Monday, January 31, 2022

CMU MBB Preview

So, to Mt. Pleasant in the last game before Snowpocalypse, the world-ending epic that will unfold in the middle of the week.

This was not shaping up to be a big year for the Chips and they have lived that out. After winning 7 games last year, they discharged Keno Davis and brought in Tony Barbee.  The new coach is a Calipari guy--as a player and assistant--and took UTEP to the NCAAs before a not-so-great time at Auburn, with point-shaving and rampant dismissals and transfers of players...on top of a 40% winning %.  He went back to being an assistant at Kentucky.

The first thing he did was revise the scheduling practices, taking the Chips from 4 non-D1 games a year to 0. On the contrary, they have played Kentucky, Gonzaga and Xavier.  Having said that, they are 3-13 and 2-3 in MAC play, after some COVID hold-ups.  They played only 4 games in January.  They beat Eastern Illinois--the 4th worst team in D1--along with @ Kent and @ NIU.  Their Kenpom started at 301 and has fallen to December they lost to Western Illinois, Youngstown State, UIC and Detroit Mercy, all teams in the 200s.

He brought only 3 scholarship players back and added 10 new players.

BG has won 4 out of 5 over CMU, including 2 of the last 3 at McGuirk.

On one side, this one shapes up much like the Kent game.  CMU is the #12 offense and BG is the #12 defense.  In the Kent game, the Flashes ended up looking like the Lakers from the 1980s and that was on our floor.  If that happens here, the result will be the same.  Meanwhile, BG is #2 in scoring and CMU is #8 on defense.  Kent was really good on defense, so BG has an opportunity to score here.

CMU is the worst shooting team in the MAC.  This is interesting since BG is the easiest to shoot against.  They are actually really good from 3FG--#3 in the MAC--but are dead last in 2FG and one of the 10 worst in the country. They take decent care of the ball and arent terrible on the offensive boards or getting to the line.  They take 36% of their shots from 3FG, which is slightly below average.

Aside:  The MAC is #28 as a conference making 3FGs, out of 32.

On the other side, CMU plays poor defense and not nearly as good as Kent, for example.  Their are average at the shot, but force no turnovers and allow a lot of FTs.  They are very good on the offensive boards.  They lead the MAC in 3FG% defense but are last in defending the 2FG.

CMU has used 12 starting lineups this season.  In MAC play, they have been led by Cameron Healey, who is scoring 13.7 PPG on 73% 2FG shooting and 32% 3FG shooting.  He's a native Australian and grad transfer from Albany.

Harrison Henderson is scoring 13.8 PPG on 41% and 43% shooting...very few 3FGs though.  He adds 4.2 RPG.  He's a grad transfer who played at USC, Milwaukee and Southern before heading to CMU.

Ralph Bissainthe is their third-leading scorer at 12.4 PPG and 7.6 RPG.  He's shooting 41% from 2FG (unusual for your top rebounder) and 50% on limited 3FGs.  He's 6'7" and a JUCO transfer who is in his 2nd year at CMU.  Started his career at UIC.

Their fourth-leading scorer was Jermaine Jackson, Jr, but he left the team in January to start his professional career.  He went from Detroit Mercy to LIU to CMU, to the "pros."

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Ugly Loss to Kent at Stroh

It was an ugly day at the Stroh.  BG lost a game it should be able to win and it happened in a very frustrating and disappointing fashion.

Kent plays very physical basketball.  They commit a lot of fouls on the theory that they can't all be called.  And that tends to be right--at least it was yesterday.  In the post-game, Coach Huger said the officials decided they "weren't going to call anything" and you think, yeah, that was true, and then you realize you have that impression despite the fact Kent was called for 27 fouls and had 2 guys foul out.

And then there's BG's defense, which is just pure ugly.  BG has always struggled to defend dribble penetration, and that's still going on now.

BG allowed Sincere Carry 30 points on 7 of 11 and 4 of 8 shooting.  BG also allowed Bryan Trimble 32 points.  In contrast, when Plowden had 21 early, Kent took him out of the game, sometimes triple-teaming him.  We had no such answer for Carry.

Kent came in the #10 offense in the MAC and they got 91 points. Their 1.20 points per possession was their highest against D1 opposition since....their game at the Stroh last year.  

Their 58-point second half was 1.4 points per possession.

BG went into their 3-2 zone they have been using and Kent absolutely shredded it.

Coach Huger noted that BG needed to knock down shots that were open when Plowden was triple-teamed.  And that's true.  To me, it begs the question...why wasn't 83 points and 1.09 points per possession enough to win at home against the 10th best offense in the MAC?

To illustrate.  The 2019 team was 15-0 at 1.09 points per possession or better.  This team is 6-3.

Meanwhile, when you give up 1.20 your chances to win are very small.  BG is 2-15 over the last five years at that level of defense.

Kent came in the #316 shooting team in the country.  They made 57% of their 2FGs and 41% of their 3FGs.  It was their best MAC shooting game of the season.

They combined that with a dominant performance on the offensive glass...BG's worst performance in MAC play and the same percentage of offensive rebounds that OSU got against us.

Meanwhile, BG shot decently and took good care of the ball.  They were destroyed on the boards and lost by 8 despite having a +9 advantage at the FT line.

Daeqwon Plowden had a great game.  He had 27 points on 4 of 8 from 2FG and 4 of 5 from 3, made all 7 FTs and added 6 rebounds and only 2 turnovers.  When they triple-teamed him, he didn't force the play but got the ball to a teammate.
Myron Gordon had 13 on 3 of 5 and 1 of 5 shooting.  He made all 4 FTs and added 8 assists over 1 turnover.  Joe Reece had 12 on 4 of 8 shooting, but only 3 rebounds in 24 minutes.  Also 3 steals and 3 blocks.

BG is 4-6.  Here is the picture.  BG is currently tied for the last spot into Cleveland.  They play the team they are tied with on Tuesday.  Big picture, though, we have yet to see much that shows we can be that #8 or (#7) seed that makes a run.  Remember, this is the soft part of the schedule and we've lost 3 of our last 4 at home.  We're turning out to be the team that they predicted us to be.  Maybe that can be changed.


Friday, January 28, 2022

Kent Preview

 In comes Kent State in a game that is going to be interesting and telling BG as it approaches the middle of the MAC season.

Kent was picked #5 in the MAC.  That would appear to be at least in the range.  They are 10-9 with 2 non-D1 wins.  They are 5-4 in the MAC. On the upside, they are the only team in the MAC to beat UT so far this year (writing this before the Friday games), as well as beating UA and WMU and @ BSU and @ EMU. They have lost to NIU and CMU at Kent--not good--along with @ OU and @ UB.  They have 3 of their last 4.

Kent has beaten BG the last 4 times the teams have played and the last 2 at the Stroh.  Overall, they are a model program in the MAC. They have had 23 straight non-losing seasons. In those 23 years, they have made the NCAA tournament 6 times, the Elite Eight once, and five regular season titles.  They have 18 20-win seasons in that 23-year run and would have won 20 last year if there was a full season.

The game presents a contrast in styles.  BG plays at the fastest pace in the MAC and Kent State is #11.

There's more.  In addition to playing the #2 offense in the MAC and last in defense.  Kent is #10 in offense and #2 in defense.  The BG offense against Kent defense will be an interesting battle.

Kent State is a terrible shooting team.  They are lost in the MAC and #316 in the country. They take an average number of 3FGs, but make only 24%, which is last in the MAC #343 in the country (out of 357).  They are 11th in making 2FGs.  They are just average taking care of the ball.  They do a good on the offensive boards and they lead the MAC getting to the line and making 74% when they get there.  

The interesting thing is that BG is the easiest team in the MAC to shoot on, so that will be an interesting contrast.  Also, BG has been good on the defensive boards and if they can keep the Flashes off the boards it will help a lotl

Kent is extremely effective on defense.  They are #2 against the shot and #1 at forcing turnovers.  They are very good on the defensive boards.  BG is good at all 3 of those things, and it will provide an interesting battle.  

