According to ESPN.com 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.
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!
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.