According to multiple reports there will be one less opening on the coaching carousel, with Bowling Green set to fill its head coaching vacancy.
Michael Huger, currently an assistant on Jim Larrañaga’s staff at Miami, is expected to be named the new head coach later this week. Huger is certainly familiar with the Bowling Green program, as he’s an alumnus of the school and played for Larrañaga from 1989-93.
Bowling Green won 21 games in 2014-15, but Huger will have to account for the loss of three of the team’s top four scorers in Richaun Holmes, Jehvon Clarke and Anthony Henderson ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. As of right now, guard Zach Denny (9.7 ppg) would be the team’s leading returning scorer.
Former Bowling Green head coach apologizes for behavior that led to firing
Chris Jans’ first season at the helm at Bowling Green was a successful one as he led the Falcons to 21 wins and a spot in the CIT, which was the program’s first postseason appearance since 2012. However his time at the school came to an abrupt end in early April, as the school announced that Jans had been fired for inappropriate behavior after becoming intoxicated at a bar.
A video of the incident that became public shortly after Jans’ firing showed him harassing a female patron at the bar.
Friday afternoon Jans issued a statement on the matter, his first public comments since being relieved of his duties, according to Eric Prisbell of USA Today. Jans apologized for his actions while also thanking Bowling Green for the opportunity to lead their basketball program.
“On March 21st I made a mistake for which I sincerely apologize. After our final loss of the season I went to a bar to be amongst friends, became intoxicated and proceeded to act in a manner which was inappropriate. I have tried to instill in every student I’ve coached the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and that is what I am trying to do now.
“I have been completely forthcoming and honest with the Bowling Green State University administration during this process. I immediately made efforts to apologize to those offended that evening including the woman who approached me that night to chastise me for my conduct. Although I have already apologized to my wife, my family, my players and coaches, I want to now publicly apologize to everyone else, including any one in the BGSU community who may have been affected by this matter — I am truly sorry.
“Finally, I want to thank BGSU for giving me the opportunity to be its head basketball coach. I plan to use the future months and years to improve myself as an individual and to show them that their faith in me as a coach, and a person, was not unwarranted.”
While the school continues its search for a new head coach, assistant Mark Downey has served as the interim head coach. Whoever the new head coach is, they’ll have to account for the loss of the team’s top two scorers as Richaun Holmes (14.7 ppg) and Jehvon Clarke (10.7 ppg) were both seniors.
GAME OF THE DAY: Yale at Harvard, 8:00 p.m. (Ivy League Digital Network)
The Bulldogs and Crimson enter this game tied atop the Ivy League standings with matching 10-2 record, and the winner will be one win away from earning the league’s automatic bid. Harvard won the first meeting between the two, a two-point win in New Haven February 7, with two Wesley Saunders free throws with six seconds remaining being the difference. Two of the Ivy’s best players will be involved, with Saunders leading the Crimson and forward Justin Sears being Yale’s best option. Both teams are solid defensively, but Yale has to shoot better than the 31.5 percent they shot in the first meeting.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Bowling Green at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Seeding in next week’s MAC tournament is still up in the air in many cases, with the Falcons and Bulls looking to improve their standing with a win Friday night. Chris Jans has put together a very successful season in his first year at Bowling Green, and the Falcons have relied on their defense to make that charge. They limited Buffalo to 35.7 percent shooting in the first meeting but still lost by 12 due to their own offensive issues (4-for-20 3PT). It goes without saying that Bowling Green will need to shoot better if they’re to beat a Buffalo squad led by forward Justin Moss and guard Shannon Evans, with those two combining to average just over 30 points per game.
WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: Cleveland State (vs. Detroit), 9:30 p.m.
The two meetings between the Vikings and Titans were decided by a total of five points, with CSU winning the first meeting by four and a Juwan Howard Jr. three being the difference in the rematch. Howard Jr. will be the focus of Cleveland State’s defensive efforts, but Paris Bass is capable of putting points on the board as well with his 28-point outing in a loss to Oakland February 15 serving as an example. Cleveland State has three players averaging double figures, with guards Trey Lewis and Charlie Lee leading the way on the perimeter and Anton Grady patrolling the interior.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No, 14 Baylor looks to rebound from a two-point overtime loss to Texas with a win over Texas Tech in the regular season finale for both (9:00 p.m., ESPN2). This game could be tougher than one would anticipate, as the Red Raiders lost by just five in the first meeting February 17.
2. No. 8 Wichita State plays in the first game of the day at Arch Madness in St. Louis, as they take on Southern Illinois (1:00 p.m., ESPN3). The Shockers swept the season series, and they’ve won eight straight since losing at Northern Iowa January 31.
3. Speaking of the Panthers, No. 11 Northern Iowa takes on Bradley in another Arch Madness quarterfinal. The teams last played February 21, when UNI limited the Braves to 39 points in a 17-point home win.
4. No. 25 Murray State takes the court for the first time in this year’s OVC tournament, as they’ll take on Morehead State in the semifinals. Led by guard Cameron Payne, Steve Prohm’s Racers have won 24 straight games and they rolled through league play with a 16-0 record.
5. Kent State can wrap up a share of the MAC East title with a win over Akron (7:00 p.m., ESPN2), and they’ll share the title with the winner of the Bowling Green/Buffalo matchup. Akron won by nine February 10, but the Golden Flashes were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder in Jimmy Hall due to injury.
