March 8, 2011

Lack of scoring and close losses lead to 10-21 record

With Central Michigan's 50-64 loss to Buffalo tonight in the first round of the MAC Tournament, the 2010-11 season is now in the books, and needless to say it was not the finish anyone expected. The Chippewas were picked to finish second in the MAC West during the preseason, a prediction they almost achieved despite an overall record of 10-21. When it was all said and done, this CMU team lost numerous close games and could never put it all together. And the reality is, head coach Ernie Zeigler may have done the best job explaining the season with a quote from CMU Media Day:

"I think we're going to be talented and athletic enough, the question is going to be can we come together from a chemistry standpoint and start to have a continuity about ourselves once we get into conference play"

In a nutshell, that is exactly what CMU could not do on the court this season. They stumbled through the out-of-conference schedule to a 3-11 mark, saw their starting point guard (Amir Rashid) leave the team in the middle of the MAC conference schedule, and rarely displayed the team chemistry needed to earn their third straight MAC West Championship.

Best Win: A 91-85 win over Ohio at home saw the Chippewas offense come alive and CMU defeat the defending MAC Conference Champions. In fact, CMU scored 15 more points in that game than they did in their next highest scoring output, a 76-82 loss to South Alabama in overtime.

Worst Loss: Could go any number of ways here, but two stand out. First was the Chippewas 55-61 loss at Niagra in the annual ESPN BracketBuster game. Niagra finished the season at 9-23 overall and it was a game that could have kept momentum for CMU off two straight wins and given a young team some confidence on the road. But while that as a bad loss, CMU's 49-75 whooping at the hands of Detroit on national television in their home arena may have topped it. Billed as a matchup between two of the top freshman in the Mid-Major conferences, it turned ugly real quick. It doesn't get much worse than getting blown out by another in-state school on your home court, but the national audience and impact former Chippewa and current Detroit Titan (Chase Simon) had with 17 points added salt to the wound.

- Top Player: Senior forward Jalin Thomas

- Thomas had a great season for CMU, averaging 16 points and 5 rebounds per game, but it was his development from the previous year that stands out. As a junior, Thomas was a glue guy who did the little things and had a timid three point shot. Leaving as a senior, he nearly led the team in scoring and became the Chippewas top 3-point threat and an Academic All-American.

Top Freshman: G/F Trey Zeigler

- Sure he had his up's and down's, but amid all the expectations people often forget he just completed his first season of college basketball. Zeigler led the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game and broke the CMU freshman record for points in a season. He also grabbed 5.4 rebounds per game and finished the season with 10 more assists than anyone else on the team. As he continues to mature as a player and fills out his 6-foot-5 frame, nobody doubts CMU has a building block in Zeigler. Of course there is room for improvement Zeigler had 48 more turnovers (100 total) than anyone else in the regular season, shot just 40%, and only 57% from the FT line.

Biggest Disappointment: Senior guard Antonio Weary

- For all of his athletic gifts, the 6-foot-3 and 205 pound Weary was just never ever able to put it all together. On senior day, head coach Ernie Zeigler called him the "ultimate glue guy", which is kind of like saying you don't really do anything that well. Unlike Jalin Thomas, he was never able to develop out of that role, and he struggled enough as a senior that he was eventually pulled from the starting lineup and only started 16 of 30 games. In all, Weary averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds per game, shot just over 20% from 3-point land and just 51% from the FT line...not exactly the numbers you want out of your starting two guard.

The "Wait a Second, We May Have Something Here" Award: Junior F Andre Coimbra

- The 6-foot-9 Brazilian native came to CMU as a JUCO transfer from NEOSHO (It's in Oklahoma) Junior College with little fanfare, and he put together one of the most polarizing seasons I've ever seen out of a basketball player. He has all the physical tools needed to excel, and even displayed a shooting range beyond the 3-point line, but struggled to stay out of foul trouble. In fact, Coimbra had a team high 112 fouls and averaged 18.9 minutes per game…meaning he averaged a foul about every 5 minutes. He also fouled out in 11 games and shot just 41% from the FT line. But remember…I said polarizing. On the other hand, he averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds per game and led the team not only in field goal percentage (50%), but 3-point percentage (38%), including 47% in conference play. His development into next season will go a long way to determining the Chippewas on court success.


If people thought it was hard to gauge how CMU would play in 2010-11, it may be harder in 2011-12. But, the potential is there. In Zeigler, Derek Jackson and Coimbra, CMU will have three proven players to build off of. The question is, which guys step up to replace the production Thomas and William McClure leave? In the backcourt, Finis Craddock had his moments and walk-on John Morris did an solid job being a distributor at PG after Rashid left, but neither has shown they can step up an score night after night. JUCO transfer Paris Paramore had a forgetful season and barely played, something that is mind boggling for a JUCO transfer. Brook Turson will become eligible after having to sit out the year, but while he has a reputation as a great shooter, he hasn't played a single game yet. In the front court, a lot of pressure will fall on Colin Voss who looked lost at times on the court as a true freshman. Jevon Harden played very little as a true freshman and needs to add about 20 pounds before he can bang around, and 6-foot-9 Nate VanArendonk missed almost the entire season after catching mono. Basically, CMU will have more question marks than a suit on late night television explaining tax loopholes. But if it doesn't come from the current roster...

Could it possibly come in recruiting? CMU already has two guard commitments in Jorddan Myrick and Austin McBroom, but the Chippewas are not finished yet. Stick with ChippewaCountry in the coming days as we bring you news and notes on several prospects that could be additions to the 2011 class.

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