Overall Rank: #128
Conference Rank: #4 Mid-American Conference
2008-09: 19-14, 11-5
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Louis Orr (32-31 at Bowling Green, 145-128 overall)
Was last year a fluke or has Coach Louis Orr truly turned around the Bowling Green basketball program? This year will tell. The 2008-2009 season was a magical one for the Falcons who ended up winning the Mid-American Conference regular season crown and earned a berth to the NIT. Three key parts to that team are gone, but there are some replacements who have the potential to step in and make this team competitive once again.
Key Losses: G Darryl Clements, F Nate Miller, G Brian Moten
Darryl Clements, Nate Miller and Brian Moten were the team’s top three scorers and all averaged over 30 minutes per game. That means the Falcons need some help in the backcourt and fast. Darion Goins is the logical choice to step in and immediately contribute. The 6-3 transfer from San Jose State slumped during his sophomore campaign out West, but he is a capable scorer who can hit the long ball. Luke Kraus and Jordan Crawford are the only other options. In the frontcourt, Austin Calhoun, DaVon Haynes and Danny McElroy will give the team more depth. Calhoun and McElroy have the potential to contribute immediately.
The only starting guard, and the only guard who saw any significant playing time last year, returning is Joe Jakubowski. While Clements, Miller and Moten were getting all the accolades for winning the MAC and leading this team to a conference title, it was Jakubowski who was setting them all up. He dished out 3.5 assists per game and kept the turnovers relatively low. Now the 6-2 junior will need to emerge as the team’s leader and find new scoring threats. Yet, Jakubowski can score himself as well. He tallied 7.7 points per game last year, but connected on over 40 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. If he has to, Jakubowski can take over the bulk of the scoring load on the perimeter.
Yet the true strength of this group lies in the interior. Otis Polk, a 6-9 center, started all 33 games last year and averaged 6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Marc Larson, another 6-9 center, could be just as good if he can stay healthy. Larson only saw action in 18 games last year before going down with an injury. Obviously the Falcons recovered nicely without him, but those two seniors can start next to each other and be extremely effective if Coach Orr slows down the tempo and makes sure the big guys get their touches. Senior Erik Marshall was forced into more playing time when Larson went down and did a fine job. At 6-7, he is not as big as Larson or Polk and he will not block as many shots, but he will do the dirty work around the basket.
Who to Watch:
Chris Knight is beaming with potential if he can stay healthy and out of trouble. When he was healthy as a freshman during the 2007-2008 campaign, Knight averaged 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. If the athletic small forward can do that again, the Falcons have found their go-to-guy. Last year, in 24 games, he only averaged 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds and only played 16.4 minutes per contest. Knight has to be back at full strength and become a leader on and off the floor if this group wants compete for another MAC title.
The pieces are there for Bowling Green to have another decent season. They might not win the conference again, but they could be among the top teams in the MAC if Jakubowski and Knight emerge as the team leaders, Goins can occasionally hit the outside shot and Polk and Larson can make it difficult for any team to score in the paint. And all those things could very well happen. And if they do, it may be another magical season for the Falcons.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Joe Jakubowski, Junior, Guard, 7.7 points per game
Darion Goins, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Chris Knight, Junior, Forward, 6.2 points per game
Marc Larson, Senior, Center, 3.5 points per game
Otis Polk, Senior, Center, 6.1 points per game