On an individual basis, Giovanni Santiago has not started for the past 6 games.  He did not play at all in the last two and I don't know what his status is for Saturday.

 Their leading scorer is Duquesne transfer Sincere Carry.  He's scoring 19.4 PPG, but is not efficient, shooting 48% and 27%. He is #4 in scoring and #3 in assists. JUCO transfer Malique Jacobs is scoring 12 PPG on 40% 2FG shooting and 18% 3FG shooting.  He was all-defense in the MAC this year and leads the team with 7.3 RPG. Justyn Hamilton has 6.6 RPG.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

BG MBB Beats EMU, Continue to Advance up Standings

BG won again last night in a game that they needed badly.  It went about as well as it could have and BG got a win when they were rarely tested.

The game was tied at 2 and 4, and then BG led for the remaining 36:44.  The game was tightly contested for about 5 minutes after BG took the lead and then the Falcons inched the lead out to 10.  It kind of kicked around between 6 and 9 until there were about 5 minutes left in the half.  BG took at 10 point lead and then held a double digit lead for the last 25 minutes of the game.  BG got the lead up to 14 with 3 minutes left and then ended up leading by 15 at the half.  Notably, the BG lead came despite playing without Plowden and Curtis, both of whom were in Michael-Huger-Two-Foul-Jail.  Note also that EMU had Monty Scott back but played without top scorer Noah Farrakhan for the game.

BG held a commanding lead for most of the half.  EMU did chip it down to 11 at one point, but BG switched into their secret 3-2 zone and that seemed to take the Eagles off their game and the lead got as high as 20 in the late minutes of the contest.

Both teams like to play fairly upbeat.  It was--the game ended at 72 possessions, which is a pretty good pace.  It probably would have been more, except BG started to slow down in the last 3 minutes ago.  From the preview, the key question was which would win out...BG's porous defense or EMU's limp attack.  The answer is...BG's porous defense won the day.  They held EMU to .99 points per possession--their best in MAC play--and scored 1.19 points per possession, which is pretty good.

The actual numbers are interesting.You don't often win a game by 14 when you are outshot by 4%, which is what happened here. BG had an enormous lead  in offensive rebounds and free throws, and that tipped the balance. EMU had only 4 offensive boards and the Falcons made 26 of 32 FTs and EMU was only 15 of 19.

BG shot 54% from 2FG and 18% on 3FG.  EMU shot 56% on 2FG and 20% on 3FG.  Neither team tried very many 3FGs.

BG had three players pick up the slack from Plowden and Curtis.  Myron Gordon has 21, on 5 of 7 from 2FG and 2 of 4 from 3FG, 7 of 9 at the line, and 3 assists over 0 turnovers.  Joe Reece had 20 points in 20 minutes.  He was 6 of 11 on 2FG and made his only 3.   Plus 5-6 at the line and 6 rebounds.  Kulackovskis had 16, on 5 of 6 from 2FG and 0-2 from 3FG.  He made 6 of 7 FTs and had 4 rebounds in 20 minutes. Plowden had 12 in 22 minutes, at 5 of 11 and 0-2, plus 5 rebounds.l  Chandler Turnver finished with 7 rebounds and Curtis had 3 assists in 11 minutes.

BG is now 4-5 in the MAC, 6th place and somewhat solidified in their effort to make it to Cleveland.  It would be nice to finish top 6, but there is a long way to go.  The Kent game is really important.  It's at home and the Flashes are only 5-4 and have lost to CMU and NIU, both at the MACC.  

Monday, January 24, 2022

MBB EMU Preview

So, things moving fast again for BG...this time with EMU coming into the Stroh.  As The Blade notes today, the jury is still out on this team.  To persuade the jury, BG is going to need to string together some good performances, which will partly mean stringing together solid segments of games.  Until that comes, BG is at best a .500 team and you will need to string 3 great games together to win the tournament.

The jury is right to be skeptical.  For example, talking about playing better defense against WMU is fine....but we aren't going to play WMU in every game.

The next opportunity is EMU.  

EMU finally grew tired of Rob Murphy and brought in Stan Heath.  Heath took Kent to the Elite Eight in his only year there--but it was a team that someone else had really built.  He went to Arkansas where he won 54% of his games and made the tournament twice and then to South Florida where he won 43% of his games and made the tournament once and won a game.  Having lost both jobs, he coached in the G League, where he won last year's title and was coach of the year.  He has also been MAC coach of the year and Big East coach of the year.

He is an EMU grad.

The Eagles are 7-10 and 6-10 in D1 games.  Under Murphy, they regularly played four non D1 games.  They are 2-4 in MAC play, having beaten WMU and CMU and losing to Ball State, NIU, KSU and Akron.  They only lost to the Zips by 2 in their last game, 46-44, at the JAR.  They also played without their top 2 scorers.

Tempo was, there is a slight contrast, but not as big as other recent games.  BG is #1 in the MAC in tempo and EMU is #7.

There is, however, a big contrast between these two teams.  BG is #3 in scoring and #12 in defense.  EMU is #9 in defense and #9 in offense.  When you see gaps that big, it shows that there will be contrasting styles.  Which team's strength will overcome the other's weakness more?

Eastern is a decent, average shooting team.  That comes from the #3 2FG shooting team in the MAC, paired against BG as the #10 team on 2FG defense.  They are #11 on the 3FG, but don't take very many.  They turn the ball over a lot and are terrible on the offensive boards--not unusual for a team trying to control the tempo--and they do get to the line.  They make 73% of their FTs, which is good, not great.

One note.  They played the Akron game without their two leading scorers and had 44 points.

The key here is defending the rim...something BG has struggled with more often than not.  

On the other side, the shooting is pretty predictable.  However, EMU is used to forcing tunrovers--something BG has struggled with lately and needs to be cleaned up.  BG is also better on the offensive boards than EMU has been allowing.  EMU leads the MAC in 2FG defense,

Their leading scorer is Noah Farrakhan.  He is a transfer from East Carolina, where he played 12 games in his only year.  He missed their last game, no idea of his status tomorrow.  He is scoring 14.6 PPG...not great on 2FG (36%) but good on 3FG (39%).  He is an 85% FT shooter.

In MAC play, their 2nd leading scorer is Bryce McBride.  He's scoring 13 a game on mostly 3FGs, and 33% on those. He's a JUCO transfer in his second year with EMU.

Monty Scott had a good pre-MAC season but has missed the last 3 games.  Their leading rebounder is Mo Njie.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Plowden spurs big close for Falcon MBB

Well, BG went to Kalamazoo needing a win and they got it.  It was relatively close.  I actually think WMU is playing really hard. They almost beat Akron at the JAR.  A win is a win.  It wasn't a great performance.  But good enough.

Much like the Akron game, BG came out strong and had a 9-point lead 5 minutes in.  With 9 minutes left the game was tied.  BG blew the lead back to 10 and led by 9 with 4 minutes left.  WMU then finished strong, but WMU finished with a 10-2 run to only trail by 1 at the half, which had to be good for them and disappointing for BG.

BG blew out to an 8-point lead but 2 minutes later WMU had the game tied again.  WMU had the better of the play for awhile, leading by 7 with 10 minutes left.  Three minutes later BG had the lead down to 1 and from there it was a pretty tight, compelling game unless you were a BG fan freaking out.

WMU led by 3 with 2:55 left when Daeqon Plowden took the team on his back.  

He hit a 3FG to tie the game.

BG got a stop and he cleared the board.

He was fouled and made both FTS, BG up 2 with 2:03 left.

The teams traded stops and then Plowden hit a layup with 1:08 left to go up 4.  

At this point, WMU had gone almost 2 minutes without scoring.  Fortunately for BG, that continued.

Gordon missed the front end of a 1-1 and then WMU missed 2 3FGs.  Curtis was fouled and he split his 2FTs to put BG up 5 with :41 left.  

