Thursday, March 30, 2023

Loeffler Extended Until 25

Well, I did not expect to see that.  You go from hearing that the football program was one of the reasons Moos was fired to having big donors demanding Loeffler out to the Board wanting him out.  The team goes 6-6/6-7, shows progress, but still a long way from competing for a title and with blowout losses, not close losses.  People were expecting Loeffler fired when the new AD was on the tarmac.

Obviously, at 6-6/7 he was going to be back.  I think a one-year extension was considered likely and in my mind all that was warranted...and I have been a Loeffler backer.  I always felt patience was warranted but not forever, and we are at the point where we should start to expect results.  We did OK, in line with what was predicted when we started.  But the goal is to compete for championships and this was only an OK year if it is on the way to that.

I'm seeing comments from the fan base that a one-year extension isn't much better than letting him be a lame duck, so 2 years was kind of the thing that's done.

Extensions are nothing more than agreeing to how much you will pay if you fire the coach and how much he will pay if he leaves.  We saw this with Huger.  You can still make a move.  Though, with the fan base clamoring to pay to keep Fralick (and rightfully so), coaching cash does get tight.

Last thing:  Loeffler is all in here.  I love the engagement during the WBB run.  Van Der Merwe played college football in the MAC for one of the best.  He has evaluated the program and presumably likes the foundation and where it is headed.

I hope he's right.  I don't want to start over with another rebuild.  Nothing would be better than having this story reach a happy ending (soonish) and the return of competitive football to the Doyt, with a program built to succeed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

MAC MBB Portal Update

 According to Verbal Commits, there are 746 players in the portal throughout D1.  For the MAC, as of 5;20 PM on Monday, I make it 41 MAC players in the portal....enough for three teams worth of scholarships.

Only a couple of them have found homes...Kevin Miller, who was All-MAC FR and missed almost all of this season with injuries, has landed at Wake Forest.

To date, here is the breakdown by team....

  • Akron 3
  • Ball State 4
  • Bowling Green 6
  • Buffalo 5
  • CMU 7
  • Kent 1
  • Miami 6
  • NIU 1
  • UT 5
  • WMU 3

NONE:  EMU and Ohio

BG and Buffalo have coaching changes, so there is usually a lot of portal activity.  The surprises are CMU and Miami.  Miami's coach just finished his first year and CMU's coach finished his second. UT always loses guys because Kowalcyk plays a really tight rotation and if you're not in it, you're never going to play until the last minute of the game.

To be clear, most of these players were not impact players. Some where, but most were not.

For example, only 4 had received MAC recognition of one sort or another

  • Payton Sparks                         Ball State       All-MAC 2nd Team
  • Curtis Jones         Buffalo                    Third-team all-MAC
  • Reggie Bass                            Central Michigan    MAC FR Of Year
  • Kevin Miller                           Central Michigan All-MAC FR, injured this year
Only 7 of the 41 were what I would consider good players, meaning they were not MAC recognized but averaged 10 PPG or RPG or in that neighborhood.

  • Luke Bumbalough                            Ball State           11 PPG two years ago
  • Rashaun Agee                                   Bowling Green         9.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG
  • Kaden Metheny                                Bowling Green     10.7 PPG
  • Yazid Powell                                    Buffalo                   13 PPG, 4 RPG
  • Jesse Zarzuela                                  Central Michigan     16.3 PPG
  • Kaleb Thornton  NIU             Made 46 starts, 8 ppg
  • Markeese Hastings WMU             8.3 PPG, 9.3 RLP
The remaining 30 players were either role players (in the 6 PPG range) or players that made little or no contribution to the team. There are 20 players in this last category.  That doesn't mean those guys never would have been good players, had they stayed to develop, but they are going to try and develop elsewhere.  In the meantime, for at least 20 of these roster slots, teams have lost someone they weren't playing anyway and have a chance to fill the slot.

It's a crazy world. My guess is the D1 total might hit 1,000.

