I was watching the Bowling Green Falcons men’s basketball team take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. On paper, it should have been a blowout. The power conference school was 4-0, while the lowly Falcons managed just 2 wins in 4 contests. For a while, it was a very entertaining game.
Notre Dame held a small lead for most of the game. Every time they looked like they would pull away, BG would do something special, like when Rashaun Agee had a monster block, then equally impressively tracked down the loose ball. Leon Ayers 3.0 hit a nice little step back jumper with 11 minutes or so to go, and it gave Bowling Green the lead, 61-59.
I thought to myself, “We are going to do this!” (We being fans of all things MACtion.)
Well it didn’t happen, even though Samari Curtis hit a huge three with 8:20 to play.
If that seems random, it’s because I was taking notes just in case I got to write a recap where Bowling Green knocked off an undefeated team on the road. It didn’t happen, but that’s all right. The effort was admirable and enough to highlight.
First, I am going to talk about this Bowling Green squad. One: the coaches all button their top button on their golf shirts. There is a story there, I am just not sure what it is.
Two: they looked impressive. The six-man or so rotation of guys I got to see play were very talented. In my head, I was trying to compare it to another team. That’s what us sports writers do when we are impressed.
The team that came to mind was the 2017-18 Central Michigan Chippewas women’s basketball squad. They had immense talent, a coach I respected, and good balance. They also didn’t go very deep on the bench. In the non-conference, they let a game or two get away, but not as many as this Bowling Green team. Those ladies managed to make it to the Sweet 16. Is that something that is possible for this squad?
That thought, well... It got me to thinking. A week or so ago, a guy I went to school with stopped by my family business, as he has for the last 40 or so years. Though not super tight, we grew up together. He happened to play football for Bowling Green, and being a sports blogger, I looked it up. He was program’s 17th all-time leading rusher.
While we were catching up, I brought up another kid from the neighborhood that also went to Bowling Green, but a year younger than us. I asked what he thought of him, and he said they got along. I also mentioned I might have thought he was a bit cocky. He said he understood, but he wasn’t like that with him, because, well, he was also a big man on campus. The second guy went onto a long NBA career.
The thing is, the gap that separates the MAC athlete (or, MAClete as I like to say) and the super talented athletes in the power conferences isn’t all that wide. That’s across the board, however, the deeper you go on the bench, that gap grows, of course.
So the moral of this story is, when you have a chance to fly the flag and knock off a big dog, you can do it.
Two MAC squads took a top 25 Michigan team to overtime recently. Bowling Green ended up dropping the game but looked competitive against another school which could make a deep tun. So did both teams facing Michigan.
However, just about any MAC team, at any moment, can go on and do something special. And us at Hustle Belt— and the Rust Belt in general— remember such efforts with great admiration!