WMU missed a 3FG and Plowden cleared the board and was fouled.  He split the pair and the lead was 6 with :31 left.  BG for a steal and Chandler Turner was fouled.  He missed both of his FTs with :19 left and WMU came down and hit a layup with :13 left.

BG got a stop, Turner was fouled again.  He missed the first one and then hit the second and BG led by 5 with :13 left.  Gordon got a steal and hit both of his FTs with :10 left and it was finally over.  BG was 5 of 9 from the line in the last minute and was blessed by the inability of WMU to make a shot.

BG's defense is very frustrating and has been all year.  Even after this game, BG remains last in the MAC in defense.  In this one, the stats were better than the eye test.  WMU had 1.04 points per possession, which is right on the MAC average.  (The MAC has the seventh highest offensive efficiency/7th lowest defensivefficiency in the country.)

BG meanwhile had 1.14 points per possession, which is their second best in a MAC game this year.

BG shot the ball well--58% on 2FGs and 42% on 3FGs, both winning numbers.  They were also good on the offensive boards.  They had way too many turnovers and while they did a good job getting to the line--incuding the fouling at the end of course--but made on 14 of 21.

WMU did not shoot well.  They were good on 2Gs--BG really struggles on keeping teams from the rim--but they made only 25$ from 3FG while trying 45% of their FGA s from 3FG.  That is tough to win.  They were better on turnovers, were good on the offensive boards but did not get to the line.

Plowden lead BG with a high quality game.  He scored 20, 6-8 from 2FG and 2-2 from 3FG.  He made 5-6 from the line and added 7 rebounds. Samari Curtis had 10 points on 3 of 5 and 1 of 4 shooting, 5 ewbounds, 4 assists and 1 turnover. Gordon had 10 on 1 of 1 and 2 of 2 shooting, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.

The only regulars missing were Metheny and Young.

BG got the win they needed.  Two home games this week and 2 victories needed this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

On to Western Michigan

So next up is Western Michigan.  This is one BG needs.  Hopefully, having been "embarrassed" in the last game (their words), they will bounce back.  I remember an 18-point loss to a lousy Cleveland State in December, 2018, that prompted some soul searching for BG and a 10-game winning streak.  We will see if these guys have that in them.

WMU has had some rough times after a pretty decent 16-year run behind Steve Hawkins, which resulted in 2 NCAA trips.  They let him go and promoted Clayton Bates because the AD didn't think it was seemly to do a coaching search in the middle of the pandemic lockdown.  Bates has spent most of his career at WMU, even dating back to the staff before Hawkins.  He is 9-29 in his 1.5 seasons there.

They are not having a great year.  They are 4-13 overall, 3-12 in D1 games and 2-1 in non-D1 games.  They have lost their last 9 D1 games and all 6 of their MAC games.

On the other hand, Tuesday at the JAR they had a 10-point lead over the Zips with 2:40 left to play.  These are the same Zips from last night's "embarrassing" game at the Stroh.  Akron scored the last 11 points to pull the win out. They are capable of almost winning and you have to believe they are, therefore, capable of actually winning.  Their kenpom is 327...out of 358.

BG has won 4 of the last 5 against WMU, but lost at the Stroh last year to the Broncos, providing their 4-win opponent with their best win of the season.  They led the Falcons for over 39 minutes of the game.

Much like the Akron game, this will be a battle of tempos.  BG is 2nd in the MAC and WMU is 11th.  FWIW, the Akron game turned out to the Zips tempo.

The numbers on this one are hinky.  WMU is #11 in the MAC in offense and BG is #12 in the MAC in defense.  (MAC ONLY).

It is difficult to describe the level of play here.  WMU is 267th in the country in offense.  BG is #317 in defense... out of 358.

On paper, the difference should be that BG is #5 in offense and WMU is #10 on defense.  In other words, BG is terrible on defense but WMU is terrible on both offense and defense.

WMU's strongest offensive point is offensive rebounding.  They are poor shooters, last in turnovers and 11th in getting to the line, although they shoot well when they get there. They shoot well, our opponents shoot well.  They turn the ball over, our opponents don't turn the ball over.  At worst, it will be interesting.

They try a lot of 3FGs, but rank 9th shooting 2FGs and 3FGs.

When BG has the ball, the shooting is pretty evenly matched with the WMU defense.  Same with turnovers.  WMU is terrible on their defensive boards and BG has been pretty good, so that could help.  WMU keeps their opponents off the line and BG rarely gets to the line.  BG is #4 shooting the 3FG and #10 on 2FGs.

Their leading scorer is Lamar Norman, Jr.  He is a Duquesne transfer, where he made 25 starts in 3 seasons.  He is scoring 22 ppg on 44% on 2FG and 41# on 3FG.  He makes 79% of his FTs and averages 4.2 RPG.  Artis White is scoring 12.7 PPG mostly on 40% 3FG shooting.  He was out for much of the season but started the last 3 games.  Markeese Hastings is their top rebounder with 9.8 per game.  He is 6'7" and a transfer from Butler, where he played 8 games.

Friday, January 21, 2022

BG has "Embarrassing" Loss at the Stroh

 Daeqwon Plowden told the Blade that last night's loss to Akron at the Stroh was "embarrassing."  

That's a pretty good word for it.  BG was shredded to ribbons by a good but not great UA team, 91-66.  It was a game BG needed...BG now has 5 losses, only EMU has more in the MAC to date.

Coach Huger was clearly frustrated in his interview after the game.  He refused to accept the excuse of a short turnaround, since Akron had the very same turnover.  Note, that BG's next game is WMU, a team that almost beat Akron, and will be on normal rest Saturday.

Coach said that everything Akron did was in the game plan, and BG didn't execute any of it.

Also, the Falcons were back to only being down Matheny.  Otherwise, they were at full strength.

BG came up with some energy and led 10-4.  It felt like the NIU game was extending over. BG continued to lead through the first 8 minutes.  Trimble had been fouled shooting a 3FG and made all 3 FTs, giving the Zips a lead they would not relinquish.

They came was tied one more time at 24.  The Zips ran the lead to 7 with about 6 minutes left in the half, BG went on a little run to get it to 2--34-32--with 5 minutes left.  The Zips finished the half on a 12-2 run to lead by 12 at the half.

BG had not played a great half, but worse was ahead.

You hoped to see BG come out strong in the second half on their home court, but the opposite happened. The Zips came out on a 11-3 run...and BG took a timeout in the middle of it...and the lead was 20 with 16:39 left.  The game was over. BG never made a run to get back. The closest the game got was 17 points and as high as 27 points.

It was a complete disaster.  BG had their second-worst shooting % this year and gave up their worst shooting % of the year.  BG had a bad game with turnovers and forced the lowest number of turnovers this year.  BG had a good game on the offensive boards, but coach said that with all the missed 3FGs, you'd have plenty of opportunities.

UA had 1.35 points per possession, far and away the worst of the season.  They shot 53% from 2FG and 52% from 3FG, and took 44% of their shots from 3FG.  BG had .98 points per possession, shooting 43% from 2FG and 21% from 3FG.

The story of the game is Bryan Trimble. He made 10-14 on 3FGs.  He came in shooting 3-23 on 3FGs in MAC play.  But he lit the Falcons up.  Coach said it was in the game plan he would hit 3FGs and BG didn't execute against that at all.  The results bare him out.

Plowden led BG with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 turnovers.  He shot 6 of 14 from 2FG and 1 of 6 from 3FG. They certainly made him work for what he got.

Myron Gordon scored 12 on 4 of 5 and 1 of 4 shooting.  Fulcher had 10 boards.  Reece played 11 minutes. 

BG had 4 assists.  That's an incredible number, especially with 13 turnovers.

It was an ugly night.  BG's is last in the MAC in defense.  The preview noted Akron could score...and yes, we also have played UB and OU and UT....on the otherhand, NIU scored on us, too.

