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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

In first place clash, Fleming void felt, but Velasco, Falcons ready to step up

Amy+Velasco+looking+for+open+player
Claire Sant
Amy Velasco looking for open player

Being in Muncie for Bowling Green women’s basketball’s 76-61 loss to Ball State on Saturday, I can positively say that the Falcons, despite the lopsided score at times, had their opportunities to keep themselves close with the Cardinals.

Foul trouble, a bad second quarter, and limited impact from Morgan Sharps all played a part in the orange and brown’s struggles, but one thing also seemed true-

This team needs time to find their consistent threats on offense.

“I think we were a little frantic, including myself,” said Paige Kohler postgame. “I was not very composed and that led to turnovers and layups for them. But I think going forward we got to learn how to handle pressure if other teams throw that at us.”

When watching Ball State, you know that the ball is going to touch multiple sets of hands each possession, but at the end of the day, Madelyn Bischoff, Ally Becki, and Nyla Hampton are going to be your primary scorers.

Meanwhile in BG, it is a little more of a mixed bag.

Certainly so far in the early slate of Mid-American Conference play, BG has done many good things.

I mean they are 3-1, have two close wins (Central Michigan, Western Michigan), and in each game, a new way to win has been found.

Central Michigan? Kohler with her 28 points. Western? The play of Sharps (19 points), Erika Porter (18 points), and Taya Ellis (seven rebounds, four blocks) late. Eastern? Eight different players scoring.

Then you have Ball State, where Amy Velasco’s career-high 28 had to carry the weight of the offense.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Velasco said. “They’re getting me open, we’re running offenses that get me open shots.

“That’s kudos to the coaches. They’re getting us open shots, running plays that get us open.”

But while this can be viewed as a good thing (flexibility), it could also be seen as a slight concern due to the unpredictability as a coach of what you will get from your entire rotation each night.

That is not to say that head coach Fred Chmiel isn’t showing concepts that as time goes on, will lead to consistent offensive success.

In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

Emphasis on playing through the post, countering double-downs with backside passes to open shooters, and when you have a transition opportunity, attacking the basket and get the foul line.

Basic concepts that many teams run, but some do really well, all the time.

For this team, some days this works beautifully, especially when you are able to get your younger players, like Kohler, going early.

Other times, like the games against Ball State? It can be frustrating to have a slow start and be down big early.

“We just have to be able to step up whenever we are called upon,” said Kohler. “Have to be ready at any point in the game from the tip, but I think we need to let things not affect us. Everyone has their role, so when we go out there, just staying in that role.”

So what is all my talking really saying?

In essence, the absence of a player like Lexi Fleming, who suffered a season-ending knee injury back on Dec. 22, may be a more significant loss than anticipated.

Fleming remains BG’s leading scorer and rebounder despite her injury, averaging 15 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.

So as BG faces upcoming opponents known for strong defensive performances, including Akron and Buffalo, the absence of Fleming’s scoring and rebounding prowess could be felt more acutely.

The team, currently 3-1 in MAC play, finds itself in a competitive position. However, facing defensive challenges and incorporating young players into the rotation might make every game a closely contested affair – a situation known in betting slang as a ‘pick’em,’ a term less frequently applicable in previous seasons.

“This was a measuring stick for us,” Chmiel acknowledged. “There’s more work for us to do. I did see some shining moments in there where I thought we played really well.”

Players echoed this sentiment.

“We cannot just come out here and have any brain farts,” emphasized Velasco. “We have to be locked in from the beginning, and something as simple as helping off a shooter, we cannot do that. It’s just about being locked in, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Despite Fleming’s absence, BG has the personnel to keep every game close. With time and trust in each other, as the season progresses, young players will most likely mature, and veterans will likely shine.

However, the impact of Fleming’s injury, a scrappy, sharpshooting guard, was sorely felt on Saturday.

As the season unfolds, it remains to be seen who will consistently step up to fill her shoes.

Sharps? Velasco? Porter? Kohler? We’ll see.

That’s what makes college basketball so much fun.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

 

 

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