Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The losses keep mounting, the confidence keeps declining

Trey Zeigler, left, drives against Wright State.
CMU lost its sixth consecutive game Monday night 72-69 on a last-second 3-pointer by South Dakota State's Nate Wolters.

Things are not looking good. And while it's not time to push the panic button just yet (that might come later in the first half of the conference season), there are some warning signs that this just might not be a very good team.

No offensive continuity, flow or comfort: After attending the team's 53-49 loss against Wright State, I waited to post because I wanted to see what it did against Detroit. Well, it turned out to be another stellar 49-point effort in a 75-49 flat-out embarrassment against another father-son tandem that looks like they're comfortable together.

And although the Chippewas put up 69 Monday night, South Dakota State came in giving up 67.2 per game, good for 165th nationally. And without a 45-point second half, CMU doesn't crack 60 again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wait...how many assists?

So, the CMU men's basketball team lost again, this time 59-55 to a usually-tough LSU squad on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

What to take from this one? Well, again, CMU lost a late lead. It was 53-52 CMU lead as late as 1:05 remaining in the game before two free throws from LSU's Andre Stringer. Then PG Amir Rashid and Jalin Thomas turned the ball over on successive possessions and LSU solidified the game at the line. Coach Ernie Zeigler blames it on a lack of "poise." You also could blame it on shooting 35.4 percent and totaling....

2 assists.

First, let me say I haven't watched these recent losses. I'm going off what I can read from the box score.

But....2? Through eight games, CMU is averaging 9.6 assists per game. That's good for 326th nationally out of 336 teams. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's probably not leading to much success.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A few words on an rough loss

CMU's 71-62 loss on Sunday against DePaul, the cellar dweller in the Big East, came when the Chippewas blew a 36-24 halftime lead and a 47-40 lead midway through the second half. It doesn't help when the other team doubles you up (31-15) over the final 10:45 of a game.

It also doesn't help, however, when your star freshman commits his fourth foul less than 3 minutes into the second half. By the time Trey Zeigler checked back in 10 minutes later, the score was tied 52-52 and CMU was on the defensive with less than 9 minutes remaining. Zeigler then fouled out just more than 2 minutes after hopping off the bench, with 6:25 left.

Jackson's a better bet at PG
After that, Amir Rashid turned the ball over three more times to run his tab to 8 on the game.

Yep, that about sums this one up.

Oh, one more thing: the whole 28-turnover thing. Whoops.

Not all Rashid's fault, but I continue to ask: Why isn't Derek Jackson your starting point guard at this point? Sure, point out that Rashid had a career-high 16 points and added three steals, but had just one assist.

Rashid already has 21 turnovers this season and the same number of assists, and that's even after sitting out all but 6 minutes of the Chippewas' loss against Hawaii. Jackson has 9, and 13 assists while handling the ball less. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

It seems to me you'd want someone playing the point who protects the ball. Jackson's already shown he turns the ball over less, is a better offensive player and is more athletic. The only thing he lacks is experience. At 2-5, it couldn't hurt to give him some starting experience in non-conference play.

I need to see this team in person to know for sure, which is why I'll be going to the Wright State game on Tuesday at the new McGuirk Arena.

Anyway, here's the box score if you're so inclined.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Second-half troubles halt CMU's upset bid against Temple, 65-53

CM Life sports editor Aaron McMann's recap of CMU's 65-53 loss can be found here.

The Good: 
Jalin Thomas had a game-high 26 points.
  • Central Michigan opened a new arena Wednesday night, and drew a sellout crowd of 5,350, which is more people than attended the first four home games of 2009 combined (4,641). The former Rose Arena, now named McGuirk Arena for the local real estate moguls, technically is just renovated. But the massive additions (new entryway, practice facilities, etc.) and total makeover was enough to brand it as a new thing and pack the stands in the opener against recently-bumped-from-the-top-25 Temple. CMU got off to a fast start and the crowd energized by leading 32-24 at halftime.
  • Jalin Thomas (26 points, 6-of-8 3-pointers). The senior forward from Columbus, Ohio, likely took advantage of the Owls' defensive focus on star freshman Trey Zeigler, who had his worst game since turning the ball over eight times at South Alabama (see below). Thomas had 17 of his 26 in the first half. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Central Michigan takes care of Illinois-Chicago 62-52 on road, ends three-game skid

