BOWLING GREEN — Most players would love to rank among the Mid-American Conference leaders in a statistical category.
But the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team has the top three players in one category, and that may not be a good thing.
The category is minutes played per game, and junior guard Jehvon Clarke leads the MAC in that category with his average of 34.5 minutes per game. Clarke’s backcourt running mate, junior Anthony Henderson, is second at 34.1 minutes per contest, while sophomore forward Spencer Parker is third with 33.8 minutes per game.
A fourth Falcon, junior forward Richaun Holmes, just missed the MAC’s top 10 with his 30.3 minutes per game. When you consider that men’s basketball games are 40 minutes long, that means those four players are on the court for better than 75 percent of every Bowling Green contest.
How unusual is that? Only 10 other MAC players besides BG’s quartet average at least 30 minutes per game. What’s more, no other school has more than two players above that average.
“It’s not necessarily a concern, but it certainly is a reality,” BG coach Louis Orr said.
It is a reality because injuries have whittled down the Falcons’ season-opening roster. Junior Chauncey Orr was lost for the year after injuring his knee in the season opener, while Zack Denny is a freshman who just began practicing with the team after missing extensive time because of an offseason knee injury.
And senior Craig Sealey has been hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the loss at Xavier. He missed some early season games after offseason knee surgery.
“Those are three guys who, if they would be healthy, would be in the rotation,” coach Orr said. “Hopefully we can get Craig back, because that certainly would help us, and hopefully Zack can get comfortable out there so he can help us.
“Also we hope we can get Josh [Gomez] and DeMarkeo [Lyshe] more minutes.”
As a result of the injuries, the Falcons may have as few as seven scholarship players in uniform and available when they open MAC play today at the Stroh Center against Eastern Michigan.
Orr said there are ways a coach can give players who see extensive court-time a chance to rest.
“One thing you can do is manage their minutes — give them extra minutes so they can rest during timeouts,” he said. “You can also watch practices, which is kind of hard because you want to get better.”
But the fear is that the large accumulation of minutes will wear down BG’s starters, especially when they do not have experience playing extensive minutes. For example, Clarke had just 486 minutes played in his first two years at BG, and needs just 39 more minutes to surpass that this season.
Henderson, a Start High School grad, had played a total of 542 minutes in his BG career before this season, where he has accumulated 443 minutes. And Parker’s 440 minutes this season are well past the 87 minutes he logged last season.
“The reality is there probably will be games where these guys will have to play big minutes,” Orr said. “But if we can get more from other people, and get some people healthy, that will be a plus.”