Men’s basketball has lost four of its last five games and is looking to push through it when it plays Buffalo today at Alumni Arena.
Head coach Keno Davis is not calling the game a must-win for Central Michigan, which is two games back in the Mid-American Conference West Division.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily in a slump because we lost a few games,” said head coach Keno Davis. “Maybe there’s one exception or two exceptions during the year when we didn’t play our best. But, sometimes, we’re going to realize our best isn’t good enough. I don’t think we have a must-win this year; we just have a must-work-hard game each time we step on the court.”
To win, the Chippewas will look to contain junior forward Javon McCrea, who is making 53.1 percent of his shots and averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
The Chippewas were double-teaming junior guard Rick Rowse, who was playing the role of McCrea on the scout team, in practice Monday.
“I think coming in, when you’re talking about a great player, you got to work on everything,” Davis said. “You got to try to deny, work on double teams and work on different defenses.”
The game against the Bulls will be the 20th game of the season for a young CMU team. Davis said he sees fatigue in some of his players, and he is adjusting accordingly, but the team is fine as a whole.
“I think, as a coach, you adjust how much repetition, how much practice, how much full court you’re doing in practice,” Davis said. “But I think our guys, mentally and physically overall, are in a pretty good place right now.”
The team left on a bus Tuesday to go to Buffalo and will arrive back in Mount Pleasant at 4 a.m. Thursday.
Freshman forward Blake Hibbitts, whose left shoulder was wrapped with ice at the end of Monday’s practice, said it is a schedule he is as acclimated to as he could be.
“I feel fine,” he said. “You definitely get tired, but you kind of get used to it. A lot of us have been playing the sport for long enough where you just get used to all of the wear and tear on your body.”
It would seem he was fine based on his average point total per game, which is 7.9, the most of any underclassman.
He has said throughout the season that he just takes shots when he’s open and does not take it if he’s not.
The spot where he looks to be open is the three-point line. He has made 47 shots from the field this season, and 40 have come from beyond the arc. He is also 77.4 percent from the free-throw line.
“Ever since I was little, I have kind of been known for my three-point shooting,” Hibbitts said.
CMU can thank his father for a part of his success.
“He always had me doing form-shooting drills and stuff like that for hours,” Hibbitts said. “I guess it paid off now.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. as the Chippewas look to get back to .500 overall. This is the first time they are below .500 in more than two months.