Monday, February 27, 2023

EMU MBB Preview

Two games left.

EMU is coming to town.  We started the MAC season with them and now we are (almost) ending it with them.

EMU was picked #7 in the media poll, largely in anticipation of an oversized impact by Emoni Bates.  It didn't work out that way. They have been near the bottom of the standings all year.  They have now won 4 of their last 9 (four better than BG) and their last 2...and in the soft underbelly of the MAC chasing the #8 seed, where a 5-11 record gets you to Cleveland, the Eagles currently sit in #8 and one game ahead of the Falcons.

Those four wins included @MU, and OU, WM and BS at home.

BG won the first game by 26 in YPSI, despite being -17 in free throws.  BG never trailed in that one and it was a promising win for its size if not its opponent.

EMU does not have great numbers.  They are #11 on offense and #10 on defense.  BG is #11 on defense but #6 on the way, based just on these numbers, there's no way BG should be behind EMU in the standings.

As we know, BG is the easiest team to shoot against in the MAC.  EMU is #1 in shooting.  They don't take that many 3FGs, which is good because they are last in the MAC in 3FG shooting.  They are 7th in 2FG shooting--and BG is 11th defending the 2FG.  They are decent taking care of the ball, but are last in offensive rebounding and in the middle of the pack at getting to the line.  They do lead the MAC in FG shooting at 79%.  If BG can control the boards, it becomes a battle of poor shooting against poor shooting defense.

Looking the other way, EMU is really poor on defense.  They are 10th against the shot and last on 2FGs.  They defend the 3FG well (5th).  They don't force turnovers, they are poor on the boards and they give up a good number of FTs.  

You'd think BG would make shots in this one.

Emoni Bates is the leading scorer for EMU.  He has not been the one-man ticket to the title some thought, but he has had some ridiculous performance, including scoring 29 straight points against UT at Savage.  He is scoring 19.5 PPG in confence play on 46% and 29% shooting.  Among players using 28% of their team's possessions or more, he is #7 in offensive efficiency.  Which isn't bad, but not what his billing way.  His gross stats are inflated because he has used 32% of their possessions, top in the MAC.  He also leads the team with 6.2 RPG.

Tyson Acuff is scoring 14.7 PPG on 58% and 38% shooting, which is much more efficient. He also leads the team with 2.4 APG and 20 steals.

Noah Farrakhan is scoring 12.1 PPG, on 57% and 17%.

So, we shall see.  BG still has a shot, but right now they are as close to last place as they are to making the tourney.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

BG MBB Loses to Kent at Stroh

BG lost their 9th straight game, as expected, to Kent State at the Stroh yesterday, with a 10-point loss.  

BG battled in the first half and led for 12 minutes.  At one point, BG was up 12 and ended up by 5 at the break.

In the second half, we stopped doing what we did in the first half, and after that it's no surprise what happened. BG did OK, leading for most of the first 6 minutes of the second half.  Kent took the lead with 13:37 left and never trailed again.  BG kept the game within reach and had it down to 2 with 6:31 left.  BG needed a stop but fouled, Kent hit 2FTs, got a stop and a basket and it was 6 again.  With about 2 left, KS had the lead to 10 which is where the margin ended.

Kent had 1.08 points per possession, but their defense eventually won them the game, holding BG to .94 points per possesson. BG is 1-10 this year under 1 point per possesson.  (Air Force).  BG shot the ball very poorly, as poorly as they did all year. That's 48% from 2FG and 11% from 3FG. They scored 27 points in the second half and missed all 7 3FGs.  Otherwise, it was pretty even and it wasn't the worst game of the losing streak.  It was still a defeat.

BG has lost 9 straight.  As far as I can tell, that is the longest in-season losing streak in 51 years.  BG lost 8 straight in 2006 to end the year.  That was Dakich's 2nd to last year. (BG Assistant Steven Wright was on that team).  Then, in BG loss 8 in 77-78 in Weinert's 2nd year.  Then, in 1971-72, in Pat Haley's first year BG lost 10 straight on their way to a 4-20 year, truly one of the worst years in Falcon history.

The 1955-56 team lost 14 straight, which as far as I can tell is the school record.  Still, we are on a historic bad run.

It was senior day.  BG had five players out there....Ayers, Elsasser, Turner, Diarra and O'Neal.  What is interesting is that only two of those players--Ayers and O'Neal are truly out of eligibility.  Coach was asked post-game about Elsasser...he said that once a guy decides to be in senior day, they are usually done, but that they would talk after the season.  He gave roughly the same answer for Diarra.  No one asked about Turner but the answer would probably the same.

It could be academic.  If Huger goes, there's a good chance everyone goes, that's what seems to happen in today's world.  

Look, I don't blame someone who has played college ball for five years for deciding to get one with their life.  You're supposed to leave college.  In essence, they are declining their COVID year, which is 100% reasonable. 

But the fact remains that three of these guys could have come back and, I guess, still could.

Friday, February 24, 2023

KSU Preview....Game 2

Three games left....

