2012-13 Division I Basketball Preview: Central Michigan must replace nearly 75 percent of its offense from last season

October 22, 2012 in Division I

It’s hard to believe, but college basketball season is almost here. This week, we’ll preview Michigan’s seven Division I schools.

By Patrick Hayes

At a glance

Overview

Central Michigan enters the season with both the advantage and disadvantage of having a largely untested roster.

Strengths

There’s no way around the main issue around CMU hoops as Davis takes over this season — when fired coach Ernie Ziegler left, he was followed by not only his son, Trey, who transferred to Pitt, but the program loses other key players from last season as well.

The good news, though? Even with those players in tow, Central wasn’t winning very much anyway, so starting from scratch may not be the worst thing for the Chippewas. The team does bring back four players, including one starter, who saw action last season. Olivier Mbaigoto started 27 games and averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Austin Keel was one of only four players to appear in all 32 games. Finnis Craddock started four games and Zach Saylor also saw action. None of those players projects as a star necessarily, but their experience should help ease the transition of the younger players.

The team also adds two transfers, Buckley and Randall, who should solidify themselves in big roles immediately. Randall, a senior point guard, should be an important bridge to the future as he’ll tutor freshman guards Richardson and Fowler to perhaps take over that position down the road.

Nate Schneider of the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun watched the team’s recent open scrimmage and had these notes:

- The Chippewas play very fast and have plenty of shooters.
- Freshman point guard Chris Fowler along with senior point guard Kyle Randall are the perfect fits for this system. Fowler really impressed me and will be one to watch this year.
- There are plenty of 3-point shooters and guys like Austin Keel will have plenty of open looks in this offense.

Weaknesses

Granted, the roster is much different than last season, but if Davis wants to be a team that shoots the three a lot, CMU’s percentage is going to have to go up to have some success after they shot just 33 percent as a team last season.

The losses of Zeigler, McBroom, Jackson and Coimbra mean that Central is losing nearly 75 percent of its scoring from a season ago. Central was reliant on Zeigler as the focal point of its offense, and moving away from that type of system is probably a good thing. But in the interim, the team will probably have games where they struggle to score.

Rebounding could also be an issue. Central is undersized, although the team didn’t have great size last season either and still did OK on the boards in the MAC. The biggest issue for the Chips will simply be putting the ball in the basket. CMU made less than 40 percent of its shots as a team a season ago.

Circle these dates …

  • Nov. 12 – CMU gets to test itself against Big Ten opponent Iowa, a team that features native Michiganders Roy Devyn Marble and Anthony Clemmons. Davis’ dad, Tom Davis, is the legendary former Hawkeyes coach.
  • Dec. 22 and 29 – The Chips face two more Big Ten teams — Nebraska and Michigan.
  • Jan. 15 – Eastern Michigan won the MAC West last season and is favored to do it again. CMU will see how far it has to go in this game.

Outlook

A team with so many unknowns always has a chance at exceeding expectations, but with the program clearly in a rebuilding mode, it’s hard to see Central being a .500 or better team this season.


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