Wednesday, January 31, 2024

BG MBB Bounces Back

It was a game with a little attention on it.  Loser of two in a row, BG was on the road--the last thing you want when trying to keep a short streak from turning into a long streak and then a season-ending streak.  Nonetheless, BG rallied, put together a strong performance, and notched the road W.  At the halfway mark of the season, BG is 6-3 and in sole possession of 4th place.  They have a 3-game lead on the #9 team.

BSU came out and led for most of the first 14 minutes. BG rallied and led for the remainder of the half.  They were up 7 with :47 left and BSU scored 5 to cut the lead to 2 at the break.

BG came out strong in the second half, scoring the first 7 points to lead by 9.  That set the tone for the half.  BG's lead circulated between 4 and 9 until the 10-minute mark when BG hit 3FGs on 3 straight possessions and added a FT to put the lead at 10 with 7:28 left.  It was never a one-possession game again.  BSU got it to 4 with 3:04 left, but BG scored the next 6 to make it 10 with 1:41 left.

The last points in the run were a dagger in the truest sense. BG was running clock and it was getting to the end.  Hill was in the paint and surrounded by 3 guys.  Rather than force a shot up, he realized Spurgin was wide open at the top of the key and Spurgin drained the shot to put the game away.

The game was played at 67 possessions.  In the preview, I highlighted that BG was #2 in the MAC in offensive rebounding and BSU was #1 in defensive rebounding.  That was clearly going to be a flashpoint, and BG took it big time. BG got 38% on the offensive boards, their 3rd best of the year and Ball State's 2nd worst game of the year.

BG also shot the ball really well.  They made 53% on 2FG and 50% from 3FG--2nd best of the year.  Only 29% of shots were from 3FG. BSU was 18 of 22 at the line and BG was 15 of 20.

All that came out to 1.21 points per possession, 2nd best of the year. BSU scored 1.08.  They made 47% and 43%.

Marcus Hill had an incredible night.  He scored 28 on 11 of 16 and 2 of 2 shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block and 1 steal.  If that will work for you.  Spurgin had 17, on 3 of 5 and 2 of 3 shooting, 5 of 6 at the line, all in the last minute, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers.

Rashaun Agee had 14, on 5 of 8 2FG shooting and 4 of 6 at the line. Add 10 rebounds. Thomas had 9 points, 4 assists and 1 turnover.

Sam Towns did not play after playing once coming off injury.  Let's hope it was not a serious relapse.

Coach had said since the last game that he had to increase bench minutes to keep guys fresh.  He did...BG had 55 bench minutes compared to 36 in the Kent game, for example. 

Next up is CMU, who is in 3rd place right now and playing great defense.  It will be a good test for the Falcons at home.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Falcon MBB Looks for Bounceback in Muncie

Losers of two straight and facing their first meaningful adversity of the season, BG's MBB team returns to action Tuesday against Ball State.  CMU will be at the Stroh on Saturday.

This is why conference play is so tough.  You lose in OT to Kent, you lose @UT and before you can blink an eye, you have some pressure on you.

Ball State was picked 8th in the MAC poll and 9th in Blue Ribbon.  That's pretty much where they are.  They came out of the gate 0-4, but @KS, CMU, UA and @UT, so four of the tougher teams in the MAC. Since then, they are 3-1...winning @EMU, @UB, NIU and losing at home to four of the lesser teams in the MAC.

We will see which team we get.  And which team we give.  We have been resilient to date.

The teams have split the last 10 meetings, but BSU has won the last four. BG's last win in Muncie was in 2021 (and in the series overall). Turner with 27, Metheny with 21. 

BG is playing at 70 possessions a game, BSU at 68.

BG is #4 in offense and Ball State is #6, while BS is #5 in offense and BG has slipped to #9 in defense.  That's largely influenced by allowing over 1.2 PPP to UT and KSU in a small sample size.  This is an opportunity against a good but not great offensive team to flex some muscle.

Ball State is #5 in shooting and BG is #10 defending the shot.  They take 40% from 3FG and make 37%, which is #3 in the MAC.  BG has been poor defending the 3FG, #10 in the MAC.  So that represents the first challenge. Both teams are average on 2FGs.

The Cards do turn the ball over, but BG doesn't force turnovers. They are not good at offensive rebounding and BG is excellent on the defensive boards.

They do get to the line....and they make 83% which is top in the MAC. They are 2nd in percentage of points from FTs and BG is 1st.

Shooting and turnovers are pretty even.  The key battle will be on the offensive boards, where BS is the top defensive rebounding team in the MAC and BG is 2nd in offensive rebounding.  BG does get to the line, but makes only 69.8% and will probably need more in this one

They are led by Basheer Jihad.  He's a 6'9" JR who made a huge jump this year.  He scored 7 PPG last year and is scoring 21.3 PPG this year, which is #3 in the MAC. He's shooting 47% from 2FG, which is OK, but 46% from 3FG.  He is 4th in rebounding with 8.6 per game. He also makes 82% of his FTs.  He's also 3rd in blocked shots.  He's playing really well.

Jalin Anderson is their 2nd leading scorer.  He's 6'3" Jalin Anderson, a transfer from Loyola-Marymount.  He's scoring 14.8 PPG, making 58% and 31%.  He leads the MAC in assists and steals and makes 82% of his FTs.  He has played 95% of their MAC minutes.

Davion Bailey is scoring 13.6 PPG, making 48% and 40% and 89% at the line. Mickey Pearson is scoring 10.9 PPG on at 47% and 30%, but is the MAC's leading FT shooter.  He is 28 out of 29.

They play a very short rotation.  They are 360th in the nation in bench minutes.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Hated Rockets Beat Falcons

 It was far from a disaster.  BG played tough much of the way, lead more than half the game, etc.  But as Coach said after the game, you can't have self-inflicted wounds in a game like this.  It only takes a small lapse--especially in the second half, especially on the road--and you don't win that game.  It is why winning games and championships is hard and requires teams to be really good and consistent.

We are still having more success than I expected.  Better days ahead.

UT had a couple of sparks, mini-runs, crowd gets amped up and BG always reeled them back in.  With 12:15 left, BG led by 5.

Here is how it went after that....

UT hits a 3FG (BG +2)

    BG Turnover

UT hits a 2FG (Tied)

    BG hits a 2FG (+2)

UT misses 3FG

    BG missed 2FG

UT hits 3FG (-1)

    BG misses 3FG

UT misses 2FG

    BG misses 2FG

Mattox hits 3FG (-4)

    BG turnover

Mattox hits 3FG (-7)

    BG turnover

Cochran with 2FG off his steal (-9)

That goes from 12:15 to 7:49, about 4:30 of game time.  One team executing at a ridiculous level, one team not.  

It was decisive.  Game never got closer than 8, Falcons faded coming home and lost by 16.

UT scored 1.26 PPP, a winning number in most games.  They did it with a 65% EFG. They shot 67% from 2FG and 42% from 3FG. And they took good care of the ball.

BG's last win over a team that shot that well was over UT in that crazy OT game at the Stroh in the Jans year when Zack Denny came off a double screen for the winning shot.

We know--and Coach Kowalcyzk mentioned in his post-game--that BG relies on getting to the line and on offensive rebounds.  They took those things away.  BG did nothing on the offensive boards and shot only 7 FTs.  UT is notoriously good at defending without fouling, and they executed it.  

BG actually had a decent shooting game. BG made 55% on 2fg and 33% on 3FG. It was third 2nd best in MAC play and 5th best overall.  Not enough, in the end.  

