Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Previewing Wednesday's matchup with Ohio

From Wednesday's CM Life:

By Daniel Monson
Sports Copy Chief

Three Cody High School alumni will meet at 8 p.m. today when the men's basketball team hosts Ohio in Rose Arena.

But only one leads the Mid-American Conference in assists.

Ohio senior guard Michael Allen attended the same Detroit high school as CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler and director of basketball operations Terrance Chatman.

Chatman coached Allen, whose 4.22 assists per game leads the MAC, when Allen played at Cody High. He said he is similar to CMU junior point guard Robbie Harman because of the effort he gives on the court.

"They both play so hard," he said. "For (Allen), he's been that way since he was in the ninth grade. He's so much of a leader, he controls the whole game."

Allen can also score. His 7.1 points per game ranks fifth on the team and has made 17-of-40 (42.5 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.

"He's going to have a lot of family coming," Zeigler said. "For us, again it's going to be about 'pick your poison,' because they're very balanced on offense."

In CMU's 62-47 loss to the Bobcats last season in Athens, the 6-foot Allen scored only three points, but recorded five assists.

"He doesn't hunt shots, but he takes open shots," Chatman said. "His strength is controlling the game, getting to the basket, making his teammates better. It's not like he can't shoot it, but he looks to get it to other guys first."

And the most dangerous of Allen's teammates is senior forward Jerome Tillman, whose 19.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game leads the MAC.

"What makes him difficult to defend is his versatility," OU coach John Groce. "He can play both inside and out."

The 6'6" Tillman has made 17 3-pointers and his 235-pound frame can be tough inside as well, Zeigler said.

"They had the best post player in the league last year in Leon Williams," he said. "Now, Jerome Tillman, kind of his Robin last year, has kind of gone into that Batman role."

The Bobcats (10-8 overall, 3-2 MAC) lost 52-51 to Bowling Green at home on Saturday, shooting just 26.5 percent. Groce said the loss should inspire his team.

"If it doesn't, then I'm not coaching a very competitive basketball team," he said. "And I do think that our guys are competitive … I hope it gets our attention."

The Chippewas (5-12, 2-3 MAC) are coming off their first MAC road win, beating Northern Illinois 58-45 Saturday. Senior forward Marcus Van was named MAC West Player of the Week after a 14-point, 20-rebound performance.

Groce said he likes his team to play uptempo, while CMU will try to control the flow of the game by taking its time on the offensive end. Central has lost six consecutive to Ohio and the last two at Rose Arena.

"We're going to have a very difficult task in trying to slow them down," Zeigler said. "We're going to be truly tested about how we want to play now - can we truly control the tempo?"

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