Kent comes into BG for the second meeting of the year.  Kent is 12-3 in the MAC and one game behind the Rockets for the top spot. They were the talk of the MAC before conference play started with close road losses against Houston, Gonzaga and Charleston. They then won their first 6 MAC games, including over Toledo and looked to be on a glidepath.  They are 6-3 since then, with losses @NIU, @UA and @BS.  None of those is a terrible loss, unless you want to be the conference champion.

Note, if you will, the fact that all those MAC losses are on the road, where Kent will be on Saturday.

Also, note that the best two games BG has played in MAC play have been against Akron and Toledo, top teams at the Stroh.

Kent won the first meeting by 23.  BG led for only :15.  They did get the lead to 6 with 10 minutes left, but Kent has that ability that winning teams have to respond to a run with a run. They punched it back and eventually won big.

Look, Kent plays very physical basketball.  From my observation, their goal is to commit way more fouls than refs can call.  They shot the ball well and killed us on the offensive boards.  Meanwhile, BG shot poorly.  Both teams had too many turnovers.

Kent is the toughest team to shoot against in the MAC and forces the most turnovers.  Overall, they lead the MAC in defense.

Giovanni Santiago did not play in the first BG game and has not played since.  In their last game, Jacobs came off the bench but played 36 minutes.  Hornbeak started but played only 5 minutes. 

Jacobs had 17 on 4 of 8 2FG shooting and 6 FTs.  He had 7 assists and an amazing 7 steals.  Hornbeak had 14 on 5 of 7 shooting plus 5 rebounds. Thomas had 12 on 2 of 4 and 2 of 3 shooting plus 5 rebounds.  Reigning MAC player of the year Sincere Carry had 11 and 7 assists.

We'll see if BG decides to play up for a game against the #2 team in the MAC and how motivated Kent is to play.  Once you are in the top 4, there's no real advantage to be had in seeding anymore.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Short Wrap Up: MBB Loses at Miami

BG lost their 8th straight last night, all but cementing a second straight year in the bottom four.  This is a team BG handled at the Stroh and led by 3 at the half.  That did not last long.  Miami tied the game 4 minutes into the second half and then took the lead with 14 left and led for the remainder of the game.  Once the lead got to 5 a couple minutes later, it was never closer than 6 again and over 10 for most of the time.

The RedHawks scored 48 second-half points.  Coach Huger said that we had no "pride" in our defense and we played "like it didn't matter whether you win or lose."

If that was the synopsis once in a while, fine.  But it is almost every game with this team and this Coach, in his 8th year at BG.  It's very discouraging.  I will tell you this, Coach sounded tired and a little beaten during the interview.  Things have gotten to a place that he can't seem to influence and it has to be hell.

Not much need to go through the whole thing here. It was a listless effort against a team we should be more competitive with, at least. In a 15-game schedule, to date, BG is 9 games out of first.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Home stretch: The RedHawks, Part II

Coming down to the last few games.  BG still has a shot at finishing 8th, which is not the kind of goal you want to have but it was a reasonable expectation for this team, this year.  BG plays at Miami...and it would be a pretty important one to win.

This is the 150th meeting between BG and Miami.  The RedHawks are historically bad.  They have 3 MAC wins.  If they finish, it's their worst season since the year after Coles/The Evil Genius.  They did win their last game, @NIU. 

And they are 1.5 point favorites over BG.

The first game was pretty much all BG.  Miami never led and BG had a 20+ lead heading into the 8 min timeout. The RedHawks rallied and had it to 9 late, but BG made key FTs and won the game by 10.

Miami is 2-6 since then and BG is 1-7.

This is one for people who love the game.

Miami is #10 in offense and #9 in defense, while BG is #6 in offense and #11 in defense.  From this look, it appears that BG getting any kind of consistent stops is the key to winning.

Miami is the #8 shooting team in the MAC while BG is dead last defending the shot.  Miami is interesting.  They are 8th in the MAC in taking 3FGs, and they are 11th in making.  They lead the MAC in making 2FGs.  So, the shooting evens out to OK.  They are 10th in turnovers, 10th in offensive rebounding and last in getting to the line, though they make 74%.  BG will need to defend the inside and get some turnovers to get enough stops to win.

BG is 2nd in the MAC in shooting. Miami is decent defending the shot and #3 in the MAC defending the 3FG, which is worrisome for BG. Miami is OK on turnovers and the defensive boards, but they foul a lot. The secret to BG scoring is the less careless with the ball and make shots, both from the field and at the line.

Miami has three double figure scorers.  Mekhi Lairy is scoring 16.6 PPG, #9 in the MAC. He made 54% of his 2FG and 33% of his 3FG, along with 4.1 assists (#7). Morgan Safford scores 15.8 PPG shooting 58% on 2FG and 33% on 3FG. He leads the tgeam with 6.8 rebounds (#6).  He played all 45 in the NIU game. The giant Anderson Mirambeaux is scoring 15.1 PPG on 58% shooting.  He is the #9 most efficent player in the MAC. He also averages 6.7 RPG. 

