Men's basketball returns to McGuirk Arena for match up with Jackson State
Coming off winning the 40th and final Great Alaska Shootout, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team is back in Mount Pleasant and preparing for a three-game home stand.
The first of those three games for the Chippewas (5-1) is against Jackson State (2-5) at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 at McGuirk Arena.
“In the non-conference I think you really get some opportunities to improve with more days off between games sometimes then you get in conference,” CMU head coach Keno Davis said. “We need to improve all around, because so many guys are doing this for the first time our execution isn't where it needs to be yet so were taking advantage of every opportunity.”
The Tigers are part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and are coached by Wayne Brent, who has been with the program since 2013 and boasts an overall record of 56-75 with JSU.
Senior guard Josh Kozinski said the Chippewas haven't put in their scout team yet for practice, but said any Division I team can “get hot” just from making a few shots.
“We know they have a couple of shooters and if they see the ball go in they could start making more and more shots,” Kozinski said. “We’re going to try to make sure no one can get hot on us and work hard to get some stops and win this game.”
So far this season, the Chippewas have shot just under 46 percent from the field per game and are 35.5 percent from 3-point distance. Where they have really rounded their offense, however, is from the free throw line.
CMU is shooting 80.9 percent from the charity stripe this year and already has 115 attempts on the season, which is what Davis says makes this team different.
“Last season we did rely a lot more on two great shooters to give us scoring, but now I think you can see how we are a much more complete team by getting to the line,” Davis said. “The expectations were low, but our talent is strong and we have been able to put some parts together.”
Transfer guard Shawn Roundtree, who earned the Most Valuable Player award of the Great Alaska Shootout, said at the end of the day, this team “just wants to win”.
“We need to keep competing, Jackson State will be a tough team,” Roundtree said. “We need to play tough like we did in Alaska and at the end of the day we need to find a way to win, that’s what is the most important.”
So far this season, CMU has started the same five players — Roundtree, senior forward Cecil Williams, sophomore forward Drew DiLeo, senior forward Luke Meyer and Kozinski.
Davis said he wants to continue to see what he has with his rotation of players, but what they have done so far has worked nicely.
“The chemistry with this team seems to be getting better and better,” Davis said. “We have liked what we’ve been able to do so far, and I think we will keep developing as a better team and it starts with this game Friday.”