The men’s basketball team starts the Mid-American Conference schedule a shade over .500 overall against Bowling Green at 7 p.m. today in McGuirk Arena.
The team will be getting a taste of something that’s unfamiliar to it, as it enters the hunt for a conference title. Keno Davis and eight players on the roster are first-time participants in the MAC.
“To be able to come out with a winning record, coming into conference play, I think, you attribute that to hard work and improvement,” Davis said. “Hopefully our players get a taste of this and want more.”
The Chippewas have the fifth-best overall record in the conference and the second-best in the MAC West, behind Western Michigan, who is 8-5.
The 7-6 record CMU has tallied in its first year under Davis is an improvement from the 5-8 record it recorded before its first conference game last season.
“I have no idea what this team can accomplish as far as how many wins or where in the conference we can finish, just because we haven’t been there before,” Davis said. “It will be interesting to see how we react.
“It’s tough to figure out what teams are going to look like, even after their non-conference schedule, because some of them play such demanding schedules,” Davis said. “The MAC, in recent memory that I’ve been able to follow, has been known for really tough defense, more ball-control teams and slower pace than in some leagues.”
The Falcons are 5-8 and have not won a road game this season.
Sophomore forward Richaun Holmes is No. 19 in the nation in blocks per game with 2.69 through Jan. 6.
Davis said that is listed on the scouting report, but this season continues to be more about self-improvement than the team concerning itself with the next opponent.
“We’re trying to build our program and our team to be the best team we can be,” Davis said.
Sophomore guard Austin Keel is one of two starters who does have experience in the MAC.
“The scouting report is a lot different,” Keel said. “Everyone knows your plays. They just try to make you do what you can’t do.”
He remembers BGSU ran a zone-defense last year, but it might implement man-to-man defense in tonight’s game.
One of the highlights of last year’s season for CMU was its game against the Falcons in the first round of the MAC tournament. CMU, seeded No. 11, upset the sixth-seeded Falcons, 54-53, on their floor, to earn a trip to Cleveland.