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Published: Saturday, 2/10/2001

Falcons stick with what's working

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BUFFALO - After almost two weeks, Dan Dakich still has his coat on backwards, and today he plans to give the state of New York its first look at his somewhat restrictive fashion mis-statement.

Bowling Green State University's coach will wear the same sport jacket - buttoned up the back - same slacks, and same mock turtleneck sweater he has donned for three straight victories. Dakich is afraid to change anything today when the Falcons take on Buffalo.

His team bottomed out in an 83-80 defeat three weeks ago at Akron and suffered through a four-game Mid-American Conference losing streak before turning things around with much-improved defense and an internal bonding Dakich had impatiently awaited.

“After Akron we needed to do one of two things - get a new coach or get new players - because the mix was not good,” Dakich said.

“The distance this team has come - they like each other a thousand times more in the last 10 days than in the previous six months. Now they may say that's wrong, but I watch them, and they're talking to each other, they're having fun with each other - it's just a totally different feel among them.”

Dakich said, in retrospect, three straight three-point losses followed by a 24-point spanking at Kent might have been the jolt his team needed to find its chemistry. BG has strung together a 16-point win over Western Michigan, an overtime win at Miami, and a win at Ohio.

“What is that old deal - what doesn't kill you makes you strong? Well, losing and going through all of that maybe strengthened their relationship,” Dakich said.

“That has been the most gratifying thing that I've seen. For whatever the reason, they just seem to have included everybody in the group. There's not a group here or two guys here - it's a group, it's a team, and it's become a team that likes each other, or at least knows how to show each other that they like each other.”

Dakich hopes to have Trent Jackson, his only senior, available for the game against the Bulls. Jackson, who has started every game this season for the Falcons, injured his ankle in the 78-68 win at Ohio on Wednesday and played just six minutes. Freshman Josh Almanson left that same game with a back injury, and his status is questionable as well. Both will make the trip to Buffalo.

“We're not even thinking about being out of the woods yet, but at least we enjoy being around one another these days,” Dakich said. “There's a long way to go, and there's a lot of things yet to be accomplished.”

The Falcons face a Buffalo team that has dropped 12 straight games, but in five of those contests the Bulls lost by six or fewer points and in two other games they fell in overtime.



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