Football Assistant Coaches Change Seats Again

 So, Chris Hedden (BG's line coach and run coordinator or something like that) left BG for "another opportunity."  That created an opening. 

Loeffler decided to move TE Coach Greg Nosal over to coaching the line...Nosal played OL at Virginia Tech...and he will also be the run game coordinator.  Alex Bayer, an all-MAC TE at BG, will now coach special teams and TEs.

Which, if you are scoring at home, still leaves a position open.

It was filled by Beyah Rasool, who will coach CBs.  Rasool was a defensive backfield analyst for Arizona, where he undoubtedly got to know our current AD.  There is more info on his bio here.  Coach Loeffler says he is an "up-and-coming talent."

He also led Arizona's national recruiting efforts.

Now, you might be saying, as I was, hey didn't we just get a new guy to coach the defensive secondary.  And you'd be right.  When Eric Lewis left, BG hired Derrick Jackson, Associate Head Coach at NIU to coach the defensive secondary and coordinate the pass defense.  That was on February 1.  The roster on the website now lists him as defensive pass game coordinator and I assume he will handle the safeties.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Simon Introduces Himself

So they had the introductory presser for was good.  They are always good.

A few of us were remembering that we were excited with the Orr, Jans and Huger hires...and all those came to ruin.

So, yeah, Simon made a favorable impression.  They almost always do.  I hope we can cash in the ticket this time...which is a long way from here, but let's get it going. 

A few thoughts:

First, I was shocked to hear that van der Merwe say that he did not ever meet Simon at CMU.  That was a wow.  He first became aware of Simon earlier this year when he saw USU battle Kansas to the death on television this year.  He kind of filed it away and then when Huger was let go, he was pleased to see Simon on the list.

Second, though the search seemed fast, van der Merwe said that he did an extensive set of interviews...guys from P5 and G5 and DII.  That would dispell the idea he settled quickly on Simon.  There was a search committee involved, which speeds things up because presumably they have a list of guys who are looking and what they are interested in, which eliminate the early part of the process.

Third, I am going to note that Simon said he was going to create a Golden Era for Falcon Basketball.  I'm just going to note that this program had a real Golden Era, from the 40s to the early 60s.  It's going to take a lot to eclipse that. (Simon noted that he doesn't know much about our history, so I get it.  Just for the record).

Simon said one thing I think is absolutely right, and that is that you want to have a team that is perenially good.  To me, the key to getting to the tournament is to be in the hunt every year.  Sooner of later, the tumblers will click.  Also, from a program and fan building standpoint, this is the best way to go.

So, we shall see.  Watch and see what happens with assistants.  He is recruiting now, including guys he was recruiting at USU.  We will need bodies, so let's buckle in and hope that the vision of a packed Stroh Center with 2,000 students there and winning 90% at home comes to fruition.  The only direction we have is up.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Todd Simon: A first look

So, it's final...Todd Simon is coming to Bowling Green.

I will admit that when I first saw on hoopdirt that it was him, I said to myself, I hope that guy has some ties to the Midwest.  I saw right away that he had attended CMU...and I got a little sick to my stomach.  After a "national" search coming to an end so end up with what at first looked like a lazy crony-hire.  I was pretty disappointed.

I have looked into it more.  I'm way more encouraged now.

First, he built the USU program from absolutely nothing.  They averaged 7 wins in the 5 years previous.  They had not been good for a very long time. He has taken them to three straight successful seasons and continued to thrive after COVID and in the portal era.

Of 7 players averaging 10 minutes or more a game this year, 4 are transfers, one P5 and one JUCO.  One from CMU :).

But he built more than just wins.

Here is where it started, from the Las Vegas Review Journal

Simon’s first SUU team, which finished 6-27, knocked so many peach baskets off the wall that when a couple of visitors from Las Vegas showed up at the 5,300-seat America First Event Center only to find roughly 5,000 of them unoccupied, Simon showed his appreciation by inviting them into the locker room for his pregame speech.