Marcus Hill scored 25 points for BG.  He shot 9 of 18 from 2FG and 1 of 4 from 3FG, which is OK efficiency. He added 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Phillip had 13 on 2 of 2 and 3of 3 shooting and 6 rebounds. Spurgin had 12 on 3 of 4 and 2 of 5 shooting. Trey Thomas had 12 on 3 of 4 and 2 of 7 shooting, with 1 assist and 3 TOs. Agee had 10 on on 4 of 7 2FG shooting, 0-2 from 3, and held to 5 rebounds. 3 turnovers.

Sam Towns was back, playing 14 minutes.

In MAC play, when you lose two in a row, the walls start to close in a little.  Next up is a Ball State team that has won 3 of 4, and the game is in Muncie.  On we go.  Always compelling.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Hated Rockets MBB Preview

And here come the Rockets.

You have to give Tod Kowalczyk credit.  He has built an outstanding program at UT. They have won the MAC regular season title the last three years.  They lost their top 3 scorers, including the MAC POY, and they are still 6-1 in MAC play and in the hunt. Overall they are 12-7 with a kenpom of 142, which would be their worst since the end of the 2020 season.  But they are in the hunt. They are haunted by a long non-NCAA streak--1980 in their case--but this program is as healthy today as it has ever been.

They have also won 7 out of the last 10 against BG and the last 4.  BG's last win at Savage was in 2021.

UT plays at 68 possessions a game and BG at 70, which is #2 in the MAC.  When you play UT, you play a well-rounded team.  They are #2 in offense and #3 in defense, while BG is #4 in offense and #8 in defense. BG is actually only +6 points in MAC play, unusual for a 5-2 team.  

UT shoots the fewest 3FGs in the MAC. They make 36%, so they are selective. They made 52% on their 2FGs, which is #7.  Overall, they are 7th in shooting.  They take excellent care of the ball, are #6 on the boards and get to the line the 2nd most in the MAC.  BG gets to the line the most, which is an indication of a key point of this game.  The difference is that UT also allows the fewest FTs in the MAC, whereas BG is 3rd.

In 7 MAC games, UT has been called for 101 fouls, the opponents 139.  BG has been 124 and their opponents 163.  UT has a 127-61 FT advantage.  BG's is 138-91.

On defense, UT is about average against the shot.  They are good against the 3FG, but vulnerable against the 2FG, which might open the door for BG.  They do force some turnovers and are OK but not great on the defensive boards, another opportunity for BG.  And, as already discussed, they do not give up FTs whereas BG has relied on making them.  They are #19 in the country in keeping opponents off the line.

Their leading scorer is Ra-Heim Moss, at 18 PPG on 52% 2FG shooting (decent) and 28% 3FG shooting (not good). He also averages 5 rebounds, is 3rd in the MAC in steals and makes 78% at the line.  He has 19 turnovers. 

Dante Maddox is the 2nd leading Rocket scorer. He scores 16 PPG.  He led the MAC last year in and has the same percentage this year, but is #9.  He shoots 41% and 46%. Also 5.4 rpg and 19 assists over 10 turnovers.

Tyler Cochran, a Ball State transfer, scores 14 a game on 57% and 33% shooting, and leads the team with 7.1 rpg, despite being 6'2".

Javan Simmons is scoring 12 PPG. He red-shirted last year and is scoring 12 a game on 58% 2FG shooting. He has committed 28 of UT's 101 fouls.

UT is not tall....they are #325 in the nation in average height.  They have won their last 12 home games in conference.  

So this is a big one.  First rivalry game for the new regime.  I like where we are.  We seem more adaptable and to have specific game plans for different teams.  BG is a heavy underdog on paper.  But we are tough and I'm betting its a dogfight.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Flashes (MBB) Pick Up Road Win At Stroh

BG and Kent ended up in overtime, but this time Kent was the one that closed things out and BG was the one who went home with the L.  I'm disappointed but still thrilled with how the season is rolling out.

Kent was back at full strength with Cli'Ron Hornbeak playing against for the first time in MAC play.  The Flashes started out hot and had a 10-point lead with 10 left in the first half. The lead was 11 with 8:21 left. BG closed the half on a 20-9 run to head into the locker room tied.

It was a tightly contested 2nd half and excellent basketball.  For the first 11 minutes, the teams traded leads and no one led by more than 4.  Almost all of the time it was a one-possession game.  Kent applies relentless pressure and BG cracked a little and an 11-4 run put Kent up 7 with 6:27 left.  Three minutes later, BG had it tied again.  BG went up 3 with 1:38 left and Santiago nailed a 3FG to tie it with 1:19 left.

BG's ball.  They run clock into single digits, Hill drove to the hole and did not score and Agee had the board and was fouled.  He split the pair, BG up one.  BG put up some real defensive pressure and Kent had to call time to reset.  Edwards was fouled by Spurgin and he split the pair to tie the game... unfortunately, Kent got the rebound and Spurgin fouled Payton with :30 to play. Seemingly all 10 players raced into the corner after a loose ball.

He missed them both and Agee cleared the board. BG ran the clock to :05 and sent Hill to the rim, but he missed in heavy traffic.  Ball went out the baseline to BG, but the Falcons failed to get a shot off and off to OT it was.

Kent led wire to wire in the OT. KSU came out and scored the first 5 points in the first minute of OT.  The lead got to 6 with 2:20 left.  

BG was game, though. Down 4, they got a shot clock violation and then a Spurgin block, and with :34 Turner missed but Hill had the offensive board completed the putback (he is a tough dude) AND drew the foul.  He was at the line, down 2.  He missed the FT....but it was BG's turn to get the rebound. BG called time and coming out Agee missed a layup.  Payton was fouled, this time he made them both and it was a lead of 4 with :25 left.

Hill scored a 2FG with :18 left.  BG fouled Sullinger, and he made both to put it back to 4 with :15 left.

On BG's last possession, Hill missed, BG got the board, Turner missed a 3FG, BG got the rebound, Turner missed another 3FG and that was it.  Two late FTs gave Kent the 6-point OT win.

Honestly, it was a crazy game.  Kent was just a little better at key times.  They are so physical. It was a rough game.  BG never wilted, was able to get back into the game a couple of times and had a shot in the last minute of regulation to win the game and just couldn't convert. Maybe next time.  It was by no means a disappointing effort.

The game went off at 74 possessions for an OT game, equivalent to 66 for regulation.  Both teams had efficient offense.  BG scored 1.14 points per possession, normally a winning rate.  Unfortunately, Kent had 1.22.  That's the 2nd worst in MAC year, right after Akron, our other loss.  Kent came in as the top 3FG shooting team in the MAC, and they made 47% from distance.  BG made 26%.  BG was outshot.  However, unlike other games when they overcame that, this time they had their worst turnover rate in MAC play.

Those two combined could not even out, even with a big advantage on the boards, and a +7 advantage at the line.  BG made 77% at the line.

A couple things.  That's an outstanding night on the defensive boards. The only games where Kent had fewer offensive boards were Oregon and St. Mary's.  That's good work.  On the other side, BG has been outshot in 5 of its 7 MAC games, and the other two were really close.  That's a bit of a high wire act. Teams with better EFG% win 62% of the time.  What BG is doing is tougher to sustain, and you have to take care of the ball.

Sullinger had a career-high 30 for Kent.

For BG, Hill had 21.  It was a rough night though. He made 6 of 17 from 2FG and 0 of 2 from 3FG. Also 5 turnovers.  He did make 9 of 10 at the line, added 8 rebounds and 3 assists.

Spurgin had 19 on 6 of 7 and 1 of 3 shooting, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, two of them in crunch time. Made 6 of 7 at the line. Agee had 17, on 4 of 8 and 0 of 2 shooting, 9 of 12 at the line and 10 rebounds. Trey Thomas had 12, 3 of 8 from 3FG with 3 assists and 3 turnovers.

BG is 5-2, with losses @Akron and Kent.  Saturday at Savage is a test. The next week is @Ball State and CMU at home on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Football Update

 Two updates from football...