Quick hits
Trey Zeigler
  • Trey Zeigler..still a freshman. Didn't start because of his lackluster defensive performance (and eight turnovers) in CMU's last game, a loss at South Alabama. At UIC, led the team with 17 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and cut his turnovers down in the first half. He also had a sweet turnaround baseline jumper....but traveled several times and looked a little sped up at times. That'll get better. He still averages 4.2 turnovers per game, more than twice as much as anyone else on the team. Of course he also has the ball more than anyone else, averaging 18.8 points per game to lead the team. But he's got to take better care of the ball, especially down the stretch. 
  • On the bright side: Zeigler's defense looked good, especially in man-to-man against UIC's best player Robo Kreps, who came in averaging more than 19 points per game but finished with 14 on 5-of-12 shooting. Kreps played the whole game, too. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hawaii 65, CMU 62; Ernie Zeigler: "It's really clear we having something here."

Derek Jackson's last-second shot from halfcourt hit the right side of the backboard early Tuesday morning and the Chippewas fell 65-62 against Hawaii in the final game of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.

CMU (1-2) got 24 points and five rebounds from freshman Trey Zeigler in 37 minutes. Zeigler also had five turnovers.

Senior Jalin Thomas added 14 points in 36 minutes. Jackson had eight points, but went 3-for-12 from the field and had three turnovers.

CMU went 6-for-25 (24 percent) from 3-point range. The Chippewas totaled a paltry five assists.

Thomas was named to the all-tournament team after hitting the game-winning 3-pointer in the team's opening win against Cal State Fullerton.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CMU falls 65-58 against Montana State in overtime

UPDATED: Central Michigan Life Sports Editor Aaron McMann's recap on cm-life.com can be found here.

CMU's second game ended in overtime against a Montana State team that hit 21-of-30 free throws (70 percent) and 8-of-16 from 3-point land.

Some highlights:
  • Trey Zeigler led all scorers with 21 points. He also had four rebounds, one assist and one steal. He shot 8-of-16 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range.
  • Jalin Thomas again seemed to be in the flow of things on the offensive end. He didn't shoot real well (6-for-15), but in 33 minutes, grabbed six rebounds.
  • Freshman Derek Jackson came off the bench to contribute five points in 22 minutes.
  • Sophomore Finis Craddock had one his best performances, tallying seven points in 22 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jalin Thomas gives CMU 70-67 win at buzzer

NEW: Central Michigan Life talks with coach Ernie Zeigler, Jalin Thomas about the season-opening win here:

With the game tied at 67 in the final minute, senior guard Amir Rashid drew a charge against Cal State Fullerton’s Perry Webster, setting up the game-winning play.
“We called a timeout and talked about setting a screen with (Andre) Coimbra,” said CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler. “Trey (Zeigler) and Derek (Jackson) were both in and we told them to go make a play. Jalin stepped up.”

Freshman Zeigler took the ball the length of the court and found Thomas on the right wing, where he hit his third three-pointer of the night to give CMU the win.

Thomas, fighting the flu, went 7-of-18 shooting for the night, also grabbing four rebounds in the best game since playing under Zeigler.

“The emphasis has been starting the season off great,” Thomas said. “That’s something we didn’t do last year. I was really sick but being a senior and captain of this team, I knew I had to step up and show what battling through adversity is.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

A new era begins: CMU at the Rainbow Classic and previewing the MAC

The Central Michigan men's basketball program is hours away from tipping off a new season.

The expectations are cautiously optimistic for the 2010-11 version of the Chippewas, who play Cal State Fullerton at 2:30 a.m. EDT Saturday in Honolulu, Hawaii as part of the Rainbow Classic.

It's easy to see that expectations have never been higher for coach Ernie Zeigler and his team. Zeigler has never had this kind of talent to work with before. He began his tenure by taking over a team that was coming off a 4-24 season in 2005-06.

Zeigler has slowly but consistently brought this program back to respectability. It's hasn't been easy — and Zeigler had his share of detractors. A good number of players Zeigler has brought in left the program because they couldn't fit his "Think Tough, Be Tough" mantra. Some, like Jacolby Hardiman and Marcus Van, got in trouble. Others, such as freshman Tyler Brown, were injured and homesick. But for whatever reason, be it the sorry state of Mid-American Conference basketball or Zeigler's unwillingness to accept nothing less than 100 percent effort, CMU has gained a share of the MAC West Division title the past two seasons. It hasn't translated to success in the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, however, as he has yet to guide the Chippewas past the quarterfinals. But that could be changing immediately.

