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Senior leadership

During the 2007-08 season, the men’s basketball team went 3-8 to end the season, including a 2-5 mark in the month of February. This season, through the leadership of three key seniors, they have won five straight and started the month off 2-0.

Nate Miller and Darryl Clements both entered this season with 30 starts under their belts, more than any other BG player.

Brian Moten, the team’s third senior, came into the season as the defending Mid-American Conference Sixth Man of the Year award winner.

Last year, BG played without a single senior on the team. That lack of veteran leadership was evident when the team went on their late season slide en route to a 13-17 final record, and a first round loss to rival Toledo in the opening round of the MAC Tournament.

“Nate Miller has shown some great leadership, all our veterans have,” said coach Louis Orr.

Miller started the year by missing the team’s season opening tournament in Minnesota.

During that three game span, Moten moved into the starting lineup, and alongside Clements helped lead the team to a 2-1 start.

During the tournament Moten averaged 16.7 points per game, and Clements averaged 16.

Moten would remain in the starting line up until the team’s 17th game of the year. Miller, who had been coming off the bench all season, made the switch in roles with Moten, who is now back where he seems to be the most comfortable.

At the time of the 17th game, against Miami, BG had stumbled to a record of 8-9 (1-3 MAC). The loss to Miami made it three straight losses in the conference. Making matters worse was the fact the team kept it close for most of the game, before letting it slip away in the second half.

That problem had plagued the Falcons all season. In five of their first 16 games, BG gained a lead during the first half, only to throw it away in the second, most notably during a game against Savannah State. In that game BG led 35-14 at the half. During the second half they were outscored 43-19, and lost the game 57-54.

The Falcons also couldn’t seem to win on the road. They started the season 0-7 in road games. With a mixture of poor road play and no ability to finish games, the season looked to be headed down the same road as last years.

Then things turned around.

“It was time to grow up,” freshman Scott Thomas said. “Our three seniors did an excellent job of bringing us together. They’re the leaders of this team.”

BG traveled to Ohio University for a match up with the then 10-7 (3-1 MAC) Bobcats, a game many didn’t expect the Falcons to contend in.

Still, after playing Ohio to a 25-25 halftime tie, BG played a strong second half and eventually bested OU 52-51.

That win started a streak that has now stretched to five game, including three games away from Anderson Arena.

When discussing this turnaround, Orr is quick to thank his veteran leadership.

Miller, the team’s leading scorer from last season, has retaken his role as the team’s top offensive threat, averaging 12.3 points per game. He’s also stepped up his game down low, using his linebacker-esque size to bring in 6.4 rebounds per game.

BG’s offense is now at its best when Miller is driving to the basket and either finishing, or taking defenders of perimeter players such as Moten and the sharp shooting Thomas.

During the team’s win streak, Miller has averaged a team high 13.6 points per game. His 21 points against Western Michigan matched his career high, and during a second half comeback against Central Michigan, Miller led the Falcons on his way to a 16 point, 12 rebound, double-double performance.

Clements has played the role of the team’s most underrated player this season.

He’s almost never been looked at as the leading man in any of the team’s wins or losses, and he’s rarely invited to post game press conferences, but he has still quietly managed to score 10 points per game and collect 4.4 rebounds per game, totals that are third and fourth on the team, respectively.

Against CMU, Miller was looked at as the leading man, and Moten and Thomas got publicity for knocking down big three pointers late in the game. It was Clements, however, who scored 13 points and had the highest field goal percentage of any BG player.

Games such as these, the likes of which Clements has had all season, have turned him into a lead by example sort of player, a supporting actor.

Moten is a different story.

Moten has become accustomed to taking the big shots for the Falcons. He recently hit his 1,000th career three pointer, and is often the beneficiary of Miller’s kick-out passes. In two games this season, Moten put up double digit three pointers. Moten has made 40 three pointers on the season while shooting .328 percent from deep, and currently is second on the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game.

Against CMU, Moten hit five shots from beyond the arc, including two huge ones late in the game, the second of which served as a dagger in the Chippewas’ proverbial coffin.

“We want to win the MAC regular season, the MAC Tournament, if we can do that I don’t see this program going anywhere,” Moten said. “If I could leave as a senior and leave this program at a place like that, personally that’s something I have as a goal.”

Moten went on to talk about wanting to leave the team in a winning atmosphere.

He and his fellow seniors haven’t gotten the program there quite yet, but they’ve definitely gotten the ball rolling in the right direction.

For news, notes and opinions on all BG sports, check out www.bgnewssports.com.

Contact assistant sports editor Jason Jones at [email protected].

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