Friday, November 20, 2009

2 things we learned from the first 3 games

According to columnist and author Bill Simmons, basketball is a game that can't be measured by statistics. But after not making it to Mount Pleasant for any of the team's first three regular-season games, I now will attempt to analyze the statistics from those games to get an indication of what kind of team we might expect during this season.

A 2-1 start isn't bad considering CMU hasn't started that way since coach Ernie Zeigler's first season in 2006-07. But the competition wasn't up to par. A 3-0 start was entirely possible and almost should have been expected. But a 71-68 loss to Princeton marred the start.

Here's what I learned.

No. 1
Even though they have an increased inside presence with Chris Kellermann and Marko Spica returning, the Chippewas are have attempted an average of about five more 3-pointers per game than last season (22.0 this season, 17.2 last season). They're shooting better too (42.4 percent versus 33.6). But their inside presence was nearly non-existent against Princeton (Spica: 2 pts, Kellermann: 5), so they might not have had a choice. The team's leader from downtown thus far: Sr. guard Robbie Harman has made an astounding 14-of-25 (56 percent) from behind the arc. Sr. guard Jordan Bitzer has attempted fewer, but is shooting at nearly the same clip: 8-of-15 (53.3 percent), including a 4-of-4 performance in a 67-48 win against UIC on Wednesday.

This is semi-alarming. Don't expect the duo to continue their hot shooting, especially because it came at home in a familiar gym. Harman shot 34 percent last season, while Bitzer shot 34.9 percent. Get it down low!

No. 2
Zeigler yet again is not afraid to mix up the starting lineup.
After an expected lineup against Princeton of:
PG Harman (22 pts.)
SG Bitzer (19 pts., 6 rebounds)
SF Jalin Thomas (8 points, 4 rebounds)
PF Kellermann (5 points, 1 rebound)
C Spica (2 points, 0 rebounds)

Zeigler switched it up after poor production in the post, moving toward this smaller lineup against Ferris St., which he stuck with against UIC a few days later:
PG Harman (18 pts, 5 assists); (20 points, 3 assists)
SG Bitzer (11 pts, 4 assists); (12 points, 5 rebounds)
SF Finis Craddock (11 points, 6 rebounds); (4 pts, 3 rebounds)
PF Jalin Thomas (10 pts, 12 rebounds); (16 pts, 8 rebounds)
C William McClure (1 point, 2 rebounds); (0 pts, 5 rebounds)
Kellermann (11 pts); (8 pts, 12 rebounds)
Spica (13 pts, 4 rebs); (4 pts, 3 rebs)

Notable: Freshman Tyler Brown has yet to score in 26 mins. but has six rebounds.

Verdict: Thomas is a hell of a rebounder. He might even steal injured junior forward Antonio Weary's starting spot because he can both rebound and score points. Weary can be electric, but struggles shooting and rebounding.


  1. I was at all 3 of the first 3 games. Keep in mind EZ calls all the plays. The team WAS going inside but when you throw it in and don't get a shot off because of traveling, offensive fouls, not being able to hang onto the pass, getting stripped of the ball etc. I think coach got tired of that and started calling other plays. If the bigs would also realize that they should pass it back out once in awhile it would help their game. If things don't improve underneath I wouldn't be surprised to see Weary and Thomas to start together even if it means a much smaller line up.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Nice to know someone's reading. I agree with you about putting Weary and Jalin together if Kellermann and Spica don't step it up. If they're not getting anything down low, it's nice to have guys like Harman and Bitzer out on the 3-point line. But they'll be in trouble if their shots aren't falling.

    I wish I could have made it up for the games. I will be covering the team full-time starting in January, when the games really start to matter. Should be an interesting season, especially with Trey Zeigler making his decision in the spring.