One is that Julian Campienni, our d-line coach, will head to Rutgers to coach defensive ends.  Best of luck to him.  I will say this, we seemed to have really strong talent development on the defensive line over the last couple of years and I believe he will be missed.  He was also an assistant head coach and had been the run-game coordinator.  For example, Demetrious Hardamon transferred from an NAIA school.  Karl Brooks is in the NFL.  And I think overall d-line play was a strength for BG in the last couple years.  This will be a key hire.

BG picked up another portal transfer.  This one is Justin Eklund, a LB whose portal window opened when San Jose's coach left.

Eklund was a 3-star recruit from the Sacramento area. 247 has his with offers from Arizona State, Air Force, both Idahos and some FCS schools.  He did not play much at all, appearing in 3 games each of his two seasons with the Spartans.  No idea if he was injured.

Anyway, farewell Julian.  And welcome Justin.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Flashes Limp Into BG for MBB Clash

Kent State is in an unusual position this year.  They are not doing well in men's basketball. They are as much a blue blood as the MAC has...26 straight non-losing season...1 losing record in MAC play over that time. 7 Tournament appearances and of course, that Elite Eight game.

The defending champs lost Sincere Carry (1st team all-MAC), Malique Jacobs (second team All-MAC) and Miryne Thomas (3rd leading scorer).  They were still picked #2 in the MAC poll and #3 by Blue Ribbon.

So far, it hasn't worked out that way.  They are 2-4 in MAC play.  I went back and 2017 they were 2-4....and they were a 6-seed in the MAC Tourney, won it and went to the NCAAs.

They won at home over Ball State and @NIU, and lost @EMU, and @CMU and at home to UT and UA.  The teams they have beaten are 1-10.

They are playing without Cli'Ron Hornbeak, who was injured on December 21. 

The key takeaway here is that Kent is terrible on defense. Last year they led the MAC in defensive efficiency and were top 40 in the country. This year, they are 11th in the MAC.  They are decent on offense and play the league's slowest pace. They are respectable on offense. BG is 4th in offense and 5th in defense.

Kent shoots the ball really well.  They take 40% of their shots from 3FG and they make 40%, which is top in the MAC.  That's scorching the nets.  BG is #8 in 3FG defense, mostly due to Owen Lobsinger.  They are turnover prone (#9) and good but not great on the offensive boards.  Same with FTs, they make 73%.

As mentioned, Kent is terrible on defense.  That is 100% on the shot.  They are 2nd on TO%, 5% on defensive rebounding and 3rd keeping teams off the line.  But, they are 9th defending the 2FG and 10th defending the 3FG.  Also---and this is total luck--MAC teams are making 81% of their FTs against Kent.  BG is not a great shooting team.  They win despite getting outshot more than is typical.  Still, would be a nice time to get some baskets.

KSU is led by VonCameron Davis, who is scoring 15.3 PPG on 53% and 50% shooting. Also, 4.7 RPG. Jalen Sullinger, last year's 6th man of the year, is scoring 14.8 PPG  on 58% and 38% shooting. Chris Payton, Jr., is scoring 12.8 PPG on 52% 2FG shooting.  Is terrible at the line.  Reggie Bass, the FR of the year last year at CMU, is scoring 10.6 PPG on 56% and 47% shooting. Giovanni Santiago--the lead character in the classic book "The Old Man and the Three" leads them with 25 assists.

So, here we go.  Can BG keep the beat rolling on?  It will be interesting to see.  I'll believe Kent isn't a contender when I see it.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

BG MBB Moves to 5-1, Second Place tie.

Well, now.  This might be a thing.

BG picked up a win over WMU at the Stroh.  Both teams came in at 4-1 and BG ended up with the victory.  It was an entertaining game and BG closed it out well.  As Coach said after the game, you have to finish well in conference see that in the teams that usually compete for titles.

That's 14-4, 5-1, tied for second, and 7 straight home wins.  It is an astounding turn around.  We are in the range of the Dakich team that lost to the Elite Eight Kent team in the MAC final, looking at records alone.

It is a great amount of fun.

It did not start out great for BG.  They trailed 16-4 with 12:26 to play in the first half.   For the next 12 minutes, they outscored WMU 35-15 to lead by 8.  The run continued into the second half.  With 10 minutes left in the game, BG led by 16.  In total, that's a 22-minute run at 58-30.  Coach said it showed "who we can be."

WMU did rally.  They got the lead into single digits with 6 minutes to play and cut it to 1 with 2:25 left.

Enter Marcus Hill. BG ran clock, and he got into the paint.  In heavy traffic and flying limbs, he missed a layup.  He got the board and missed again.  And then he got the rebound again the finished the job.  BG up 3 with 1:47 left.

WMU on their end ran a nice set out of timeout, Hubbard him Jacquez Brown for a slam and it was back to 1 with 1:29 left.

Those would be the last meaningful points WMU would score.

BG ran clock again and Hill (again) hit a layup with 2 seconds left in the shot clock.  BG up 3, with 1:01 to play.  The Falcons strung together 3 straight stops, collected the boards and 8-8 at the line (6 by Hill, 2 by Thomas) to slam the door. BG won by 5.

BG had 1.09 points per possession and WMU was 1.03.  To me, that's a solid, reproducible win.  Coach Orr used to say that you don't want your shooting percentage to determine your winning percentage.  We are working that hard.  BG shot OK from 3FG at 37% but made only 40% of their 2FGs.  Meanwhile, the Broncos only made 42% of their 2FGs but 53% from 3FG.  Both teams had big games on the offensive boards.  The key--again--was fouls and FTs.  BG just doesn't foul as much.  Even if you take out the four tactical fouls at the end, WMU had 18 fouls and BG 13.  BG made them pay, making 23 of 27 (for a team that normally shoots poorly) and WMU made 5 of 10.  That's +10 if you eliminate the last minute.

Jacquez Brown is a force.  I am not sure why he isn't playing more.  BG did OK on him...he made only 5 of 13 FGs....came in at 69%, and he missed all 4 FTs.  Also, Seth Hubbard, their leading scorer, had only 6 points on 2 of 6 and 0 of 3 shooting.  Owen Lobsinger made all 7 of his 3FGs to set a school record.

Marcus Hill continues to be an absolute force.  He had 28 points.  They made him work for it.  He was 9 of 24 from 2FG and 1 of 2 from 3FG.  He was 7-8 at the line, had 11 rebounds (double double) and took over the game in the final two minutes.

DaJion Humphrey came off the bench with 13 points. He was 4 of 7 shooting, made all 4 FTs and added 3 steals.  Agee had 12 on 3 of 6 and 1 of 1 shooting and 14 rebounds.  His ballhandling has really improved but I think he wasn't playing within himself and he had 6 turnovers.  Trey Thomas had 10.  Spurgin had 9 rebounds.

Wait....and EJay Greer.  He's been playing a little more and coach says he is going to get more minutes.  Young man provided a jolt of energy in the early second half.  In 7 minutes, he had 12 points.  He was 1-2 on 2FG and 2 of 3 from 3FG, add 4-4 at the line, 2 assists and 2 steals.  He is going to be a player for us.

Coach said after the game that Towns is now to the point where he can test the injury.  It didn't sound like it was an imminent return.

And on we go.  Next up is Kent, at 2-4, not having their normal year and then it is Savage Hall on Saturday.  Loving it.  Enjoy...

Friday, January 19, 2024

Broncos Ride Into the Stroh Center

And on we go.  If BG isn't the surprise team of the MAC....WMU is.  Both teams enter at 4-1...BG was picked 6th and WMU was picked 10th. 