The season is in trouble right now.  Kenpom sees us getting to 9 wins, which would get us #7 in the MAC. That would mean 2 wins over WMU, and 1 win over KSU, EMU, Ball State, CMU and NIU. 

The other games are OU, UB, @UT, @UA, @KSU, @MU.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

BG Football Inks QB Transfer


One of the things we wondered was whether BG was going to go into the portal for a QB transfer.  The way I had looked at it was that you'd like--at least--think that you'd have a QB who was better than Matt McDonald when he has a broken hand.

Since the season ended, Riley Keller and Cody Sparks have moved on.  The QB room is McDonald, Drew Gunther, Owen Bainbridge, Jayden George and Tucker Melton.

And now Camden Orth.

He was to Buchholz HS in Gainesville, FL.  He was classified as a dual-threat QB out of HS.  According to 247, he he had a couple FCS offers and he ended up at Long Island.  They have had football but just moved up to FCS in 2019.

He played sparingly his first two years and then last year played in 10 games last year.  He completed 55% of his passes with 10 TDs over 5 INT and 1655 yards. FWIW, he played against Miami University and went 13 of 19 for 168 yards and 1 TD in that game, which might have rivaled how our QBs have done against Miami.

Welcome to the Falcons, Camden.

Quick...or Zippy...Turnaround

Next up are the Zips...another big game in BG's streak of games where they need to make some hay.   The Zips are coming to town.

Akron has been a trail of tears for Bowling Green.  They went through a streak of winning 25 out of 26 against the Falcons.  BG finally broke through in February of 2017, beating a really good Akron team at the Stroh, which was the last time BG faced the Zips with Dambrot on the sideline.  In comes John Groce, who is 6-3 against us.  UA has won 2 of the last 3 at the Stroh and our last game was last year's loss at the MAC Tourney.

Blue Ribbon had them 3rd in the MAC to start the year.  It hasn't been a great start for them.  They are 10-5 with 2 non-D1 wins.  They lost on a neutral floor to Fordham and App. State and strung together a streak of wins over weak opposition.  In the MAC, they have beaten UB, BSU and WMU at the JAR and loss to OU (at home) and @ Kent.  They are 3-2 and this is only their second MAC road game.

Interesting, they were counting on KJ Walton, the Ball State transfer (16 ppg) to help them this year.  He started the first six games and then disappeared from the roster.  Their last game--which was a tight win over WMU--featured their normal starters.

Tempo will be interesting.  Akron has played the slowest pace in the MAC and BG the fastest.  A lot will depend on how that shakes out.

Both teams are efficient on offense and non-efficient on defense.  Akron is #3 on offense and #8 on defense, while BG is #4 and #11.  Doesn't mean the game will be high scoring, if Akron's pace prevails.

Akron is good but not great at shooting, preventing turnovers and getting to the line.  They are really good on the offensive boards, with BG being just average.  That will be a key battle.

They try 45% of their shots from 3FG, which is #2 in the MAC.  They aren't great--the only make 32%.  They make 55% from 2FG, which is very good.  They only make 69% of the FTs.

Akron is the easiest team to shoot against in the MAC.  They are last in defending the 3FG and 9th in defending the 2FG, providing BG a great opportunity to extend their scorching shooting from DeKalb to the Stroh. They do force turnovers and are really good on the defensive boards.  They also don't allow many FTs.  BG can make shots here and will need to.

The leading scorer for the Zips is USF transfer Xavier Castenada.  He's scoring 18.2 PPG in MAC play which is #6 overall.  He's 50% from 2FG and 32% from 3FG, which is average efficiency.  He is 29 of 30 from the line.  He leads the team with 17 assists and has only 7 turnovers, the 3rd best A/T ratio in MAC.  (Myron Gordon leads the MAC).

Ali Ali is scoring 16.2 a game on 46% 2FG and 42% 3FG shooting. He has 15 assists and 19 turnovers.

Enrique Freeman was all-defense last year in the MAC and he is scoring 12.6 PPG on 74% 2FG shooting, leading the MAC.  He averages 9.4 RPG and makes only 59% of his FTs. He led the MAC in blocked shots last year, but has only 3 in MAC play this year.  He's 6'7".

Others of note...Bryan Trimble made almost 40% of his 3FGs last year but is 3-23 this year.  And they have a 7'0" named Aziz Bandaogo, from Senegal who plays 12 minutes a game.

This has the potential to be an interesting game.  BG should be favored here and this is a time to defend home court.  No idea about whether Reece and Matheny will play...but that would help.

BG MBB Gets Needed Win

So, there it was.  BG needed to get a win and they did.  Even on the road, this one was winnable and the Falcons got it done in a way they probably won't replicate, but they needed a win.

The first half was defined by Daeqwon Plowden getting his second foul about 3 minutes in and being put into Michael-Huger-Two-Foul-Jail.  Even so, BG led most of the first half until a late 3FG by the Huskies left the game tied at the half.

Three minutes in the game was still tied. BG went on an 11-2 run, with three of the baskets by Plowden, and BG had a 9 point lead with 13:27 left.  The lead was down to 6 a couple minutes later when BG hit 3FGs on 3 straight possessions--Matiss x 2 and Fulcher with 1--and the lead was up to 15 with 9 minutes left. It was over 8 for almost the entire remainder of the game and the Falcons won by 9.

How it happened is this.  BG scored 1.24 points per possession, which is really good--second best this year.  BG shot 67% from 2FG and 52% from 3FG, with a 72% EFG, which is really high.  It's better than they shot against Carlow. It's the best they have shot since 2019, also in DeKalb.  Before that, you gave to go back to 2012 to get a game where BG shot this well.  BG had a lot of turnovers under some pressure.  No one was on the offensive boards and BG was 19 of 25 on the line, much of it in the last minute.

BG did not play great defense, allowing 1.12 points per possession. NIU shot the ball well, at 60%. That's 56% on 2FG and 46% on 3FG.  They actually won the turnover battle but only made 62% of their FTs.

BG put 6 guys in double figures. Samari Curtis was very effective, with 21 points.  He made all 4 of his 2FGs and 3-4 from 3FG, 4 of 5 at the line, 5 assists and 4 turnovers. Plowden had 17 on 6 of 9 on 2FG and 1 of 3 from 3FG, adding 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 21 minutes.  Diggs had 16 on 4 of 7 on 3FGs with 5 rebounds.  Fulcher had a great game, 25 minutes, 13 points, 5 of 7 on 2FG and 1-1 on 3FG, which came on the big 9-0 run that set the game on a decisive course. He added 7 rebounds. Matiss had 12, 4-5 on 2FG and both his 3FGs, both of which were in the 9-0 run.  Myron Gordon had a 10 point game, 8 of 11 at the line, with 6 assists over 2 turnovers.

Reece, Young and Matheny did not play.

Keshawn Williams (Tulsa), off the bench, had an incredible game.  He scored 32 points, 7 of 10 from 2FG and 5 of  from 3FG.  Made all 3 of his FTs and 4 steals.

BG moves to 2-4.  Key home game coming up tomorrow against Akron.  It's a key home game as BG looks to climb back into the middle of the MACpack.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Welcome to DeKalb

Next up for BG is NIU. a game that is shaping up to be one that BG needs pretty bad.  At 1-4, playing this team, BG needs a win.  And, of course, NIU is not great but they are on home court.

For whatever it is worth, home teams have a losing record in the MAC to date.  I wouldn't expect that to continue, but that's where it is now.

NIU is rebuilding.  In 2019 they ended up with a kenpom of 136 and played BG in the MAC semi.  They were 18-13 the next year and 11-7 in the MAC, which is not too bad.  Things went bad in 2020, when they went they went 3-16.  They fired Mark Montgomery.

Their new coach is Rasho Burno.  He came from Arizona State, where he was an assistant.  He is a Hurley guy.  Burno is a Hurley guy, playing for Bob Sr in HS and coaching with Bob Jr. in Tempe.  He played at DePaul and coached for Billy Donovan, among others.

