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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

Falcons, coach lament loss of Big Three

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
John Reimold is on the verge of tears at the end of his final game. Reimold led all MAC scorers with 18.5 points a game. John Reimold is on the verge of tears at the end of his final game. Reimold led all MAC scorers with 18.5 points a game.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

CLEVELAND - There was still time showing on the clock, but the game was over.

Bowling Green State University was in the final moments of a loss to Miami in the quarterfinals of the MAC men's basketball tournament at Gund Arena last Thursday, and Falcons coach Dan Dakich began removing his seniors from the game.

The first to come to the sidelines was Josh Almanson, who fouled out with 56 seconds left. Dakich gave Almanson, the BG native whose dramatic improvement this season earned him a berth on the All-MAC first team, a kiss.

Next was John Reimold, who departed with 33 seconds to play. Reimold, the steady scorer who was voted to the All-MAC second team by the league's coaches, left the game crying.

But the scene each time was essentially the same: Dakich and the player hugged, then exchanged heart-felt words that could only begin to scratch the surface of relationships that had been forged by good times and bad times spread over the past few seasons.

"It was incredibly emotional because I love those three guys - love them," Dakich said.

Dakich also will miss the trio of Almanson, Reimold and Cory Eyink because the three seniors will be hard to replace.

Almanson finished his all-MAC season by averaging 17.2 points per game, third-best in the league. He also led the MAC in field-goal shooting with a 59.2 percent mark and ranked fourth in free-throw shooting at 82.8 percent.

Almanson finished with 1,136 career points to rank 28th on BG's all-time list. He also has 107 career blocked-shots, third-best in school history.

"I told Josh how proud I was of him, and how deserving he was of being first-team all-MAC," Dakich said of their encounter at the end of the contest.

Almanson, normally a quiet type, seemed at a loss for words when talking about the end of his college basketball career.

"Basically coach said thanks for playing, and I said thank you for everything he's done for me," Almanson said. "I really don't have too many [other] words about it."

Reimold was named second-team all-MAC and finished as the league's scoring leader with 18.5 points per game after scoring 62 points in his two MAC tournament games. His 1,380 career points at BG make him the 17th-highest scorer in school history. He had 1,782 career points counting the 402 he scored as a freshman at Loyola (Maryland).

"I told John that I thought he deserved to be first-team all-MAC," Dakich said of their sideline encounter.

Reimold had five treys versus Miami to give him 79 3-pointers this season, the third-best single-season total at BG. It also gives him a school-record 228 3-pointers in his career.

"I couldn't ask for a better coach to play for, or for better teammates," Reimold said after the game. "I'm going to miss everything about this place."

Almanson, Reimold and fellow senior Cory Eyink will leave a void in the BG program with their graduation after combining to score 57.2 percent of the Falcons' points this season. They also grabbed 32 percent of the team's rebounds.

But Dakich said his three seniors provided more than just points and rebounds.

"There are so many bad things in college athletics - whether it's a recruiting scandal, whether it's academics, whatever it is," Dakich said. "Those three kids, in my opinion, epitomize everything college athletics should be.

"That's what I told them - 'It has been my pleasure to coach you every single day. I wish to God I could coach you every single day for the rest of my life.' I told all three of them how proud I was of them."

The loss to Miami gave the Falcons a final record of 18-11. While that finish was a disappointment to Dakich, the seniors and the rest of the team, it was a far cry from the losing season that most people - even loyal BG fans - expected after the tumult of the preceeding off-season.

Now the pressure of repeating this year's success will fall on players such as juniors Steven Wright, a two-year starter, Germain Fitch and Mawel Soler, as well as sophomores like John Floyd, Austin Montgomery and Matt Lefeld. Scott Vandermeer and Perrick "Moon'' Robinson, who both received extensive playing time as freshmen, will be expected to continue their development into next season.

And a four-member incoming freshman class will be expected to provide depth. But that's in the future.

Dakich's mind was on the present when he said he wanted all three seniors to know how much he appreciated their efforts on behalf of Bowling Green.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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