Men's Basketball's Roundtree reflects on first postseason run

Central Michigan junior guard Shawn Roundtree brings the ball up the court against Western Michigan on Feb. 20 at University Arena.

The list is long regarding first experiences for men's basketball point guard Shawn Roundtree in his first season at Central Michigan. 

Outside of starting every game since transferring from Junior College, as well as earning Most Valuable Player honors in November's Great Alaska Shootout, Roundtree can now relish in a deep postseason run. 

"The atmosphere is just bigger," Roundtree said. "You can definitely tell that you're on a different level and it's very exciting."

Appearing in the Tournament championship will require the Chippewas (21-14) to win two more games, following close finishes against top-seed Wofford and Fort Wayne on the road. CMU once again plays guest to Liberty (2 p.m.) in Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 24. 

This is the third year in which CMU has competed in the CIT, with players like Josh Kozinski, Luke Meyer and Cecil Williams having already garnered an understanding to this type of ambience, where games are announced shortly before they occur and preparation lasting far quicker than desired. 

For Roundtree, however, just being able to play in late-March is enough to keep going. 

Postseason tournaments are something unfamiliar in the three years prior to Roundtree's arrival at CMU, where in two seasons with Missouri State, the Bears failed to come out of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament successfully. 

Soon after, when the junior took Mineral Area College to a 28-3 record last year, the No. 9 NJCAA ranked program fell in the first round of the Region 16 Tournament. 

"It's continued to give me motivation," Roundtree said. "If I'm going to play in the postseason, why not continue to win? There's a lot of team that are done at this time of year, and maybe are still playing but are mentality finished. So it's important while we're on the court to stay competitive."

The 6-foot point guard scored 11 points against the Terriers as CMU remains nearly perfect from the 3-point line during this run, having drained 17 in each of the last two games. It ties the second highest total for the season. 

Roundree also has accumulated a Player Efficiency Rating of 14.9 and 7.2 assists per 100 possessions, having scored 20 points or more in eight games this season, including a career-high 29 on Jan. 13 against Toledo.  

"(Shawn) deserves a lot of credit for our 21 wins," head coach Keno Davis said. "When he's been needed to be a scorer, he's done that. When he has to find the hot hand, he's been able to do that. To be leader in his first year on a brand new team, he's exceeded all of our expectations."

CMU and Liberty are among the five teams remaining in the bracket, with UIC, Sam Houston State and Northern Colorado still waiting the announcement of its future opponent. The semifinals are slated for March 28 and championship following suit on March 30. 

It's yet to be determined whether the Chippewas get a chance to host if they go beyond the quarterfinals, having not done so at this point. 

"We never know who we're going to play until maybe two-or-three days prior," Roundtree said. "These guys have done a good job in being ready and rolling with the flow."