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Tough road game starts season

It’s hoops time again and the Falcon men’s basketball team swings back in to action as they take on DePaul Saturday.

For BG, tipping off a new season brings excitement and endless possibilities.

They will attempt to bounce back from a down season last year (14-17, 8-10 in conference) and pick up a win on the road from the outset.

“I can’t wait to get going here,” said BG head coach Dan Dakich of the upcoming season. “I think that everybody that was here last year wants to kind of erase that year. In the time I’ve been here, it’s the first time, maybe, that we didn’t do as well as we should have done.”

“You’re always excited to get the games going, but it’s been especially tough for us to wait for the games this year because we want to make up for what happened last year,” said senior forward John Reimold.

The Falcons will rely on their three seniors for leadership to carry the 2004-05 squad. In Dakich’s tenure at BG, his teams have averaged 21 wins in seasons that he has two or more seniors.

With Reimold, the team’s leading returning scorer from last year at 15.1 points per game, Josh Almanson, a three-time letterman, and Cory Eyink, who hit 35 percent of his 3-point attempts, Dakich likes what his seniors bring to the table.

“Having seniors is the best thing you can have in sports,” Dakich said. “The three guys have gone out of their way for their teammates. (They) have shown the way both verbally on the court, off the court, in terms of how we travel, how we dress. Generally when we’ve had that, we’ve been pretty successful.”

Getting a victory on the road, where BG struggled in ’03-04 going just 2-10, would be ideal, but the Blue Demons are no slouch.

DePaul enjoyed one of the finest seasons in school history last year, going 22-10 with a regular season Conference USA championship – in a five-way tie – and a first round NCAA Tournament double-overtime victory over Dayton, before bowing out to eventual champ Connecticut.

“It’s a game that’s going to be incredibly difficult for us,” Dakich said. “DePaul’s team this year is a team that, in a lot of ways, is the kind of team that you want.”

What the Blue Demons have that Dakich desires is gifted players on the perimeter who are tall and can shoot.

Senior Drake Diener (6’5″) leads the way after scoring 12.6 PPG and hitting a whopping 46 percent of his three’s. Diener played his best ball in the national spotlight last year during the NCAA’s when he dropped a career-high 28 points on Dayton, followed by his first career double-double against UCONN (15 points, 10 rebounds).

“Diener, he’s really an all around player. He can shoot it, he can dribble it, he can pass it. So, we’re gonna do what we can to neutralize him,” Reimold said.

Sammy Mejia is Diener’s backcourt mate, standing at 6’6″, and he started all but one game last year, averaging 7.9 PPG and 4.4 assists.

The Blue Demons must make up for the loss of two second-team All-Conference players to graduation in Andre Brown and Delonte Holland. Holland was their leading scorer with 16.5 PPG and Brown grabbed 9.2 boards a game.

Senior Quemont Greer, who started every game and had 7.4 RPG, will need to fill the void left by Brown.

The game will be played at Allstate Arena and tips off at 2 p.m.

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