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Published: Saturday, 12/9/2000

Falcon freshmen getting their baptism under fire


BOWLING GREEN - Dan Dakich recruited Josh Almanson and Jabari Mattox because he thought they could play. But the freshman duo at Bowling Green State University might have to show their coach exactly what they can do a little sooner than they originally thought.

Just four games into the season the Falcons (2-2) find themselves hit by the injury bug to the point where they have a tough time putting together a scrimmage. And when it comes to game time, the freshmen will just have to play.

Starter Keith McLeod is sidelined with an ankle injury and is not expected back until the game at Michigan on Wednesday. Starter Brent Klassen injured his ankle less than two minutes into the game at Illinois State last Wednesday and is questionable for today's 1 p.m. meeting at Anderson Arena against Urbana University (4-6).

Starter Len Matela had to leave the Illinois State game twice with injuries, but limped his way to the finish. If you include Matela, the Falcons have been reduced to eight quasi-healthy bodies.

Almanson had played a total of 20 minutes in BG's first three games of the season, but saw 24 minutes of action at Illinois State. Mattox played just seven minutes total in the first three games, but also went 24 minutes against the Redbirds. Almanson hit all six of his free throws and had 14 points and five rebounds in the game, while Mattox scored two points, had three assists and played some pretty sound defense.

``We're going to play Josh a bunch and we're going to play Jabari some,'' Dakich said. ``I thought they did a heck of a job.''

Dakich is not happy, however, with the way the Falcons have played defense as a team, giving up 85 points per game.

``That's where my disappointment is. Some how, some way, we've got to make this a better defensive basketball team for 40 minutes.''

The Falcons allowed 70 points per game last season in 30 contests.

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