They are 5-8, all of it D1.  They opened the season with a win @UW, currently the #4 upset in D1 for the year.  They lost the next five--with a couple bad losses in there--they are 4-3 since then, although not against the best competition.

They are 2-1 in the MAC. They lost by 31 to UT, and then won @ Kent (an upset) and WMU.  Their kenpom for the season has moved up from 326 to 304.

BG has won the last 4 against the Huskies, and 5 of 6. That includes the last two in DeKalb by a combined 46 points.

BG plays at 74 possessions a game (all stats MAC only) while NIU plays 71, so both pretty upbeat teams.  When NIU has the ball, it has the potential to be pretty ugly. NIU is 10th in offense and BG is dead last in defense.  Meanwhile, BG is #4 in offense, while NIU is #7 which is the middle of the pack.  For my money, BG is now not playing a great offensive team...they need to deliver some stops out there.

On the NIU end, they are a decent shooting team, pretty much average.  BG is easy to shoot against, though the UT game is a little inflating.  NIU gets to #10 in the MAC by being poor on turnovers and offensive rebounds and only average at getting to the line and #11 at FT shooting.  

They are last in their rate of attempting 3FGs.  They are effective at shooting them, at 33%, which means they take good 3FG shots.  Meanwhile, they are 48% on 2FG, which is not great.

Overall, BG needs stops.  If they hold NIU to their shooting average, that would be a 5% improvement right there.  BG has been terrible on its defensive boards as well.  Here that can be corrected.

On the other side, NIU is easy to shoot against, especially from 3FG and they give up a lot of FTs.  They do force turnovers--possibly leading to the fouls--and they are average on the defensive boards.  BG leads the MAC in taking care of the ball, and that's vital to how they play, given below average shooting. If BG does get to the line--which they have not been doing--they are #5 in shooting FTs.

In MAC play they are led by Kaleb Thornton at 14.7 PPG.  He's making 55% on 2FG and 40% on 3FG which 4 RPG and 3.3 assists  He is a 6'0" G who played one year in JUCO before moving to NIU, where he is in his second season.  

Trendon Hankerson is scoring 11 PPG.  Not efficient, at 43% and 35%.  He has 4 RPG and 11 assists so far. He's an honest to god sr.

Keyshaun Williams is scoring 10.5 PPG.  He played one year at Tulsa and is in his first year at NIU. He's strictly off the bench in MAC play and missed the UT game.  He's shooting 47% on 2FG and takes very few 3FGs.

The team's leading rebounder is Anthony Crump, who scores 7 PPG and 5 RPG.  He's in his second year at NIU but came from Middle Tennessee State.

We aren't sure who will play for BG...including Matheny, Fulcher, Matiss and Reece.  That will be a big test.  No matter who is out there, BG needs to get this W against a not-great opponent.  A 5th loss this early and Akron on Thursday really begins to tighten the collar.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Malone back to Louisiana. OC Open at BG.

This news broke yesterday....Terry Malone is on his way back to Louisiana and will be leaving BG.  I understand he has family there, including a daughter, and enjoyed living in Louisiana while he was with the Saints.  Also, the analyst role is an opportunity maybe to slow a little as he moves toward retirement.

This ends his second stint as an assistant at BG.  Best of luck to him.

This is a pretty big hire for the BG program.  The offense has added some pieces and has to be productive next year for the team to compete for a title, as Coach says it should.  You have to get the chemistry right since the head coach is, shall we say, heavily involved in the offense.

Malone also coached the running backs.

Also, Steve Addazio is available.  

I kid.  I hope.

Sadness Accrues. Rockets Win.

Well, there is much sadness.

Not surprise.  But sadness.  When I looked at the game, and the two teams this year, I had a fear that BG might struggle to match up with the Rockets.  And that was at full strength.  Down Metheny, Reece, Fulcher and Reece, the odds get even longer.

At full strength, you might get the rivalry game effect, home crowd and produce a surprising result.  In a way, it might have been a surprising result in that it was as competitive for as long as it was. 

In the end, though, UT was clearly better on this day and I think is clearly better this year.

BG started as they often do, pitching to an 8-0 deficit right out of the gate.  Six minutes in the lead was 11 and 11 minutes in the lead was 12.  What happened next was an unforgettable interlude.  BG's Trey Diggs his 7 straight 3FGs, in just an incredible streak of shooting that carried BG through to the break.  The Falcons led briefly in the last minute and trailed by 1 at the half.

After the game, Coach said that as a coach you have be ready to find something else when a player is on a streak like that, because you know he can't keep doing it.  He didn't.  In fact, Diggs did not score again.  And BG didn't really have anyone else.

UT game out on an 8-1 run for the first 2 minutes, blowing the lead up to 8.  It was never a one-possession game again.  In fact, it was up to 10 with about 16 left and never inside 10 for the remaining 14 minutes of the game.  It got as high as 21.  BG closed on a 10-2 garbage time run to make the deficit 13 points.  Looked closer than it actually was.

Simply put, BG could not stop the Rockets.  UT had 1.25 points per possession.  Sadly, it is only BG's second worst defensive game of the year, Buffalo was worse.  It's been exceeded only 4 times in the last 4 seasons.  

UT shot the ball unbelievably well.  They made 61% of their 2FGs and 44% of their 3FGs.  You will rarely win a game when your opponent shoots like that.  BG is 2-15 in D1 games when their opponents shoot at this level over 5 seasons.

BG won the turnover battle and UT complimented almost never missing by being good on the offensive boards.  Overall, no one shot many FTs, but UT made all 11 of theirs and BG was 8-11.

BG didn't have a terrible offensive night at 1.07 points per possession.  They made 53% of their 2FGS and 32% of their 3FGS.  Outside the Diggs 7-7 streak, BG was 3-24 from 3FG.  

Individually, Diggs led the way.  He scored 21 points, shooting 7 of 12 in the end from 3FG.  Plowden had a rough 14, on 5 of 11 and 0 of 3, plus 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Myron Gordon had 14 on 6 of 10 and 0 of 4 shooting. He also led the team with 4 assists.  Chandler Turner had his usual highly-efficient night, scoring 11 on 2 of 4 shooting from 2FG and 3FG.  

Man, JT Shumate had essentially a perfect night.  He made 8 of 10 from 2FG, 4 of 4 on 3FG, plus 9 rebounds.

Last couple notes.  First, BG actually played a zone in the second half.  We very rarely play a  zone, despite sometimes struggling badly in man.  It was funny looking (the zone was).  Todd Walker asked Huger if it was a 3-2 and Huger said he wasn't going to say what it was.  It looked a little like a matchup zone to me, but we'll see what comes out of it.

Last thing.  This season is in a little trouble.  BG was 1-4 in MAC play.  Assuming that everyone ends up playing 20 times, BG probably needs 9 wins to get to Cleveland.  They need to go 8 and 7 from here on in.  They are hitting an easier part of their schedule.  Their next 7 games are:

  1. @NIU
  2. UA
  3. @WMU
  4. EMU
  5. KSU
  6. @CMU
  7. NIU
BG has got to make a run in this part of the schedule.  Each of these games is winnable.  Even so, for example, the NIU, WMU and CMU games against the weaker teams are all on the road.  And it will start in DeKalb Tuesday, and we don't know who will have.

This is the time for BG to turn this around and be in a position to make it to Cleveland.  Right now, things are not looking great.  The Ball State loss, in particular, really stings.

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Hated Rockets

 Assuming it happens...Saturday is the big day.  The first BG-UT match up in front of fans in a couiple of years and a really important test for the Falcons.  As the team plays, there's no question they are about what they were picked to be, which is a mid-conference team.  I think there's ability to be more than that, but we have not seen it on the court yet...BG is 1-3 in the MAC.  This is only their second home game, though.  If they can defend home court against the Rockets, it will be a good sign.  And a needed one.

