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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Falcons look to stop skid

Bowling Green basketball coach Dan Dakich is trying to stop the stretch run from turning into a death march.

The Falcons are virtually spent, physically and emotionally. Three season-ending injuries have depleted the number of original scholarship players on the active roster to six. Two converted football players and a walk-on round out the nine-man squad available for games.

BG’s energy drain has shown quite brutally on the scoreboard: six losses in a row, eight in their last nine games. The swoon has all but imploded the Falcons’ season. The are now 10-13 overall, and sit in seventh place in the MAC West with a 6-8 conference record. Five weeks ago, they were in first place.

BG has four games left in the regular season, all against teams either at or above .500, or teams they have previously lost to this season. Ball State, which hosts BG at 7 p.m., is within striking distance of the Falcons in the West standings. The Cardinals (7-7, 12-13 MAC) are in fifth place.

For BG, salvaging what is left of their season means gathering whatever collective strength they have remaining and developing a severe case of tunnel vision toward their next game.

“Right now, I really don’t care how much they have left,” Dakich said of his players. “We practiced at 7 a.m. [Monday] and came back for another hour this afternoon.”

Dakich is trying to guard against a let down or a pity party. If exhaustion is creeping in, he’s trying to find out which players are honestly spent.

“I told John Reimold today ‘If you can’t finish practice, you can’t dress out [tonight]’,” he said. “That’s always a risky thing to say to a player, especially at this point. We finished up running sprints, and he’s dead tired, and on the last one he dives across the finish line and chips two teeth. He just wouldn’t leave practice.”

Reimold had some minor dental work done by the team trainers and should be in uniform tonight.

“It is unfortunate that some of these guys have to go through this kind of season,” Dakich said. “I said it last week, and maybe I’m wrong, but I think this team can still win. I’m just arrogant enough to believe we can win with anything.”

Ball State has lost two in a row, including a Bracket Buster loss at Western Kentucky Saturday, but had won four in a row prior to that. They are a team without their best player from last year’s MAC tournament semifinal team, Theron Smith. Smith played in three games before knee tendinitis sent him to the bench. He will apply for a medical hardship to save his year of eligibility. Other players have stepped up for the Cardinals, however. Senior guard Chris Williams is the team’s leading scorer at 24.4 points per game. Junior Robert Owens and sophomore Matt McCollom have contributed as underclassmen, averaging 12.4 and 9.1 PPG, respectively.

“Those two players, McCollom and Owens, have contributed well,” Dakich said. “They have shot the ball well and involved some other guys, too.”

Cameron Echols is Ball State’s leading rebounder at nine per game, and the third-leading scorer at 13.1 PPG. Stopping him inside will be one of the primary assignments of BG’s only two healthy big men, Kevin Netter and Cory Eyink.

As the weeks pass and loss piles upon loss, the self-imposed pressure to get a win builds for the players. BG has already spilled droplets of frustration onto the court at Toledo. They almost need a win for a safety valve.

“How much do we need a win? Obviously a ton,” Dakich said. “Not for me, for these kids on the team. They’re dying to win.” Dakich said the raw material to win is on the roster right now, but the succeesion of badly-timed injuries had frayed the team’s resolve.

He said he wonders if, without the threat of sending guys to the bench, his players have become lax and made too many mistakes.

“There is no better hammer in college ball than sending guys to the bench, saying ‘hey, if you don’t perform, you’re going to sit’,” he said. “In the pros, it is contract years and things like that. In college, it is the bench. With no bench, there is no threat to get benched. They guys I have just have to play their brains out.”

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