“You go to Walmart and convince two more people to come to the games,” Simon said about creating a basketball buzz in a hamlet better known for bards than buckets, owing to its annual Shakespeare Festival.

Here is where it ended:

Is there anyone among us who does not want to come to a rocking Stroh Center and watch our team play high-level, impossible-to-beat-at home-basketball?  I didn't think so.

More...again from the Review Journal....does he care about making the NCAA Tourney? 

“It’s kind of the last thing on our checklist,” said Simon, 42, who is in his seventh year on the job. “We had two winning seasons in 18 years, and now we’ve had three straight 20-win seasons and we’ve won a regular-season title. We’ve kind of done everything except get to that tournament, so it’s a big deal for us. It’d be a huge milestone.”

Lastly, from the same story.  I always say we want a guy who is used to doing more with less, because that's the challenge we offer.  How about this?

“We can lead the nation in relationships,” he said. “I can’t lead it in NIL (name, image and likeness licensing), and I can’t feed them more granola bars, but we can care about our guys a lot.”

"I realized what I love is seeing small fish become big fish. It’s fun to see young men grow up and what they get to accomplish in their lives.”

A few other notes.  He worked at Findley Prep, which was kind of a basketball-forward prep school.  He was an assistant and a head coach.  He worked a number of future pros, along with at UNLV. 

As far as I can tell, he didn't play college ball.

Looking at the numbers from the last 3 successful years...

They played an upbeat, highly efficient offense. 

  • Top 100 in pace in country, #16 last year
  • Top 100 in offensive efficiency.
  • Average number of 3FGA with strong 2FG shooting
  • Get to the line a lot....#13 in FT Rate last year

Defensively they were not great. 

  • They won while allowing 1.05 PPP.
  • Biggest defensive strength is on the boards.

Bowling Green fans will not go into shock at seeing a bunch of guys running around in the first half with 2 fouls.  Under Coach Huger, BG had 9% minutes in the first half with players with 2 fouls...#318 in the country. Simon played guys with 2 fouls in the first half less than 7% of the time, which was #341 in the country.

Some Slow Your Roll Thoughts:

A couple of things.  This year's 22-12 record included FOUR non-D1 wins. Must be something in the water in Mt. Pleasant, or he had Keno Davis do his schedule. The 20-21 season had FIVE non-D1 games....though that was COVID year, probably tougher to schedule.  It tempers--just a bit--this 20 win talk and I hope it is something we don't see repeated here.

It was a slow rebuild which I am not sure we are up for here. He was 53-78 after four years with the third and fourth year hovering at .500.  If he has that record here after 4 years, people will be out for his job.

Welcome to the Falcons, Todd.  Let's get it done!

Men's Basketball Transfers

As we await what we hope will be the official confirmation that Todd Simon will be our new men's basketball coach, just a quick look at where the roster stands.

Just a note.  This is usually what happens now.  Teams sometimes bring in as many as 9 new players on a coaching change.  I expected it in this case as well.  This also happened when Jans left, though eventually, those players returned.

The problem then was that for the next year's roster, you had to have either JUCO or DII transfers, because any DI players would have to sit out.  You had a serious crisis fielding a team the next year.

That's not true right now.  Even without a coaching change, you are often bringing in a handful of new guys every year.

Also, previously, it would take 3 years for a coach to get his players.  It can happen faster now.

Also, when Lewis got to Ball State, Sparks and Sellers were re-recruited out of the portal.  It can happen.

I wish everyone on this list nothing but the best. I wish all of them a soft landing.

So, here we go.

Players from senior day:







Players in the portal:






Back as of March 15.  (Towns and Curtis and I believe would have already transferred once and would have difficulty doing it again without graduating first).






Sunday, March 12, 2023

55 Years...


Now 55 elapsed years since BG has been in the NCAA tournament.  Here is the company we live with now.  Tennessee Tech came very close...they were tied in OT in the last 2 minutes of the OVC Championship game before losing.  Otherwise, there remain 10.

