Men's basketball pays tribute to Don Chiodo, gets win at home
Jen Hopp entered McGuirk Arena and walked down the steps toward a table on the north side of the floor.
On the table sat a framed photo wearing a pair of headphones. Accompanying the photo was four bouquets of flowers, a Mountain Dew, two sliders on a paper plate and a cream cheese Danish.
Hopp, from Clare, placed her autumn-mixed bouquet on the seat where former Central Michigan play-by-play broadcaster Don Chiodo called each men’s basketball game.
“He was a wonderful announcer, and he had a huge spirit for CMU,” Chiodo's mixed tennis partner said, wiping away a tear that kissed her cheek. “As soon as he passed, I knew I wanted to pay tribute to him this way.”
Friday was the first men’s basketball game without Chiodo sitting court-side. He died in a car crash Wednesday afternoon.
“I think it’s important for the self-healing of everyone to have a way of paying tribute to Don,” said coach Keno Davis.
For the Chippewas, Chiodo wasn’t just an announcer. He was part of the team.
“There weren’t many people more disappointed after you lost a game than he was,” Davis said. “Yet, he always believed each team at CMU would overachieve or go on to win championships.
“He’s going to continue to be a part of our season."
The game Dec. 6 began with a moment of silence to honor Chiodo, the "Voice of the Chippewas." Central Michigan (7-2) went on to beat Tennessee-Martin (3-5) 84-75 in a close, physical battle.
“(Tennessee-Martin) could win a lot of games in our conference,” Davis said. “I think this game is a good measuring stick for where this team is rather than the games we’ve played against teams a lot better than us and a lot worse.”
In a game where CMU was undersized underneath the rim, the team shot 55% from three and went 48% from the field.
The high-percentage shooting nullified a stellar performance from the opponent, which shot almost 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep.
Senior forward David Dileo had 9 points going 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He tacked on seven rebounds and a career-high five assists without a turnover.
“When you see one go in, it can be contagious for a team,” DiLeo said. “By getting the ball out of the net quickly and getting down the court, we opened up outside shots.”
Rounding out the boxscore for the starters, junior guard Devontae Lane had a team-best 17 points, senior guard Kevin McKay had 16 points and five rebounds, senior forward Rob Montgomery had 9 points and grabbed six rebounds and senior guard Dallas Morgan had 14 points and six rebounds.
Junior guard Travon Broadway Jr. was able to add 10 points off the bench.
The Chippewas won’t return to McGuirk arena until next year. The ensuing road trip includes Tennessee (7-1) and Purdue (5-3).
Next up, CMU faces Valparaiso (5-4) at 2 p.m. Dec. 8.