The Bowling Green Falcons began the Michael Huger era with a strong, well-balanced victory over the New Orleans Privateers on Saturday afternoon at BGSU's Stroh Center in front of 1,592 fans. The 79-61 win was the first of Huger's career, in his first game as a collegiate head coach.
The Falcons missed their first five shots of the game and temporarily trailed UNO 2-0, but that would be New Orleans' only lead of the game. BGSU's first basket, by redshirt freshman Rasheed Worrell, sparked a 14-0 run over a two-minute span. UNO would not get closer than six points for the remainder of teh contest and was never within 10 points in the second half.
The new-look Bowling Green employed 12 players, nine of whom were on the floor for at least 14 minutes. Ten of those players scored, and the Falcons' balanced offense included four players in double figures. Worrell led BGSU with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
As a team, BGSU shot 45.5% from the floor, even though they took 23 shots from behind the arc (nearly half of their total of 55 attempts). Without Richaun Holmes, you might be surprised to hear this -- but the Falcons dominated on the inside. They scored 38 points in the paint, won the rebounding battle with 42 boards and attempted 33 free throws, 23 of which were in the second half.
The Falcons' defense held New Orleans to 35% from the floor and allowed only one double-digit scorer, Christavious Gill. Gill scored 21 points, but it took him 15 shots to get there.
New Rules. If you're not aware, there are new rules in place this year that are meant to increase offense and excitement. First, the shot clock has been reduced from 35 to 30 seconds. Second, there is a new emphasis on defensive contact that will result in more fouls. As Huger put it after the game, if you touch someone, you're going to get called for a foul.
If one game is any indication, these changes are going to be significant and take a lot of getting used to. The shot clock change speeds up the game. Well, it does until you consider the fouls. There were 22 in the first half today and 26 more after halftime. BGSU was already in the bonus four minutes into the second half. One result? There were a lot of open looks right at the basket. This is, literally, a game-changer.
Balanced Scoring. The Falcons has ten different scorers, and four of those were in double-digits. Those four included three players new to the court this year: redshirt freshman Rasheed Worrell, junior transfer Wes Alcegaire and true freshman Antwon Lillard. Worrell posted 15 to lead the team, while Alcegaire had 14 and Lillard 13. Zack Denny threw in 11 for good measure. This is an important development for BGSU, who needed to replace more than half of last year's scoring. If Worrell can be a pleasant surprise and Huger can get these types of contributions from Lillard and others, the Falcons have the chance to be good this season.
This Team Is Different. Louis Orr's teams were slow and methodical, reliant heavily on defense. Chris Jans' team was (for good reason) better offensively but often reliant on Richaun Holmes. Huger's team appears very energetic, and the offense seems much more wide open and, as noted above, balanced. With the new rules that will inevitably lead to more fouls, solid depth is going to be a big plus, and the Falcons may have that this year.
Bowling Green will host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the Stroh Center in the Bill Frack Challenge. The Bearcats will be a much more formidable opponent than UNO, as Cincinnati defeated Western Carolina 97-72 in their season opener. UC faces Robert Morris tomorrow before playing Bowling Green.