WMU has been in a long struggle for MBB since Steve Hawkins had things rolling.  They are 4-1 this year in the MAC...they won four games last year...and the year before...and the year before that.  Hawkins won 6 the year before that.  Which makes the fact BG is 5-5 against WMU over the past 10 meetings somewhat disappointing.

Their last winning season was 16-17.  They have had success, Hawkins made the NCAA tourney twice and they have made it 4 times since 1968.

They entered MAC play 2-9 in D1 play.  They played the #7 non-conference schedule in the MAC, #161 in the country. Their best win was SE La (270).

And then things turned around.  They won @Miami, @UB (struggling team), NIU (struggling team), and then beat OU by 2 in KZoo.  They lost last time out @Akron. They have been scoring better in the MAC games...and, in the middle of December, they added Jacquez Brown, who finally got his NCAA waiver.  He's a 7'0" transfer from A&M and UConn before that. 

He's an impact player.  He doesn't start and only logs 18 minutes a game.  That's partly because he has 12 fouls in 90 minutes of play.  He scores 10 PPG, 5 RPG, and shoots 69% from the field. On a tempo-free basis, he's #5 in offensive rebounding in the MAC, #10 in defensive rebounding, #1 in blocks and #4 in drawing fouls.

All stats MAC only.

Anyway, they are better.  Their toughest MAC game they lost...but they have 2 MAC road wins.

In terms of pace, these are the two fasted paced teams in the MAC.  WMU plays at 70.7 and BG plays at 69.8. 

The MAC is the 3rd most efficient offensive conference in D1.  They are solid on offense, #5 in the MAC, while BG is #7 on defense.  On the other side, BG is #4 in offense and WMU is #5 in defense.  Appears to be a fairly even match up.

WMU takes only 35% of their shots from 3FG, which is #10 in the MAC.  They are selective...they make 38% (#4).  They aren't great from 2FG, at 54% (9th).  The real battle here will be on the boards....WMU is #2 on the offensive boards and BG is #2 on the defensive boards.  In a related topic, WMU is #3 in getting to the line and BG is #6 at keeping opponents off the line.

WMU is #11 in FT% and BG is #12.

On the other side, BG is not a great shooting team (#9) and WMU is decent at defending the shot, especially the 2FG (#5).  Here, the key would be on the boards again, but just as importantly at getting to the line.  BG leads the MAC in FT Rate.  

Look for a lot of FTs.

Seth Hubbard leads the Broncos with 16 PPG on 47% and 36% shooting.  He was MAC All-Freshman last year. B. Artis White scores 14.8 PPG on 37% from 2FG and 42% from 3FG, which is good.  He also leads the team in assists and red-shirted last year due to injury. We have discussed Brown.  NIU transfer Anthony Crump is averaging 7.8 RPG in 22 minutes a game.  Brandon Muntu, a JUCO transfer started the first 6 games and hasn't played since then due to injury.  We will see if he's back.

This is a big 2-game stretch.  An overachieving WMU team and an underachieving KSU team at home.  Let's see how we do.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

BG MBB Flips Script

So.  Last night's game was a WOW.  If you have been watching Falcon sports as long as I have, you have seen innumerable soul-crushing loses to the Miami RedHawks...there is not enough fog, mud, sleet, 4th down markers, last-second half-court tell this story.

And, to add to it, the game was at Millet Hall where BG has won something like 20% of the games.

Well, last night the roles were reversed.  Oxford demons must have flown into the frigid night.

I can only say:


BG came out strong in the first half and was clearly dominating the play.  With 7 minutes left in the first half, BG led by 10.  Things fell apart big time after that...over the next 14 minutes, they had been outscored 38-21 and MU led by 7.

From there things stabilized, in the sense that the lead stayed between 3-8 points.  With 4 minutes left, MU was still up 6.

It's hard to describe. BG was flat and unable to generate a run.  It just seemed like the good fortune was going to take a detour, where it had so many times for us.

And then it turned on a dime.  Turner scored a 2FG, BG got a shot clock violation, Agee scored a 2FG, drew a charge on Mirambeaux and threw down an offensive rebound on BG's next possession and the game was tied with 1:54 to go.

The run continued.  Reece Potter, the 7-footer having a break out game against BG, missed in the paint.  Agee on the board.  Hill scores in the paint, BG up 2 with 1:16 left.

MU misses a 3FG. Agee on the board. Hill misses in the paint.  Agee offensive rebound. 

BG calls time with :25 left and again with :19 left.  BG inbounds to Hill who splits two defenders, beats another and then shoots over Last Chance Potterville and BG was up 4.

See what you think of this.

BG wins by 5.  That is a 15-2 doorslammer over the last five minutes or so. A lot of stops embedded in there.

I give our guys credit.  They were struggling but they hung around and kept it close and then turned it on when they needed to.

Total role reversal.  Sandwiches.

Travis Steele, the MU Coach, had this to say.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but I’m tired of the officiating,” he went on, referring to 6-foot-8 senior center Anderson Mirambeaux fouling out with 2:18 left in the game. “Our big guy gets called for some horrendous fouls. Still, we’ve got to be better. Bowling Green is one of the better teams in the league.

 MU was called for 23 fouls and BG for 15.  Boo-hoo. Maybe we foul less.

Both teams are battling injured players. 

With the long stretch between that 10 point lead and the comeback, it is easy to forget the early BG success.  The Falcons led for 21 minutes, Miami for 17.

It was a solid win.  BG had 1.09 points per possession and MU had 1.02.  BG was better than average on both sides of the ball but not in a freaky, unreproducible ways. 

BG was outshot.  Miami is a strong shooting team. They made 54% on 2FG and 39% from 3FG, both good nights.  BG also shot well, with 51% and 35%.  Beyond that, BG won the turnover battle.  Nobody had great offensive rebounding, but BG allowed MU next to nothing.  And BG dominated at the line.  MU was 10 of 15 (67%) and BG was 19 of 31 (61%).  

BG is #335 out of 362 in the country in FT%.  Also last in the MAC in MAC games.  Even so, BG is +22 in 5 MAC games at the line.  BG could be even stronger with a few more FTs.

Marcus Hill was back to his old self, with 23 points on 6 of 11 and 2 of 2 shooting, 5 of 9 at the line, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 TOs.

Agee continues to be a rebound machine. He had 12 rebounds and 15 points on 5 of 10 and 1 of 1 shooting (not a misprint). He was 2 of 6 at the line.  In MAC games, he is #2 in the MAC in rebounds.  Note the summary above, where he was dominant on the board during BG's run.

Trey Thomas had 14. He was 2 of 4 and 2 of 7, with 4 of 4 at the not a great night. He also had 3 assists over 1 TO.

Spurgin had 10, on 2 of t 5 and 0 of 1 shooting, but 4-4 at the line and 9 rebounds, 3 TOs.

And the beat goes on.  BG raced through a weak non-conference schedule, but are now 4-1 in their MAC games, and these are teams they are designed to compete with.  It's incredibly exciting.  Big game Saturday with WMU, also 4-1, with a 7'0 of their own who has played a role in their sudden turnaround.

Monday, January 15, 2024

MBB: Miami Preview

 So, the BG MBB bus rolls into Oxford, OH, for a game against the Miami RedHawks.

Miami was once the most successful program in the MAC. In the years since BG made the NCAA tournament in 1968, Miami has made the NCAAs 12 times.    The last one was in 2007.  Since the end of the Coles years, things have been tough in Oxford.  In the last 14 years, they have one winning season overall and that was the COVID year.  There are 3 winning MAC records in that time.  It just hasn't been good.

They hired Travis Steele after he was fired from Xavier and he is in his second year.  They had a rough year last year.  His plan was to re-tool a little bit...he's having some mixed results this year.

Their top scorer graduated, and then late in the pre-season, last year's second-leading scorer, Morgan Safford left school, reportedly to transfer to Kent.