UT is good this year.  Their kenpom is up to 89, due largely to blowout wins over WMU, CMU and NIU--kenpom loves blowouts.  Overall they are 12-4 and 11-4 in D1 games.  In the MAC, they beat WMU and NIU at Savage, @Miami and @CMU and they lost @ Kent.  To date, they have played the second-weakest MAC schedule.

This is the 177th time we have played the Rockets.  BG has won 3 of the last 4 in the series, but 4 of the last 10.

Both teams play at a fast pace....BG a little faster at 74 possessions per game while UT is at 71.  Still, both teams are very comfortable moving up the court.

UT has some really good numbers this year.  They always score well.  For the last 9 seasons, they have never been worse than #103 in the country in defense.  Normally, they are much higher.  Last year they were #19, scoring 1.14 points per possession.  They are often ranked in the 200s, and were #182 last year, which is right in the middle of the nation.  This year they are #122.

The last time they had this kind of combination they went 25-8, won the regular season and lost to NIU in the first round in Cleveland.

As you can see, is performing below UT on both offense and defense.  I'd say the key issue will be for BG to get some stops.  I don't think they can outscore a Rocket team lighting the scoreboard up.

How do the Rockets do it?  They aren't a great shooting team.  At 50.1%, they are just a hair over the national average.  However they take excellent care of the ball, they are great on the offensive boards and they are good at getting to the line, where they make 79%.  

They shoot a heavy 2FG mix.  By being selective, they make 35% of their 3FGs.  They are just below average on 2FGs at 49%.

This is going to be a challenge, because the numbers UT generates to get 1.09 points per possession are pretty much where the BG defense is used to allowing.  BG's going to have to be better across the board, especially on the defensive boards and not fouling.  Coach Huger says we need to be tougher after almost every loss so a rivalry game might be the chance to ramp that up.

So this is the change.  The Rockets are playing really good defense.  They are really hard to shoot against...that's the #60 shot defense in the country.  They allow only 29% on 3FG, which is #44 in the country.  They also defend the 2FG tough.  They don't force turnovers, but they are very good on their defensive boards and they don't give up very many FTs.  BG is already not a great shooting team, but they are going to need to get some to fall and win what should be a very tough battle on the boards on both ends.

They are led by Ryan Rollins, the #2 scorer in the MAC at 19.2 PPG.  He's shooting 51% on 2FG and 34% from 3FG.  That goes with 5RPG and 2 SPG.  

JT Shumate is their next leading scorer, with a very efficient 15 PPG, 55% on 2FG and 52% on 3FG (top in MAC), a team-high 7 RPG and 13 blocked shots for the season.

Setric Millner is scoring 13.6 PPG.  He's shooting 45% and 38%, which is pretty good, and 6 RPG.  Finally, Rayj Dennis, a Boise State transfer, is scoring 11.6 PPG, shooting 54% and 31%, 5.8 RPG and a team-high 58 assists.

They have used the same starters for all games.  They play a very tight rotation, with only 7 players averaging 10 minutes or more.

On paper, the Rockets are clear favorites.  BG has been known to rally for this game--though for much of the team this is their first UT-BG game--and they will need to.  It will take a quality game on both ends of the floor and especially on the boards, to win.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

BG Fills Special Teams Coordinator Position With Familiar Face

BG has landed a new special teams coordinator and he's someone we are well familiar with.  His name is Alex Bayer, an all-time great TE during the Clawson years.

He is the all-time leader in receptions by a TE at BG.  He was all-MAC twice, and went 7 for 124 and 1 TD in the Glorious Night at Ford Field.

From here, he spent a couple years in the NFL, where he played 6 games. He went to Otterbein where he was a  GA.  He then went to Wake Forest where he was the special teams analyst for two years.  Last year, he went to Valparaiso, where he was special teams coordinator.

Sounds like he had a good's what the BGSU release says:

Bayer guided the special teams unit to numerous accomplishments in the fall of 2021, including leading the nation in blocked kicks with nine, the second-most in program history and most since 1991. Valpo was the only team in all of Division-I college football (both FCS and FBS) to block nine kicks during the season. During a game at San Diego, Valpo tied a PFL record for blocked kicks in a single game with three. Brett Bittner blocked three kicks during the season, finishing as one of just six players in the FCS nation with three or more. Elsewhere on special teams, Valpo made 12 field goals, tied for the fifth-most in program history.

Under Bayer's tutelage in 2021, punter Ben Niesner averaged 43.2 yards per punt, which ranked third in program history. He finished the season 16th nationally in punting average while leading the PFL. Niesner was selected to the FCS Bowl, Tropical Bowl USA and received FCS Bowl Special Teams MVP honors.

A loaded Fall 2021 specialist group also featured Brian Bartholomew, who finished the season tied for second in single-season program history with 12 made field goals. He also cracked the program record book by finishing with 32 made PATs, a total that ranked fifth all-time. He led the PFL in both field-goal percentages and made field goals per game.

Welcome home, Alex.

Football Lands Grad Transfer

So , BG has another transfer to announce.  Coach talked about having 4 slots open on signing day and there have been 2 more young men transfer since then.  There could be more, but now that classes have started they would have to come for the fall and not be in Spring practice, which is obviously highly desirable.

His name is DJ Taylor and he is from Huntland, TN.  He is transferring from...wait for it...Wake Forest.  He played as a true FR and then he was in on 50 tackles the next year. In 2019 he missed the entire season with an injury, had 7 tackles in the COVID year and then this year played 12 games and had 35 tackles and a sack.  

He was a 3-star recruit out of HS and was all-state in TN.

Welcome to the Falcons, DJ.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

BG MBB Loses in Athens

BG went down to Athens to play a team with a seven-game winning streak that ended up becoming eight.

OU led pretty much the entire way.  The game was tied twice but BG never led.  Even so, it was a tight and competitive game the whole way.  For the first 30 minutes of the game the lead was never over 6.  OU got it to 7 with 10 left in the game and BG went on a run to cut it to 1.  OU called timeout, got Jason Carter back into the game, and then went on an 8-0 run to expand the lead to 9 with 5:38 left.  BG hung in there, but it was over 10 with about 2 to play.  BG had it down to 4 inside of a minute but that 8-0 had put the better team, playing at home, into the winning position.

BG ended up getting the pace they wanted, at 73 possessions.  BG had a good offensive game at 1.07 points per possession. OU had a better one at 1.17, a number that is almost always marked by a win.

As you can see, shooting and turnovers were essentially even.  That's a victory for BG, given how many turnovers OU has caused this year.  Unfortunately, BG was killed on its defensive boards, did nothing on its own offensive boards, and allowed a very good FT shooting team to get to the line a lot.  OU made 23 out of 30 while BG made 11 out of 15.

OU shot 54% on their 2FGs but their mix was heavily 3FG.  BG made 39% from 3FG, which is pretty good, but only 46% on 2FG in a 2-heavy mix.

Daeqwon Plowden had 18 points, shooting 4 of 10 from 2FG and 2 of 4 from 3FG and added 8 rebounds. Myron Gordon also had 18, shooting 5 of 10 from 2FG and 1 of 1 from 3FG, with 4 assists over 2 turnovers.  He also made all 5 of his FTs.  Brenton Mills had 13 points on 3 of 7 3FG shooting and 2 of 3 2FG shooting. Samari Curtis added 5 assists.

Kaden Metheny did not play with an injury.  Joe Reece played, but was in foul trouble most of the way and logged only 7 minutes. Josiah Fulcher played 9 minutes.

So, BG has UT in Saturday in what might be the toughest week of the season.  After that, they get into a 6-game stretch that they will need to more or less run to get to Cleveland.

Monday, January 10, 2022

OU Preview....

 BG's next game--COVID willing--will be down at the Convo in Athens with BG playing Ohio U.  

The Bobcats have the second-ranked Kenpom in the MAC right now, (behind Toledo), but for my money they've had the best pre-season to date and I think will be a favorite in Cleveland.

Of course, Ohio did the MAC proud the year before, entering the MAC tournament as a #6 seed and then running the table, including a 15-point win over UB in the final.  They accessorized that with a first-round win over the defending NCAA Champs before falling in the second round.

