Very early in the second half last night, the BG game against MSU was starting to look a lot like last year's game. In that game, BG played a very tight first half, was down 5 with 18 minutes left and then lost the game by 35 points.
Yesterday, BG played a very strong first half, outrebounding one of the nation's top rebounding teams, and heading to the locker room down only a bucket.
The Falcons even got the first bucket of the second half to tie the game. The Spartans are not a winning team for no reason however, and they clearly had sorted themselves out in the locker room. Following that basketball, MSU went on an 8-minute, 20-3 run to build up a huge lead.
At that point, however, something different happened from last year. Coach went with a very young lineup, including Jehvon Clake and Chauncey Orr, and rather than see the lead continue to expand, BG actually won the last 11 minutes by 3 points.
Now, we're clearly playing a team that knows they have the game won, but that was true last year as well. Coach gave the young guys some minutes, and they seemed to do pretty well.
Coach was asked about this at the press conference after the game, and he said that our veterans were the ones on the floor for the 20-3 run, so he decided to leave the younger players on the court.
Then, he was asked the question that is on the lips of many Falcon fans that I have talked to. Coach clearly wants a veteran team--it is clearly very important to him. But, this is basketball and not football...young players make a contribution sooner in many cases. It seems to some people like BG has troubles with athletic teams and with scoring the ball, and there are guys on the bench (Clarke, Henderson, Sealey, Orr) who could help with those things, yet they rarely see many minutes.
So, Coach was asked the question...did he seem some things that might effect minutes in the future. And he was quiet for a few seconds and said something like we're still going to rely on our veterans.
And then, rather than waiting to see if there were any further questions, he thanked everyone and ended the presser. (That's how it sounded, it might not have been that abrupt in reality).
Jehvon Clarke was a good example. He had 14 points in 12 minutes. He had two scintillating drives to the basket that ended up IN BASKETS. He made all his free throws. His offensive rating was 168. And 3 assists.
So the question remains...will the experience lead to the Falcons putting a younger lineup onto the court over the coming games. FIU and Duquesne are both very athletic teams...anyway, it will be interesting to see. But, for people who think BG is leaving too much on the bench, last night's game will only make them wonder more.
Not that the veterans didn't contribute at all...A'uston Calhoun had 12 points and 7 rebounds, and Jordan Crawford, who seems to have his mojo back, had 11 points with 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Oglesby had 8 points and 9 rebounds.
I guess the ultimate point is that I always felt Coach Dakich had a blind spot on this issue--he liked veterans so much I don't think he was open to other possibilities. I wonder the same about Coach Orr. I know I don't see practices, and it was just one game, and the veteran lineup had played well in the first half...I get all that...but I don't understand why, if you are playing a game where you team can't score, you wouldn't at least give (for example) Clarke a run to see what might happen.
It will be interesting to watch this unfold.