With a roster full of new faces a familiar one stood out as the men’s basketball team won 86-76 in an exhibition game against Lake Superior State Wednesday.
Senior forward Zach Saylor helped the Keno Davis era get off to a positive start with a game-high 17 points and team-leading six rebounds.
“The biggest thing we wanted to do was get our offense going,” Saylor said. “In this exhibition, we just wanted to execute and do what we’ve been doing this preseason.”
Saylor wasn’t the only player to show up.
The Central Michigan students came out as 1,569 people filed into McGuirk Arena to see the new era of Chippewas basketball begin.
“This is my fifth year here, and I haven’t seen a fan turnout like that since I don’t know when,” Saylor said. “That helps win games, having a fan base with people involved (who) know about basketball supporting us.”
Fan turnout is something Davis has preached all preseason, and the fans met and surpassed his expectation for Wednesday night.
“We know we might be a little ways away on the court, but we can’t wait for success on the court to get fans here, so we’ve done just about everything we can to reach out to the students,” Davis said. “It was an unbelievable showing by our students tonight for an exhibition game.”
Back on the court, freshman guard Chris Fowler, senior guard Kyle Randall and sophomore guard Austin Keel each put up 13 points, making four Chippewas in double figures.
“I thought the effort was there; I thought we had intensity that we’re just now learning how to play,” Davis said. “We see things we have to work on, but the more things you see as a coach, the better you can be.”
One of those things CMU needs to work on is its rebounding.
There were no Chippewas in double figures on the boards as Saylor and freshman forward John Simons led the way with six.
CMU also struggled with free throws, shooting 65.6 percent from the line.
“Rebounding is one thing we need to improve on,” Saylor said. “Also, free throws and shooting, but other than that, we just have to come into practice and get back at it.”
One thing that the student section spotted with LSSU was a familiar face. Former Chippewas guard Jorddan Myrick transferred to the Lakers after the coaching change, and the students let him know how they felt.
Chants of “traitor” and “we don’t want you” reigned down on the sophomore, who scored eight points and shot 50 percent from the field.
“I saw him in warm-ups and said hi to him,” Saylor said. “It’s funny, I was with him last year and going into the season against him now.”
The preseason is now over and it’s time for CMU to travel to Iowa for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off Monday in Iowa City.
“We’re not ready for Iowa,” Davis said. “We’re far from it, but it will be good experience for us going in there without having any expectations from anybody thinking we can win that game.”