Friday, April 30, 2010

E-mail discussion with Andre Coimbra

1) Describe how you made your decision to commit to CMU over UMKC. What sort of things did you like about the program?
i felt more comfortable at CMU insted of UMKC because they made me feel apart of a family just being there a couple days. The program interested me because the coach showed me he is a winning coach and i want to be apart of a winning program. I see a possiblity of us being in the tournament.
2) What do you think are your biggest strengths/weaknesses on the basketball court? What do you need to work on the most?
My biggest strength is defense and the one thing i need to work on more is my ability to shoot threes. i can shoot them very well but i want to be close to perfect.

3) What was your journey like from Brazil to Oklahoma? Was it a difficult decision to leave home?
it was a very hard process because i had trouble speaking english and it was a long trip also. But it has gotten better because im used to America and my english isnt [erfect but is getting a lot better. it was pretty difficult leaving home, i miss my family and friends but im willing to make the sacrifice.

4) How did CMU's incoming recruiting class/new Events Center influence your decision? 
The incoming recruits were friendly just as if i already knew them.

5) Who would you compare your game to in the NBA/college ranks?
im not sure who i play like but i like to watch Dennis Rodmans game and try to duplicate my game to his minus the bad attitude.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sizeable, history-making 2010 class complete

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College's Andre Coimbra has signed with Central Michigan.

Coimbra, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the final piece of what many consider the Chippewas' best recruiting class in program history.

Coimbra averaged 7 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game last season for NEO and coach Dustin Grover. He chose CMU over Missouri-Kansas City.

It's the seventh scholarship awarded for the 2010 class, when only six were supposed to be available.

The coaching staff and players are being suspiciously mum on who's leaving the program. After the season, several former players told me Marko Spica would not return for his fifth year and return to Serbia. But Spica denied the rumor Wednesday, saying he will do an internship in Serbia but still return to play basketball. Apparently the coaches feel like they need to wait until after exams to release who is leaving to make room for Coimbra. My best bet still is on Spica — the guys he came in with are leaving and he and Zeigler have never seen eye-to-eye. Another gut feeling is Zach Saylor, whose injury problems have kept him from getting any semblance of playing time.

The 2010 recruiting class in full
G/F Trey Zeigler                 Mount Pleasant High School            Four stars (No. 7 SG - Scout.com)
F Colin Voss                        East Grand Rapids High School         Two stars
C Nate VanArendonk          Grand Haven High School                  Two stars
G Derek Jackson                 St. Benedictine (Cleveland, Ohio)   N/A
F Jevon Harden                  Loyola High School (Detroit)           Two stars
G Paris Paramore                Triton College (Ill.)                          N/A
F Andre Coimbra                 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M           N/A

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sixth, but not final, 2010 recruit commits

Sneak peak at my story for tomorrow about CMU's newest recruit. This was supposed to be the final scholarship available for the 2010 class, but both head coach Ernie Zeigler and assistant coach Darren Kohne said they still are actively recruiting — which means a departure is likely.

The sixth member of the CMU men’s basketball team’s 2010 recruiting class is no stranger to success.

