This season, Central Michigan basketball is a tale of two genders.
McGuirk Arena is home to two of CMU’s most esteemed and most embarrassing varsity sports teams this year.
Midway through the Mid-American Conference schedule the men’s and women’s basketball teams are at polar opposite sides of the spectrum.
The women are undefeated at home and in the Mid-American Conference. Meanwhile, the men are winless in MAC play and have not won a game in nearly a month.
This year, we have two teams wearing the same colors but playing at entirely different levels.
While both teams struggle to fill McGuirk Arena even halfway, the rest of the conference looks at CMU in two completely dissimilar ways.
CMU’s women are the best of the best in the MAC right now. A brutal non-conference schedule against teams like Notre Dame and Purdue handed the Chippewas losses early, yet prepared them for the mediocrity of mid-major competition.
The Chippewas have the best 3-point shooting and transition offense in the conference. Even more importantly, the women have junior guard Crystal Bradford.
Bradford’s WNBA stock continues to rise as she leads the Chippewas in almost every major statistical category. She has won Mid-American Conference Player of the Week five times this season.
Sharpshooting senior Niki DiGuilio broke the record for most 3-pointers made in program history earlier this year. Forwards Jewel Cotton and Jas’Mine Bracey give the women a significant presence underneath the rim.
Head coach Sue Guevara was just rewarded a new contract and pay raise last fall. The Chippewas seemingly have all the tools it will take to repeat as MAC Tournament champions in 2014.
But the overall goal for the women is higher than just a conference championship repeat. CMU wants to win a NCAA tournament game.
The “X” factor giving the Chippewas the best chance to do that is their dynamic and unstoppable leader – Bradford.
As Bradford’s ceiling continues to rise, so do the Chippewas expectations. In the meantime, the CMU women remain the crown jewel of Chippewas athletics.
There is no way to put this lightly. The men are awful. The CMU men have lost every conference game they have played and have not won in almost a month.
Wednesday night’s collapse at Ohio might have been the worst of all. CMU held an 18-point second-half lead, but lost it in miserable fashion and fell 71-67 in Athens, Ohio.
This year’s men are young and are only a small pin in the greater tapestry of a “championship culture,” that second-year head coach Keno Davis is trying to create.
But for right now, the CMU men are the laughing stock of the MAC. Still, the Chippewas continue to shrug their shoulders and chalk 2013-14 up to a rebuilding year.
Somehow, midway through the season, the Chippewas are still at square one of whatever it is that they are trying to build.