Columbia: Last appeared in 1968
Tennessee Tech: Last appeared in 1963
Maine: Division I since 1962
New Hampshire: Division I since 1962
Dartmouth: Last appeared in 1959
Army: Division I since 1948
Citadel: Division I since 1948
St. Francis (N.Y.): Division I since 1948
William & Mary: Division I since 1948

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Blade Speaks to Huger

So, The Blade was able to reach Coach Huger.  Lots of times, the fired coach doesn't do interviews, but he did.

I'd encourage you to go over and click the link to take a look at the full story.  They also spoke to the AD, though his response is mostly ADspeak.

Here's what I found interesting....

Once the [transfer] portal took hold and the NIL (name, image, and likeness), things changed. The whole landscape of college basketball changed, and you’ve got to adapt with that. At the time, we didn’t do a great job of adapting to it, and that was the thing. We tried some different things that didn’t work.

That's a pretty candid assessment and I think pretty accurate.  Once the early recruiting classes cleared out and the Turner, Plowden, Wiggins, Frye, Fields group moved along, BG simply did not have the talent to compete in the MAC.  I know there are a lot of critics of Huger's game management tactics, but to me, we simply didn't have the players.  Even the HS players we did get seemed to too often not be top-flight MAC players.

This has been our issue for a long time.  Being consistently competitive in the MAC requires a critical mass of good players and we simply have not had it the last two years and for most of the last 20 years or so.  The NIL and portal have made it harder, but teams are using it to succeed and we need to do that as well.

Briggs: Sources Say Huger Fired This Morning

David Briggs is reporting that Michael Huger has been fired.  As he notes, Huger is a good guy who did enjoy some success but clearly the program was headed in the wrong direction, which we have all seen.  It is a sad day, but necessary.

A couple of things to watch for:  players in the portal and, of course, who might be the next one.  There is a good chance we start next year with a turned-over roster.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

MBB...Game Over....

"Not good enough [defensively]. No intensity. It's almost as if we didn't want to play the game. It's so frustrating and disappointing at the same time. Just difficult right now. A difficult moment for me."

That's Coach Huger after the game.  They don't have the audio posted, but there's another part where Todd Walker gets him to talk about the future, and Huger sets off on a little rant about the state of college basketball and if players don't feel "catered" to they leave.

It's all very sad.  Coach Huger is one of us, and it makes watching this happen all the more difficult.  At one point, he had us doing as well as we had done in run to the conference final and another year where we could have been a canceled tournament away from finally reaching the Big Dance.

Look, I even thought it was reasonable to extend his contract after the tourney run.  

BG finished out of the money for the second straight year.  Also, we lost a disgraceful final game for the second straight year.

And this time, we had something to play for.  In fact, everything happened the way we needed it to, except for us showing up and playing against Ohio.  Losing like that...looking like you don't want to play when you had to have a's just terrible.

BG finished at #284 last year.  And this year it was #281. (Out of 363).  

That's 50 spots worse than the year Huger took over after the Jans debacle.
That's 72 spots worse than Orr's last year.
That's 75 spots worse than the 2006 Dakich team (his worst).

This is where we are.  We can't hide from it.  

And now we wait.

I expect that we will buy Coach Huger out.  I can't imagine him being back again.  It's a serious decision because Huger has two years left on his deal...he is under contract until 2025. 

As for the buy-out, those are generally less serious than you might think.  For example, we don't pay a lump sum.  We pay every month.  And he has a duty to try and mitigate damages by finding work in basketball.  So, whatever the amount is now will eventually be less.  (Note, the NCAA is adding a 4th assistant to basketball next season, creating 350+ immediate job vacancies.)

We went through this with ended up being way less than we feared.

I don't take any pleasure in this.  Huger is a great guy and I was rooting for him really hard.  But you can't hide from the results, which have gone in the wrong direction and show no signs of turning around

Friday, March 03, 2023

The Regular Season Ends (MBB)

And maybe the whole year...

So first, from BGSU, here are the scenarios with a full explanation. (I added the percentages from kenpom).