They are 8-8 and 6-8 in D1 games. They are 2-2 in the MAC.  They have two of the most improbable outcomes---a buzzer beater win over Vermont and then blowing a huge lead to UT.  In the MAC they lost to WMU in Oxford and @ UT, and then won @UB and over EMU in Oxford.  FWIW, they beat EMU by 17.  Kenpom is 236 and BG is 203.

This is the 151st time BG and Miami have played.  The history is replete with drama and agony, mostly on our side. The teams have split the last 10.  BG's last win in Millett was 2018.  The teams split the games last year on home court lines.

Miami plays 68 possessions and BG at 69, so that should be pretty close.  Miami is not great on either side.  National average is 1.05, so they are near the average on offense and well below on defense, and BG is nearer on both.  The bigger spread is when BG has the ball.  The Falcons are above average in four of their last 5 games, so you'd like to see them take advantage.

Miami shoots the ball really well.  They are #45 in the country in EFG. They take 41% from 3FG, and are #21 in making them.  They also make 52% from 2FG. They are average on turnovers and terrible on offensive rebounds. They are pretty average getting to the line and make 72%, which is decent.  This will be a test for the BG defense, which has had subpar games in 3 of 4 conference games.  BG is #56 in defensive rebounding in the country and #61 in keeping teams off the line.

The other side looks pretty evenly matched.  Miami defends the 3FG really well--#19 in the country.  Which is OK, because BG isn't used to making 3s anyway. They are #318 defending the 2FG, which is a good opportunity for BG.  They are also not good on the offensive boards...offensive rebounding has been the difference in two close MAC wins for BG.  BG does get to the line, and FT shooting seems to be ticking up.  They key will be scoring in the paint.

Anderson Mirambeaux is their leading scorer.  You will remember him as the 6'8" and 305 pound mountain man.  He is scoring 13.9 PPG shooting 56% on almost all 2FGs.  He only averages 3.3 RPG. Darweshi Hunter, who transferred from NIU, is scoring 12.3 PPG on 46% and 41% shooting.  Their leading rebounder is Bryce Bultman, a DII transfer.  averages 5.3 RPG and 8.8 PPG.  He also leads the team with 46 assists.

They are #338 in the country in D1 experience.

On we go.

Sunday, January 14, 2024


BG picked up a significant win last night.  They moved to 12-4.   That's one more than last year and one less than the year before.  So let's enjoy it.  On cold winter days, we have competitive men's basketball.

NIU is down 3 starters and clearly struggling badly.  BG has injuries as well...though not 3 guys who would be starting.  (BG deserves credit for a 3-1 start in MAC play under these circumstances...only one player back from the previous team who on the court, all those new guys and a thin frontline.  It's an accomplishment).

BG led for over 36 minutes and NIU never led by more than 3.  If that might interest you.

The first half was tightly contested. The game was tied with 7 left and BG led by only 2 with 4:16 left.  BG went on a 12-3 run to take the lead to 11 at the half.  I'd honestly like to know how often a team comes back when that happens to them.

Spoiler alert.  It never got closer than 8.  BG popped it up to 17 by the first media timeout, it was 19 a couple of minutes later.  NIU shaved it down and it bounced between 10-15 in general for 10 minutes or so.  Inside 5 minutes, NIU got the lead down to 8.  BG took a time out. They came out and drew a play where Agee was fouled. and he made both FTs.  On the other end, Coit was fouled and the top FT shooter in the MAC split a pair.

With 3:37 left, BG up 9 with the ball.  Here, Da'Shawn Phillip kicked in to close the game out. BG missed a 3FG, Phillip battled on the board, got two offensive rebounds before he was fouled and aced both FTs.  NIU matched on the other end, still 9 with 2:55 left.

NIU leads the MAC in blocked shots and is #23 in the nation. They are 2nd in the country in percentage of shots blocked. Anyway, Xavier Amos blocked shots on the next two possessions, with a key BG stop sandwiched in between.

BG has the ball, 1:51 left, and Phillip is fouled again.  He sinks them both, BG up 11.  Coit slices it to 9, with 1:40 left. 

BG ran clock, getting to the end of the clock.  Hill missed, but Phillip was there again with the board and the second chance basket and BG led by 11 with 1:06 left.  There was no more scoring....inclduing Coit missed 2 more FTS.

Every conference road win is good.  We played a team that was wounded and we beat them.  The opposite has happened before more times than we would like to think.

The game went at 72 possessions, which is more to NIU's liking.  Even so, BG scored 1.15 per possession, a winning number, and allowed only 1 per possession.  BG won, despite making on 3 3FGs on 15 attempts (20%). BG only took 25% of their shots from 3, lowest of the year.  You have to make 2s in that situation, and BG made 56%.  Meanwhile, they held a good 3FG shooting Huskie team to 30%.

For the second game in a row, offensive rebounding was the difference.  The other stats were all even.  But with the same shooting percentage, BG made took 6 more FG attempts, scored 6 more points on FGs and were +5 at the line.  There were a ridiculous number of fouls.  BG had 22 and NIU had 24 and there was no tactical fouling at the end. Three Huskies fouled out.  BG made 73% from the line.

Rashaun Agee was an absolute force.  The last player showing this much year-year improvement was Richaun Holmes.  He handles the ball better and is very tough to manage under the hoop.  He scored 24 on 8 of 9 shooting and made 8 of his 9 FTs.  Also 9 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists.  (3 turnovers, too).  Still, that's a full day.

Marcus Hill scored 20, but he had to work for it.  He was 6 of 17 shooting.  Also, 8 of 13 at the line, adding 4 rebounds and 4 steals. The key is that we are still finding ways to score, even as they are pressuring him and they aren't going to stop.

Phillip had 12, mentioned above....4-6 shooting, 4-4 at the line and 8 rebounds.  Spurgin double-doubled with 10 and 10, but struggled with his shot.

So, BG is 12-4 and 3-1.  Next week, they are @MU and then home for a game against the other MAC surprise, WMU, 4-0 right now.  Broncos probably a bigger surprise. The announcers mentioned that DJ Smith is out for the year but that we are hoping Towns will be back soon.  We get quite a bit better when that happens

Friday, January 12, 2024

MBB: Huskie Preview

Next up are the NIU Huskies.

They were picked 5th in both Blue Ribbon and in the official poll.  They were 9-9 last season in Rashon Bruno's 2nd year.  Based on the return of David Coit, Keshawn Williams and Zarique Nutter, who scored 45 PPG collectively.

Unfortunately, Williams has only played one game and Nutter has missed the last 2, along with Yanic Konan Neiderhaus.  No idea what to expect with them returning tomorrow, but it has impacted the Huskies, who are 0-3 in MAC play and have lost their last 8 D1 games. Some of those games include Iowa, Northwestern and Indiana State, and in the MAC they lost at home to Akron and @OU and @WMU in OT.

These stats are for all games.  Suffice it to say they their stats for their 3 MAC games, 2 played without Nutter and Neiderhaus (which also sounds like DeKalb's 3rd most successful law firm), are really bad.

The Huskies play at 71 possessions, which is faster than BG has played. The key has been defensive struggles.  What will make it interesting is that BG has been inconsistent on offense.  The Huskie offense, which is about national average, will face a Falcon defense which is slightly below national average.

NIU is a decent shooting team.  They shoot a lot of 3FGs and make 36%, which is pretty good.  They are a touch below average but decent 2 FGs.  Their turnovers are about at the D1 average, and they are terrible on the offensive boards.  They get to the line a lot, but only make 68%.  That's where the biggest contrast is with BG's defense--the Falcons have done well keeping opponents off the line.

