Three takeaways from CMU's 74-40 loss to Georgia Tech
With fans back in the stands of McGuirk Arena for the first time since March 2020, Central Michigan women’s basketball opened its 2021-22 campaign on Tuesday against No. 17 Georgia Tech.
While the sounds of the 6th man band and cheering fans were welcomed by all senses, the end result was not. CMU fell 74-40 and finished with only one player scoring at least 10 points.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night’s game.
Work in Progress
The loss of Micaela Kelly, Kyra Bussell and Maddi Watters’ production would plague any team. The Chippewas are no exception. Tuesday’s game proved that CMU is a work in progress, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The 2020-21 squad saw 90 percent of its offensive production come from the three seniors, Molly Davis and Jahari Smith. Davis and Smith still remain, but the supporting cast of this years squad is still raw.
Smith earned a team-best 14 points against the Yellow Jackets. Davis, eight points away from 1,000 for her career, mustered two points.
People on the outside may see this as a reason to hit the panic switch. Those people are fools.
Tuesday was game one of 28. Yes, there are issues, but it’s only uphill from here after clashing against Georgia Tech.
It was no secret that Georgia Tech would cause problem for CMU. With nine players returning from a Sweet 16 run in 2021, the Yellow Jackets have earned their spot at No. 17 and will most likely climb up the polls. This team will be a top 10 squad at the end of the year.
The roster boasts a half-dozen players at least 6-foot tall with incredible length and ability to knock down shots from the top of the key. This team is a buzzsaw that is firing on all cylinders out of the gate.
With the Chippewas far from a finished product, the final score should come as no surprise.
Davis most likely won’t be held to only one basket for the rest of the season. The supporting cast will eventually climb out of the growing pains that come with their youth.
Second scoring option needed
The Yellow Jackets put this game away early with a smart game plan: neutralize Davis and win the battle in the paint. With tremendous size and length to spare, the No. 17 team in the land suffocated the Midland native, turning her season opener into a nightmare. Georgia Tech turned defensive stops into layups, outscoring CMU 46-10 in the paint
Smith contributed 14 points but was the only Chippewa to finish in double-figures. Freshman Lisa Tesson was second in scoring with nine points in 29 minutes off the bench.
When Davis was paired with Kelly there were few teams in the nation that could neutralize the duo simultaneously. Their chemistry was similar to that of Captain America and Ironman. Two different personalities that found tremendous success when they were called upon.
The question for the non-conference slate is a simple one: who is going to fill the Ironman roll?
The nerves of the nine underclassmen will eventually settle and the answer will become clear, and once that’s settled, we will begin to see what the rotation of this team will look like.
Tesson proved that she can, at the very least, contribute off the bench. Anika Weekes’ defensive versatility will give her offensive opportunities. Smith will be a problem if the paint as long as she stays disciplined on the floor and stay off the bench with foul trouble.
Per usual, coach Heather Oesterle loaded the non-conference slate as she rightfully should. While the wins and losses will deceive the average basketball fan, the Chippewas will look different by the time they play Green Bay on Dec. 20, their final game before Mid-American Conference action begins.
This team will be forged by fire, but will the process be near completion by the time conference play rolls around? Only time will tell, but watching the future of CMU women's basketball grow will be fun to watch.