Women’s basketball: Stock down
I wish I could say that the 2019-2020 version of the BGSU women’s basketball team was trending up, but a 1-6 record inside of the MAC just isn’t going to cut it. If we were comparing this year’s squad with last year’s, then you could definitely make the case that this team is trending upwards.
Last season, the Falcons started off MAC play with an 0-10 record, losing to teams by an average margin of 12 points. While this season hasn’t started much better, it’s clear when watching this team that they have gotten better, with freshman Elissa Brett and Kaille Hall both giving the Falcons significant minutes off the bench. South Georgia Technical College transfer, Mari Hill, has also made a big impact for the Falcons starting at point guard for the entire season. She is averaging just over three assists per game, second on the team, and about 1.5 steals a game which leads the team. These three players have really helped the depth of what was a depleted Falcon team last year.
This all comes without the production of Andrea Cecil, who hasn’t played a game yet this season. The loss of Cecil has meant the loss of their leading scorer from last season at 15.8 points per game, a 40% three-point shooter and a player that could defend almost anyone on the floor with her 6-1 frame. Considering the Falcons have started this season 1-6, and have lost four of those six games by seven points or less, with two of the losses coming in overtime, it isn’t that far of a reach to believe that the addition of Cecil could have BGSU playing at .500 inside the MAC.
But the reality is that Cecil isn’t there, and others have had to step up. Caterrion Thompson leads the team in scoring averaging 14 points per game. Kadie Hempfling has continued to be the do-it-all player that she was as a freshman, leading the Falcons in both rebounds and assists per game and Angela Perry has also made an impact in certain games but hasn’t found a ton of consistency.
It hasn’t been Perry’s lack of consistency that has plagued the team, as everyone is a little guilty of that. It’s why the Falcons consistently seem to hold leads in these MAC contests, but can never seem to see it through, as the shots just won’t fall at the ends of the game. But the fact that the shots are falling at any point of the game is a step up from last year. While the 1-6 record isn’t ideal, this team is still knocking at the door of breaking through in the MAC.
Men’s basketball: Stock up
The men’s team is almost the exact opposite to that of the women. Their record in the MAC is 6-1, and they have been winning a lot of close games since falling to Kent State in a blowout to start MAC play. Six straight to be exact, including a huge road win over Toledo. They are tied with Akron at the top of the MAC seven games in and will play a 4-2 Ball State squad on Tuesday night.
There are plenty of reasons why Micheal Huger’s team is having yet another incredibly successful season. Surprisingly, it hasn’t always been because of the favorite to win MAC Player of the Year coming into the season, Justin Turner. The redshirt junior guard has had his share of duds since returning from injury in the final non-conference game of the season against Hartford. But the rest of his team has helped carry him through his struggles.
The biggest example of this comes from the 66-64 home win against Northern Illinois on Jan. 18. In that game, Turner shot an abysmal one of 12 from the field and one of five from three-point land. He accumulated just five points in that game but it was players like Daeqwon Plowden who were able to pick him up. Plowden led the team in scoring in that contest with 15 points and also completed a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds as well. For the season, Plowden is third on the team in points per game with 13.5. He also leads the team in rebounds with 8.2, blocks, and steals. His three-point percentage is second-best on the team as well as he is shooting at a 37% clip so far this season. His scoring, along with the continued dynamic scoring of Turner and Dylan Frye in the backcourt, has proven plenty enough to carry the Falcons to their stellar record inside the MAC.
After elite rebounder Demajeo Wiggins left the team last season, many were struggling to see who would control the boards for the Falcons. But a combination of Plowden and new center Tayler Mattos seems to be doing the job as the Falcons have the third-best scoring margin in the MAC so far this season. That is an important factor the Falcons’ success this season.
While the success has been great, and the wins just seem to keep on flowing, I would still be cautious with this team though. Not all of the wins have been great, many coming by just one possession against some lackluster MAC opponents. That includes a three-point victory over Eastern Michigan, who has yet to obtain a win inside the MAC so far this season. The lack of scoring when Justin Turner isn’t on his game can be concerning at times, but the Falcons have been able to skate on thin ice thus far and get away with it.
That being said, Turner is coming off his best game of the season against Toledo. He shot 7-of-15 from the field for 21 points in the victory. Frye was also fantastic in the game as well, leading the team in points with 22 and assists with 6. If those two can continue to perform like that, then my last paragraph is a moot point. But the question is, will they be able to?
Obviously we hope that the answer is yes, but only time will tell. Right now, it doesn’t matter how the wins are coming, it’s that they continue to come as the Falcons look to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1968. This is the best chance they have had to break that drought in quite some time.