October 26, 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.
At a glance
- Coach: Steve Hawkins, 10th season
- Last year: 14-20, 6-10 MAC
- Conference: MAC
- Key losses: Demetrius Ward, Mike Douglas, Caleb Dean, Muhammed Conteh, Flenard Whitfield, Matt Stainbrook
- Key additions: Connar Tava (freshman from Warren De La Salle), Jared Klein (freshman from Otsego), Von Washington III (freshman from Kalamazoo Central), Darius Paul (freshman from Illinois), A.J. Avery (freshman from Chicago), Charles Harris (freshman from Illinois), Taylor Perry (freshman from Rochester), Kellen McCormick (freshman from Notre Dame Prep)
- Team website
- Team roster
- Team schedule
- WMU news on BallinMichigan
- News – Bronco Blitz
If Western Michigan is going to improve on its record last season, the Broncos will need some of its eight freshman to mature into big roles quickly.
The Broncos return several players who played meaningful minutes last season and who should help as the team eases so many new faces into the lineup. Nate Hutcheson, a 6-foot-7 forward, started 29 games and averaged nine points and four rebounds per game. Austin Richie averaged 5.6 points per game off the bench. Brandon Pokley made 50 percent of his 3-point attempts in 21 games. Shayne Whittington, a 6-foot-10 center, was second on the team in blocked shots. The Broncos have a collection of talented players returning who could be ready for increased roles this season.
The team has a talented freshman class, and the early returns on McCormick from the team’s open practice were good. The team doesn’t need to rely on all of its freshmen to contribute, but if two or three show they’re ready to contribute immediately, Western could avoid some of the early season struggles that freshman-laden teams typically go through as those players gain experience.
The Broncos were a good rebounding team last season, out-rebounding opponents by five per game.
Western Michigan heads into the season without its four leading scorers from last season — Ward, Douglas, Stainbrook and Whitfield each averaged 11 points per game. They also lose their top three rebounders in that group.
Western needs to improve its 3-point shooting this season as well. The Broncos hit 34 percent as a team last season, which isn’t bad, but considering the team loses some of its size inside and the skillset of some of the incoming bigs who will replace those players includes 3-point shooting, that could become a major weapon for Western if that percentage goes up a few points this season.
It will be a difficult proposition, since young teams often struggle on the road, but Western really needs to pick up a few more road wins this season if they’re going to improve. The Broncos were a strong 11-3 at home last season, but were just 2-12 on the road.
Circle these dates …
- Dec. 1 — Western gets to test itself against fellow in-state Mid-Major Oakland.
- Dec. 4 — The Broncos really get to test themselves against in-state Big Ten opponent Michigan.
- Jan. 26 — Western plays its rival, Central Michigan. The game should be interesting because both teams are rebuilding some. Western will try to prove that its team is further along in that process.
The Broncos have so many questions, its hard to predict where they’ll finish until we’ve actually seen them on the court. I think, at the very least, they have a shot at being better than Central Michigan and Northern Illinois again this season, but holding those teams off won’t be easy either.
- Central Michigan must replace 75 percent of its offense from last season
- Oakland looks to replace Reggie Hamilton’s immense contributions
- Michigan enters the season with huge national expectations
- Michigan State has intriguing options to replace Draymond Green’s immense production, leadership
- Detroit returns Horizon League’s top player in quest for return to NCAA Tournament