BOWLING GREEN - A certain amount of adversity was built into the formula for the Bowling Green State University men's basketball team this season. With four senior starters gone from last year's 24-9 team, the Falcons were destined to experience some growing pains. When the other starter left over the summer to transfer, things got even tougher.
Now BG (1-1) is facing some uncertainty over the health of its most experienced player from a year ago - junior Josh Almanson. The 6-8 Almanson has inflamation in his ankle and he was held out of Saturday's win over Tiffin in order to give the injury more time to heal. Almanson played 28 minutes in the season-opening loss on the road at Detroit.
BG coach Dan Dakich said Almanson's ailment appears to be the product of a combination of things.
“He's just got a bunch of garbage in his ankle, for lack of a better description,'' Dakich said. “There is a tendon that goes along there, and it's just very painful when it gets inflamed. He didn't have any problems with it over the summer, or we would have gone in there and cleaned it up. But I think the wear and tear, with the conditioning and everything else ... and I think he tweaked it a couple of times in practice, and it all added up.''
Dakich said Almanson, the first Bowling Green High player to be recruited by the Falcons in more than 30 years, has had the ankle in a boot for the past week to immobilize it, but he expects Almanson to be able to practice some today in preparation for tomorrow night's Mid-American Conference opener at home against Buffalo.
“He's okay in the half-court, and not bad laterally and everything else, but from this end of the floor to that end he just limped,'' Dakich said. “We're hoping that from the treatments he's had every day, and the immobilization and not walking on it, that we've got a handle on it.''
Almanson, who averaged about five points per game last year for the Falcons, could need surgery to clean up his ankle, or might go through most of the season with diminished practice time.
“I wouldn't rule anything out,'' Dakich said. “If he's out, we just basically practice on like he's not there. But I think you have to play a little before you go into a game. He'll be ready for practice, but he won't participate much. And we'll probably do that all year, unless all of a sudden it just heals.''
EARLY MAC GAME: More often than not, BG has played the bulk of its non-conference opponents in November and December, and then moved into the MAC schedule after the first of the year. Playing the third game of the season against a conference foe, tomorrow's matchup with Buffalo (2-2) at Anderson Arena, is a departure from that. Dakich said the early MAC game will keep the Falcons from playing a bunch of games near the end of the season with little rest.
“I'm not sure this is the best thing for this team, but I don't have a real problem with it,'' Dakich said. “I do like the concept of getting one or two of the games played (before the first of the year). For us it's not great because of the inexperience, but other teams have transfers who won't be eligible yet and are going to miss a game, so it's not the best for them, either.
“Good or bad, whatever happens in the pre-conference season, at least the way I coach, the season is going to be determined by how we do in the MAC,'' Dakich said. “So this goes a long way toward that. If you get a win, then you're one game up on the rest of the field, and if you get a loss, then you're struggling to recapture a game you lost at home. That makes this a pretty big game.''