With Justin Turner deciding to come back for his final season and a good mix of veterans and newcomers, the Bowling Green men’s basketball team is ready to play for the Mid-American Conference title and an NCAA tournament berth.
The Falcons were picked by the coaches to win the regular season and MAC post-season tournament title. Bowling Green was 21-10 overall last season and four of the five tops scorers are returning this season.
“(We are) excited about the opportunity to play games after what happened last year and the cancellation of the season. Our guys are just excited to be back out there,” head coach Michael Huger said. “We have been healthy for the most part, keeping everybody on the court. That’s always a challenge right now with COVID and making sure everyone stays healthy and available. That has been the hardest challenge.
“Our guys are hungry and just itchy to go. That’s been the biggest thing: are we going to play and when are we going to play? Those are the questions going in and even now it’s still always uncertain. They can cancel that at any moment,” he added. “The biggest thing now is keeping our guys focused and taking it one day, one game at a time.”
Turner is seventh all-time in scoring for the Falcons with 1,595 points. Anthony Stacy holds the top spot with 1,938 points.
“If we play, I think he definitely has a chance,” Huger said. “I think he has that opportunity, especially if we play a compete MAC season, he’ll definitely have that opportunity to break the record sometime early (in the season). We are just hoping we can get enough games in and be able to play and hopefully he can break the record.
“I know that Stacy will be proud of him breaking his record - a guy who he recruited to Bowling Green,” Huger added.
Turner was sidelined with an injury for part of last season, but that opened an opportunity for other players to get some playing time.
“It’s always beneficial when you can get other guys who can step up. That gives them that experience, that opportunity to show what they can showcase. And it helps with our depth,” Huger said. “If you have guys that play early in the season and get early minutes when you need a break they know what to do and how to execute different things.
“It helped us when Justin went down, and it helped the other guys get that confidence and gain that confidence and play extremely well down the stretch,” he added.
Turner and senior Daeqwon Plowden have helped mentor the new players this season.
“We no longer have Dylan Frye who was a big voice on the team, and now Justin has to step up with that role along with Daeqwon Plowden,” Huger said. “Those two have been doing a great job of feeding these young guys, getting them in the right spot and teaching them how hard they have to practice … to get on the court to get minutes. … Everything has been smooth so far.”
The freshman recruits are Kaden Metheny, Josiah Fulcher and Cam Young.
“Those guys will all see significant minutes. They may be younger, but more athletic. … I am excited to see what they can do on the court,” Huger said.
Also new to the team are Jackson Watson, a freshman walk-on, and Jacob Washington, a junior who has played in two different junior colleges in California.
“The new guys are doing their part to help us and hopefully we can win a championship when it’s all said and done,” Huger said.
In addition to Justin Turner and Plowden, senior Trey Diggs, juniors Caleb Fields and Matiss Kulackovskis, and sophomores Devin Zeigler, Chandler Turner, Dylan Swingle and Isaac Elsasser are returning.