From that team the only starter they lost was...Jason Preston...first-team All-MAC and draft pick.  He's with the Clippers but had foot surgery and is out for a significant period of time.

Ohio was picked #2 in the MAC for this year.  They are 11-2 in D1 games.  Their only losses are @ KY and @ LSU.  Many of their wins are not great in non-conference....they did beat #452 Belmont.  They are 3-0 in the MAC this year with 2 road wins

This is the 150th matchup between BG and OU.  Oddly, BG has beaten OU four of the last 5, including the last 2 at the Convo.

This is a strong tempo contrast.  BG plays at 73 possessions a game and OU plays at 68, which is a pretty good spread.

The key calling card is defense.  OU is playing great defense at .95 points per possession, which is top-60 in the country.  They also socre the ball well, about where Bowling Green goes.  The difference is that BG has played poor defense so far...#239 in the country.

So that will be one test...can BG score against OU?

This actually promises to be pretty evenly matched...most of hte numbers are pretty even.  Much like Miami, OU doesn't get to the line that much, but they do make 80% (#8) when they do get there. They take a lot of 3s--43% of their overall FGA.  They make 34% of those 3FGs--just slightly above average.  They make 49% of their 2FGs, just below average.

When BG has the ball against OU's key defense. they will face a team that is a little tough to shoot against but has forced a ton of turnovers, #44 in the country.  They also also very good on the boards and they don't give up many FTs.  They allow only 30% against 3FGs, which is really good, but allow 50% on 2FGs.

BG has a tendency to fire up 3FGs and that could be a difficult here.  For sure, their model requires taking good care of the ball and they will absolutely have to do that against the Bobcats to have a shot.

They are led by Mark Sears, the MAC POW this week and the leading scorer in the conference at 19.7 PPG.  He shoots 52% on 2FG and 45% on 3FG, so he was very efficient.  He adds 4.9 RPG and a team-high 49 assists and 25 steals.  He's probably the top player to date in the MAC.  He's score 24, 33, 21, 24 and 28 in his last five games. He was all-Freshman last year.

Their second-leading scorer is Jason Carter.  He played at Ohio before, transferred to Xavier and then transferred BACK to OU for his graduate season.  That's an angle of the portal I didn't anticipate.  He's a good player.  He scores 14 PPG, not very efficient at 44% and 24%.  Leads the team with 7.1 RPG and has 17 blocks.

Ben Vander Plas is scoring 12.6 PPG, shooting 44% and 36%, the latter being pretty good.  He also has 6.1 RPG and 20 steals.  He also has 42 assists.

Miles Brown started every game but the last one...where he was DNP.  No idea about his status.

So here we go.  This is a real test for BG, particularly on the road.  We have played well in Athens.  UT is next so I hope to see BG play well there again.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

BG gets first MAC win in OT

It was home sweet home for the Falcons, as they won a competitive and entertaining game at the Stroh yesterday, beating Miami in overtime.  BG has OU and UT next week--possibly the top 2 teams in the MAC right now--and it's great to have a W heading into that week.

BG started well, taking a 14-5 lead but MU rallied and tied the game at 19.  The game was very competitive for the next 5 minutes.  BG took a 26-24 lead with 5:39 left.  Unfortunately, BG did not score again in the half and Miami scored 11 to lead at the half by 9.

MU extended and held the lead for the first 7 minutes of the second half. BG was down 9 with 13:30 left when Joe Reece hit an and-one to cut the lead to 6.  BG got a couple stops and BG had the lead with 8:30 left to go.  There were a couple lead changes and then with about 3:00 left Chandler Turner nailed a 3 to put BG up 5.

The two teams traded 3FGs on their next possessions, so BG still led by 5 with 2:26 left.  You'd like to think you are in good shape, but Miami had the game tied with 1:48 left--a basket and a 3FG paired with a BG turnover.

BG got a steal with 1:11 left and Turner split his FTs.  Brown split a couple on the other end and it was tied with :59 left.  BG had the ball but failed to score.  MU called timeout with :32 left.  They came out and BG played a really good half-court defensive possession, eventually forcing a turnover as Miami recklessly tried to create something.  BG called time and ended up with a Plowden jumper that fell short and was very close to being a foul on the shot...maybe he got a piece of the ball.

BG had the better of the overtime.  They led by 4 with 2:26 left to play.  What followed was a very frustrating period...BG got 3 straight stops and really just needed to convert on the offensive end once to put it away, but BG did not score at all, so it was still 4 with :25 left when Ayah hit a layup and cut the lead to 2.  BG got the ball inbound and Gordon was fouled.  

We don't know much about Gordon, but he was a 85% FT shooter at Samford.  He hit both FTs. and the lead was 4 with :20 to play.  Ayah got another layup to get it back to 2 with :09 left.  They fouled Mills and he also made both FTs to make it a 4 point lead and BG had finally put it away.

Again, very entertaining, exciting game and great to get the W.

The game was played at 73 possessions, but it was an overtime game.  The pace was more Miami's than BG's.  What jumps out first is that Miami shot 57% of their FGAs from 3.  This is a huge amount.  No MAC opponent has tried that rate against us since Akron in 2016.  The RedHawks haven't shot that many since 2020.  They came into the game shooting the ball very well from 3FG but made only 34% which is just above average.  They made 49% on 2FGs, which is average.

The game followed a common BG pattern, where the Falcons win while being outshot.  There were a couple keys.  First, BG won the turnover battle against a team that came in #8 in the nation at not turning the ball over.  Those extra possessions mitigate the shooting.  And, BG kept MU off the line.  The RedHawks shoot the FT really well, and tried only 9, making 6, which BG was 18 of 23 including 6-6 in the overtime.

Overall, BG had 1.07 points per possession, which is a good day and held the high-scoring RedHawks to 1.02.   It was their worst offensive game in their last 5 games.

BG only tried 26% of its FGAs from 3FG, second-lowest of the year (Duquesne).  BG made 37% from 3FG which is decent and 45% from 2FG, which is below average nationally but in the range we normally end up with.

BG had 2 double-doubles, though the game was in overtime.  Plowden had a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds.  He was reasonably efficient at 6 of 14 from 2FG and 4 of 6 from 3FG.  He made all 3 of his FGs, had 2 steals and 3 turnovers.

Joe Reece had 20 on 8 of 15 shooting and 10 rebounds.  He was a great find in the portal.

Chandler Turner was the other double-figure scorer, with 11 points...2 of 5 on 2FG and 2 of 3 on 3FG, plus 8 rebounds in 25 minutes.  He is contributing to this team every time he is on the floor.

Metheny had 5 assists in 18 minutes.  Myron Gordon has an interesting night....missed all his shots, but was 7 of 8 from the line and had 5 assists over 3 turnovers.  He was clutch down the stretch.

A couple notes on player usage.  Metheny was injured and missed the last 13 minutes of the game.  Based on prior usage I would have expected Curtis to be on the point for the time after that, but Huger went with Gordon.  Curtis did not play for the last 16 minutes of the game.  Both Metheny and Curtis were on the floor for the scoreless period at the end of the first that might be it.  Anyway, it seemed odd to me.

And Fulcher played 7 minutes.

Anyway, BG picks up a nice win over Miami.  One they needed and they got it done.  Tuesday is OU, without doubt the team playing the best right now.  Then UT on Saturday.,..COVID willing.

Friday, January 07, 2022

RedHawk Preview

So, BG did end up with a game Saturday....Akron couldn't play Miami and so BG picked Miami up at the Stroh to replace a game they lost earlier.

BG is 0-2 in MAC play and this is a home opener.  You'd hate to go 0-3....the last 10 years, adjusted for the 20 game schedule, most often you'd need to be 9-11 to make the final 8 and go to Cleveland...maybe 8.  At 0-3, there's plenty of time, but you're narrowing the odds to get to 9 wins.