The Huskies do not defend the shot well. The allow 53% on 2FG and 36% on 3FG, which is not good on either front.  They are one of the 5 worst in the country in forcing turnovers, are below average on the offensive boards...and don't give up a lot of FTs.  BG put a decent offensive game together last time out and will try to do it on the road this week, which is tougher.  (This is only BG's 4th true road game).

NIU is led by David Coit, an undersized JUCO G who was third-team All-MAC last year. He averages 19 a game on 53% and 38% shooting and 88% at the line--efficient.  He also has about 4 assists per game.  He's the #4 scorer in the MAC.

Their second leading scorer is Zarique Nutter, who has missed the last 2 games. He's 6'7" and scores 15 PPG on 50% and 35% shooting, both very efficient.  Also 5.2 RPG.

Xavier Amos is scoring 11 PPG on 52% and 44% shooting.  He's also 6'8" and leads them with 5.3 RPG.

One matchup issue.  NIU has a lot of length and BG is light on the front line, assuming Towns isn't back for this one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Football Announces 7 transfers

 The football program announced 7 players coming to the portal.

They are:

Five of these have been covered here on this blog and are linked above.  The other two are new and one of them is certainly significant.

Here is the CJ Brown write up

Brown (Canton, Mich.) appeared in 35 career games over four seasons at Northern Illinois. During his time with the Huskies, he earned first-team All-MAC honors during NIU's 2021 MAC Championship season and followed up with second-team All-MAC honors in 2022. Brown has two years of eligibility remaining. Recorded 206 career tackles, 4.4 TFLs, 1.0 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defended while at NIU. He led the Huskies with 109 stops during NIU's 2021 MAC Championship season. 

First-team ALL-MAC.  I like it.  Also, we have had some losses in the D-backfield and he can help right away...along with possibly FR Kal-El Pascal.

Also, Nick Reimer from Merrimack College is coming in on the OL. He appeared in 35 career games over four seasons at FCS Merrimack College. He has one year of eligibility left. Reimer earned first-team All-NEC honors in 2023 after being a key cog on the offensive line. 

A couple of things.  Clearly, BG is targeting the d-backfield and WR.  They did not get a RB to help Stewart, a QB for depth, or significant help on the oline.  He's counting on the guys we have on offense mostly getting the job done...

Also, note that most of guys are only here for 1-year.  Coach was looking to fill holes for next year, and not looking past that, where he clearly prefers to build with high school players.


The Falcon MBB team came up with a nice win last night at the Stroh, beating OU at the Stroh.  The Bobcats returned a lot of players and were expected to content for the MAC this year.  They aren't looking quite that good, but it was a nice win for the Falcons at home.  It was the most complete game they have played in quite a while.

By that I mean, BG led for 35 minutes and OU only for 2.  It wasn't a tale of two halves.

BG led by 3 at the end of the first half and by 6 at the first media timeout. BG went on an 11-2 run to go up 15 with 12:38 left to play.  You knew OU was going to reel that back, and they did, with a 10-0 run over the following two minutes to get it back to 5. 

OU got it to 2 with about 7:30 left.  BG pushed it back to 8.  OU cut it to 1 with 3:30 left and then had a steal and a chance for a lead but missed a FG.  They got it back to 1 with 2:24 left and Spurgin hit a 3FG to put BG up 4.  That was the game's decisive moment.  OU chipped back to 3 with 1:12 and BG's ball and Spurgin did it again, nailing a 3FG with :40 left to make the lead 6.  From there, it was foul shots both ways and BG won +5.

The game was played at 68 possessions and the stats are close, as you would expect.  BG had 1.22 points per possession and OU had 1.15 points per possession, both strong offensive games.  Both teams shot the ball well and took good care of the ball.  OU outshot BG 56-49 from 2FG and BG outshot the Bobcats from 3FG, 50-40.  The Falcons had 12 3FGs, a season-high. Honestly, the offensive rebounds were the difference.  BG tried 6 more FGs than OU did, so they ended up +8 on FG points despite the same percentage.  BG only had better 3FG shooting against Lipscomb.   OU kept BG off the line and ended up +3 in FTs.

Trey Thomas had a great game for BG.  As he gets into the swing of things, he is turning into our strongest player.  He had 20 on 5 of 7 and 3 of 8 shooting, 5 assists, and 1 turnover.  Take that all day.

Marcus Hill had 15, but they made him work for it.  He was 5 of 13 from 2FG and 1 of 2 from 3FG and 2 of 4 at the line, with 2 TOs and 2 steals.  Spurgin is also a very good player.   He had 14, including 2 crunch-time 3FGs. He did have 4 assists and 5 turnovers.  Agee logged 34 minutes, scored 12--but he had to work for it, too, shooting 3 of 11 on 2FGS, MAKING a 3FG, 3 of 4 at the line, 15 rebounds and 6 assists over 0 turnovers.

Phillip had a highly effective 10, with 3 of 3 and 1 of 2 shooting, making his only FT  in 14 minutes.

BG continues to play a 7-man rotation, with the exception of EJay Greer getting 5 minutes.  Towns and Smith are injured with no discussion of when they will be back.  In the meantime, BG is representing.  The next game is @NIU--a banged up team as well.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

The OU Bobcats are arriving at the Stroh.


OU was picked 2nd by Blue Ribbon and 4th by the official MAC poll.  Last year, they finished 5th and lost their big man, Dwight Wilson, to graduation.  During the year, they lost 2nd team pre-season All-MAC G AJ Brown to injury....he is out for the year.  Also, Miles Brown, who is a 3FG sharpshooter, missed 8 games in the middle of the year, played four and then missed their last outing. 

They definitely had a disappointing record from pre-MAC play.  They started out ranked 116 and today hit at 168.  They are 7-7 and 6-7 in D1 play. They have decent wins over Troy (174) and Delaware (131), but also lost to Cleveland State (175), GW (180), Youngstown State (161), Marshall (170), Austin Peay (219) and Davidson (128).  

In MAC play, they have played twice at home, losing to UT and beating NIU after trailing at the half.

They have yet to win on the road this year and were 2-7 last year on the road in MAC play, on their way to 10-8 overall.

BG has won 6 out of the last 10 meetings with the Bobcats.  BG has won 5 straight at the Stroh.  The last OU win there was the 2017 game with 4 Falcons suspended and two football players filling in.  Before that, you have to go back to 2014 to get an OU win.  The two teams split last year, BG winning by 9 at home and losing by 34 in what would be the last game Huger coached for the Falcons.

One thing to watch for on OU's stats is that the all games results include a 108-28 win over Defiance.  Most of the stats below count only D1 games.

Despite what you read from BG's press release, OU is not a strong defensive team. They are allowing 1.06 points per possession, which is #210 in the country. They are, however, good on the offensive side, scoring 1.09 a game.  This is where the matchup has the potential to be good with a Falcon team that is doing well on the defensive end.  BG will see if they can put together a consistent 40-minute offensive attack.

OU has a well-rounded attack, where they take excellent care of the ball and are decent at all the other facets. BG doesn't really force turnovers, so that is unlikely to be a factor.  You take care of the ball and add decent shooting on extra possessions, you can be tough to beat. OU takes an average number of 3FGs, and is about average on 2FGs and 3FGs. 

Here, we see things pretty evenly matched.  OU does force some turnovers but they are poor on the offensive boards and give up a lot of FTs.  If BG continues to take care of the ball and can make some FTs, there should be an opportunity.

OU is led by Jaylin Hunter, first-team pre-season All-MAC. He scores 14.4 PPG on a rough 47% and 29% shooting. He leads the MAC in assists and is 2nd in A/TO.  Shereef Mitchell is scoring 13 PPG on 47% and 29%.  He is a grad transfer from Creighton.  