Paris Paramore, a 6-foot point guard who led Triton College (Ill.) to a 55-7 record during his two seasons, signed a National Letter of Intent to play at CMU on Monday.
“He’s a winner,” said CMU coach Ernie Zeigler. “He’s a guy who had really good leadership skills throughout high school and college. He’s played in situations where he’s helped his teams win.”
Paramore’s 14.8 points and 4.7 assists per game led Triton, which finished 26-3 last season. He also added 5.1 rebounds per game. In 2008-09, Triton went 29-4 and did not lose a game in the North Central Community College Conference.
“I try to pick players up when they’re down and make sure they’re working hard,” Paramore said. “For the big men, if they’re running the floor, I like to reward them. It’s not all about scoring – I rebound a lot as well.”
Triton coach Steven Christiansen said Paramore is an unselfish.
“Paris is just a really smart, solid player,” said Triton coach Steve Christiansen. “He does a lot of things on the floor that increases his team’s chances of winning. He’s just kind of always in the right spot making the play that needs to be made.”
Said CMU assistant coach Darren Kohne:  “I think he’s very versatile – he’s a good shooter who shot 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from (3-point range) last season.
“He’s not a great athlete – very average athleticism. But he just has a desire and passion to win, which I think in Coach Zeigler’s program is ultimately the most important characteristic you can have.” 
High school
As a prep player at Chicago’s George Washington High School, Paramore led his team to back-to-back city championship games. His team lost both times against Simeon Career Academy, which was led by Derrick Rose, who now is a member of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
“The Chicago Public Schools are real tough,” Paramore said. “I think that played a good role in getting me to this point.”
Paramore’s George Washington teams also featured DeAndre Liggins, a guard at Kentucky and Kansas guard Mario Little.
Christiansen said Paramore chose the Chippewas over Eastern Michigan and Loyola.
“It’s going to be a real honor to represent the ‘C’ and be part of one of the top recruiting classes in Central history,” Paramore said. 
‘Great depth’
Paramore likely will compete with senior Amir Rashid next season for the starting position at point guard.
The Chippewas lose their starting backcourt and two leading scorers – Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman. Incoming freshman Trey Zeigler is expected to start at shooting guard or small forward, but Ernie Zeigler said he expects practices to increase in intensity.
“(Paramore) allows us to have great depth in our backcourt and he brings a competitiveness to the position as well,” Zeigler said. “We’re going to have the opportunity to have some very spirited and competitive practices that are going to help this team develop.” 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CMU looks to re-sign Zeigler to multi-year deal

By Daniel Monson
Senior Reporter

Athletics Director Dave Heeke said Tuesday he expects to re-sign men’s basketball coach Ernie Zeigler to a multi-year contract in the next few weeks.

“We’re looking at a multi-year agreement,” Heeke said. “I hope to pull this together in short order and continue to move forward.”

Zeigler has one year remaining on his five-year contract, which was extended one year before the 2008-09 season. 

CMU lost 69-60 against Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals March 11 in Cleveland to finish the season 15-15 – its highest win total since 2002-03. The Chippewas also won its second consecutive MAC West title with a 9-7 conference record, earning the tournament’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

“We’re really comfortable with the direction of our program competitively,” Heeke said. “It was a step forward this year. We continue each year to make strides from a competitive standpoint.”

Zeigler has a 54-69 overall record and 31-33 mark in the MAC. He has led the Chippewas to four consecutive 10-plus win seasons, the first CMU coach to do so since Charlie Coles from 1987-88 to 1990-91.

“That win in the quarters would have been a big win for us. It didn’t go our way,” Heeke said. “We played very well for a long stretch in that game and then in a way it resembled our season a little bit. Just when we thought we were there, it all just slipped through our fingertips. I think we’re very close and I thought this season illustrated that.”

Zeigler said he looks forward to continuing to build the program and has had preliminary discussions with Heeke about an extension.

“Dave Heeke and I have had some preliminary discussions and we’re going to be putting our heads together and hopefully putting me in a position to continue being head coach here for a long time,” he said.

Heeke said one concern he has addressed with Zeigler is the number of underclassmen who have left the program – six in the past two offseasons. But Heeke said each individual circumstance was different and he has confidence the right foundation of players is in place. Zeigler said he does not anticipate any underclassmen leaving the program this offseason.

 “We think we’ve got that formula figured out,” Heeke said. “We have an excellent core group of young men and they understand our system and the expectations of our program.”

With the new events center opening in the fall, Heeke said this is a good opportunity to secure the program’s future.

“I think it’s a really strong tool in the tool box that we hope is a final piece of the puzzle that can vault our program to that next level,” he said. “We don’t talk about the number of wins, I just want our programs to be a position to contend for championships and for titles.”


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scouting Western Michigan

No. 2 Central Michigan vs. No. 7 Western Michigan
What: MAC Tournament quarterfinals game
When: Noon Thursday 
Where: Quicken Loans Arena; Cleveland, Ohio
At stake: Winner advances to semifinals, plays No. 3 Akron-No. 6 Eastern Michigan winner.