So here we go.  It would be great to see BG follow up on the UT game with a strong effort.  Not much to suggest it will happen, but who knows.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Rockets Win Thriller at Stroh

Yesterday was a good day to watch college basketball.  In front of a packed house at the Stroh Center, BG and UT played a highly entertaining and competitive game that ended up with UT on the winning side.  The only thing that would have made it better was a BG win, but it was a great game.

For BG fans, it adds to the disappointment.  BG can play with the best MAC teams, especially at home...see Akron and UT.  Where was this effort in the WMU, CMU and NIU games, for example?  A similar effort in those games would have BG in position to head to Cleveland right now.

You are what your record says you are...and we are an inconsistent team that doesn't bring a winning effort on a consistent basis.

And we're not as good as Toledo....the best team won the game.

Dakich used to say your goal as a team was to be "tough to beat."  As I recall, he was talking about the Romeo Travis-era Akron Zips.  They could go inside, they could go outside and they didn't make mistakes at key times.

That's a good description for this Rockets team.  They are tough to beat.  Here's why.  Three minutes into the 2nd half, BG is up 6.  Biggest lead of the game.  Place is rocking.  UT goes on a 12-2 run to go up 4 with 12 to play.  BG ties it again and it is tied with 10 to play.  UT goes on an 8-0 run to go up 8 with 8 to play, BG calling time.  

BG never had the ball again with a chance to tie the game. UT kept BG at arm's length.  When BG needed a stop, they could not get it.  That's just close-the-game-out basketball.  UT made their last 16 free throws.  They made zero turnovers in the last 9:30. That's a team that is hard to beat.

That's how good we need to be. Competitive every week and every year.  Tough to beat.  That's what it looks like.

They have one other asset....RayJ Dennis, who clearly is one of the best if not the best player in the MAC.  This guy plays the angles on the backboard like Tim Duncan.  It's incredible.  He put the team on his back and made sure his team won.

He had 19 points on 6 of 8 2FG and 2 of 3 3FG shooting, 4 rebounds and 3 assists over 0 turnovers.  In the second half.  (For the game he had 27.)

Kowalcyk stirred some stuff up in the post-game when he said that the MAC had caused a problem by only letting coaches vote on the awards.  Here is what he told The Blade:

“It’s the league office’s unbelievably poor decision to take out the media voting and now you get the head coaches,” he said. “It’s just 12 head coaches. There’s jealousy, there’s bias, there are agendas. We’re not very well-liked, I’m not very well-liked, so be it. The fact that our league office did that, shame on them. That’s a big mistake. That’s wrong.”

Look, that might be a direct shot at the MAC office, but it is just as big a shot at his fellow coaches.  And, just to interrupt Tod the Martyr for a second, Dennis was #23 in the MAC in scoring last year and #6 in assists...those are bulk stats and he was #8 in the MAC in minutes.  So the tempo free stats are a little worse.  He was also over-shadowed by an NBA draft pick.  If Dennis isn't on the All-MAC team after this year, that's an outrage.  Even if it didn't age well, it wasn't an outrage before the season.

Back to this game. Here is an incredible thing.  In the last 5 minutes, there were 50 points scored.  That's the equivalent of a 400 point game...NBA All-star game territory.  Unbelievable and thrilling to watch.

BG had a good offensive game, their best game since their last win at 1.16 points per possession. BG made 62% on 2FG and 44% of 3FG and 71% inside the restricted area, since I have been harping on that.  BG was 18 of 26 in the paint and made 11 of 14 at the line.  In fact, BG outshot UT.  UT made 52% on their 3FGs and 50% of their 2FGs...but won the turnover battle and was 24 of 28 at the line.  No one did much on the offensive boards.

Samari Curtis led BG with 18 points off the bench. He was 5 of 7 and 2 of 6, and 6 assists over 1 turnover. Kaden Metheny had 16 points, (4 of 9 on 3FG, 1 of 4 on 2FG), with 7 assists, 1 turnover and 2 steals. Mills had 13 on 2 of 3 and 3 of 6 shooting, a team high 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Gabe O'Neal had 13 as well, making all 6 of his 2FGs and adding 5 rebounds. And Ayers had 12 points on 3 of 4 and 1 of 2 shooting and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes. 

Once again, Ayers sat for the last 8 minutes of the game.  Todd Walker asked Huger about it and he said that we needed stops and the team on the court was getting the 8 minutes Ayers sat, UT scored 39 points.  On the other hand, they guys we did have on the floor were scoring.

So, here is where we stand.  That kind of effort was what we need and rarely see. BG has four games left. with Miami and EMU on there and Miami next.  If they get to 6 and 12, they could tie CMU and the head-head is even and gods knows what happens after that. Do we go to Cleveland and bring out "good opponent" game?  Whichever...we saw yesterday what our program needs to look like.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Hated Rockets, MBB, Part II

 So now the Rockets come down to the Stroh.  It's hard to imagine two teams going in more different directions. Starting with the UT loss, BG has lost 6 straight and 9 of 11 overall. The Rockets have won 10 straight since their loss @Kent with the BG game in the middle of that streak. That's the nation's 3rd longest winning streak.

