When Bowling Green made the decision to part with head coach Chris Jans after a brief but successful run as head coach due to some off-court issues, hopes were high as Michael Huger returned to BGSU.
After a couple of rough seasons and seasons where they seemed close but not quite there, the Falcons began to take flight last season finishing 22-12 with a nationally televised victory over Buffalo. The Falcons finished the season with a loss in the MAC championship game to that same Buffalo squad.
This year, the Falcons are projected to be among the MAC’s best, and are looking at a strong shot of being the first Falcon team since 1968 to go to the NCAA tournament.
Huger enters his fifth year back home and will look to replace big man Demajeo Wiggins, who left early to pursue professional opportunities with the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G-League.
The Falcons will look to guard Justin Turner, who was first team all-MAC a season ago while averaging 18.2 points per game, to lead the offense. Some pre-season predictions have Turner as the front runner for the MAC player of the year honors.
Turner is joined by Dylan Frye in the Falcon back court. Frye looks like he could be a ball boy but is one of the MAC’s best outside shooters as evidenced by his 183 career three’s on the plains of Bowling Green.
Small forward Daeqwon Plowden, a junior, turned a corner late last season and provides the Falcons with another returning starter. He projects to be among the Falcons best at blocking shots and rebounding.
Caleb Fields, a 6-2 sophomore, is also expected to start after averaging 4.2 points per game last season. He has earned praise as being among Huger’s better defenders.
Another returning guard Michael Laster has the misfortune of being behind several other good perimeter players at BGSU but his misfortune serves as the Falcons good fortune after he averaged 6.8 points per game to go with 3.4 rebounds.
Keep an eye on 6-7 true freshmen Chandler Turner, no relation to Justin. Turner won Detroit’s public school player of the year a year ago. He averaged 24 points per game as a senior to go with 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game.
As camp began the Falcons were searching for answers in the middle to replace Wiggins, who was a second team all-MAC selection a year ago.
While it is hard to predict their rotation until the first time we see them on the court, 6-10 junior Joniya Gadson returns after backing up Wiggins last season. 6-11 Sophomore Tayler Mattos is another option who does not lack for size.
Also appearing on the roster is 6’11 Dylan Swingle, a transfer who played for old friend Keith Dambrot as Duquense. As of press time, it is unclear if Swingle’s waiver for eligibility had or would be granted.
With three players over 6’10, the Falcons should have plenty of options to replace Wiggins.
Senior forward Marlon Sierra and sophomore Matiss Kulackovskis are also on the roster with Kulackovskis being a euro style of stretch power forward.
I am unsure if opposing defenses will fear his shooting quite as much as broadcasters will fear having to pronounce that last name.
Guard Davin Zeigler, wing Trey Diggs, and local walk-on Isaac Elsasser round out the Falcon freshman class and should all see some time.
The Stroh Center is one of the MAC’s better basketball arena’s as it shines like a gem off of interstate-75. It is also a short walk from several college flair establishments.
The Falcons open up with nearby division two Tiffin before a road matchup against the embattled LSU Tigers, a tournament team a year ago. The Falcons could be a sneaky upset pick down in Baton Rogue.
The Falcons play both in the Paradise Jam and Broadwalk Battle, tournaments which could see the Falcons play Cincinnati, or Illinois State in addition to a guaranteed game against strong mid-major Western Kentucky.
Regional mid-majors in Oakland, Detroit, and Cleveland State will also visit the Stroh Center. Greg Kampe’s Golden Grizzlies are typically very strong and Detroit is led by former Indiana coach Mike Davis, who has his son Antoine Davis among the top scorers in the country.
MAC play will be highlighted with by matchup’s against arch rival Toledo (At Savage Arena on January 25, home on February 8) and reigning MAC champion Buffalo (at Buffalo on January 31, and home on March 6).
The Falcons will look to win at-least one more game this season and make the NCAA Tournament. With their returning talent, they enter the season among the front runners.