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Falcons look to run and score

The game plan is simple. Run and shoot.

In looking to defend their MAC Championship the Falcons will look to do what they did last year – namely run the floor and shoot the ball – but they want to do it faster, harder and better.

“We believe in an up-tempo exciting style of play,” said coach Curt Miller. “Not only is it exciting to coach that way, it is exciting to recruit that way and it is exciting for our fans.”

And the fans have a lot to be excited about.

The Falcons lost three players to graduation, but return their entire starting line-up.

Returning are the last year’s co-players of the year, junior forwards Ali Mann and Liz Honnenger. Miller described Mann as arguably the team’s best player and a candidate for player of the year in the MAC and a natural leader on the court. She averaged 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds last season and was extremely versatile, using her combination of size, athletic ability and shooting touch to her advantage.

Honnenger led the team in points (14.5 per game), rebounds (8.1 per game), blocks (50) and was second on the team in steals and three point shooting percentage.

“Ali Mann and Liz Honegger have established themselves as two of the most dominant and consistent post players in the league,” said Miller.

And their coach believes because they play so well, and so unselfishly, together, neither get the recognition they deserve.

“Individually, in my opinion, they are both first-team all-conference types of players,” said Miller. Last season both were named to the All-MAC second team.

Even though Mann and Honegger are the two tallest starters on the team, they are often on the move and shoot a lot of jump shots and three pointers.

In fact the whole team follows this philosophy by design.

“All five positions on the floor can shoot threes and we really utilize that,” said Miller.

The duty of breaking down opposing defense, running the team in transition and dishing out the ball for open three-point opportunities falls on the shoulders of Katie Achter.

Achter, a product of nearby Oregon, Ohio, came in as a freshman and started 24 of the teams 31 games. In games that she started the Falcons went 20-4. She ranked third in the MAC in assists per game at 4.0. Achter was named MAC Tournament MVP, where she averaged 18 points and just under six assists per game, MAC All-Tournament MVP and MAC All-Freshman Team and was runner up for MAC Freshman of the Year.

Her biggest asset, aside from her maturity and court vision, is an ability to get to the line. She went to the line 156 times last season and shot 78 percent from the charity stripe. That is more than double the attempts of the next best freshman in the MAC.

At small forward Carin Horne will see most of the action. Horne was third on the team in both scoring and rebounding last season and was first on the team in steals. She is athletic and has the ability to score in bunches and is not afraid to take a big shot.

At shooting guard is Casey McDowell who shot a team best 37 percent behind the arc last season and really played well in the MAC Tournament, averaging 16.3 points per game and hitting 11 of 16 three point attempts.

The biggest loss from last year will be bench production where the Falcons lost their first two bench players, Tene Lewis and Kelly Kapferer, to graduation.

“It is very underrated the seniors that we lost,” Miller said.

Filling that void will be a mixture of veteran and talent and a solid freshman class.

Miller expects Jill Lause and Amber Flynn to contribute in the post, and he said both have worked hard to be in the best shape of their collegiate careers. Also manning the post off the bench will be Jessica McKenzie, 6-0.

“[She] gives us our first legitimate back up four player in the last couple of years,” said Miller

Joining her are freshmen Lindsey Goldsberry, DePrice Taylor and Jasmine McCall. McCall has been especially impressive in camp, “The players love to play with Jazz because of her speed, quickness and ability to get up the floor. It gives us a one-two punch at the point position and enables us to keep the tempo up throughout the entire game.”

The talented freshman class, along with the experience on the bench leads to what Miller thinks is his deepest team since he began his tenure at Bowling Green.

“We do have more depth and versatility than we’ve had in my whole career here, so it is fun to think that we can play a solid rotation of 10 night in and night out.”

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