I said yesterday that Mark Montgomery of NIU had to feel a little strange. He went from coaching at MSU to coaching Northern Illinois, and those Huskies are just plain awful this year. The only time I remember seeing a team I thought was worse was the first Gene Cross team at UT. I actually felt a little pity for them...and I do admire that they kept fighting.
I looked it up on statsheet.com, they are the 8th youngest team in D1, so partly this shouldn't be any kind of surprise. And, Montgomery had the ability to get some JUCO players and soften the transition but he opted not to.
Beyond being young, this was the first team I have ever seen with two players from Finland. Or one for that matter. I thought maybe I had missed something--maybe Finland is an emerging basketball power--but I saw that they have made the Olympics twice and did make the Eurobasket in 2011, though it was the first time in 16 years.
Anyway. Not a basketball power.
The Falcons did what you are supposed to do with a team this bad, beating them 65-40.
There was hardly one minute out of 40 where it was a game. BG jumped out to a 10-0 lead and had an 18-1 lead before NIU finally made a field goal almost eight minutes into the contest. BG led by 25 at the half and that was the final spread as well.
It ended up being a very slow-paced game. BG ran a lot of clock in the second half, in a gesture of humanity, and the game ended up only having 57 possessions. BG had 1.14 points per possession and allowed NIU only .7, the second time in as many games that BG has been roughly in that territory. (In fairness, it was a significant accomplishment against WMU, but NIU has no offensive players at all. In fact, they had no double-figure scorers in the game.)
BG shot almost 49% from the field while NIU shot 29%. In addition to dreadful shooting, NIU turned the ball over 16 times (remember the very low number of possessions to start with) and then they also shot 53% from the line.
BG got to the line a staggering 34 times. NIU committed 27 fouls, and they weren't even fouling at the end. In fact, had the Falcons shot free throws better, this spread would have been even larger.
Individually, BG had a big first half from Scott Thomas, who had 14 points for the game and nine of the team's first 15 points. He also shot 62%, and had 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Jordan Crawford had another nice game with 15 points on 56% shooting, and 6 assists over 2 turnovers. No other Falcons was in double figures, as Coach Orr liberally distributed minutes. Calhoun, in fact, went without a field goal or a rebound in the game.
Torain Ogelsby also had six points and 7 rebounds in 17 minutes and was 3 of 4 from the field.
Falcons got to get a slightly more extended look at Anthony Henderson....and Craig Sealey and Chauncey Orr got some minutes as well.
BG is slowly starting to get bigger crowds in the Stroh Center, which is nice to see, and it would be great to go to Muncie and get a win and have a huge crowd for the UT game next Saturday.
Beyond that, everyone has to recognize that BG did what a team should do, which is to wax a team like NIU. We won't see another team this bad again, so we have to continue to play well. Ball State has been on hard fade, and the game in Muncie is Wednesday.
Oh...just one more thing. BG has finally broken the barrier and has now won two in a row. This had not happened since the Austin Peay/Detroit double-play back during the CBE.
at BOWLING GREEN 65, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 40 02/04/2012
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 2-19 (1-8) -- T. Releford 3-11 1-2 7; K. Gray 1-3 0-3 2; A. Nader 3-10 2-3 8; S. Berg 3-6 0-0 9; K. Gray 0-5 3-4 3; A. Bolin 3-5 2-2 9; A. Christian 1-7 1-2 3; T. Nixon 1-4 0-0 2; M. Ford 2-4 0-1 4; D. Grady 0-2 0-0 0; J. Jackson 0-1 0-0 0; T. Storm 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-48 8-15 40. BOWLING GREEN 11-11 (5-4) -- J. Crawford 5-9 4-5 15; S. Thomas 5-8 2-2 14; D. Brown 2-5 2-3 6; A. Calhoun 0-1 5-6 5; C. Sealey 2-3 2-7 6; T. Oglesby 3-4 0-1 6; C. Black 2-2 2-2 6; A. Henderson 1-4 1-2 4; C. Orr 0-2 3-4 3; J. Clarke 0-0 0-0 0; J. Erger 0-3 0-2 0; A. Ferrell Jr. 0-0 0-0 0; D. Lyshe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 21-34 65.
Three-point goals: NIU 4-15 (A. Christian 0-4; T. Nixon 0-1; A. Bolin 1-2; D. Grady 0-1; S. Berg 3-5; A. Nader 0-2), BGSU 4-12 (S. Thomas 2-5; J. Crawford 1-3; J. Erger 0-1; A. Henderson 1-3); Rebounds: NIU 29 (A. Nader 10), BGSU 31 (S. Thomas 9); Assists: NIU 7 (T. Nixon 2), BGSU 11 (J. Crawford 6); Total Fouls -- NIU 27, BGSU 13; Fouled Out: NIU-K. Gray; BGSU-None.