BOWLING GREEN - With Anthony Stacey and Dave Esterkamp, who combined for more than 3,000 career points, among the dearly departed from last season's Bowling Green State University basketball team, it is easy to look at a statistics sheet and evaluate their absence on the basis of points lost.
But how about points surrendered?
Offense has not been a problem during the Falcons' 1-1 start, but BG has been touched for 178 points in those two games. The Falcons will try to tighten their defense this afternoon at 3:30 when Duquesne (3-3) visits Anderson Arena.
“I really thought coming into the season that we'd have trouble scoring but that we'd be decent defensively because we have veteran guards,” BG coach Dan Dakich said.
“Fact is, we haven't even been close to playing well on defense, and a lot of it is because roles have changed and we have some guys who are not real comfortable.”
A year ago Falcon opponents scored an average of 70.5 points per game as BG went 22-8 and won the Mid-American Conference's regular-season championship.
“We always put Esterkamp on the other team's best forward, sometimes the best perimeter guy regardless of position,” Dakich said. “And Stacey could play anybody. He became a terrific help defender and stripped the ball a lot. So yeah, our situation on defense is different without them.
“But the flip side of that coin is that neither of them were born great defensive players. It's something they grew into here. They became good defenders and there are guys on this team who have that same potential.
“It's funny. We probably spend 80 to 90 per cent of our time in practice on defense, then we've come out in games and haven't concentrated. We'll have three guys doing it right and two guys screwing it up.
“Our guys just have to become more comfortable in their roles and play with more consistency.”
Offensively, the Falcons have held their own during a 92-87 win over Evansville and a 91-76 loss at UNC-Wilmington.
“But you can't win, maybe not even in the NBA, giving up 89 points a game,” Dakich said.
Duquesne, which owns an 82-73 home-court win over the same UNC-Wilmington team that beat Bowling Green, has suffered two close losses.
“It's a pretty athletic team that could easily be 5-1 with a big play or a couple free throws at the end of a couple games,” Dakich said. “It's a league-type game for us. I'd liken them to Marshall when it comes to athleticism.”
Wayne Smith, a 6-7 junior forward who averages 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds, and 3-point threat Courtney Wallace (16.3 ppg) lead the Dukes in scoring.
BG's women (2-2) will play host to Detroit at 1 p.m. in the first game of today's doubleheader.