BOWLING GREEN — Friday, the Bowling Green State University men's basketball team began practicing for the 2010-11 season.
The Falcon women's team, though, is taking advantage of a new NCAA rule that has allowed it to practice for almost two weeks.
“The new rule states that you can start practicing 40 days prior to your first competition,” BG women's coach Curt Miller said. “But within that window, you are only allowed to practice 30 days. So you still have off days within your 40-day window of practice.
“The big puzzle piece for women's coaches around the country is figuring out how to work the off days into your schedule. Some coaches who are set in their ways would rather start closer to Oct. 15 and have the same routine they always have had.”
The Falcons didn't do that. Instead they began practice on Monday, Oct. 4 and worked until Friday of that week before getting Saturday through Tuesday off for the school's traditional fall break.
The Falcons returned to practice Wednesday and already have six practices under their belt as they hit the traditional “first practice day” of the year.
“We have a lot to improve on — and a lot to add — in a short amount of time,” Miller admitted. “But we feel good about where we are. And now we're back to a traditional schedule leading up to our season opener.”
The Falcons also will face high expectations as they return 10 letter winners from last season, including six seniors, from a squad that posted a 27-7 overall record and won the Mid-American Conference title for the sixth consecutive season.
Miller said the focus of the early practices was to develop the proper pace as BG prepares for its season opener at Evansville on Nov. 12. Bowling Green also has an exhibition Nov. 3 against Findlay at Anderson Arena.
“We tried to create the tempo we want to practice at,” Miller said. “We have a style of play that requires us to play a fast-pace, aggressive, attacking style of basketball.
“We also worked on our core offensive plays and put our core defensive system in. But there's still a lot to add; and you also have to find a balance between going too fast for the freshmen [to learn] and going too slow for the upperclassmen [who already know it].”
The men, meanwhile, will use a more traditional approach to get ready for their season opener at Howard on Nov. 12. The Falcons open with an exhibition game Nov. 6 against Adrian.
BG men's coach Louis Orr said his team has focused on offense in the limited amount of time NCAA rules permit coaches and teams to work together before the official start of practice.
“It's hard to lay a strong foundation in all areas, so we've worked more on our offensive philosophy for the most part,” he said. “We have done some individual defensive work, but as practice starts our focus will turn more to defense.”
Bowling Green returns eight letter winners, including three starters, from last season's 14-16 team (6-10 in the MAC).
With six newcomers, Orr said he is excited for the coming year.
“I believe you have to have a vision for your team as soon as you can,” he said. “It's hard to be visionary without seeing your guys every day, but based on what I've seen I can tell they have worked hard, in the weight room and in conditioning.
“There also has been a good chemistry on the court with our guys. They have a common goal and have a good unity, which is important.”
The first chance the public will get to watch the Falcon men in action will be Oct. 23 when at the Orange and Brown scrimmage at 11 a.m.
The intrasquad scrimmage will last an hour and will be followed by an autograph session where players and coaches will hand out free schedule posters.