The first game with UT was competitive for 18 minutes.  BG was only down 2...then UT went on a 26-7 run spanning into the second half and the game was over.  Final score, 91-77.

UT has a very clear game plan.  Score.  They are #1 in the MAC in offensive efficiency (MAC game) and #14 in the country (all games). They lead the MAC in EFG and in not turning the ball over. That's #2 in 2FG and #2 in 3FG and #3 at the line. Meanwhile, they are #6 in defense...and they do not foul.

They scored 1.29 points per possession in the first game, which is well above their average. BG had a decent offensive game at 1.09 points per possession, which is pretty good. But nowhere near good enough against that kind of onslaught, especially when you see the turnovers.

They are led by RayJ Dennis, a bona fide all-MAC player. He's #3 in scoring at 18.5 PPG and #16 in offensive efficiency, really good for a high-volume scorer. He is #2 in assists and #1 in A/T ratio. Millner is #18 in scoring and #14 in efficiency, Shumate is #18 in scoring and #3 in efficiency and Mattox is #21 and #8. 

This would be one of the bigger upsets for us in recent memory.  UT has Akron on Tuesday at Savage, maybe that helps.  UT will eventually lose and you'd like to see us rally.  Obviously, a big offensive team against us is not a great matchup, but maybe the rivalry gets us focused.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

BG MBB 98% chance to win, loses

Certainly a deflating and disappointing loss last night.  To be sure, there's not much on the table anyway, but you'd like to see the team win.

BG was up 11 with 5 minutes left to play.  Kenpom had BG with a 98.1% chance of winning. From 68-57 ahead, BG played their way right out of the game, outscored 20-6 in those last five minutes...that's 20 points in an 8th of a game.

One of the things that drives me crazy is Coach Huger bleeding clock.  I think he does it too early and with too small a lead.  It would be different if he had a guy who could drive and get to the rim or get fouled consistently, but he doesn't. So, you run the clock down, get an empty possession, nothing on the boards and CMU comes down and scores.  BG even ran clock when they were behind with :34 left.  Coach would put 1 guy high and four on the baseline.  He would stand there and tell everyone to wait.  The idea is to run a guy out for a screen and then the guy with the ball drives or passes.  On a couple of occasions, CM ran out a double-team to keep that from happening.  I don't understand the thinking behind seems like we dribbled the game away.

In that span, BG scored 4 FTs and one basket by Metheny. They had 3 turnovers and missed 3 shots.

That wasn't the only issue, to be sure. CMU had an easy night shooting, with 54% from 2FG and 50% from 3FG. Their scoring was limited to 1.08 because of turnovers and poor offensive rebounding.   BG had 1.05 points per possession, shooting well from 3FG (47%) but badly from 2FG (42%), second worst in MAC play.  BG was 11-21 inside the restricted area (52%) while CMU was 13 of 17 for 76%.

Lastly, BG had an advantage in getting to the line but made 15 of 26, only +3.

CMU has an incredible run of finishes this year.  Based on minimum win probability, they have the #23, (this game), #30 (Michigan), #54 (WMU) and #87 (Miami) comebacks in D1 this year.  No other MAC team is in the top 100 for any game.  There have been 4,957 games, so top 100 is top 2%.

This is often a trend that reverses itself the next year.  We shall see.

BG now falls into 9th place. They have lost 6 straight and 9 of their last 11. UT comes to town Saturday and Kent will do so later.  We probably won't make Cleveland and even if we do, you are looking at a quick exit.  It's very disappointing.  The program has come full circle.  From picking up the pieces of the Jans turmoil to two years with a shot to make the tourney and now back to being as bad as we were in 2016.

Monday, February 13, 2023

BG Returns Home (MBB) for the Chips on Date Night

 So, it's round two with the CMU Chips.  BG picked up a 22-point victory on the road.  In fact, that's the last game BG won, going 0-5 since then.  Meanwhile, the Chips are 2-3, with wins over WMU and @MU and losses @KS, @UT and BS.

Interestingly, they could also very easily be 0-5 as well.  Against WMU they were down 67-58 with 3 minutes left and a 2.3% chance of victory, and against MU they were down 46-34 with 13 minutes left and a 3.4% chance of winning.  They won both games.  In fact, in terms of minimum win prob those are the biggest comeback wins in the MAC this year, #53 and #86 in the country.

Just a note I found when looking at this...WMU is 0-8 since hanging 108 on BG.

So, just to recap, CMU is the worst offensive team in the MAC. They are last in shooting and in turnover %.  They are last in 2FG and 11th in 3FG.  Appropriately, BG held them .9 points per possession in the first game.  CMU is good on the boards, but BG won that battle.  They are #7 in defense and BG blew that up, with their 2nd best shooting game of the year and 1.21 points per possession.  BG struggled with turnovers but was really good on the boards (Chips are not good at defensive rebounding).  CMU fouls a lot, but BG did not take advantage, making 10-19.  (BG is 7th in the MAC in FT shooting).

Jesse Zarvuela was their only double figure scorer, with 24 on 6 of 11 and 3 of 6 shooting. He was DTD for that game and in fact has missed their last 3 games. 

