BG men’s basketball to finish two-game road trip in Mich.


Jordon Crawford, BG guard, looks for an open teammate across the court while on close watch by his defender.

Sports Editior and Sports Editior

After a turnover-plagued loss against Eastern Michigan, the BG men’s basketball team will hope to be more secure with the ball as it takes on Western Michigan on Wednesday night.

The game will conclude a mini two-game road swing for the Falcons, who fell to 3-4 in the Mid-American Conference with their loss to the Eagles.

The Falcons will hope a recent trend continues for them as they battle the Broncos. The last five games, dating back to a Jan. 14 loss against Kent State, the Falcons have alternated wins and losses. The Falcons have not lost two in a row since that game, and have yet to have a winning or losing streak of longer than two games so far this season.

“Throughout the body of the game, I aways look at defense first, and you have to be able to defend and rebound consistently for 40 minutes,” said coach Louis Orr. “The last couple of games we’ve done a better job, but you have to be consistent throughout the game. You can’t give up second shots and you have to get stops.

“On the offensive end, you just have to make plays at the end. You can’t have empty possessions and you can’t turn the ball over.”

Perhaps most importantly, BG has not been significantly outplayed by a MAC opponent this season. The Falcons’ most lopsided conference loss was five points – to both Kent State and Eastern Michigan – and the four MAC losses for BG have been by a combined 13 points.

Citing the Eastern Michigan loss, Orr said the team needs to cut down on its mistakes if it wants to maintain a consistent level of success.

“[Eastern] got 18 points off those 19 turnovers; that was probably what hurt us more than anything,” he said. “Our offense had too many empty possessions with those turnovers.”

Despite a sub-.500 overall record, the Broncos are tied for second in the MAC West with a 4-3 conference record.

Much like BG, Western has been significantly better in its own building, posting a 9-0 record at University Arena, whereas it has only won once away from home.

Also like the Falcons, Western has alternated wins and losses the last five games – coming off a win against Miami – and has a strong scoring presence throughout the lineup.

Four players average double digit points for the Broncos, while a fifth, forward Nate Hutcheson, averages 9.9 points per game.

“They’re usually a pretty physical team; their front line has some size,” Orr said. “A player who’s been playing well for them has been Shayne Whittington, who just started playing a little more for them the last couple of games.”

While Whittingham averages only 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-10 center has averaged 12.5 points and 12 rebounds per game the last two games for the Broncos.

Of Western’s five leading scorers, four of them are 6-foot-3 or taller. In fact, the Broncos have only one player on the team shorter than 6-foot-2 – guard Mike Douglas, who is listed at an even 6-feet tall.

“You have to match their physicality,” Orr said. “They play inside-out basketball; you have to deal with their post play and you have to go there and expect a close game.”

While Western is one of the best rebounding teams in the league, it does struggle a bit with defense. The Broncos are the worst scoring defense in the MAC, giving up 71 points per game, and are middle of the road in shooting defense, ranking seventh in both field goal percent allowed and three-point shooting percent allowed.

Wednesday’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Kalamazoo.