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BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University men’s basketball coach Louis Orr was more than willing to look back at last season, as well as look to next year — with one caveat.
“You can’t coach next season right now,” he said.
While that’s true, it doesn’t mean you can’t look back at last season, as well as look ahead to what next year may hold for the Falcons.
Last year BG posted a 13-19 record, the team’s third losing record in the past four years. The Falcons posted a 7-9 record in Mid-American Conference play. They earned a first-round home game in the league tournament, but were upset by Miami.
Orr, who will enter the coming season in the final year of his contract, said that status will not change his coaching style.
“Whatever coaching I do and whatever decisions I make will be for the betterment of the team,” he said. “My job doesn’t change.
“The reality in this business is that people who have contracts still may not be coaching their teams. You see that all over. It’s my job to be a good steward of the opportunity I have. I owe that to our players.”
Orr said last year the team made some strides from the previous season.
“We became a better defensive team, especially man-to-man,” he said. “To me, it was a major adjustment that we became [more of a] man-to-man defensive team.
“Not that it was always great, but I thought it was a positive that we were able to play it and also play our zone.”
Bowling Green ranked fourth in the MAC in scoring defense, allowing 63.5 points per game. But the team struggled offensively, ranking 10th at 62.8 points per contest. Orr said those offensive struggles were one of the reasons the Falcons struggled on the road, posting a 2-14 record away from the Stroh Center.
“Not being consistent — and not being able to close out games [also was a factor],” Orr said. “We were competitive [on the road], but we just weren’t able to close out games. That was the difference between at home and on the road.”
The questions on offense will follow the Falcons into next season after nearly half of the team’s points are lost to graduation. A’uston Calhoun, a second-team all-league pick, and Jordon Crawford, who earned All-MAC honorable mention, combined for 963 of BG’s 2,010 points (nearly 48 percent). When you add in two other departing seniors, Luke Kraus and James Erger, the number jumps to 56.7 percent of last year’s scoring.
Orr said the solution to finding scoring next season is to mine a variety of sources.
“To me, [our scoring] is going to have to be balanced,” he said. “I think everybody that is returning has the ability to score. There’s not a guy on our team that can’t get double figures.
“Now, how things balance out is something that will grow as the season goes on. But [last year] we had two guys who took 45 percent of our shots.”
Two obvious options are the team’s two returning starters, senior center Cameron Black (3.4 points per game) and junior forward Chauncey Orr (7.5 ppg). Another is junior Richaun Holmes (6.5 ppg), who is the team’s top returning rebounder (5.0) and ranked third in the MAC in blocked shots (2.3).
Start High School product Anthony Henderson (3.5 ppg) and Jehvon Clarke (3.4 ppg) are two junior guards who should see a bigger role next season, along with senior forward Craig Sealey (3.1 ppg) and sophomore forward Spencer Parker (1.6 ppg).
“None of them have reached their ceiling — and all of them have a big upside,” Orr said. “To me, as a coach, that’s the exciting part of it. And that’s the challenge.
“You have guys who haven’t played their best games, and you want them to play their best basketball.”
Sophomore Josh Gomez, a transfer from Iona, will compete for playing time on the frontline.
“He has a good touch,” Orr said of the 6-foot-10 Gomez. “He can stretch a defense. Offensively, his ability to put the ball in the basket is his strength., especially for a guy his size.”
BG also will add three newcomers in forward Garrett Mayleben and guards Zach Denny and J.D. Tisdale. Orr has two scholarships available, and signing another player or two is a “possibility.”
“If a player can help us, maybe as a physical guy around the basket, [we may sign him],” Orr said. “But we want to sign someone who can help us, who can be a physical presence.”
Contact John Wagner at:firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.