Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Nothing but Net(ter)

Falcons lose ugly to Broncos

I was hoping this story would have a happier ending.

The first time I saw Kevin Netter play basketball, several years ago, I thought he would be a star. He was a raw big man (6'-10") who could run the floor. He had soft hands, quick moves, and a nice outside shot. He was a little thin, but his frame suggested he could add some muscle and bang a little bit on the low post. It seemed to be a perfect combination of skills for a player ready to explode into stardom in the Mid-American Conference.

Last night Kevin played in what was potentially his last game at Anderson Arena, having never quite lived up to his potential. He spent much of the game as he has spent much of so many other games over the course of his career: on the bench with foul trouble. He played only 20 minutes, but still managed to lead the Falcons in scoring with 19 points. That wasn't nearly enough, though, as BG played sloppy with the ball (20 turnovers!), and no one else could get going offensively.

Kevin is the ultimate "mystery wrapped in an enigma." It seemed like his heart was in the right place, but his head usually wasn't. He has all the talent and potential in the world, but never quite harnessed it. He improved dramatically between his sophomore and junior seasons, and then seemed to hit a wall. BG fans thought he would break out this year and be the dominant center in the MAC, and it just hasn't happened. He's been too inconsistent. One night he would come out on fire and play well on offense and defense, and the next night he would come out and pick up four fouls in ten minutes of playing time. He became a serviceable player--capable of dominating almost any given game, but you just never knew what you were going to get from night to night.

I have to give Kevin a lot of credit, though. It's not exactly a secret that he didn't get along with Coach Dakich, and in fact threw a party two years ago when Dakich accepted the head coaching position at West Virginia. Of course, Dakich ended up changing his mind and returning to BGSU a week later, and I'm sure no one was more shocked than Kevin. In that type of situation, it would have been easy for Kevin to leave the program, but he stuck it out. I'm sure Coach was hard on him a lot of the time (and he can be pretty hard, from all accounts), because he wanted Kevin to live up to his potential, and Kevin took it all and kept playing.

I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Kevin has an NBA future. The NBA has a tendency to draft based on potential, and I still maintain (as do many others) that Kevin has a ton of it. I think he could have a career there, if he can bring himself to work hard and to focus. That's the key word--focus. Keep your head in the game, Kevin! You can do it if you want to.

A few more thoughts about last night's game...

The officiating was terrible. I just want to get that out of the way and move on. It was ugly. Touch fouls on one end, virtual assaults on the other with no call. I don't get it. Some of the calls (on both teams) were just bad. MAC officials have a pretty low reputation nationally, and they lived up to it last night.

A note to certain members of the members of the Sideline Squad: the rest of us arrive well before gametime in order to procure the spot where we want to stand. That's the nature of general admission. When you arrive after the National Anthem and expect other people to move for you, don't expect much sympathy. No one cares that "this is where I've been for every game this year." Trust me. I've been occupying the same spot for almost every game for the past seven years, but I still have to get there early if I want to make sure I get it again.

Western Michigan's Ben Reed is a punk. I don't condone violence, but if one of the Falcons had decided to whack him, I would have a hard time saying he didn't deserve it. Too much of a showoff, too much jawing with our players and fans. I can't say too much, because he did at least back it up with his play--he led all scorers with 24 points. Still, he's not the kind of guy I'd want on my team. He was recruited to play at BG, but I think it's best for all concerned that he ended up going elsewhere. Coach Dakich runs a tight ship, and Mr. Reed would be well acquainted with Mr. Bench if he displayed such theatrics at BG.

All griping aside, BG was beaten last night by a better team. We had our chances and just couldn't stay with them, and that's the ballgame. The chances are still decent that the Falcons will get to host a game in the first round of the MAC Tournament. I really hope they do, because I don't want our home schedule to end this way. I may or may not make further rounds of the tournament, once it moves to Gund Arena in Cleveland, and I'd really like to see the guys play one more time. I still think we've got a chance, and if we get hot and come together, there's no reason why we can't win the tournament and go to the Big Dance. I'm not quite delusional enough to bank on it, but I'm not ruling it out, either.

Come on, Kevin. Help make it happen. We know you've got it in you.

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