Friday, March 04, 2005

Is This Goodbye?

A heads-up for everyone out there: since this is March (think "March Madness"), I'll probably be writing a lot about college basketball in the next few days and weeks. That's just the way it is.

This probably will be a pretty low-key weekend. Brandi has been sick the past couple of days with a sinus infection, and she's still getting over it. Her medicine makes her sleepy, so we probably won't be going out and doing very much.

One thing I'll be doing, and I hope that Brandi will be feeling well enough to go with me, is a BGSU basketball game tomorrow afternoon against Central Michigan. Central is one of the worst teams in the conference, so it should be an easy win for the Falcons. That'll be nice, because it's the last regular-season game, and thus it's Senior Day. Depending on the way the seeding shakes out for the MAC Tournament, this very well could be the last game in Anderson Arena for our three senior players: Cory Eyink, Josh Almanson, and John Reimold.

Eyink came in with a pretty fair amount of hype, and he never quite lived up to it. At 6' 8" and with a pretty wide body, he looks like a player who would live in the post and bang down low. That was never his game, though. He is more of a perimeter player with a decent shot from behind the arc, and he could handle the ball pretty well for a big guy. Still, he had better ball-handlers and guys with better long-range shots, so his minutes this year have not been huge. Still, he's managed to play a very important role on this team. He's a smart player and a good defender, so he's generally on the floor during crunch times. He's the glue that holds the team together. He makes a lot of little plays that are hard to notice but that play a big role in a team's success. Cory hustles, makes smart plays, and provides a lot of spirit and leadership for this team. I doubt BG would have been able to contend for the MAC title this year without him.

Almanson has been a huge surprise this year. He's turned into one of the best players in the MAC, a potential Player of the Year. He's one of the top scorers in the conference. It's awesome to see him doing so well, especially since it was mostly unexpected. Like Eyink, Almanson is a prototypical post player who never showed much interest in playing down low until this year. This year, his last year, he put on some muscle and really came into the season ready to play. His development has been a joy to watch. He definitely hasn't been afraid to be physical down low, but he can also step outside and shoot from long-range. He plays good defense, and also plays smart basketball. He doesn't commit stupid fouls, and really provides a great big-man presence on both ends of the floor. He also may be the best free-throw shooter on the team. For the Falcons, who sometimes have trouble getting the ball in the hoop, Almanson's play this year has been absolutely necessary. We're going to miss him next year.

There's not much to say about Reimold that hasn't already been said. He has been incredibly tough from the moment he stepped on campus. He's a hell of a competitor, and wants to win as much as anyone I've seen play here. Coach Dakich's teams always tend to take on the personalities of the seniors, and John Reimold is the one reason I felt the Falcons would have a good season, even when preseason prognosticators (including some of our own fans) were writing this year off. Like Anthony Stacey and Keith McLeod before him, I expected Reimold to will us to victory when necessary, and he has done just that. He's another potential Player of the Year, another leading scorer in the conference. He can score in just about every way, and he's also a solid defender. When a play needs to be made, John is the one player we can count on to make it.

It's going to be sad to see these players move on--Coach Dakich has said he wishes he could coach them for the rest of his life. It's hard to see how the team is going to be next year without them. With at least a few more games left this year, though, that's something to worry about later. Right now I'm just hoping they can get a win tomorrow and enjoy Senior Day. The MAC is pretty crazy this year, and the Falcons could still get a first-round bye in the tournament, or, with a loss, they could possibly have to play a first-round game on the road. Most likely, though, they'll play a tournament game at home on Monday night. Still, not knowing whether or not they'll play again in Anderson Arena, I hope to see them go out on a high note.

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