Keno Davis coached his first game for Central Michigan against Iowa Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Because of the number of changes made to the program in the off-season, there was more to take away from it than the final score, a 73-61 loss to the Hawkeyes.
CMU is a three-point shooting team
CMU will rely on the three. While the Chippewas only made two in the second half, nine of their first 12 points and 15 of their 26 points going into halftime came off three-pointers.
They were most productive from the three-point line when they found a way to get the ball inside and then kick it out. Senior Olivier Mbaigoto made a corner three at the beginning of the game that gave CMU a 5-2 lead on a pass by a penetrating Chris Fowler.
Offense is not finely tuned
How the offense of the Chippewas operated was interesting to watch. They did not seem to have much success with set plays, opting to just drive to the hoop. When they stopped before reaching it and kicked the ball out, they were successful. But when they continued toward the basket, points were harder to come by.
However, freshman Derrick Richardson Jr. had a highlight-reel play in the first minute of the second half, using his body at the rim and getting two points and one more from the free-throw line. But he showed why it was not a good idea to do that too often one possession later.
In the future, CMU will need to give the ball to senior Zach Saylor more and continue to drive-and-kick out more than just drive, until they know how to utilize their playbook.
The Chippewas are fine when against the wall
After CMU took a 5-2 lead, Iowa seemed to wake up and went on a 10-0 run to make it 12-5 with 12:33 to go in the first half Monday. It seemed like the Hawkeyes were ready to show their Big Ten strength and steamroll the young Chippewas, but CMU showed its unwillingness to quit.
Instead of scrambling into a hole against the BCS school, the Chippewas pushed on and were looking to take the lead 13 seconds before the halftime buzzer sounded. Iowa led 58-43 with 7:47 left in the game, and the Chippewas responded again with a 12-4 run, ignited by John Simmons getting fouled at the three-point line and making all three free throws.
Sophomore Austin Keel struggled Monday
The first shot sophomore Austin Keel took was an air ball. The rest of the night was no better for him. Shortly after his missed shot, Keel lost the ball and fouled his defender in what was one of his four turnovers on the night. He missed his only two free throws in the game and made two of nine shots.
At the end of the first half, it appeared he finally arrived at Iowa City delivering an assist on a fast break, tallying a three to tie the game at 26 and hitting another three at the start of the second half, but he slowed down thereafter.
We shall see if Davis keeps him in the starting lineup against Olivet Friday at McGuirk Arena.