Weekly recap: Men's basketball escapes exhibition against Northwood, dominates Siena Heights in season opener
After not holding a double-digit lead until the final minute against Northwood in an exhibition game last Sunday, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team rolled over Siena Heights on Friday night.
The Chippewas opened the regular season with 108 points against the Saints to start the season off 1-0.
Head coach Keno Davis said he didn't feel Siena Heights let up during the game after CMU had it in hand, but rather his team took advantage of all of its minutes.
“I think we truly got everything we could out of this game,” Davis said. “I credit our guys for keeping their focus and I think a game like this will pay dividends for us in the future.”
The Chippewas started the week off by taking on the Northwood Timberwolves. The NCAA Division II school was within striking distance until the final minute.
CMU used 48 free throw attempts, making 44 of them, to escape with the 81-71 exhibition win over Northwood.
“I was really pleased with where we were. We don’t expect to be in midseason form,” Davis said. “What Northwood was able to do with their game plan was good and our guys fought through it, which is exactly what you want in an exhibition game.”
As a team, the Chippewas were 17-for-48 (35.4 percent) from the field and just 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc.
While senior forward Cecil Williams led the team in scoring with 18 points, sophomore guard Kevin McKay had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the contest.
McKay said he believes his team is a 3-point shooting team and the shots simply were not falling against the Timberwolves.
“I would expect them to start dropping more the next time out,” McKay said.
That next time out against Siena Heights, CMU still struggled from beyond the arc (6-for-26), but was able to shoot 54.2 percent (39-for-72) from the field to pull away.
The Chippewas again took advantage of free throw chances by netting 24-of-27 attempts, making them 68-for-75 for the week.
McKay tallied 22 points and nine rebounds, while Williams totaled a double-double with a career-high 21 points and 11 boards to lead the Chippewas in those categories.
“Getting rebounds is just a goal of mine every time out, so I’m not surprised by it,” Williams said. “I just try to go up and get as many as I can.”
McKay came off the bench, which Davis said was because he’s been trying to mix in his rotation of players early this season by giving them different looks.
“I talked to Kevin (McKay) before the game and we are still trying to figure out where to play him,” Davis said. “I told him he could very well play more minutes than anyone in this game, it’ll just be off the bench this time around.”
CMU starts the week with a trip to the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor to take on Michigan at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 and will finish the week with a 1 p.m. tipoff against Eureka on Saturday, Nov. 18, at McGuirk Arena.
Davis said he knows his players will be nervous going on the road for the first time against a Big Ten opponent.
“As coaches, we are trying to figure out what rotation and styles will be our strength,” Davis said. “Our players are trying to figure it out too, so you will see a lot of different looks from us, both offensively and defensively.
“In a game like this, with a young or a veteran group, you have to try a lot of different strategies.”