BGSU Win (6-12), Miami Loss (6-12), Central Michigan Loss (5-13)--8.1% chance.

At 5-13, Central Michigan wouldn't factor into the tiebreakers in this scenario. If Eastern Michigan wins, BGSU would take the three-team tiebreaker against Miami and EMU with a record of 3-1 (.750) against the two teams, whereas both Miami and EMU would be 1-2 (.333) against the others. If Eastern Michigan loses, it would be a two-team tiebreaker between BGSU and Miami. BGSU and Miami split the season series, so it would go to the head-to-head against MAC standings. BGSU's top win would be Ohio, Miami's would be Buffalo. Ohio and Buffalo would also be in a tiebreaker, both at 9-9 and a split season series. Ohio's best win is Akron, who is locked into a higher spot than Buffalo's top win Ball State. Thus, tiebreaker goes to Ohio, which results in the tiebreaker going to BGSU. In this scenario, NIU would also be 9-9, but they were swept by both Ohio and Buffalo and wouldn't factor into the tiebreaker to determine the standings. 

BGSU Win, Miami Loss, Central Michigan Win, Eastern Michigan Win--2.4% chance

If CMU wins, BGSU will need an EMU win as well. In a four-team tiebreaker with all teams at 6-12, this would go to the head-to-head records against all tied teams. Bowling Green would be 4-2 (.667) and the next would be Central at 3-2 (.600). If CMU wins and EMU loses, Central Michigan would take the three-team tiebreaker between BGSU, Miami and CMU. CMU won the only Miami-CMU game, making them 2-1 (.667) whereas Bowling Green would be 2-2 (.500) and Miami would be 1-2 (.333).

Miami could easily lose @UB, but the toughest will be BG winning at OU.

BG did beat OU the first time the two teams played. At the time, BG was 2-0 and OU was 0-2.  OU was 3-6 before winning 6 straight.  They have lost their last 2, @Miami and @Kent.

Boals has done a good job with this team. Jason Carter graduated (and was ejected from his last game at the Stroh), and Ben Vander Plas and Mark Sears disappeared into the portal.  They returned only 6 scholarship players and no double-figure scorers. They did get Dwight Wilson back...and some transfers...and were picked 6th in the MAC.

And that's right about where they are.

In the first game, BG outscored OU 17-7 in the last four minutes to rally and win the game.

So, on paper this looks like a predictable game.  What they score we allow, and vice versa. They are the #3 offensive team in the MAC and #8 on defense.  BG is #6 on offense and #10 on defense.  But, just to note OU is +.04 and BG is -.05.

OU might be the most 3FG focused team in the MAC. They are #3 in attempt rate and #2 in making them.  However, they are #10 in 2FG shooting and end up #6 in shooting,  As we know, BG is the easiest team to shoot on in the MAC. OU takes great care of the ball, is strong on the offensive boards.  They do not get to the line a lot and are #6 in FT shooting.

OU defense is average.  Their strength is defensive rebounding, but they are easy to shoot against, esepcially on 2FG,  they do OK on turnovers and they give up a lot of FTs.   BG tries a higher rate of 2FGs than any other team in the MAC, so there may be an opportunity here.

Dwight Wilson is the top player on this team.  Back from an injury, he's a clear All-MAC peformer.  He's scoring 17.4 PPG on 64% shooting. (all 2FGs).  For players using a lot of possessions, he is the most efficient player in the MAC.  He also adds 9 rebounds a game.  He is #6 in scoring, #4 in rebounding and #3 in FG%.

Jaylin Hunter, an ODU transfer, scores 15.5 PPG on 52% and 44% shooting, also highly efficent.  He adds 4 APG.

Miles Brown is scoring 11.5 PPG. He is home-grown.  He shoots 46% and 42%, also very efficient.

Probability is that this is the last game BG plays.  We will see.  In the MAC, OU's only home loss was to Kent.  Kenpom gives them the #45 home court advantage in D1.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Football Schedule Released

So here is how the Falcon football season will unfold.

