The career of Zack Denny with the Bowling Green Falcons has not been easy. It has been full of obstacles to overcome, including injuries, multiple coaching changes and a large roster turnover. Through it all, Denny has developed into the type of multi-faceted threat that BGSU envisioned when they recruited him. If the Falcons are to return to the post-season for a second consecutive year, they will need to rely heavily on his skills.
Denny came to Bowling Green from Germantown, Ohio, where he starred at Valley View High School. In November 2012, he signed to play for Falcons' head coach Louis Orr, then during his senior season, he averaged 33 points per game and was named the Ohio Division II Player of the Year.
Denny appeared to be in line to get immediate playing time as a freshman but suffered an injury prior to the 2013-14 season. He was only able to appear in three games during that campaign, all during the MAC portion of the schedule. Following the season, BGSU head coach Louis Orr's contract expired and was not renewed.
The Falcons hired former Wichita State assistant Chris Jans, and Denny had to adjust to a different, more up-tempo style of play. However, the change obviously suited him, as he flourished under Jans. Denny played in all 33 games. Despite starting only one-third of those (21), he led the Falcons with 896 minutes played. He was all over the floor for BGSU and ended up on several MAC leaderboards.
On the offensive end, Denny was third on the team with 9.2 points per game. More than half of his shots came from behind the three-point arc, and he was often deadly from long distance. Overall, his success rate of .394 ranked 12th in the MAC. Because he played deep so much, he did not end up on the free throw line often, but when he did, he was very accurate. He attempted only 53 free throws for the season but made them at a rate of .849; the MAC leader finished at .857.
Denny was perhaps even better on the defensive end, which proved to be a huge plus for the Falcon backcourt. Guards are expected to provide steals on defense, and he did that as well as anyone in the MAC. He totaled 53 of those as a sophomore. At 1.6 per game, he ranked third in the MAC. More impressively, Denny was a ball hawk on the boards. Even at 6-2, he managed to swipe 173 rebounds (5.2 per game), including 131 on defense. He placed in the MAC's top 20 in both categories.
Although no one would argue that Denny (and everyone else) played a complementary role to Richaun Holmes for the Falcons during the 2014-15 season, Denny's play absolutely contributed to BGSU's surprise run to 21 wins and the school's first postseason win in 40 years.
Denny is now a junior, and with Bowling Green losing seniors Holmes, Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke, it was clear that the team would be different. Unfortunately, the changes would not end with those departures. Immediately following the season, Jans was fired and replaced by Michael Huger, a former BGSU basketball player. After Jans was fired, the Falcons also lost Delvin Dickerson and Jovan Austin.
For Huger's inaugural Bowling Green team, the lineup will generally be smaller, and more will be expected of the backcourt on the offensive end. If BGSU is to have a season even remotely similar to last year's success, they'll need Denny to duplicate his play on defense from his sophomore season and expand his game on offense.
BGSU fans will get an early opportunity to see Denny play at the Stroh Center, as the Falcons open the regular season with a pair of home games against New Orleans (Nov. 14) and Cincinnati (Nov. 18).