Elmore James is scoring 12.3 PPG and leads the team with 6.4 RPG despite being 6'3".  He is shooting 53% and 29%. AJ Clayton is scoring 12.1 PPG--and highly efficient, at 74% and 43%.  He's the 10th most efficient scorer in D1 to date. 

They play an 8-man rotation and are among the smaller teams in D1.  This could be a factor in BG's favor with their lack of depth on the frontline.

This is a winnable game and a good test.  OU is a 1.5 point road favorite.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

JAR Continues to Be Dead Space for Falcons

BG went into the JAR double-digit underdogs and came out defeated by double digits.  This was the toughest game on our schedule this year, and while BG stood its ground for a significant period of time, Akron was eventually better than us and showed it over the last 15 minutes.

BG is playing a short rotation and is especially hampered by only having two big men trying to play Freeman.  Agee managed only 15 minutes due to foul trouble. BG led for 28 minutes and by as much as 14...and led by 8 with about 15 minutes left in the game.  Akron outscored by 40-16 over those remaining minutes to take the easy win.  They led for the last 11:30 of the game.

BG continues to play "tale of two halves" basketball.  BG made 75% from 2FG and 45% from 3FG in the first half, and then 38% and 8% in the second half.

When you look at the final score, note that it was a 65 possession game, which is slow. UA scored 1.27 points per possession, the second worst defensive game of the year for BG.  Since 99, BG has never won a game with defensive efficiency that low.  The Falcons were at 1.02, which isn't terrible but isn't great. 

As you can see, it was mostly shooting. As noted in the preview, Akron is a very effective shooting team. BG made 56% of 2FG for the game and only 26% from 3FG.  They are #295 in the nation shooting 3FGs. BG took 42% from 3FG, which is a lot for a team that doesn't make them. Meanwhile, UA shot 56% from 2FG and 42% from 3FG while taking 43% from beyond the arc.

They also won the turnover battle, good for a team that tends to turn it over. They gashed BG on offensive rebounds, with BG's worst game of the season.  The teams were equal getting to the line and neither shot FTs well, but UA ended up +4 at the line.  BG made 54%.

Marcus Hill had 19 for BG.  They made him work for it...he was 6 of 12 from 2FG and 1 of 5 from 3FG and 4-8 at the line and 4 turnovers.  Spurgin had 14 on 4 of 8 and 2 of 3 shooting with 5 rebounds and 4 assists.  Trey Thomas had 12, with 3 of 4 and 2 of 7 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers.  Agee puts numbers up, he had 12 on 4 of 5 shooting and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes of play.  He picked up 2 fouls in 2:30. (I thought he got called on some ticky tack shit).

BG continues to work with 7 guys.  Neither Sam Towns nor DJ Smith has played since the Southern Indiana game. Freeman had 24 on 6 of 12 2FG shooting and 12 of 13 at the line, plus 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He was in foul trouble too and played 27 minutes.  He drew 11 fouls...and many of those fouls came from our thin front line.

Look, for everyone who wanted to see us play tougher competition, that's what that could have looked like. We are improved from last year but a work in progress, when everything is taken in context.  I continue to think we should make it to Cleveland and we are definitely stronger than last year. Tuesday will be an interesting test.  We have OU at the Stroh.  They are a top 4 team but not great so far this year.  Let's see what happens.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Falcons Head to JAR of Horrors

 BG MBB will bring its 8 game winning streak into the toughest game on its schedule...Akron @ The Jar.

When we talk about being in the conversation every year, this is one of the programs we have in mind. In the 18 non-COVID seasons since Keith Dambrot arrived, they have 20 wins in 15 of them. They have been to the NCAA Tournament four times, once under John Groce, their current coach. Groce also won the regular season title the year the tournament was canceled.

They were picked by the MAC and Blue Ribbon to win the MAC this year and to date they have the best kenpom in the MAC at 96. 

They are 9-4 and 7-4 in D1 ball.  They missed 4 opportunities for a win you could hang your hat on.  On neutral floors, they lost to Utah State (44) by 3, Drank (67) by 20 and St. Bonaventure (69) by 1.  They also lost @UNLV (94).  But that's all the losses--not a bad one in the bunch.  Their wins are not great.  They beat Bradley (114) at the JAR by 15 and won @South Dakota State (150) and the rest are over 200.

They won their MAC opener in a road romp over NIU by 22.

Since BG Grad Dan Hipsher left Akron, the Zips have owned the Falcons like no other.  They are 34-5 against BG in that time. It's better recently...the Zips are only 7-3 against BG in the last 10.  BG has won twice at the JAR since 2009, the last one a 2021 win by 12 that was the last win that year for BG.

The Zips were 15-1 at home last year and under Groce have won 86% of their home games.

They are really solid on defense, ranking #114 in the country for defensive efficiency.  BG is also struggling offensively for the year, so good offense vs. bad defense, seems pretty predictable. The real test will come on the other side, where Akron has a top 100 offense matching up against a BG defense that has been really solid for the year.  This will be their toughest test and 

Looking in more closely, Akron is a really good shooting team.  Overall, #51 in the country. They take 42% of their shots from 3FG, compared to the D1 average of 37%.  They make 35%, which is in the top third of the country and complement that with making 55% on 2FG, which is top 40 in the country.  BG has been very effective on 2FG defense, allowing just 47%,  So that would appear to be part of where the contest will be fought.  UA does turn the ball over a lot, but BG doesn't push for turnovers. They are slightly above average on the offensive boards--where BG has been strong--and they are average at getting to the line and making FT.  BG is #18 in the country in not letting teams get to the line.  That will be another key test, especially with a contest over 2FGs.

Here things seem pretty even.  The one thing is that the Zips don't give up FTs and BG has relied on that in more than one game. It would be my guess that Akron (and the rest of the MAC) will have a gameplan for dealing with Marcus Hill.  BG may have to work harder to get him open and also develop other scoring options.

Enrique Freeman is their star player.  He is #1 in the nation in rebounds at 13 a game. He also scores 18 a game, makes 66% of his 2FGs and has added rate 3FG shooting at 42%.  Also, 18 blocks so far.  He's the early leader for MAC POY.

They also have Ali Ali.  He played at Akron, transferred to Butler and then transferred back.  The NCAA denied his waiver and he eventually won on appeal, but this is only his 6th game this year.  (Their 3-game losing streak came with him out).  He is scoring 17.6 on 73% 2FG shooting and 35% 3FG shooting. 

Sammy Hunter scored 10 PPG on 41% 3FG shooting.  He transferred from Mississippi.  Nate Johnson is shooting 46% on 3FGs. 

So Game 2 brings up a tough assignment in a place BG has struggled to win.  We scheduled the pre-MAC to avoid any games like this.  We will see how the Falcons react.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Well now....that was a thriller. MBB wins.

Well, the MAC opener during the Todd Simon era was a thrilling win before a nice crowd of 2,500 or so with no students.  The crowd was into the game.  BG rallied and pulled the win out, still down 2 regular contributors.  Two great scorers went head to head.  A good time was had by all.

BG started out poorly, as they often have.  It was 6-6, but then for the next five minutes it was 18-4 and EMU led by 14 with 11 to go in the first half.  They led by 10 or more for nearly all of the remainder of the half, with BG cutting the lead to 8 at the end. EMU shot 51%.  BG was 2 of 13 from 3FG.  Both Agee and Spurgin had 3 fouls at the half, and Towns was on the bench. 

BG came out strong--as they often do--and had the lead to 2 before the first media timeout.  BG did not tie the game until about 12 minutes were left and took their first lead with 9:32 left.  From there on, it was a hotly contested, back and forth, one possession game, with Acuff and Hill both making some just ridiculous shots.

