Monday, January 26, 2009

Van wins MAC West Player of the Week, CMU preparing for Ohio

Marcus Van has been named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week after his dominant 20-rebound performance against Northern Illinois on Saturday. His average for the week was 14 points, 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

I had the opportunity to sit down with junior forward Jacolby Hardiman today after CMU's practice and talked with him about his journey to CMU from his hometown Milwaukee to Arkansas-Fort Smith Community College to CMU. He's a great guy, real softspoken, and really, no one knows what this guy has been through. Look for the story in the next couple of weeks — I'm not going to spoil it now, but it will be one hell of a story if I do my job right.

I'll talk to coach Ernie Zeigler tomorrow morning about the upcoming matchup against Ohio at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Arena. The Bobcats are coming off a tough one-point loss to Bowling Green on Saturday and sit at 3-2 in the MAC, while CMU is 2-3 and looking to even out its record to .500. I talked with OU coach John Groce today about the matchup. Here's some of what he said:

On whether the 52-51 home loss against Bowling Green will motivate his team:
"If it doesn't, then I'm not coaching a very competitive basketball team. And I do think that our guys are competitive. When you're dealing with 18-to-22 year olds, sometimes it's more difficult for a coach to get their guys inspired after winning and being able to deal with success at that it age than it is after getting knocked down and you have to get back up. I hope it gets our attention and they take some pride and their competitiveness gets them inspired to get back on the court after that difficult one on Saturday."

On 6-6 senior forward and the MAC's No. 1 leading scorer Jerome Tillman, who averages 19.7 points per game:
"Just the kind of person that he is stands out. He's a great leader. He's a team guy, he plays to win. What makes him difficult to defend is his versatility — he can play both inside and out."

On his team's style of play:
"We like to play up tempo. That's where I came from, it's what we like to do. We played against zone for 37 straight minutes of the game. In a perfect world, we'd like to have as many possessions as possible and go up and down."

On defending CMU:
"They've got great balance. That strikes you. They've got five guys in double figures — that's a sign of a team that's difficult to defend. I think another thing is their ability to rebound the basketball. Those two things as we're heading into the game on Wednesday are our primary concerns."

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