Look, because of who we are and what we need to get to support the athletic department, this is never going to be easy.  And it's not.  First, our non-P5 but FBS game last year was Marshall at home.  This year we open at a quality Liberty program.  (They played UT in their bowl game and lost 21-19.)

Then, we have Eastern Illinois at home.  We've all been asking why we can't play losing FCS teams, and this team was 2-9 last year.

Then we go to the Big House, followed by defending East champ OU at the Doyt.  Then, a three-game road streak including at Georgia Tech (a nightmare last time), followed by @Miami and @UB.  The Bulls, FWIW, seemed to be really bulking up on players.

So, 7 games in, two home we get 3 wins there?  Seems like you'd need to.  Then its Akron, an improving Ball State, @ Kent (they've routinely smoked us), UT and @WMU.

Look it we are as good as we hope, a 6-6 season would be beating Liberty, EIU, Miami, UA, BSU and WMU.  If you are looking at 8...@UB?  OU at home?  UT at home?  @Kent?

The thing is that this won't change.  Babers won ten, but he won TWO road Big Ten games.  That's what we would need to be looking for. It's not easy, but the key is the MAC record.  We were 5-3 last year.  One game better and we're in the hunt.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

At last....a victory

Well, after 34 days without a win, the Falcons MBB team finally broke through with a win at the Stroh Center.  The win over EMU doesn't make the season, but I am happy for our team and coaches.  Losing like they have been is a miserable experience.

The Falcons also remain alive for the #8 spot and a trip to the MAC tournament, where they would play Toledo or Kent.

BG started slowly, as they often do. The Falcons with down 13-7 about five minutes in. They soon had it down to 1 and broke through to lead with about 10 minutes left.  BG led most of the rest of the half...their largest lead was 5 and it was 4 at the break.

The second half was another story.  BG had the lead up to 8 with 17 to play.  It stayed in that range until Curtis hit a 3FG to put BG up 12 with 12 to play.  The lead never was within 10 again, as BG pushed the lead to 20 with 5 to play and ended up winning 88-68.

BG scored 1.29 points per possession, their best in the MAC season.  They shot 61%, which is excellent.  That was 63% on 2FG and 37% on 3FG.  It was BG's best game on the 2FG this season.  

BG had a decent game on turnovers and was dominant on the boards at both ends.  EMU finished +4 at the line, though BG made 72%.

On defense, BG held EMU to 1 point per possession, which is a winning number.  EMU made 53% on 2FG but only 3 of 12 from 3FG.  They had more turnovers.  It was a solid defensive game for BG, albeit against a not-great offensive team.

Samari Curtis really delivered for BG.  He was in the starting line up for only the 2nd time in MAC play.  He replaced Leon Ayers, who has been in a 6 game slump.  Curtis had a huge night.  Here's his line...25 points, 5 of 5 2FG shooting, 2 of 2 3FG, 9-19 at the line, 3 assists, no turnovers...IN THE SECOND HALF.  He scored almost half of BG's 53 2nd half points.

Rashaun Agee had 18 in 20 minutes, on 7 of 10 2FG shooting and 11 rebounds.  It was his first double-double at BG and he was only in double figures once in February coming in.

Ayers finished with 11 off the bench, on 4 of 7 and 1 of 2 shooting.  He also had 4 assists over 0 turnovers.  Metheny had 4 assists as well.

If you think EMU, you gotta ask about Bates.  He didn't start and supposedly had a stomach bug (along with Farrakhan, their #2 scorer).  Bates played 27 minutes and made little impact, scoring 10 points on 2 of 6 and 2 of 4 shooting.  He had 1 rebound and was -19 on the floor.

So, one last game.  With a win and a Miami loss, BG opens up a bunch of tiebreakers--including a four-way tie for 8th--some of which favor the Falcons.  BG does better with EMU in the tie-breaker and I have them beating Miami due to a better record against OU.  I could be wrong.