COLUMN: Men's basketball needs change to stop late-game woes
With the way the Central Michigan men’s basketball team started the 2017-18 season, it seemed like finishing toward the bottom of the Mid-American Conference was impossible.
A program-record 11 nonconference wins gave the fans hope in this year's basketball season, after failing to go to the NCAA Tournament with two of the country's best scorers last season.
Since MAC play started, CMU has failed to closeout games in the final minutes.
It’s no secret — the entire team has said time and time again — it's close to having a better record but it can’t quite get over the hump in the closing seconds.
But, close doesn't count in basketball. Wins and losses count.
It isn't just the end of games that has hurt the Chippewas, however. Some slow starts this season have put them in a position for failure.
For example, against Western Michigan, the Chippewas lost 83-81 in overtime. While that could have been one of the toughest MAC games CMU has played this season, the team allowed the Broncos to go on a 17-2 run in the first five minutes of the game.
Against Buffalo on Feb. 6, CMU allowed an 8-0 run in the first half and lost the game by six points.
CMU must be able to overcome the early deficit and go on a run for themselves.
In MAC play, the Chippewas (16-12, 5-10 MAC) have only lost two games by double figures.
CMU has caught some tough breaks. It had some balls bounce the wrong way and some unfavorable calls. However, those kinds of things are going to happen.
The difference from a good team to a great team is the ones who can overcome those unfortunate events and still walk away victorious.
So far this MAC season, I have yet to see the coaching staff switch plays or make adjustments at the end of all these close games.
At the end of the WMU game, junior guard Shawn Roundtree attacked the rim and got to the foul line. That is how they kept it close, since CMU is the best free-throw shooting team in the conference.
Driving creates more chances for open 3-pointers. While CMU is just 33.2 percent from beyond the arc, it has attempted more triples (795) than any MAC team.
There have been flashes of this team being competitive in conference play, but with three seniors on the starting five, fans should expect more wins. Wins just aren’t adding up, losses are.
Something needs to change in order for the Chippewas to dig out of this losing streak before the MAC Tournament.
Head coach Keno Davis must find a way to change CMU's bad habits to salvage a win in the first round of the MAC Tournament.