Men's basketball prepares for hostile showdown at Western Michigan

Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Senior guard Kyle Randall drives to the basket during Saturday nights game against Western Michigan at McGuirk Arena. Randall finished the game tied for a team high 14 points on the night but it wasn't enough as the Chippewas lost to the rival Broncos 76-59.

For the first time this season the biggest rivals in the Mid-American Conference will take the court, as Central Michigan will travel to Western Michigan at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Second-year head coach Keno Davis got a taste of the rivalry last year.

The Broncos won both games.

“I think it was everything that I had heard of before I got to Central Michigan,” Davis said. “I think it showed through experience the intensity that this rivalry has. It’s one of those games you would like to see played when your students can be there at both places. I know it will be a hostile environment and our guys will be looking forward to it. Our new guys are going to learn about the rivalry as well.”

CMU has already played in a few hostile environments this season. Recently, the team traveled to Dayton and played at Ohio.

Those experiences will pay off in a game where the atmosphere will be against CMU, Davis hopes.

“I think we are pretty prepared,” he said. “We played at Dayton and they were playing arguably as well as anyone was at the time. We went in there and they had great attendance. What you try and do during your non-conference schedule is play enough games where you are able to test yourself and prepare yourself for what the road will be like in conference with great crowd support.”

Sophomore forward John Simons said the Ohio game was good preparation for heading into Kalamazoo.

"I think it’s fun to play in. To go to Western, their students are not going to like Central," he said. "I’m sure they will be all over us, but we still have to go in, stay focused, and get a win."

WMU senior guard David Brown averages 18.3 points per game. He will face sophomore CMU guard Chris Fowler who has shown he can score too, averaging 17.4 points per game.

Simons measures 6-foot-8, but he will have his hands full against 6-foot-11 senior center Shayne Whittington who is averaging 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

"Any time we play Western, it is always a big game," said sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts. "You can take the records and throw them out the window. It’s always a big game and everyone is going to get up for it. Both teams are going to play real hard, so it would be a good game."

Talking to Davis on his way back from Ohio he said he hadn’t gotten the chance to watch a lot of film on the Broncos, but would use the bus ride to watch six or seven hours of film.

From scouting other Mid-American Conference teams, Davis has a few thoughts on WMU already. The real goal at this point in the season is picking up their first conference victory – the Chippewas are 0-7 in MAC play.

"We’ve been right there at the end of the last four or five games, but we haven’t found a way to pull it out yet," Simons said. "It would be awesome to go to Western and get our first MAC win.


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