BOWLING GREEN - Entering the season, Bowling Green State University had plenty of needs, and one was to find a star.
The go-to wing player that coach Dan Dakich has always possessed arrived this season in junior Martin Samarco.
No one was sure what Samarco, a junior-college transfer, would contribute in his first season. Certainly his play has surpassed expectations.
Entering today's game against Ohio, Samarco leads the Mid-American Conference in scoring with 19.2 points a game. He's made the most 3-pointers in the league and owns the third-best free throw percentage.
"If you had 12 Samarcos you'd be very hard to beat," Dakich said. "I don't know if anybody would beat you."
Samarco, from Ypsilanti, Mich., can get hot at any moment. He's hit five or more 3-pointers in a game four times during MAC play, scoring 25-plus points in each of those games including a career-high 35 against Eastern Michigan.
Last weekend Samarco earned a new admirer in Akron coach Keith Dambrot when he made 3 of 4 3-pointers in a four-minute span during the Falcons' comeback.
"Samarco was like a one-man show for about five minutes," Dambrot said after the game. "When he banked that one in, I said, oh man. Looked like
LeBron out there for a minute."
He hasn't always been a big scorer, but in Samarco's freshman year at Kirtland College, coach Glen Donahue let him assume that role, making him point guard and running plays for him.
"He built a lot of confidence in me," Samarco said. "That was the only coach that gave me a chance. I had NAIA schools, but I didn't want to go there, I wanted to chase my dream and play Division I. He helped me by just letting me play my game."
At his second junior college, Schoolcraft, Samarco played with several other Division I recruits. Right from the beginning at BGSU, he showed his teammates he could be counted on to get the Falcons points. In BGSU's win over Virginia Tech Samarco led the team with 21 points. In tough road games at Bradley and Florida State, Samarco scored 27 in each contest.
Samarco's endurance is also impressive. Wednesday's 33-minute outing against Miami was the first MAC game where Samarco hadn't played 35 or more minutes.
"He's a special kid in terms of his ability to prepare himself to play, how hard he'll go and how long he'll go," Dakich said.
Especially since conference play started, Samarco has given teams trouble because of his skill set. He knows how to move without the ball and get a shot off fast in the Falcons' motion offense.
"I don't think there's anybody in the league that I see that moves better without the ball," Dakich said. "Usually it takes a couple years to develop that - Martin, he kind of came with that."
Samarco and the Falcons are hoping he can lead them on a run in the last month of the season to secure a first-round home game in the MAC tournament.
"If we can get it going and learn from our mistakes, we can do well in the MAC tournament," Samarco said. "All this is giving us experience, we're going to know how to win games down the stretch and pull it out because we've been in the situation so many times."
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