The Chips have used 15 starting lineups this year.  Note that Kevin Miller, their pre-season 2nd team All-MAC player, has not played since November 23.

Although he didn't score much in the first BG game, Brian Taylor is scoring 15 PPG on 43% and 33% shooting.  He leads the MAC in % of minutes played, which impacts that PPG.  He's also their leading rebounder and #6 in the MAC.

Reggie Bass leads them in assists and is #7 in the MAC.

I'm not sure how much upside is left in our schedule.  This and the home game against EMU are our best chances for wins.  We also play @MU.  Even with those 3, we wrap up at 7-11.  If you are into it, BG is tied with CMU for 8th and this would lock down that particular tie breaker.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Huger: Defensive effort "non-existent"

Good thing.  Hate to think that came from effort.

Once again, BG never led.  It didn't start great...10 minutes in BG was down 19-11.  For the next 20 minutes, BG gave up 55 points.  They scored 41...which still left them down 22 with 10 to play in the game.  That was actually a slight uptick, a few minutes before that BG had been down 29.  The game finished with BG down 21.

Ball State finished with 1.31 points per possession, BG's second-worst game of the season, eclipsed only by the WMU game.  BSU had virtually unfettered access to the basket.  That's the worst shooting defense for BG this season and almost exactly what UT shot in the debacle last March. The Cards took 44% of their shots from 3FG and made 44% and topped that off with 65% on 2FG.  They also took good care of the ball and were strong on the offensive boards.  The only thing that kept them from having historic offensive numbers was making 52% of their copious FTs.

A few notes.  BG was +7 at the line and lost by 21.

In 200 minutes, BG had 5 assists. In 26 minutes, Luke Baumbalaugh had 8.

Agee played about 7 minutes.

BG is now tied for 8th with CMU, their next opponent.  They have lost 5 straight and 8 of 10, all in the conference. During the 5-game losing streak, with 200 minutes, BG has led for 6:55, almost all of that in the Toledo game.  Against conference opponents.

Friday, February 10, 2023

MBB Heads to Muncie

So, BG heads over to Muncie to play Ball State tomorrow.

BG has now lost 7 of their last 9 MAC games and lost four in a row. Meanwhile, BSU is 17-7 and 8-3 and won 6 of their last 9 and four straight.  They are 4-1 at home in MAC play.

In the first game, BG played them relatively tough.  The Falcons were down 1 with five minutes left, but shot 1-10 from then on in among a series of mistakes and lost by 9.  BG never led at any point in the game.  In fact, in BG's four-game losing streak, (160 minutes) they have led for 6:55.  Here's the report for the first game....only BSU's turnovers kept this from being a bigger blowout.

Personnel-wise, Willie Lightfoot has not been on the bench in a while.  Samari Curtis spent the first BSU game on the bench and was not in the building for the last game. Both remain on the roster as of this minute.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Kent Blows Out BG Men

 BG went on the road to Kent, one of the top three teams in the MAC and the result was what you would expect. Kent was a 14-point favorite and won by 23.

There was really no point when it was close.  BG led for 15 seconds.  The game was only tied once and there were only 2 lead changes.  Kent was up 18-5 with 12 to play in the first half. BG showed some resilience and had the lead to 4 with 4 to play but the Flashes closed out on an 8-3 run to lead by 9.

KS led by double digits for the first 10 minutes of the second half.  Metheny scored 5 straight to get the lead to 6 with 10 to play.  Kent scored the next 6 and the lead stayed in double digits for the remainder of the game, finishing at 23, their biggest lead.

What you see here is what a blowout looks like.  BG had .9 points per possession.  They are 1-9 when scoring under 1 point per possession this year.  Meanwhile, Kent had 1.22 points per possession.  BG is 0-8 when allowing over 1.2 points per possession.

Kent outshot BG, had a slight turnover edge, destroyed the Falcons on both boards and were +6 at the line.

BG made a decent 36% from 3FG but 43% from 2FG.  BG shot 44% inside the restricted area (8-18) while KS was 71% (20-28).

BG played without Samari Curtis who had "personal business" to attend to.

Individually, Coach again said that the team had a good game plan and had practiced well, but when they got into the game they did "the opposite" of what they had practiced. He said this after the NIU game and he says it often.  It is an amazing thing to hear.  He noted that Kent plays very physically.  And they do.  From what I have been able to see, they literally decide that the refs can't call as many fouls as they can commit.  How do they get those rebounds?  They push you out of the way. (Coach said this).  We had to be tough and we weren't.

I don't want to get into anything about whose "fault" it is that this happens.  I will just say it speaks poorly of where our program is right now.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Next Up...MBB...the Golden Flashes

Next up are the Kent State Golden Flashes.

They are one of the legit powers in the MAC.  Since 1998, they have been to the Big Dance 6 times, once to the Elite Eight. They have 25 straight non-losing seasons and 19 20-win seasons over the past 24 years.

