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MAC Bandwagon Podcast, ep. 91: Getting to know the new faces in familiar places

The basketball news continues to come in hot and heavy in the postseason, and our intrepid hosts cover it all.

Illustration: James H. Jimenez; photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, James H. Jimenez, Kenneth Bailey

Happy Friday folks, and welcome back inside the Bandwagon! We hope you’ve all had a good week to this point. Despite being in the transition from winter to spring sports, we had a busy week in the MAC - there’s a lot to get to on this week’s show!

The boys start out in men’s hoops, where Western Michigan named Dwayne Stephens as the new head men’s basketball coach. Stephens arrives in Kalamazoo having spent the past 19 seasons just up the road in East Lansing, where he served as an assistant coach at Michigan State. Stephens has been in contention for a number of MAC jobs over the past few years, and he’s finally found a home in Kalamazoo.

Elsewhere in men’s hoops, Ohio G Mark Sears entered the transfer portal, while Toledo F Ryan Rollins and Western Michigan G Lamar Norman, Jr. both declared for the NBA draft. All three players have the option to return to their previous schools, though it certainly seems unlikely that all three will compete in the MAC next season. On the other side of the spectrum, reigning MAC Freshman of the Year Payton Sparks of Ball State removed his name from the transfer portal and will officially be returning to Muncie. This is a huge get for new head coach Michael Lewis, who has a solid young foundation to build on.

In women’s hoops, Buffalo named Beck Burke as the new head women’s basketball coach after Felisha Leggette-Jack left for Syracuse last week. Burke comes to Buffalo from USC Upstate, where she was the 2022 Big South Coach of the Year. Unfortunately for Burke, former Bulls Saniia Wilson and Georgia Woolley announced they will be following Leggette-Jack to Syracuse. Woolley was the MAC Freshman of the Year, avergaing 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

In baseball, Ball State and Central Michigan continue to sit atop the standings. Both were dominant this past weekend, with the Chippewas sweeping four games from Ohio and Ball State taking three of four from Toledo. Elsewhere, Kent State got a win over nationally ranked UConn.

To close out the show, the boys talk a little football. Buffalo RB Dylan McDuffie re-entered his name into the transfer portal, after briefly exploring the option to transfer earlier this winter. McDuffie was the sixth leading rusher in the MAC last year and the leading rusher for the Bulls, who have now lost both their starting running back and their starting quarterback from last season. Ron Cook, Jr. seems primed to fill McDuffie’s shoes in the backfield.

Lasty, Zack and Zach take a look at the 2022 MAC football schedule and give some initial reactions. Kent State has a brutal non-conference schedule (as usual), and a few MAC teams host power five opponents at home. We are still five months away from football, but the season can’t get here fast enough!

As always, thanks for stopping by this week folks. Don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss anything! Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week.