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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2014

SPORTS COMMENTARY

Orr’s class at BG will be remembered

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Bowling Green’s parting of ways with men’s basketball coach Louis Orr was hardly surprising.

The writing has been plastered to the wall all season long since Orr was relegated to that no-man’s-land of lame-duck status. In fact, this should have been dealt with a year ago.

BG’s program has been going nowhere.

The Falcon men attracted an average of 1,759 fans per home game this season. There are only a few Mid-American Conference schools where basketball is truly a hot ticket, and it has been a very long time since Bowling Green was among those places, but this malaise can’t possibly be what BG’s administrators had in mind when they invested in a $30 million arena, which seats around 4,300 and opened three years ago.

It’s probably not accurate to say that nobody cares, but pretty much nobody was coming.

Something had to change and in this case that something was someone.

The situation was no different a year ago. The Falcons were going nowhere then too, but the athletic director was more interested in finding his own way out of town and the department had its financial hands tied. It couldn’t afford to pay one man not to coach and another to coach, so Louis got to stick around for the final year of his contract.

As everyone expected, it turned out to be his MAC farewell tour. It might have taken a different twist had his son Chauncey, arguably Orr’s best player, not been lost for the season to injury during the first half of the first game. A couple other possible contributors were lost for big chunks of the season too.

There were a mind-numbing amount of close losses — nine of the last 15 were by five points or less — and each of those seemed to suck a little of Orr’s spirit as he knew what was waiting at the end of the year.

A 20-loss season made this an automatic decision for new AD Chris Kingston, who now faces his second major hire (joining football) in just eight months on the job.

It was an automatic decision, yes, but still not an easy one, perhaps.

Louis Orr, you see, is a good man, far better than merely decent. Sure, the way he wears Christianity on his sleeve is uncomfortable for some.

Even those who didn’t like him found him likeable, if that makes any sense. He influenced a lot of boys en route to manhood and they will be better off for it.

Quick story: Orr and I had a mutual friend, George Lang, who recently lost an unfair fight (is there any other kind?) with cancer. George bled orange and brown and was a big fan of BG hoops of both genders. The last men’s game he was able to attend was shortly after Christmas and when the game ended, despite one of those close losses, Orr brought the whole team over to George’s courtside seat to shake his hand and wish him well.

He’s a classy guy. The people around the game are as important to him as the game itself. If that’s a flaw, I fail to see it.

His record over seven seasons — below .500 both overall and in MAC play — and the obvious apathy swallowing BG’s program were fatal flaws.

Orr has been a head coach at three schools for a total of 13 seasons.

His record is a flat-line 201-201. A lot of coaches have done a lot worse.

For Orr, it wasn’t quite good enough.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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