One of those came with a minute left to put EMU up by 1.  With :49 left, Agee was fouled and split the pair and Acuff came down and hit a wild runner to put EMU up 2 with :49 left.  Marcus Hill was fouled and sunk both clutch FTs with :26 left.  BG needed to stop to get to overtime.  The Falcons d'd up Acuff hard-even in zone--and he missed a low percentage 3FG and the game went to OT.

BG was 6 of 12 from 3FG in the second half, EMU 0-7.

The OT was tightly played.  With two minutes, EMU was up 1. Agee was fouled and made 2 FTs. BG up 1.  BG was really playing Acuff hard--one of the players said Coach made an adjustment in the zone to force Acuff into a less comfortable spot.  Acuff took a jumper late in the shot clock and Thomas blocked it.  BG came down and Spurgin made a strong drive down the baseline for a layup to make it +3. 

After 2 timeouts, EMU got the ball to Acuff who was fouled and he made both FTs to cut the lead to 1 with :44 to play.

Now it was EMU's turn to D up.  They took BG all the way to the end of the shot clock.  Spurgin took a wild three at the buzzer and missed.  The rebound was on the floor, bodies were flying  Osojnik had the board for EMU and he was sitting on the ground and I didn't see what happened but he was called for traveling,  Huge call. Stan Heath went nuts, but the call stood.

BG is still up 1.  They fouled Humphrey who split the pair.  BG up 2.  EMU gets to half court and calls time with :06 left.  They get the ball to Acuff, BG's on him like crazy.  He goes for a short-range jumper--of which he had made several--and Marcus Hill blocked the shot and BG held on to win.

Wow.  A total thriller.  We had a decent crowd and I love to send them away happy.  They are more likely to come back.

The game was played slow, at an equivalent of 64 possessions for a 40-minute game.  One key note is that BG has Felt and Towns out (and DJ Smith) and so we are very light on the front line.  The lineup we finished the first half with might have been the smallest lineup I ever saw us play.  Spurgin and Agee had 3 fouls at the half.  Agee got his 4th with 3:39 left when the refs rewarded a flop and Spurgin got his 4th with 2 left.  That being said, BG nursed them through and they both finished the game.  

One way BG did that was going to a 2-3 zone.  Ironic against EMU. Anyway, we don't play a bad zone.  EMU attacked it well some of the time and they really finished well, playing the glass to get around Spurgin more than once.

BG won the game at the line.  EMU had very slight edges on the other factors. EMU committed 29 fouls--and only 1 a situational foul at the end. They had 3 guys foul out.  They just seemed determined to put us on the line rather than let us score inside, which is their defensive weakness.  BG is generally a poor FT shooting team, though it has been improving.  To wit, they were 6 of 13 in the first half.  The Falcons were 18 of 25 after that, which is 72% and just a tick over the national average.  Meanwhile, BG only fouled 16 times and EMU was 9 of 14 at the line.  Overall, BG was +15 at the line.

The Falcons cannot be happy with how they rebounded.  Part of that is the zone, but EMU has not been good on the defensive boards and BG did not take advantage last night.

Coming in, we thought it was the Acuff and Hill show and it was.  WOW.  Both guys are magical around the rim, using the glass and the rim itself to get shots in from just ridiculous positions.

Acuff scored 31.  However, he took 29 shots.  He was 12 of 21 from 2FG (57%, which is good) but 1-8 from 3FG.  He only got to the line 5 times. And blocked twice on key possessions.  But not to minimize it, he carried that team in the second half with his shot making.  He makes shots that silence crowds.

Hill scored 35.  This guy.  Let me tell you. He had 22 points on FGs on 28 shots.  That's 50% on 2FG and 2 of 6 from 3FG.  The difference was at the line. He was fouled a lot, even though he came in shooting 79%.  And he made 13 of 17 at the line. Also 8 rebounds and a blocked shot on the game's key possession.

Coach went on quite a bit about Hill's defense. Says he will get paid to play because of his defense.  He's been a great player for us.

Rashaun Agee might have shown the best one-year improvement since...I don't know.  Wiggins? Holmes?  He double-doubled at 17 and 11.  He made 7 of his 8 2FG shots and 5 of 8 from the line. He played in foul trouble for a long time. '

Humphrey had 12 on 3 of 5 from 3FG. Trey Thomas had 10, but struggled with his shot, especially 2-8 from 3FG. He's a key player. He was on the top of the key on those last critical possessions and also he was +8, the best on the team.

Anyway, BG got the win.  Could easily gone the other way and no, EMU doesn't appear to be a great team.  We are heading to the toughest game on our schedule--Akron at the JAR--and then hope for a nice crowd with students back Tuesday for OU.

Monday, January 01, 2024

MAC Play Begins...EMU first on Deck for MBB

 So, the MAC year begins.

The Falcons open with EMU at the Stroh.

EMU made big headlines last year when Emoni Bates returned home to Ypsi.  He was 3rd-team All-MAC and then left for the NBA where he plays for the Cavs.  Noah Farrakhan left for WVU as well.

EMU's program is struggling.  For the meat of Rob Murphy's tenure, they were respectable, with kenpom's in the 150s.  They were 16-16 in 2020, but since then are 31-61.  During that one, Stan Heath, an alum, took over, and they have struggled to get going. They were picked 11th by the MAC and Blue Ribbon and are 8th from the pre-MAC play with a kenpom of 303.

They are 7-5 and 5-5 in D1 games. They beat a decent Cleveland State team (163) but all their other wins are teams over 300, including Hampton who BG also beat. They lost to Oakland, who also beat BG, and North Dakota on a neutral floor (287), along with good Butler, Florida Atlantic and Michigan teams.  They needed a stop in the last seconds to win their last game against DII Northwood.

BG has beaten them 9 of the last 10 meetings and 8 straight.  BG won last year's games by 26 and 20 points.  

The Eagles like to play slow--66 possessions per game.  For all the talk about tempo, BG is playing at 69, the national average. As you can see here, EMU struggles on both sides of the ball.  BG is probably not going to turn out to be as good on defense as that looks. However, it doesn't look like they will be getting a big test in this one from the EMU offense.  On the other end, BG has struggled, but as we will see in a minute, this one has the potential to be a good match-up for the Falcons.

On offense, EMU only takes 33% from 3FG (average is 37%).  They are selective but good, making 35%. They are average on 2FGs.  Overall, they shoot well, are average on turnovers and getting to the line and terrible on the offensive boards. As you can see, BG is looking good on defense. BG is defending the shot well, and #42 in the country against the 2FG, which I believe is one of our goals. We don't go for turnovers, but other than that, the BG defense has put up good numbers to date.  It will be interesting to see how that translates.

In Coach Heath's words, EMU was "atrocious" least year defending inside and rebounding.  They are still struggling at that, allowing 56% on 2FGs and 32% on the defensive boards. Other than not fouling, they are not very good at any aspect of defense.  They do defend the 3FG well.  This is a good matchup for BG, which has excelled on 2FGs and struggled from 3FG. 

EMU is led by Tyson Acuff, the leading scorer in the MAC and #5 in the nation.  FWIW, he did not play in the last game against Northwood.  No words on what happened or if he will be available tomorrow. He's pretty efficient, shooting 58% from 2FG and 32% from 3FG.  Also really good at the line and has 15 steals.

He's their only double-figure scorer. Orlando Lovejoy is scoring 9.8, although he has missed most of the season.  He shoots 57% from 2FG. Yusaf Jihad scores 9.3.

They have a 6'7" JUCO transfer named Julius Ellerbe who leads the team with about 5 RPG and also leads in assists. There was a lot of talk about 7'0" Cyril Martynov, a transfer from Georgia Tech. He is averaging 16 minutes a game.

One last question will be BG's health. DJ Smith and Sam Towns haven't played since December 2. Humphrey and Phillip missed the last game.  BG has certainly played well and has yet to play a game where everyone was available.