Big South (quarterfinals): Longwood vs. Charleston Southern, Radford vs. Winthrop, Gardner-Webb vs. High Point and UNC Asheville vs. Coastal Carolina.
Colonial (first round): Towson vs. Elon, College of Charleston vs. Drexel
Horizon (second round): UIC vs. Oakland, Detroit vs. Cleveland State
Missouri Valley (quarterfinals): Southern Illinois vs. No. 8 Wichita State, Evansville vs. Illinois State, Bradley vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa, Loyola (IL) vs. Indiana State
Ohio Valley (semifinals): Morehead State vs. No. 25 Murray State, Belmont vs. Eastern Kentucky
Southern (first round): Samford vs. UNCG, Furman vs. The Citadel
West Coast (first round): Pacific vs. San Francisco, Loyola Marymount vs. Santa Clara
Bowling Green moves to 4-0 thanks to a Richaun Holmes buzzer-beating layup (VIDEO)
After being a member of Gregg Marshall’s staff for the last seven seasons, serving as associate head coach from 2011-14, Chris Jans made the move to Bowling Green with the MAC school hopeful that a change in direction would lead to better results. Last season the Falcons finished 12-20, with their longest win streak of the season being three games (which occurred twice).
Sunday afternoon the Falcons moved to 4-0 on the season, winning at Detroit 64-63. After a Juwan Howard Jr. jumper gave the Titans a one-point lead with just under three seconds remaining Spencer Parker found Richaun Holmes, who split two defenders and made the game-winning layup as time expired.
The MAC has become known for parity the last few years, but last season saw the emergence of the league’s West Division after many years of dormant activity.
Before last season’s MAC conference tournament title game between Toledo and Western Michigan, the West hadn’t had a team in the league championship game since 2006 as the East Division and teams like Akron and Ohio usually dominated the league’s NCAA Tournament bid.
That changed dramatically in 2013-14 as Toledo won a school-record 27 games but ultimately fell short of making the tournament by falling to Western Michigan.
The Rockets will be favored to make the Big Dance this season, however, as they return four starters, including two of the league’s top-1o scorers in senior point guard Julius Brown and fellow senior Justin Drummond. If Toledo can improve its shaky defense and get more stops on the defensive end, they could be one of the most dangerous mid-major programs in the country this season because they can really put up points in a hurry.
Western Michigan will still have plenty of gas in the tank after only losing All-MAC center Shayne Whittington from a NCAA Tournament team. Senior guard David Brown was granted a sixth year of eligibility and is the league’s returning leading scorer and he’s joined by senior point guard Austin Richie, junior power forward Connar Tava and sophomore forward Tucker Haymond.
Representing the East Division will be Akron, who has reached 20 wins a remarkable nine consecutive years under head coach Keith Dambrot. If league history is any indication, the Zips might be the favorite to make the NCAA Tournament by virtue of always making it during odd-numbered years. Akron reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2013, with breaks one-year in between just like this season. Past history aside, Akron returns all-league forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell, who is one of the most productive players in the league and the team will have plenty of talent to compete in 2014-15.
With new head coach Saul Phillips at the helm, Ohio should be competitive this season as well. Senior forward Maurice Ndour is a force on the interior and the senior backcourt of Stevie Taylor and Javarez Willis should be steady for the Bobcats.
From there, the MAC is filled with question marks.
Bowling Green has a new head coach in former Wichita State assistant Chris Jans and he inherits a roster filled with experienced players. All-MAC selection Richaun Holmes returns at forward and senior guards Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke can both score as well while junior forward Spencer Parker also averaged double-figures last season.
One of the surprise teams this season in the MAC could be Northern Illinois, as the Huskies improved by 10 wins last season and return plenty of talent. Head coach Mark Montgomery returns plenty of players with starting experience, including senior center Jordan Threloff, forwards Darrell Bowie and Travon Baker and guard Aaric Armstead, but he also gains Kansas State transfer Michael Orris at point guard, Purdue transfer Anthony Johnson at shooting guard and sophomore guard Dontel Highsmith returns from a ACL injury that robbed him of a promising start last season.
Kent State returns its top three scorers in guards Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson and Devareaux Manley, but the Golden Flashes were inconsistent last season and relied too much on perimeter jumpers. Buffalo begins life after MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea and must replace his stellar production in the front court this season. Eastern Michigan also returns its top three scorers from a 22-win season, but they’ll have to make it over the hump of beating the top teams in the league.
PRESEASON MAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Julius Brown, Toledo
The senior point guard known as “Juice” returns to a 27-win team after averaging 14.9 points and a MAC-leading 6 assists per game last season. The 5-foot-10 Brown is the engine that makes the Rockets’ potent offense run and his scoring average increased to 16.2 points per game during MAC play last season.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MAC TEAM:
David Brown, Western Michigan – The 6-foot-4 senior was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a career filled with medical issues and the Broncos will be pleased because he’s the MAC’s returning leading scorer at 19.1 points per game.
Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green – One of the MAC’s best athletes, the 6-foot-8 Holmes averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a junior while also leading the conference in blocks.
Demetrius Treadwell, Akron – The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward is coming off of a first-team All-MAC appearance after averaging 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year.
Maurice Ndour, Ohio – The 6-foot-9 senior with a 7-foot-5 wingspan put that to good use last season, averaging 13.8 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, good for top-10 in all three categories in the conference.