 

They are re-classifying to DI from DII, but will not be eligible for the NCAAs until 26-27.  They are playing in the OVC.  This is their first year in DI.

They were no joke in DII.  They made the tournament 29 times from 1978-2021, won it once and made the final four...four times, most recently in 2019.  They made it last year and won once before bowing out.

They are picked 7th in the OVC, with one player on the All-OVC pre-season team.

The OVC is the 28th-ranked conference.  They are often higher, like in the low 20s.

They are coached by Stan Gouard, in his second year.  He played at USI and was a two-time DII player of the year. He coached Indianapolis in GLIAC for 12 years and won 66% of his games, including numerous tournament appearances and one sweet sixteen.

They did have NCAA violations in 2009 or so and once had a post-season ban imposed by GLIAC.

They are 2-3 for the year, with 1 DI win.  They are, however, representing. They beat Southern Illinois (#98) by 18. They lost to Missouri by 6, St. Bonaventure by 14, and Notre Dame by 12.  Their kenpom is #204 and kenpom has them with a 51% chance of winning tomorrow.

They like to play fast. At 74 possessions, they like to play faster than BG does at about 71.  So if you like the pace, it will be a good game.

As we will see, USI shoots the ball really well.  However, they are just average at overall offensive efficiency--no better than BG.  They are not great on defense, where they pretty much match BG.  You can see here why it is expected to be a close game.  Because of the "Gotham Classic" we have a higher proportion of common opponents than normal.

So, USI is a really strong shooting team matched up against a BG team that is easy to shoot against. USI takes 41% of their FGA from 3FG, which is a lot. They make 39%, which is #35 in the country. They are below average on 2FGs.  They end up average on scoring because they turn the ball over a lot, they don't get offensive rebounds, and while they get to the line, they only make 67%.  

As you can see, BG doesn't really force turnovers, so we will have to see how we take advantage of them being prone to turnovers. If you see the Screaming Eagles taking care of the ball and making shots, you know we are in trouble.

USI is less good on defense.  Whether BG takes advantage of that is another matter.  This is a typical BG offensive profile.  Below average shooting...and below 30% on 3FG for the year...combined with taking good care of the ball and being good on the offensive boards.  We are not getting to the line, which I see as a reflection of impact offensive playmakers. We do make 74% when we get there.

I have to say, I am worried about whether there is a path for us to be a better-than-average offensive team.

They returned 3 starters from last year.  Jelani Simmons, their pre-season OVC player, is their leading scorer.  He's 6'5" and a SR. from Columbus. He's scoring 14.5 PPG, shooting 68% on 2FG and 43% of 3FG. 

Jacob Polakovich is the #2 scorer.  He is a 6'9" Sr. from Grand Rapids, MI. He scores 11.7 PPG on 68% shooting and 8 rebounds per game.

Trevor Lakes is also scoring 12 PPG. He is 6'8" and a grad transfer from Nebraska, where he was not really a contributor.  He played for Gouard at Indianapolis before that.  He is shooting 52% from 3FG, where almost all his shots come.  He adds 5 RPG.

Their other double-figure scorer is Isaiah Swope.  He's a 5'10 SO.  He scores 11.4 PPG, but is less efficient, making 50% on 2FG and 22% on 3FG. He shoots a lot.  He also has 5 assists per game, with a 1.7 ratio.  They have another guard off the bench with a negative ratio.

So, well-distributed scoring.  Some good length.  An experienced team.  This is a quality team.  But, to make Cleveland, we need to beat teams like this.  At home, only a win projects to BG having a successful season.

Thursday, November 24, 2022