It is easy to forget that they were 9-9 and 4-4 last year and not looking like anyone's title favorite, but they won the last 12 regular season games to finish 2nd.  They made the final against Akron, but then had a little issue with some snapface videos ripping on the Zips and had four players suspended, one "indefinitely" and three for the first half of the title game.  The Flashes lost.

This year they are 18-5 and 8-2.  They gave very difficult games to Houston, Gonzaga and Charleston (all losses), and have only lost in the MAC twice, @UA and @NIU. The Akron loss was the last time out, on Friday.

Kent has won their last 16 D-1 home games. Kent has beaten BG in 7 of the last 10 games and the last 6.

Kent is a good but not great offensive team, ranked #5 in the MAC in offense.  They are defensive stalwarts, though, #2 in the MAC. (Akron leads and it isn't close).  BG is 4th in offense and 10th in defense.

Looking at the Kent offense, it's actually surprising that they are as good overall as they are.  They are #9 in shooting.  They take excellent care of the ball, and OK but not great on the offensive boards and get fouled an average amount.  They make just under 70% from the line.

They take 40% of the FGAs from 3, which is #4 in the MAC.  They make 32% of their 3FGs, which is #9 in the MAC and 52% from 2FG, which is 7th.  They match up pretty close to BG...what they are doing is pretty close to what we are allowing.

They are very good on defense.  They are #2 in the MAC against the shot and #1 in forcing turnovers. They do a decent job on the defensive boards (#6) and don't give up too many FTs (5th). Teams try a league-high 44% 3FGs against them, but they are #4 defending 3FGs and 2FGs.

They are led by reigning MAC POY Sincere Carry.  He is scoring 17.1 PPG, shooting 56% on 2FGs and 25% on 3FGs.  The 3FG shooting is less than the 36% he had last year.  He does not come off the floor...he is 3rd in the MAC with 92% of minutes played. He is also #4 in assists and in A/T ratio.

Malique Jacobs is their top defensive player and also scores 11.5 PPG.  He was all-MAC defensive last year and is #8 in blocked shot% and #4 in steal%. He is not efficient, at 37% and 13% shooting.  He also leads the team with 6 RPG.  He also rarely comes off the floor, playing 84% of their minutes. He's #6 in assists as well.

Jalen Sullinger is a candidate for 6th MAC of the year, with 10.5 PPG, all off the bench. He is a good shooter, at 48% on 2FG and a MAC-leading 52% from 3FG.

Miryne Thomas is scoring 10 PPG and adding 5.7 RPG.  He is a grad transfer from BSU, and shoots 58% and 31%.

They have Giovanni Santiago (main character in the class novel "The Old Man and the Three.") He's averaging 8 a game and left their last game early (no word on his availability) but he did score 18 against BG last year at the Stroh.

Chris Payton, a Pitt Transfer, leads the MAC in blocked shots.

So, this is a tough one.  Kent is a 14-point favorite, and you can see why.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

BG Drops 6th in Last 8

 BG started MAC play with an encouraging 2-0 start, but since then have lost 6 of 8 and placed themselves in danger of missing a tournament bid and even with that in position to face one of the big 3 in the first round.  It's about what we expected when the year started, sadly.

As usual, BG got their doors blown off early, going down 21-7 about 6 minutes in. They responded quicker this time, winnowing it to 4 with 8 minutes left.  A 6-0 Huskie made it double digits again.  BG eventually trailed by 11 before a late rush put it at 7 at the half.

BG came out playing better and a 12-5 "run" sliced the lead to 2 heading into the first media timeout.  But NIU came out on a 17-3 run to push the lead to 16 with 9 minutes left.  BG stayed with it, getting a 15-2 run to get it to 3 with 3:55 left to play.

The second game in a row where BG is within one possession with inside 5 to play. Needing stops, they gave up 3s on the next two possessions and BG was down 7 with 2:41 to play. Curtis split a pair out of the timeout and then Coit hit a 3fg (making it three straight possessions) and the lead was 9 and the game was never in serious doubt again.

BG never led.  NIU led for 39:06.  BG never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead for the last 14:42.

Oddly, BG went down the stretch without Agee and Ayers.  Agee did not play the last 10 minutes and played only 3:31 in the second half. Ayers left the game with 8:41 left, never to return.

I find this hard to understand. I would assume the explanation is that you need stops to come back and you had better defense on the court, but it seems amazing to me, especially after it got to 3 with 4 left that you wouldn't bring them in to try and capitalize. We are limited on good players and I don't see how having them on the bench gives us a better chance to win.

Perhaps I am wrong.

It is tempting to say that BG lost the game on defense.  NIU had 1.23 points per possession, a losing number of any defense.  BG is 0-16 over the last 5 years when giving up 1.23.  (Note that 12 of the last 16 have been in the last 2 years). BG had 1.12.  When scoring that or better, BG is 7-2.

Even with that, though, BG left points on the board.  BG missed 9 shots inside the no-charge circle...and NIU missed 3.  Northern does foul and BG got to the line but missed 10 FTs.

Even with that, BG shot 59% from 2FG.  They also dogged it from 3FG, making 4 of 17, their worst effort in MAC play.  The Falcons took good care of the ball and was OK on the boards against the MAC's worst rebounding team.  Despite getting 7 more FTs than NIU got, BG was only +2 at the line.

