Yes, the Bowling Green football program has had the spotlight in recent weeks. But the BG men’s basketball team has been playing games as well, so here’s a look at where the Falcons stand at this point in the season.
- As a reset, the Falcons are 3-5 overall, including a 2-1 record at home entering Wednesday’s game against North Dakota at the Stroh Center. Bowling Green is on a win-one, lose-one streak at this point, which bodes well for Wednesday night.
- The bad news for the Falcons is that junior Chauncey Orr has been lost for the year. Orr suffered a knee injury early in the season and played in just one game, the home opener against Earlham. Click here to read the story about his knee surgery on Thursday, Nov. 28.
Freshman guard Zack Denny also remains unavailable to the Falcons because problems with his left knee problems have caused him to miss an extensive amount of practice. “He’s having discomfort,” coach Louis Orr said of Denny. “He’s a little behind because he hasn’t practiced, and that’s hard for a freshman.”
- The injury to Orr has opened up playing time for several players who have taken advantage of the opportunity. One is sophomore Spencer Parker, who is averaging 13.1 points per game this season. Parker has scored in double figures in every game but the loss at Xavier, including a 20-point performance against Western Kentucky. He is shooting 37-for-73 from the field (50.7 percent), but is just 3-for-15 on 3-pointers.
“Spencer is a guy who can get to the line because he’s a good ‘attack’ guy,” Orr said. “Spencer went through a learning curve [last year]. He went home and worked on his shooting, his free-throw shooting. He has always been a confident guy who is aggressive and will attack. He is benefiting from an opportunity. At the end of the day, he has a knack for getting to the basket and scoring around the rack.”
- Another player who has taken advantage of extended playing time this season is junior forward Richaun Holmes. In the Falcons last two games Richaun Holmes has posted career highs in points, scoring 18 against Western Kentucky and 26 versus Xavier. On the season he is shooting 37-for-67 from the field (55.2 percent). He also averages 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.6 blocks per game. “He’s a guy that wants to play facing the basket and wants to shoot shots on the perimeter,” Orr said of Holmes, who was named MAC East Division player of the week Monday.
- While the injury news wasn’t good regarding Chauncey Orr or freshman guard Zack Denny, who has been hampered with knee, problems, it has been good for one Falcon. Senior Craig Sealey has bounced back from off-season knee surgery and is seeing increased minutes -- although he was curtained by an ankle sprain against Xavier. Sealey had seven points off the bench in 15 minutes against the Musketeers after posting 13 off the bench against Western Kentucky. “Coming off his surgery, he hasn’t been 100 percent,” Parker said of Sealey. “But he’s stepping it up a lot. The lift he gave us coming off the bench [against Western Kentucky] was huge.”
- The Falcons are averaging 68 points per game, tenth-best in the 12-team MAC, but are fourth in the league by allowing just 67.6 points per game. At times BG has used a three-quarter court press that has fallen back into a two-three zone that has been very effective. “Our zone press has been good – it has probably been our most consistent part of our defense,” Orr said. “When we can play both man and zone, and play both well, that will be a tough combination.” In the team’s wins the opposition has shot in the 30 percent range (30.2 percent for Earlham, 30.6 percent for Presbyterian, 34.4 percent for WKU). In the five wins, no lower than 45.1 percent (Oral Roberts) and roughly 55 percent or better in three of those five. “The first couple games of the season, we felt we weren’t playing good defense,” Parker said after the win over Western Kentucky. “The last couple of games we played, we focused on defense, turning up the intensity because we knew that would be key in our games. The team that plays better defense usually wins.”
- A lot has been made of Bowling Green’s free-throw troubles … and yes, the Falcons are struggling with foul shots. The Falcons rank 12th (or last) in the MAC in free-throw shooting at 60.8 percent. But BG’s opponents aren’t shooting free throws well, either (just 64.6 percent). Take the loss at Xavier, for example. The Falcons made just 18-of-31 free throws (58.1 percent), but the Musketeers were worse, making just 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) in regulation. It’s no coincidence that Xavier’s 7-for-8 shooting in OT helped them claim the win. “Our free throw shooting hasn’t been good,” Orr said. “I wanted to emphasize the importance of free-throw shooting [by shooting free throws when we came home from Cancun], that was what that was about.”
- The Falcons are not particularly deep at guard. Junior Jehvon Clarke is averaging 33.5 minutes per game at the point, and has more assists (38) than turnovers (26) while scoring 11.8 points per game. Meanwhile junior Anthony Henderson played 32 minutes at Xavier despite missing time in the first half when he bloodied above his right eye, and he is averaging 34.1 minutes per game while scoring 11.8 points per game. Freshman J.D. Tisdale is holding his head above water in a baptism by fire (17 assists, 15 turnovers), but there isn’t much depth at this point behind the two starters.
- The Falcons have had both ups and downs when it comes to rebounding. BG averages 36.0 rebounds per game while allowing 36.9 rebounds, meaning opponents outrebound them by roughly one rebound per game. While the Falcons have done well on the defensive boards, grabbing 71.6 percent of the other team's misses (that is third-best in the MAC), BG is not doing well on the offensive boards, grabbing just 29.2 percent of their own missed (10th in the 12-team MAC). “We gave up 19 offensive rebounds,” Orr said. “We need all five guys to rebound the ball. … I thought [Western Kentucky’s] second shots were the one thing that kept them going and gave them life. We need to do a better job of rebounding collectively.