BOWLING GREEN - Just two games into the Mid-American Conference basketball season, the Bowling Green State University Falcons already have experienced the highs and the lows.
Winning their league opener at Northern Illinois was a positive, but following that up with a loss at home to Central Michigan quickly slapped the Falcons with a dose of reality.
Throughout a 5-6 start, BG has gone win-loss-win-loss just about all the way. That inconsistency has prevented head coach Dan Dakich from focusing his attention on defending the MAC regular-season championship the Falcons won last year.
“I'm at the point with this team where I just want to see us play well,” Dakich said yesterday. “It's been a win here, a win there, a win wherever - I just want to see us play well, and we haven't done that. That's all I'm concerned about, because you can't think in terms of winning anything if you're not playing well. And we have to first get to that before we get anywhere else.”
Dakich said he can't fault any one player or group of players for what he sees as his team's most glaring shortcoming - inadequate defense. In games this season when the Falcons have allowed the opposition to score 80 points or more, BG is 1-6.
“I don't think it's necessarily individual play. It's a collective lack of defense. I mean we just haven't guarded. And I don't know that you can literally spend more time on it than we have.”
In their regular practice sessions the Falcons spend 80 to 85 percent of the time on defense. If the team goes at it for two hours, about 100 minutes are devoted to defensive work.
“We just haven't gotten it, for whatever the reason. And that's why we're struggling. We've scored enough points. In terms of scoring we have to be somewhere in the top 15 or 20 in the country. And if you score this many points the rest of the year you're probably going to end up in the top five in the country, so that hasn't really been an issue.”
Bowling Green ranks first in the MAC in scoring with 84 points per game, and dead last in defense, allowing 81.8 points per game.
“What has been an issue is that we haven't guarded anybody,” Dakich said. “We're giving up four or five more points per game than the second-worst team in the league. We just don't guard, and we're going to have to figure that out.”
The Falcons got a strong defensive effort from junior Keith McLeod in the latter stages of the 78-67 win at Northern Illinois last Wednesday. The 6-2 McLeod limited Northern's 6-6 Leon Rodgers, who had scored 13 first-half points, to just five in the second half when Bowling Green took control of the game. But as a team, the Falcons did not carry that over into last weekend's home game with Central Michigan, a 92-85 loss.
“We came back and gave (Central Michigan) 92 at home,” Dakich said. “In the last 30 minutes they scored somewhere between 70 and 80 points, which is crazy. You can't do that.
“In watching film, there are some things you think are effort, some things are technique, some things are maybe an inherent inability; it's (a problem) of epidemic proportions, for lack of a better way to put it.”
With Buffalo coming to Anderson Arena tomorrow night, and a game at Toledo looming on Saturday, Dakich is hoping the Falcons get their defensive house in order soon.