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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2008

Junior post player helps Falcons with accountability and smarts

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Bowling Green's Marc Larson was at the right place at the right time to battle Wayne State center Shane Lawal for the ball. Bowling Green's Marc Larson was at the right place at the right time to battle Wayne State center Shane Lawal for the ball.
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BOWLING GREEN - Water was still dripping from Marc Larson's shoes when he looked up and was greeted by a curious coach waiting for him inside

Anderson Arena earlier this week.

"Where ya been, Lars?" Louis Orr asked.

Larson indicated he was handing in a class assignment, which didn't surprise Orr.

Larson is almost always where he's supposed to be.

Where Larson lacks in physical ability, he makes up for in accountability and smarts. The junior post player at Bowling Green State University won't amaze you with his mobility or touch around the basket. His statistics on most nights are just as underwhelming. But it's the behind-the-scenes things and the moments that don't show up until film review that have positioned Larson in good standing with the coaching staff.

"He's a guy the general fan may not appreciate," Orr said. "But he's really one of our best help defenders, he understands defensively where to be, and he's one of our best guys in implementing the game plan."

Those things matter drastically in a system predicated on doing things by the book. Orr can be quick to bench players for mental lapses, which is more evident this year mainly because he has an array of options for substituting. Larson has been a fixture in the starting lineup in the five games since the season-opening tournament at Minneapolis and that isn't likely to change when BG (4-4) visits Central Arkansas this evening.

"I just try to go out on the court every day and play hard," Larson said. "I'm usually thinking about defensive things - what their players like to do, what we want to do defensively. I try to pay good attention when we're going over [an opponent's] plays and try to take good notice of all the details."

Given his meticulousness, it's no wonder Larson, an engineering major, carries a 3.95 GPA. He leads the Falcons in that regard, but his other numbers don't jump off the team's stat sheet. In more than 22 minutes per game, the 6-foot-9 Larson is averaging 3.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and almost one block. But again, he's the type of player whose value is not best demonstrated by numbers.

"It may not be spectacular and he doesn't score all the points, but you can count on him to be in the right place at the right time most of the time," Orr said. "It gives a coach a certain level of trust."

SCOUTING THE BEARS: Central Arkansas, which is in the process of moving to Division I, is 5-4, including a 4-0 mark on its home floor. Conversely, BG is 0-4 in true road games.

"They're a team that plays very hard and is good defensively," Orr said. "They seem to be a team that knows who they are. They understand the value of playing tough at home."

FREE THROW WOES: In what must be considered a troubling combination, senior Nate Miller is BG's best option at penetrating in the half court but also its worst free throw shooter. Miller is 4 of 13 from the stripe this year and converted just 2 of 6 in BG's win over Detroit on Sunday. Orr said this is a concern but not one that is going unaddressed.

"Nate, after hours, puts in a lot of time shooting free throws," Orr said. "It's not that he doesn't practice. He's really the best we have at attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line is a big part of his game."

Miller is third on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game and is not far behind classmates Brian Moten (12.8) and Darryl Clements (12.3).

EXAM TIME: Orr said he is "confident" all players will be in good standing academically when grades are released following this week's exams. Around this time a year ago senior Ryne Hamblet was declared ineligible for the remainder of the season.

"There are different levels of confidence," Orr said. "You have the eligibility level and then you have, if this was my son [level]. But I feel pretty confident they did pretty good."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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