SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge
BOWLING GREEN John Floyd s Springfield Township home is just a few 3-pointers from St. John s Jesuit High School, where he proved to be one of the best basketball players in the state in 2002.
The distance from home to Bowling Green State University s Anderson Arena, where he starts for the Falcons, is not all that far either, at least when it s measured in miles.
But when it s measured in the unhappiness and hardship Floyd has suffered since 2002, then it might as well be to the moon and back.
And when Floyd thinks about the long, strange trip he took from high school to college, well, at times that trip seems as if it were even longer.
Every time I come out for a game night, it s a rush, said Floyd, whose team opens its Mid-American Conference season today against Buffalo. I enjoy it so much, I m so thankful that I m a part of it. I love the parts leading up to the game. Obviously I love playing the game.
Floyd s love of basketball began as a fourth-grader when he followed older brother Eric to open gyms at St. John s. It flourished when John became a starter for the Titans as a sophomore, and it bloomed when Floyd was named The Blade s player of the year and All-Ohio first team as a senior in 2002.
Then Floyd went to Oakland University. He played in 27 of the Golden Grizzlies 28 games as a freshman, starting 12 times and averaging 5.9 points per contest.
But Floyd said that at Oakland he found himself unhappy playing basketball for the first time in his life.
I can t really pinpoint any one thing that went wrong it was kind of a collection of things. When I look back at it, I still really don t understand the whole situation.
I do know that the whole experience was beneficial for me, because this experience at Bowling Green is why I m playing college basketball.
So Floyd transferred into the Falcon program. As a transfer from one Division I program to another, Floyd was forced to sit out last season and that was tough.
You go through practice every day, but you don t get the enjoyment of playing in the games. The toughest time was game day, seeing these guys prepare for the game and get jacked up to play.
I was a part of it, but I wasn t a complete part of it.
Floyd used last season to study the players who would become his teammates this season. He watched Josh Almanson to see where he wanted the ball, and he analyzed John Reimold to see how he used screens to get open shots.
The positive I took from last year was that I was able to sit back and look at how I could help the team, Floyd said. That has made me a better player this year. I analyzed how to run the point in a motion offense.
The transfer year also allowed him to get used to Dan Dakich s style of coaching.
It [the transfer year] took a lot of pressure off me because coach never yelled at me when I made a mistake. I was able to see why he yelled at people, then I tried not to do those things this year.
Floyd survived that transfer season, but he almost didn t survive a mid-summer car wreck.
He was helping former St. John s teammate Shane Komives drive his belongings to Toledo from Denver. Komives was driving a rental van, while Floyd was behind the wheel of Komives car.
We were near Hugo, Colorado, and I swerved to miss an animal on the road, Floyd said. I ended up on the right shoulder of the road, lost control, and flipped my car three times.
It happened so fast. My life flashed before my eyes. When the car was getting ready to roll, I saw images of my life. It was by far the scariest moment in my life, and it makes me thankful for the things I do have my family, my friends, basketball, everything.
For a time, it seemed possible that Floyd might not have basketball anymore.
There were some nights that I got pretty emotional with my parents. Those first couple of weeks, I couldn t even walk. Then I got an infection in my leg I just didn t know, and I always thought about the worst. It was a tough thing, because I couldn t imagine my life without playing another game.
But Floyd fought through a leg injury and hasn t missed a game for Bowling Green this season, starting the last six after coming off the bench in the opener. And Dakich said Floyd s value for the 6-2 Falcons goes beyond things such as a scoring average of 4.7 points per game, or 5.5 assists a game, one of the best marks in the MAC.
John Floyd has done a really good job in a lot of areas keeping his man in front of him, hustling, being in the right position off the ball, helping on the post, Dakich said. He s done a much better job in games than he has in practices.
While Floyd thinks he is making a contribution to the Falcons, he still thinks there are more ways he can help.
I think I can score a little better, and that s something I m going to have to do for us to be successful. We need a fourth scorer who is a legitimate threat out there. I think I can be that guy.
Even if he doesn t become that fourth scoring option, that doesn t mean Floyd will be disappointed with the rebirth of his basketball career at BG.
Basketball is so much more fun at Bowling Green than it was at Oakland.
At Bowling Green I love the game again.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.