By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Caleb Fields is coming home to play basketball this weekend.
Fields, a 2018 graduate of Wildwood Catholic High School, and the Bowling Green men’s basketball team are set to compete in the four-team Boardwalk Battle on Friday and Saturday at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Bowling Green, off to an excellent 8-2 start, is set to play Norfolk State on Friday at 7 p.m. The Falcons will play Drexel or Quinnipiac in the consolation or championship game on Saturday at 2 or 4:30 p.m.
“I’ve really been looking forward to it,” Fields said during a recent telephone interview from Bowling Green’s campus. “When they told me last year I’d be able to come back near my hometown and play, I was so excited. I don’t overlook any games, but I’m so excited to play in my hometown. Everyone’s going to be there. I know a lot of people back home are hyping it up. It’s going to be like a high school game all over again, but on a bigger stage.”
Fields, a 6-2 guard, has started nine of Bowling Green’s 10 games, missing one because of injury. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 2.4 rebounds and is tied for third on the team with 11 steals. He’s playing 29 minutes per game, good for third on the team.
Bowling Green is coming off a 72-58 win over Cleveland State on Sunday that ran the team’s record to a perfect 5-0 in home games. Fields had eight points, three rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.
The Falcons have played some good competition so far. They lost a close game to No. 22 LSU in early November and upset Cincinnati in overtime in the semifinal round of the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands. Bowling Green, which had beaten Western Kentucky in the opening round, went on to lose to Nevada in the title game.
“That first major game against LSU really set the tone for us,” Fields said. “Then we went and played a few good teams in the Virgin Islands. Beating Western Kentucky and Cincinnati and then losing to Nevada in the championship was a good experience for us. It gave us confidence that we could play with anyone.”
Fields was a contributor last season as a freshman as well, playing in 33 games with 25 starts. He averaged 4.2 points per game. Bowling Green finished 22-12 and reached the championship game of the Mid-American Conference, losing to Buffalo.
The goal this season, Fields said, is to get back to the MAC title game and win it, thus earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“The fact that we should have done it last year,” Fields said. “To do it this year would be my biggest accomplishment as a basketball player.”
Fields, a criminal justice major, is clearly enjoying his time at Bowling Green.
“I feel like I made the best choice for me and even my family,” he said. “Even when I committed here, I had no regrets at all. Then once the season started last year, I knew my time was going to come and it eventually did. I just played my role and tried to help the team as much as I could. Now that my role is expanded this year, I know the sky’s the limit. It really is.”
Fields said playing at Boardwalk Hall this weekend will be a welcome challenge and a fun experience.
“As a basketball player I always try to not let my emotions get to me,” he said. “Having fans and friends and family come to watch me play, I don’t think it will affect me. I just want to go out and play my hardest and try to get a win and put on a show for all the fans.”
Fields led Wildwood Catholic to the Cape-Atlantic League championship as a senior in 2018. He finished his high school career with 1,665 points and averaged 21.4 points per game as a senior.