Miami was picked to be #6 in the MAC this year, one spot ahead of BG.  They are 7-5 overall but 4-5 in D1 games and 1-0 in the MAC, winning by 10 @ UB.  They have a good win @Georgia Tech, but also lost @ Western Illinois and at home to Bellarmine.  

Miami beat BG twice last year and has won 6 of the last 8 in the series.

The RedHawks play at 68 possessions a game, which is above average and slower than BG usually plays (73, #18 in the nation).

Miami is a very good offensive team.  They are scoring 1.11 points per possession, which is #27 in the country.  They are, however, the #308 ranked defensive team.  BG has the same pattern, though less extreme.  BG is #106 on offense and #259 on defense.  Both teams are around .500, which usually means roughly scoring what you allow.

Miami's strength is turnovers.  They are #5 in the nation at taking care of the ball. You can pair that with above-average shooting, average offensive rebounding and while they don't get to the line very often, they are making 80% this year, which is #8 in the country.  BG allows an above-average number of free throws, something this will want to avoid tomorrow.  MU shoots the 3FG and 2FG well, but are better at the 3FG and take 40% of their FGAs from 3FG, which is above average (38%).

For its part, BG is easy to shoot against, does force some turnovers, is ineffective on the defensive boards and gives up a lot of FTs.  BG allows 35% on 3FGs, which is worse than average and about what Miami shoots.

As you can see, Miami does not defend the shot well.  BG is, as usual, a less than average shooting team.  Miami is terrible defending the 3FG (#317) and this is an opening for BG.  The Falcons take good care of the ball and are a really good offensive rebounding team.  BG also gets to the line and for its part has shot FTs well at 77%.

They are led by Dae Dae Grant, scoring 16.7 PPG on 53% 2FG shooting and 32% 3FG shooting.  He's made 88% of his FTs and added 4.2 RPF.  He also leads the team with 53 assists.  He was third-team All-MAC last year as a SO and all-FR the year before that.

Mekhi Lairy is scoring 14.8 PPG, on 41% and 38% shooting.  He is 91% at the line.  He was all-FR too but has not been all-MAC since.

Dalonte Brown from Toledo Bowsher is scoring 11.8 PPG on 495 and 445 3FG shooting (#107 in the country).  He leads the team with 7.3 RPG.  Precious Ayah scores 10.2 PPG on 65% 2FG shooting.  He adds 5.6 RPG.

The RedHawks are one team that has not brought in transfers to supplement the team.

This appears to be an evenly matched game and one the Falcons need to deliver at home to get the MAC season on track.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Short-handed UB Shuts Down BG

So, BG made the long ride home after a loss yesterday in Buffalo.  On one point, it isn't too surprising...UB is the conference favorite, BG was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the MAC, and the game was in Buffalo.

On the other hand, UB was playing without Josh Mballa, their 6th man Tra'Von Fagan and another reserve (Hardnett) for most of the game.  They played 7 guys, four of them for more than 33 minutes and one player (Jones) played 28 minutes, his most of the year.

In that light, BG lost by 11 at UB last night.

The first 12 minutes were very competitive.  UB went on a little 9-2 run to go up 9 with about 5 minutes left. BG bounced back--as they would do numerous times--with a 12-4 run to cut the lead to 1 in the last minute of the half and UB led by 2 at the break.

UB had it up to 6 with 16:27 left and BG got it back to 2 with 15:52 left to play.  They got it to 8 with 11:42 left and BG had it back to 3 with 9:39 left.

The yo-yo ended then.  A 7-0 run made it 10 with 7:37 left. It was never closer than 8 and they led by more than 10 for the last 3 minutes.  UB led for the last 28 minutes of the game.

It was a 77 possession game, which is no surprise.  UB had a ridiculous offensive game.  They scored 1.28 points per possession.  BG has only had one MAC game a season that bad over the last 3 years.  BG.  Meanwhile, BG had a very good offensive game (1.14) against a poor defensive team, but not nearly good enough.

BG shot the ball well.  That's their best shooting night since Milwaukee.  BG shot 56% from FG and 27% from 3FG to get there.  That's on 37% of 3FG attempts.

UB shot better.  They made 66% on 2FG and 35% from 3FG.  That's with 42% of their FGA on 3FG.

BG had a slight advantage on turnovers and kept offensive rebounds even against UB's strength--though it was without Mballa--and the key element came at the FT line.  BG was good, making 17 of 21.  UB was incredible, making 31 of 33.

BG also played a much tighter rotation, with only 7 players getting more than 10 minutes.  Samari Curtis, who continues to show himself to be a huge find, scored 25 on 6 of 7 2FG and 2 of 5 on 3FG. He made 7 of 9 at the line and added 4 rebounds.

Joe Reece had 15 in 23 minutes.  He made 5 of 8 2FGs, 5 of 5 at the line but curiously had 1 rebound.  Plowden had 14 points on 4 of 11 and 1 of 3 shooting (not great), but added 9 rebounds.  Trey Diggs had 11 on 3 of 7 3FG shooting.  Metheny had 9 on 1 of 5 3FG shooting to add with 5 assists. Josiah Fulcher played 24 minutes with 6 points and 5 rebounds. 

BG falls to 0-2 in MAC play, both road games.  Just this minute, BG announced they will play Miami at the Stroh on Saturday.  Miami was supposed to play Akron.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

UB Preview

Well, here we go again.  The COVID wheel turns round and round.  BG has 2 games postponed--both home games--and then a game moved from Saturday until tomorrow.  It doesn't have the enjoyment of the rhythm of playing twice a week with all the other teams, but it is apparently the best we can do right now. FWIW, the problems have been with other programs, not with BG...

So here we are, playing UB on UB.  Saturday is now open...for now.

So here we go.

Buffalo was favored to win the MAC by the media and then also Blue Ribbon. They won the 18 and 19 titles, and won a game in the Big Dance earch of those years. They were 12-5 last year in the MAC, where they lost to Ohio U in the conference final.  They returned 4 starters from that team.

They are 4-6 in D1 games so far this year.  They have very nice wins @ N. Texas (74) and @ WKU (105) (without Williams) and 2 of their 4 non-conference losses were to Michigan (21) and St. Bonaventure (67). Things were off to an OK start and then they lost to Canisius (297) and the curse of Reggie Witherspoon kicked in, making that the first of their current 3-game losing streak.  They lost at home to Miami and then @ Akron...both games without Whitsell and the last one without Mballa and Fagan, all COVID-related.

Since the MAC final in 19, BG has won 3 of 4 against UB, including the game last year at UB.  That huge win was followed by a 6-game losing streak for BG.

One thing we can expect is a fast-paced game.  Both BG plays at 73.6 possessions and UB at 72.9.  

UB is very effective on offense, with 1.07 points per possession, which is #71 in the country.  Their strongest element on offense is on the boards--they are #23 in the nation.  They shoot effectively, are average on turnovers and don't get to the line much or make many FTs. They are effective shooters, with 52% on 2FG and 34% on 3FG.  They try 39% of their FGAs from 3FG, which is pretty much average.

They are not effective on defense, allowing 1.05 points per possession. They start with forcing very few turnovers--in the bottom 20 in the country. They are decent against the shot--particularly against 2FG, which you would expect for a team not forcing turnovers.  They are not good on the defensive boards and they do allow free throws. Their opponents do not try 3FGs--only 29% of attempts, which is the 11 lowest in the country.

They are led by Jeenathan Williams, scoring 18.6 PPG on 47% overall shooting and 38% on 3FG.  Ronaldo Segu is scoring 16 PPG, shooting 47% overall and 45% on 3FG.  He also leads the team with 5 APG.  Josh Mballa scores 15 PPG on 55% and 41% shooting, plus 8.6 RPG.  Maceo Jack scores 10 PPG, shooting 43% and 30%.

I have no idea about Mballa and Fagan's status for the game.

UB is heavily favored in this one.  They are on a 3-game losing streak, and maybe the Witherspoon curse will still hang over the Bulls.