COLUMN: Women make statement to start MAC play
The Mid-American Conference portion of the women's basketball season could not have started in a better way.
First, the Chippewas travel to Toledo, where they have not won since 2006, and play the 12-1 Rockets, who were picked to win the MAC West.
The Chippewas went into Savage Arena and silenced the MAC by snapping Toledo's 11-game winning streak with 73-66 win.
Next up; the defending MAC champions from Eastern Michigan, the same team that shattered CMU's NCAA Tournament hopes in Cleveland last spring when it beat the Chippewas 72-71 after a made basket with 1.5 seconds remaining in the MAC Championship game.
That loss just made the 77-51 beatdown of the Eagles on Sunday that much sweeter for Sue Guevara and her team.
“It’s a really good way to start the MAC,” Guevara said, following the win at Toledo. “We didn’t win the MAC today, we didn’t lose the MAC today — we made a statement today to the rest of the MAC.”
Guevara and her Chippewas have made the statement loud and clear to the rest of MAC this week that they are and should be the favorites.
How could you deny them? They played one of, if not the, toughest non-conference schedule in the entire nation. They played 2012 national runner-up Notre Dame, Marquette, Florida, Wisconsin-Green Bay twice, Purdue, San Diego and Texas, among others.
They are battle-tested, and by that, I mean they have seen everything that can possibly be thrown at them. Nothing could possibly surprise or faze them at this point.
CMU is shooting 49 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc to start MAC play. Not to mention sophomore guard Crystal Bradford played at a MAC Player of the Year-like level this week. In her two games, she averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.
Now, those numbers will be difficult to keep up for the Chippewas and for Bradford. Every team in a season goes through its shares of ups and downs.
Even if Bradford doesn't keep this pace up all season, CMU has depth — a number of women can step up and fill that void when Bradford has an off night.
For CMU, with the mix of veteran experience and yet a young roster, will make this team a force all season for the MAC, and it has proven to be a tough matchup for any team in the nation.