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Published: Friday, 12/22/2006

Falcons struggle with preparation

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

A team still in search of a breakout performance, and a clean bill of health, the Bowling Green State University men s basketball squad has yet to fully prepare itself for league play.

Still, BG coach Dan Dakich said he wished that tonight s game at Marshall was the Falcons Mid-American Conference opener.

In Dakich s estimation, the MAC suffered a blow when Marshall left the league after the 2004 season to join Conference USA.

For our league, it was a national program, Dakich said. It was probably the most recognized name in our league. It s something I think hurt our league.

Dakich appreciates the Thundering Herd s rabid fan base and points to the university s interstate media coverage West Virginia and Ohio as the reason it became the face of the MAC in past decades.

Considering Dakich s respect for the Herd, it wouldn t come as a shock if the Falcons spent last night at a Huntington, W.Va., cinema watching We Are Marshall.

When people say who s in your league, and you say Marshall, they know that team, he said. I think that hurt us in football and basketball.

Perhaps some of Dakich s desire to play Marshall is because of his record against the Herd. BG has won eight of 12 during Dakich s tenure and boasts a 29-24 all-time record. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Henderson Center.

Markel Humphrey leads Marshall with 13.9 points per game, while Travis Aikens and Mark Dorris aren t far behind with averages of 13.2 and 12.0, respectively.

They give up points in streaks and they score in streaks, he said. They re an athletically and physically gifted team.

BGSU s athleticism has its shortcomings, according to its coach. The Falcons were out rebounded 39-27 Tuesday in their victory over Northern Colorado, which grabbed 11 offensive boards. The Falcons aren t getting much help offensively in the paint, either, not since Erik Marschall, the team s second leading scorer and one of its best rebounders, suffered a broken foot.

Dakich was leaning toward starting Nate Miller, who made his BG debut Tuesday at Northern Colorado, to give BG a needed boost in the athleticism department.

We re not getting any defensive rebounds so we can t run, and on the offensive side we re not getting any offensive rebounds, Dakich said.

Lionel Sullivan won t factor into fixing that, either. Dakich said the 6-foot-6 Sullivan, who sat out last season over academic issues and has missed two games this season, is barred from the team because of philosophical differences with Dakich.

It might be permanent, I m not sure if I m ready to say that yet, Dakich said.

NOTES: The Falcons were planning to eat a meal last night prepared by Sherry Wilson, the mother of former Falcon Kris Wilson The Falcons will return home for a couple days for the holiday before returning to Bowling Green for a practice on Christmas night. The squad leaves Tuesday for a tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in which it will play Michigan Tech, Jacksonville State, and the host Phoenix. Dakich s family will travel to BG from Indiana to be with him on Christmas.



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