Bowling Green Game Reaction
Take a breath; it’s only one game. As heartbreaking as this game was and as disappointing of a home loss as it was, it was only one game. This is a young team that isstill learning how to play together. Players need to learn that when guys around you are having an off night, it’s on you to pick up the slack. I don’t think we’ve seen what junior forward Titus Robinson is capable of yet. I think that he may surprise people with his offensive game as this season progresses. He hurt the wrist he fractured over the summer on Thursday in practice and that’s why it was taped and that’s why he wasn’t in the starting lineup. He’ll heal up and hopefully start to get into more of a rhythm and develop an understanding of what is needed from him on this team.
The decision to start sophomore forward Mike Clifford was a bad one. Head coach Reggie Witherspoon admitted after the game, without singling out Clifford, that the offense was stagnant from the opening tip. Things like this can’t happen and Witherspoon has to be able to pull the strings with this team as MAC play continues. This would have been a perfect opportunity for freshman forward Javon McCrea to get a shot in the starting five. He is just loaded with talent and I think it will be important for Witherspoon to start stretching his minutes as the season goes on. I’d like to see him start hitting 30 minutes by the middle of February or at least come close on a nightly basis. I also don’t think Clifford should be judged to harshly for his poor play. It’s only the second game back for him and it’s going to take a little while for him to get into game shape and find a place in the offense. I’ve seen him a lot in practice this year and the kid can play. He just needs to find his niche.
Senior guard Byron Mulkey claimed after the game that he is fine physically and that he isn’t experiencing any kind of extreme fatigue considering he sat out last season. While that may be the case he didn’t look like that same guy that played in the first few home games this season. In those games, he had a smile from ear to ear for 40 minutes and was visibly active in directing his teammates where he wanted them to be. Against Bowling Green he looked sluggish at times, almost as if the amount of games he’s played and the minutes he’s logged is starting to catch up with him. With that said, I think he’ll bounce back. He’s too good of a player and too committed as a leader to let this team fail. The start turned in by the Bulls wasn’t a fluke and look for them to try and get a tough road win on Thursday against the RedHawks.
Freshman guard Jarod Oldham has to play more. I mean the kid turned in a really solid performance against BYU. He really handled himself well and never looked overwhelmed for a second in that game. Against a tough 2-3 zone and especially considering the difficulty the shooters were having against it, his slashing ability would have really changed the way Bowling Green would have had to guard the Bulls. Junior guard Zach Filzen is a great shooter and he made four more huge 3-pointers against the Falcons, but after that Bowling Green had a lock on him. Falcons head coach Louis Orr said after the game they put a “lock-on” on Filzen which means whenever he got the ball two defenders ran at him immediately. It obviously had the desired affect as Filzen went cold in the second half. Oldham would have changed things up and maybe put a little life into a lifeless Bulls offensive attack. Witherspoon really has to pay close attention to how MAC teams guard Filzen and sub accordingly. Oldham is really talented as well and should start to see extended playing time.
Although it’s tough to see now, this could end up being an important loss for the Bulls. It illustrates just how tough MAC games are and it does so right off the bat. It also shows that the team can just take the pedal off even when they’re playing in Alumni Arena. Mulkey is a strong leader and should be able to use this example when attempting to get the most out of his players.
Thursday night is a tough game. You want to see them respond right away after a tough loss but Miami at home is going to be a real challenge. If the Bulls can somehow pull off a win I would put them right back at the level they were at in my eyes heading into the BG game. With that said, head back here sometime on Wednesday for a full scouting report and preview of the Miami (OH) game.