Scouting Western Michigan
Record: 17-14, 8-8 MAC
Last season: 10-21, 7-9 MAC; Tied for 1st in MAC West; lost 62-55 against Ohio in MAC first round
Coach: Steve Hawkins, seventh year (123-98)
Watch out for: The 2010 MAC Player of the Year, David Kool (more to come).
Last MAC tournament title: 2004
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2004

A look at CMU's history at the MAC Tournament

CMU vs. opponents in MAC Tournament

Team CMU record against
Western Mich. 0-0
Akron 1-2
Kent State 4-1
Eastern Mich. 2-0
Ohio 1-3
Miami 1-1
Buffalo 1-0
Bowling Green 1-0
Toledo 0-3
Ball State 0-4
Northern Ill. 2-0
Marshall* 0-1
Overall 13-15

*No longer in MAC

CMU in MAC Tourney under coach Ernie Zeigler

Central Michigan 80, Buffalo 74 (first round at Cleveland)
Akron 82, Central Michigan 53 (quarterfinals at Cleveland)

Central Michigan 83, Northern Illinois 71 (first round at Cleveland)
Akron 82, Central Michigan 53 (quarterfinals at Cleveland)

Central Michigan 62, Eastern Michigan 49 (first round at Cleveland)
Ball State 64, Central Michigan 61 (OT) (quarterfinals at Cleveland)

Monday, March 8, 2010

A glance at the Mid-American Conference Tournament

Sunday's first round results
No. 9 Ohio 85,
No. 8 Ball State* 77 (OT)

No. 5 Buffalo* 72,
No. 12 Toledo 54

No. 7 Western Michigan* 75,
No. 10 Bowling Green 73

No. 6 Eastern Michigan* 65,
No. 11 Northern Illinois 59
*home team

Thursday's quarterfinals matchups
No. 2 CMU vs. No. 7 Western Michigan, noon
No. 3 Akron vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan, 2:30 p.m.
No. 1 Kent State vs. No. 9 Ohio, 7 p.m.
No. 4 Miami vs. No. 5 Buffalo, 9 p.m.

Friday's schedule
7 p.m.: Semifinal No. 1
9 p.m.: Semifinal No. 2

Saturday's schedule
6 p.m.: Championship game (ESPN2)

CMU earns second consecutive MAC West crown (with video)

Photos and my experimental video from Thursday, March 4, 2010, after CMU clinched its second consecutive MAC West crown and a No. 2 seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Cleveland with a 56-55 win against Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti.

Above, the team celebrates at centercourt at the Convocation Center after EMU missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer (Photo by Lynn Monson). Right, senior guard Jordan Bitzer shoots over EMU's Justin Dobbins in the second half. He made the 3-pointer, three of his 18 points (Photo by Daniel Monson).

The Chippewas will play No. 7 Western Michigan in the quarterfinals at noon Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Stay posted for a preview blog post and on cm-life.com for a full story.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scouting Eastern Michigan for tonight's game

Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan, 7 tonight at Rose Arena
Scouting Eastern Michigan
Current record: 9-7, 1-2 MAC
Last season: 8-24, 6-10 MAC; 4th West; lost to CMU in MAC first round
Coach: Charles Ramsey, fifth year (51-88)
Watch out for: EMU’s upperclassman trio of senior guard Carlos Medlock (6-foot), junior forward Brandon Bowdry (6-foot-6) and senior forward Justin Dobbins. Medlock’s additional responsibilities include assists (3.6 per game) and steals (1.7), in which categories he ranks seventh. Bowdry (18.2 per game) and Medlock (15.2) rank third and fourth in scoring, respectively, while Bowdry leads the conference in rebounding (10.6). The 6-foot-8 Dobbins has been limited by a leg injury this season, missing seven games, but returned Jan. 13 and scored 18 points against Toledo.
Last MAC tournament title: 1998
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 1998

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CMU 53, Ball State 38: CMU sets school record for least points allowed to MAC opponent

CMU started its Mid-American conference schedule 2-0 for the first time in 18 years Wednesday with a 53-38 win against Ball State at Rose Arena. This team's defense is what sets it apart from a lot of teams in the MAC and for the second consecutive game, it made the difference. The amount of swarming defense down low stifled the Cardinals' Jarrod Jones, last year's MAC freshman of the year and counterpart Malik Perry, who fouled out late in the game after not scoring and not grabbing a rebound.

CMU next heads to Western Michigan, where it tries to win in Kalamazoo for the second consecutive season for the first time in school history.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CMU opens home MAC schedule against Ball State tonight

Here's a link to my preview story in today's Central Michigan Life. Game time is 7 p.m. at a Rose Arena that is being renovated and does not have any bleachers on the north side in preparation for the wall being knocked down by the end of the month.