Three takeaways from Central Michigan men’s basketball scrimmage
The Central Michigan men’s basketball team took the court in front of fans and media for the first time in the 2019-20 season.
The game, of course, was the Maroon and Gold Scrimmage, and it was the first look at the squad eighth-year coach Keno Davis has prepared for the campaign that starts in just 14 days.
The starters for the Maroon Team were junior transfer guard Travon Broadway Jr., junior transfer guard Devontae Lane along with seniors David DiLeo, Rob Montgomery and Kevin McKay.
That group is expected to be on the floor for the first tip when the season starts Nov. 5 against Michigan-Dearborn at McGuirk Arena.
“Right now that group that started out there tonight would be the group that would start if we were playing the season tomorrow,” Davis said. “We don’t start for two weeks and a lot can change in two weeks.”
Aside from who will be starting for the Chippewas, here are three takeaways from the first live-action of the season.
Larry Austin and Shawn Roundtree have moved on, as both are playing professionally.
Davis and his staff have the task of replacing the two backcourt starters from last season.
“I think we’re replacing them with four or five guys that are stepping on the court that are able to bring different things,“ Davis said. “You’re not gonna be Larry Austin or Shawn Roundtree, but we’ve got guys that can play great defense, share the ball, can impact the game in different ways.”
Lane was a player that stood out during the scrimmage and will be looked at to replace some of that production. The guard from Iowa City played with current teammate DiLeo in high school, as well as Montgomery during his time at Indian Hills Community College.
Broadway started alongside Lane in the backcourt and made a few impact plays during the scrimmage.
However, the key for this team will be the guard play coming off the bench.
Dallas Morgan returns for his senior season and appears ready to take on a key role for the Chippewas, and redshirt freshman PJ Mitchell is a talented player that could work his way into a solid role by the end of the season.
The game started off sloppy, which is expected during the first “game situation” of the season.
However, the seniors on the team were able to calm things down and provide stability. That will play a key factor all season.
Younger players and newcomers made plenty of nice plays and showed flashes of what made Davis bring them into the program, as well as making a few errors during the scrimmage that can be avoided.
Senior leadership will do a lot for this team going forward, especially if they want to achieve the goal of cutting down the nets in Cleveland.
To go along with experience this team has plenty of depth.
About 10-12 players suited up for the Maroon Team which is unusual for the scrimmage.
Davis said as much afterward that the team could utilize a rotation that sees 11 players get regular minutes. Only time will tell how minutes will shake out, especially come tournament time, but Davis seemed genuinely excited about the depth of the 2019-20 squad.
DiLeo, McKay and Montgomery looked ready to get the season started. The senior trio are the leaders of the team and showed it during the initial scrimmage.
Morgan played for the Gold Team, so it's expected that last years' sixth man will have a similar role again this season. Morgan hit multiple 3-pointers and was a vocal leader the entire game.
Mitchell is young, but the guard from Detroit has the talent to force his way into meaningful minutes.
Mitchell started for the Gold Team, but he switched to the Maroon Team at halftime. Mitchell had bright spots both offensively and defensively, but he also had a few costly turnovers along the way.
Lane led the offense for the Maroon Team for most of the night, making plays and shots when called on. The point guard will likely be a key facilitator for the team, but he can call his number when needed.
Overall this team looked good for their first time out on the court. Although not a finished product they have a good jump on a long season.
After all, Davis wants Central Michigan to be playing its best basketball in March.
That's when it truly counts.
“We’re not in condition or prepared to be the best team now," Davis said. "I feel like the last couple of years especially, we were playing better than a lot of teams at the end of the year because we weren’t wiped out.”