Central Michigan Chippewas
Overall Rank: #122
Conference Rank: #4 MAC
2007-08: 14-17, 8-8, 2nd West
2007-08 postseason: none
Central Michigan is still transitioning into the Coach Ernie Zeigler era. Year one went alright, but year two should be better as the staff continues to bring in talented players. Yet, there are key players gone and this team could end being labeled as another transition group instead of a team that can compete for a Mid-American Conference title.
The biggest loss is Giordan Watson. The senior point guard led the team with 16.4 points, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals. Nobody else on the team even averaged more than ten points per game or more than 1.5 assists per contest. Nate Minnoy, who was second on the team in scoring last year with 8.8 points per game, has left he program. Justin Blevens, Tyrone Jordan, Chase Simon, Eddie Spencer and Reynold Walters are not quite as big of losses as Watson and Minnoy, but each started at least one game last season.
With the large group of departures, many of them unexpected, the newcomers will have to step in and immediately provide some depth off the bench. Junior college transfers Jacolby Hardiman and Antonio Weary have the experience to contribute right away. Hardiman, a 6-4 wing, is noted for his defensive ability, a much needed attribute for the Chippewas. Weary is a great athlete who will push the tempo in transition. Once his jump shot becomes more consistent, Weary, who has three years of eligibility, will be a dynamic scorer from the wing. Redshirt freshman William Eddie III and incoming freshman Adrian Hunter will be thrown into the mix at point guard. Eddie’s defense and year in the program could earn him the backup role. Hunter can also play the two guard spot and is expected to play an important role right away. As long the 5-11 freshman can bring his scoring to the collegiate level, he will be a dynamic part of the offense. Lawrence Bridges will add his name to the list of small forwards. Bridges, at 6-5 and 220 pounds, could see some action at the four spot in certain situations. The freshman has a ton of potential and could make a big impact right away. So could 6-8 forward Zach Saylor. Central Michigan needs Saylor and Bridges, if he can effectively play power forward, to provide some depth off the bench this year.
Who to Watch:
Despite all the nice recruits coming to Mt. Pleasant, it is a walk-on who could have the biggest impact on the success or failures of this year’s team. Robbie Harman was backing up Watson for a couple years, but his heart, hustle, intelligence and quickness were hard not to notice. What this team needs is a steady, smart floor leader and they have one in Harman. With Jordan Bitzer and Jeremy Allen on the wings, not to mention the newcomers, Harman will not have to score, but he still can and will, especially from beyond the arc. Bitzer is the other long range shooting threat in the backcourt, but he struggled with his shot at times last year. Allen is the slasher. At 6-2, he appears slightly undersized to man the three spot, but he plays bigger than he looks. However, he could stand to play a little bigger and help the team out on the glass.
The problems about the lack of depth in the frontcourt stem from the suspension of Marcus Van. Van started a dozen games last year and averaged 5.8 points and a team high 5.3 rebounds. The Chippewas can live without his scoring, but losing their best rebounder would hurt. Chris Kellerman and Marco Spica both have starting experience as well and will be the likely starters come November. Kellerman can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting and Spica is a solid scorer in the paint. Once Spica can hit the glass more effectively, he will be a dominating big man.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Robbie Harman, Junior, Guard, 5.4 points per game
Adrian Hunter, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jeremy Allen, Sophomore, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Chris Kellerman, Senior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Marko Spica, Junior, Center, 6.5 points per game