Chandler Turner had 21 for BG on a good night, 7 of 8 from 2 FG and 1 of 4 from 3.  He was 4 of 5 at the line and 5 rebounds.  Ayers had 20 on 6 of 11 and 2 of 3 shooting, plus 4 rebounds.  Also a good night. Kaden Metheny struggled to make shots, but had 5 assists over 0 turnovers. Curtis was back in the game, and had 5 assists over 2 turnovers.  Gabe O'Neal matched Agree in minutes.

So, BG is in serious trouble.  Their next two games are @Kent and @Ball State.  If those go as expected, BG will be 4-8 with 6 to play.  They have lost 6 of 8 and 3 of those were at home. 

Coach said after the game that Coach Noon draws up good game plans, but that BG came out and played like we didn't believe they were true.  It seems to me that he says this a lot.  After a while, you have to wonder why other teams don't have this problem.  It's disappointing and does not seem to be getting any better.

Friday, February 03, 2023

NIU Preview (MBB)

 So, BG hits Game 10 of the MAC season...the first game of the second half of the slate.  At 4-5 and with four of the remaining 9 against top-ranked MAC teams, these games that are not against Kent or UT (and I'm adding @BSU in here) are important.

Not that NIU is a pushover. They were picked dead last in the MAC poll and 9th by Blue Ribbon. They had a really rough pre-season before a road win against a pretty good Indiana State team right before Christmas.  They lost their first two MAC games @UA and @UB, but are 5-2 since then.  They are the only MAC team to beat Kent.

The Huskies have had their struggles.  They have not played in the NCAA tourney since 1995, when they were not playing in the MAC. Since returning to the MAC in 1998, they have had 3 winning records in conference play.  The third of those was in 19-20, when they got to 11-7 but then started 1-7 the next year and Coach Montgomery was let go.  (He's back at MSU).  

They brought in Raushon Burno. He played in HS for Hurley JR, and came to NIU after six seasons with Hurley JR.  He also was an assistant for Billy Donavan. He played at DePaul.

And he has NIU humming.

BG has beaten NIU the last 6 times they have played and 7 out of the last 10.

Both teams are scoring what they are allowing, which is what .500 teams do. 

One thing to note with these numbers.  he MAC average is 1.08 points per possession, which is the most efficient scoring conference in D1 basketball right now.  So, NIU's 1.05 is a good number for a D1 team, it is not as good relative to its MAC competitors.

NIU is #9 in offense and #5 in defense. BG is pretty much the opposite, at #4 and #9.

First of all, NIU is a good shooting team, #3 in the MAC.  They are even better than BG is bad at defending the shot.  They take 40% from 3FG, which is #4 in the MAC.  They make 38% which is #3 in the MAC and make 52% on 2FGs, which is #7.  They also get to the line a lot, although they make only 67%. They are held back by too many turnovers and terrible offensive rebounding.  BG notably does not force turnovers, leaving them possibly unable to capitalize on that weakness.  BG is just average on the defensive boards, but you'd hope to see a good number here.

As mentioned, they are a good defensive team. They are #4 defending the shot, and #4 against 2FGs and #5 against 2FGs, so decent all around.  As we have seen, BG can pick up wins when shots fall.  They do force turnovers--and BG has turned the ball over, though better last time out.  NIU is awful on the defensive boards and they also give up a lot of FTs.  So, beyond shooting well, BG needs to take care of the ball and then maybe capitalize on second chance points to score against a good defensive team.

Their top scorer this season is Keshwn Williams, who transferred in from Tulsa.  He got injured in the UB game and has missed the last 7 (during which NIU was 5-2).

In MAC play, David Coit leads NIU in scoring at 17.9 PPG. He's 5'11" and played last year in JUCO, where he lead JUCO DIII in scoring. He's a good shooter at 53% from 2FG and 39% from 3FG.  He's the second-best FT shooter in the MAC as well.

Their next leading scorer is Zarique Nutter, another JUCO transfer, with 12.6 PPG and a team high 5.2 RPG. He's 6'6".   He shoots 48% and 20%.

After that is Kaleb Thornton, in his 3rd year in DeKalb (though a JUCO before that). He is scoring 12.3 PPG on 45% and 49% shooting.  That latter number is #4 in the MAC.  He also leads the MAC with 25 steals.  He is also #3 in the MAC in assists and #12 in A/T.

Darweshi Hunter scores 10 PPG on 44% AND 47% shooting, the latter #7 in the MAC. He played at Central State, Weber State and then at NIU last year.

As is often the case, BG is a box of chocolates.  But at home this is a game you need to win to reach even modest levels of success.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Football Adds JUCO Transfer

BG has another transfer, this one who plays LB.  His name is Marquette Harris.  He is originally from Woodbridge, VA.  Went to Anderson Broaddus, a DII school in WV, for one season and then he went to Ventura JC.  He was first-team All-Conference for Ventura, where he played in seven games and made 31 tackles, along with 2.0 TFLs and one interception return for 31yards.

