New head coach Keno Davis has begun to employ a much-hyped, fast-paced style of play for the basketball team in a time when possessions are decreasing in college basketball.
Davis said he likes to use the fast-break because his philosophy has always been shooting the ball before the defense is set.
“I feel like the most successful teams are the ones that use their athleticism and get up and down in the full court,” Davis said. “Now you have to have players to be able to play that style, as well as a deeper bench, to be able to go to more of a full-court game.”
Central Michigan’s greatest strength is its depth and speed, Davis said, but what it lacks is strength.
“You (increase strength) through player development, and you also do that through recruiting,” he said. “But, right now, having a deep bench and a fast team really plays toward our advantage.”
From 1953, when the new free-throw rules were enforced, through 2010, the NCAA has seen a decrease in average points per game. The league averaged 69.30 points per game in 2010 – 1.1 points more than the lowest average since 1953.
In 1990, when fast-paced teams like Loyola Marymount and UNLV were prominent, the average points per game for the league was 75.3 – 2.4 points less than the highest average since 1953.
“I think coaches (are), with the pressure and the scrutiny, slowing it down to try to coach each and every possession,” Davis said. “But I want a team that’s able to have freedom and be able to, within our structure, get up and down the court.”
Davis said one way his system veers from a team like Loyola Marymount is it sent players down the floor before the ball was rebounded.
“I want to push the fast break on every opportunity,” he said. “I want to run after turnovers; after missed shots and after made shots. But we don’t want to take away from our defense; we do not want to take away from our rebounding.”
Davis did not point to any particular coach who taught him his fast-break tactics, other than his father, Tom Davis.
“You take a little bit from everybody; I think that’s what coaching is about,” Keno said. “It’s about stealing things you like from other coaches. Whether it’s from the NBA or the college game; how they run a break, how it options off of it.”
The Chippewas showed a variety of defenses in their first game against Iowa, using anything from three-quarter court press to a half-court defense.
Davis said he will continue to use a variety of defenses throughout his first season especially.
He said it takes about a year to get his entire system in place, adding a little in practice each day.
Senior Kyle Randall is piloting the high-octane offense. He had the most points for CMU against Iowa (17).
“When we got here as a staff and realized we weren’t going to have a point guard, for us to be competitive this year, we knew we had to address that,” Davis said. “To not only be a leader for us, but also be an example for these younger players; he’s really embraced that role.”
Randall said while he ran the fast-break some at North Carolina-Greensboro, it is more emphasized at CMU, though he likes the new playbook.
“It allows you to play your game … it gives you a lot of freedom,” he said. “It’s the way that people want to play. We work on it a lot in practice. It’s a pretty easy offensive style to pick up on, because you run as hard as you can and as fast as you can every time.”