Zach Saylor goes down in loss to Bradley Wednesday

With so many new players this season for the men’s basketball team, one positive was the depth of the bench.

Keno Davis has depth at every position and can interchange players as they get tired or just aren’t performing.

Every position except one, that is.

“Everyone knows we’re a little thin on the interior,” Davis said. “When Zach Saylor goes down, we got really thin.”

Saylor, listed at 6-foot-8 and 232 pounds, is Central Michigan’s only true center and played only seven minutes in Wednesday night’s 82-65 loss to Bradley.

Sidelined with an apparent knee injury, Saylor had to watch as the Braves scored 66 points in the paint and 16 second-chance points. Davis said it's not clear the severity of Saylor's injury.

“They got way too many easy buckets,” Davis said. “They shot 67 percent in the second half and, with Saylor not in there, we just kind of ran out of gas.”

Saylor has spent a lot of his time as a Chippewa on the bench with injuries to his shoulder. Saylor’s past difficulties of staying healthy could cause some concern for Davis and his staff.

“Zach has been important to us, not only with his veteran leadership, but as somebody who can anchor down low, rebound and defend,” Davis said. “He’s been a decent scorer for us and everyone is pleased with him, so we hope he’s well and, if he’s not, it’ll give our younger guys an opportunity to step up and get better.”

The other forwards on the team who have seen time down low are freshmen Blake Hibbitts and John Simons, and senior Oliver Mbaigoto.

“(Mbaigoto), Blake and John are step out (forwards); they’re not centers,” Davis said. “We have to continue to build John Simons and Blake and (Mbaigoto) so they can, in a pinch, play that spot.”

However, in Saylor’s absence, CMU was still able to out-rebound Bradley 36-34, but it was dominated in the paint where Saylor would normally be patrolling.

“I was really pleased with our guys trying to step up … but Zach is our only true center,” Davis said. “We have to recruit some centers because, even though we are a deep team, we need Zach Saylor.”

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