He is listed on the roster, so he must be in spring practice now.  He is at OLB.

OLBs currently listed are:

  • Cashius Howell
  • Demetrius Hardamon
  • Charles Rosser
  • Avi McGarry
  • Canaan Williams
  • Myles Bradley
Welcome to the Falcons, Marquette

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

BG Not Good Enough, Loses to Ball State

Another disappointing loss for BG, who played probably 17 minutes of good basketball on their way to a 9-point loss to Ball State at the Stroh.  BG falls to 4-5 in MAC play.  Just for reference, last year they were 4-5 and lost 9 of 11 coming home to finish out of the tourney.  In other years, BG has played poorly coming down the stretch as well.  It will be interesting to see how they do from here on out...they have Kent twice, @UT, and @BS, but the other 5 are reasonably contestable.  (There are only 18 MAC games this year).  And, you know, if you are trying to get to 9-9, you need to find 5 wins in those 9 games.

BG came out completely flat.  They were down 9-2 before Huger called time. About five minutes into the half they had a 21-6 lead. It kind of slowly grew until they went up 20 with 2 minutes to play.  BG scored the last 6 to get it down to 14.  BG shot 35% and 20% for the half.

BG came out ready to play, going on a 4-minute 11-1 run to get the lead to 4. Two minutes later the Cards had it back to 12. An 11-2 BG run got it back to 3 with 10 left and then BG tied the game with about 7 to play. For a couple minutes, it was a tight game and BG was down 1 with five minutes left. 

From there, Ball State closed out on a 10-2 run to win by 9.  BG had nothing...they played a shorter rotation than normal, but closing strength isn't generally something we excel at. 

BG got some stops but was 1-8 from the field, 0-1 at the line (on a front end), and a turnover.  The only basket came at 1:09 with BG down 6.  BG also committed some bizarre, unpressured fouls away from the basket.

BG also never led.

BG struggled to score at .9 points per possession. It was their second-worst offensive game of the year, tied with Air Force. BG tried 81% of its FGs from 2FG and made only 42%.  The shot chart indicates that BG missed 10 attempts from the no-charge circle, which is astounding. They shot 3FGs reasonably well at 36%, but ended up shooting only 45%.  The Falcons are 0-6 when shooting under 45% this year.

The Falcons took better care of the ball, but got no help on the offensive boards.  BG struggled to get to the line, making 10-14.  If BS made their FTs, the game would not have been close. They were 16-29, but still +6.

BS did not have a great offensive game, at 1.03 points per possession. They shot the ball well, shooting 57% and 39%.  They did have turnover issues, were not great on the offensive boards, and then did get all those FTs.  One thing is that you can hold a team's shooting down by fouling them when they have earned an open shot.  It's still an indication of playing poorly.

Ayers III had 14 for BG. He shot 4 of 8 and 1 of 3 and had 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Turner had 13 on 6 of 11 and 0-2 and 6 rebounds.  Agee had 11 on 5 of 12 shooting and 8 rebounds in 20 minutes.

As mentioned, BG played a closer rotation.  Mills, Metheny, Ayers and Turner all played about 35 minutes. Curtis DNP and Elsasser got only 7 minutes.

So on it goes.  A rising NIU team comes in Saturday.

Coaching Changes and Signing Day....Football

 A bunch of news out of the BG football program today....

To start with, the defensive coaching has been sorted out.  BG has been out a DC and secondary coach since Eric Lewis went to Navy.

Here's what was announced today.

First, Derrick Jackson will be the defensive coordinator and defensive pass game coordinator.  He's an experienced coach---has been in the business for 24 years.  A native of Cincinnati, he went to Duke.  Most recently, he was the associate head coach, defensive coordinator and safeties coach at NIU.  He has also coached at Purdue, Wake Forest, Michigan State and Syracuse. You can find the info here, including the players he coached along the way.  Appears to be a good choice for our staff.

There were some other shifting positions.

Steve Morrison and Sammy Lawanson will be co-defensive coordinators. Morrison will call the defense.

Julian Campenni has been made assistant head coach and continued to be defensive run game coordinator.

Which means we have four coordinators on defense.

I had expected continuity as the position was filled.  They have a big job.  There are serious losses on defense and BG has to keep getting better on defense. The Falcons were #8 in scoring defense last year. (MAC play) and #7 in yards per play.

Also, it's signing day.

BG added two players.

Trimaine Brown, Jr., is coming in as an athlete. He is from Miami.  He is a CB and WR who made 22 tackles and broke up 10 passes last year. He's 5'11" and 165 pounds and also had D1 offers from FAU and UMass. He also ran track, with a 10.54 in the 100.

Also, there's Romello Flowers, a 6'1" 185 pound DB from Fr. Lauderdale.  He went to the Avant Garde Academy--I'd love to see how they draw up plays there.

He was second-team all-Broward in 2021. His brother was Zay Flowers, who played at BC.  He was offered by Syracuse and perhaps others, I'm not seeing anything.

So, Derrick, Trimaine and Romello, welcome to the Falcons.