Coming into last season, the Falcons had to rely on a lot of youth for coach Robyn Fralick’s first season in Bowling Green. Things started off well, but then the losses piled up. Considering the strength of the conference, that is not all that surprising. Those young players gained experience and the 2019-20 season doe not appear nearly as bleak.
The squad has a couple of talented sophomore guards in Kadie Hempfling and Morgan McMillen. Hempfling is a stat sheet stuffer who led the team in rebounds, assists, and steals. McMillen was second on the team in scoring. Andrea Cecil returns as a senior and led the team in scoring. Cecil is a 6’1 swing player. These three give the Falcons a competitive back court in a competitive league.
Front court players can sometimes take longer to develop, though Angela Perry and company did show some flashes last season.
This team will need to improve on scoring consistently and rebounding to have an impact in a loaded MAC. I believe the pieces are in place that the potential is there for a big improvement. I have a lot more questions about this team than I have answers. That is not to say I do not think they will improve, it just means I do not know exactly where this team is and will be by the start of the season.
Coach Fralick was gracious enough to answer a few questions that did shed some light on the upcoming season.
You spent some time in the MAC, including at i-75 rival Toledo, before heading over to great success in division 2. Upon your return, what can you tell us about the difference in level of play in the conference since you were last here?
“The level of play has really increased. Right now, the MAC is one of the top conferences in the country. The level of players, the athleticism, the level of coaching … the league just continues to develop and improve, and I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the league.”
Your teams at Ashland were known for scoring a lot of points and rarely losing. What is one fundamental that you really preach to your kids and that you would like your teams at Bowling Green to be known for?
“It might sound a little generic, but I mean it when I say that I want them to play hard and play together. How can you measure that? I think you can see it with how you share the ball. I think you can see that with how well you defend and rebound. If we have good balance across the board, and a lot of people contributing, those are all factors. I believe that’s what we were known for – we had a group that played really hard and played together – and those are the same things I want as a trademark of Bowling Green.”
It is garden planting season, as well as recruiting season. I would assume that taking a young player and watching them grow as a player and person would be one of the most rewarding aspects of coaching. Is there any player that stands, either current or in the past, that you had certain expectations as a seedling, only to blossom into a completely different type of player?
“I coached a player at Ashland named Kelsey Peare. She came in and was essentially a non-shooter. She was a very good athlete, played a good amount her entire career and helped us, but she wasn’t a shooter. But, over every year of her career, she got better and better and better. And, as a senior, she actually led the nation in three-point shooting percentage. Going from a freshman who made very few three’s, to leading the country in three-point percentage was very cool to see. She did the work, and she became a complete player.”
Last season the Falcons had a solid start, before hitting hard times in conference play. However there were a few close contests and the memorable win against a Buffalo squad that has won 3 NCAA tournament games in 2 years. Did that win have an impact on morale going into this season?
“I think that was a great win for our program, and it helped morale. Any win is going to help create morale. But, bigger than that, I think we’re creating morale around our culture and our core values, and we’re creating our confidence around our work, our consistent habits and our consistent accountability. I think those will be the bigger factors in our sustained spirit and morale.”
What do you think is the biggest key for Bowling Green to regain their stature as one of the premier programs in the MAC?
“We have to improve. There’s no magic wand. Every one of our returning players needs to come back improved. The kids that we’re bringing in need to be ready to work, be accountable and buy into what it takes to be great. I don’t think there’s a secret, I just think that all of us – players, coaching staff, recruits – all need to buy into the daily investment in being great at something.”
I am confident the Falcons will be much improved. As we saw with Eastern Michigan the last several years, huge improvement does not guarantee huge improvement in the win loss column in this league. A successful Bowling Green is good for the league and I do believe that is coming. I think we’ll get it in small doses next season, and a potential contender the following year. Then again, Miami really came on last season, so maybe the future is already here.