JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
BOWLING GREEN - A poll asking college basketball coaches what they desire most in a key reserve player would likely yield these results.
An ability to seamlessly adjust to the flow of the game. Being capable of shooting from long range. Energy.
Stir those ingredients together and you'll end up with a player like Jen Uhl. Bowling Green State University's lively freshman is the prototypical first player off the bench and has been an integral part of the Falcons' success.
"When our team's making big shots, I get way excited on the bench," Uhl said. "When I go in the game it just keeps going."
Sure does. Over BG's last four games - all wins - Uhl, a 6-foot-1 forward, is averaging 16.5 points and almost six rebounds in less than 25 minutes. She scored a career high 22 points in the Falcons' 76-68 win over Kent State on Wednesday. BG led by five points when Uhl checked in early in the first half. When she went back to the bench seven minutes later, the Falcons had a comfy 12-point lead.
"Jen is an unbelievable offensive player when she gets it going," coach Curt Miller said. "She plays with emotion. Jen is Jen, and that's what the team knows Jen by."
Translation: Uhl is a free spirit. Her coach and teammates appreciate the effect her smile and all-around optimism have had on the team. Uhl's opponents have to take her seriously. But her teammates rarely do.
"She always has a positive outlook on everything," said Uhl's roommate, guard Tracy Pontius. "We can be sitting in the room and talking, and something bad happens and she always finds a way to turn it into something positive."
When Pontius wakes up each morning Uhl is already up and moving with the same energy level she displays during games.
"As a kid our family always talked about how you need to find a positive side and how you just always need to be upbeat," Uhl said. "Even in games, if you make a mistake there's no use dwelling on that. Try to see the positives, like the next play I'm going to do something better."
There have been many positives for the Falcons (20-6, 9-3) who seem to have reasonable odds of winning their fourth straight Mid-American Conference title. Today's game at Miami (9-3) is for first place in the MAC, and Wednesday's game at Ohio (8-3) could be equally as important.
Miami won at BG, 63-60, on Jan. 22 when Uhl had a rare struggle, going scoreless in 15 minutes.
The Falcons followed with two more losses before getting untracked and winning - usually by wide margins - their last five games.
"We've been talking about working toward a championship all year, and to be in this position is really great right now," Uhl said. "It would definitely be great to win the MAC and be in good position for the MAC tournament."
Uhl was a three time All-Ohio selection at Wadsworth, where she also excelled in volleyball (three-year letter winner) and in the classroom (academic All-Ohio). She accounted for 1,304 points throughout her career, most of which came near the basket.
Uhl has spent the first few months of her college career working on developing a more consistent jump shot to complement her inside touch. She's made 11 3-pointers this year, and if progress should continue, similarities may be drawn to a former multi-threat scorer for the Falcons - Ali Mann.
"Ali Mann's one of the greatest players to come through here, so I don't know if I'm up to that yet," Uhl said.
"I think Ali Mann was way stronger than me, but I hope that's a good comparison."
Maybe that comparison isn't exact. After all, Jen is Jen.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com.