|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.
- Zeigler had just five points on 2-of-11 shooting, with three assists and two rebounds. Didn't see the game, but here's what dad and coach Ernie Zeigler said after the game:
“They were really physical with him,” Zeigler said. “Everyone looks at his shots. I think the most disappointing stat is that he only had two rebounds. He can be a lot better rebounder than that, and a lot of those times where they were getting those second and third shots was his and the rest of his teammates’ inability to block out and get physical.”So, Basically, Temple told Trey: "Welcome to college basketball. We know your teammates (besides Thomas) aren't going to hurt us offensively, so we're going to shut you down." It's something Trey better get used to. And it will force this team to find a few other scoring options when Trey isn't having a good night. Was it the pressure of the opener? Temple's defense? Hard to say, but it wasn't unexpected for a freshman being targeted as "The One" to save the program in his first home game.
- The Chippewas got 3 points from their bench. Three. Two from Andre Coimbra (played 13 minutes, averaged 23.2 minutes coming in), and 1 from Derek Jackson (16 minutes, averaging 25.6 coming in). Almost as many turnovers (two). One rebound and one block. Have depth? CMU didn't in this game. The Chippewas relied way too much on Thomas to carry the offensive torch. Only four players came off the bench (Coimbra, Jackson, Paris Paramore and Colin Voss). Of course, only three came off Temple's bench, but played 44 total minutes. CMU's bench played 35. No wonder CMU got steamrolled in the second half. Ernie Zeigler's been known to do this in the past, but had an excuse because there was. no. talent. there. This year, I don't know if that will fly. Sure, let the starters do their thing. But you can't win relying on just five guys. You just can't.
Other than the official scorekeeper spelling the "inaugural" in "Inagural game at McGuirk Arena" wrong on the game's box score, there wasn't much to get too concerned about. The opposition was a top-25 team coming off an NCAA berth. They were bound to make a run in the second half, although CMU was abused by a score of 41-21 in the frame. Again, this is a young team. Get used to these sort of second-half letdowns, because it'll likely happen again this season. Progress, though, comes in the form of it happening less often.
A photo gallery of Wednesday's night from CMU athletics can be found here.