Central Michigan Chippewas
Overall Rank: #85
Conference Rank: #2 MAC
2006-07: 13-18, 7-9, 3rd West
2006-07 postseason: none
Central Michigan has enough talent to win the Mid-American Conference. In fact, no team in the conference can match the talent level at CMU. The only question that remains is whether the group of players can come together to form a cohesive unit. The depth is amazing and the battle for playing time will be fierce. When Coach Ernie Ziegler can find the proper rotations, the Chippewas will be the most dangerous team in the MAC.
The big loss is Sefton Barrett. The wing averaged 9.0 points and a team high 5.1 rebounds. Andre Smyth and Aaron Richie are transferring. Smyth started a handful of games and, even with the loss of all the wings, the departures are of little concern to the Chippewa faithful. Little used center John Tiemeyer is also transferring.
Nate Minnoy started a successful basketball career averaging 10.2 points per game at Purdue as a freshman before suffering a knee injury. After a quick trip to a junior college, Minnoy is ready to make a big impact in Mount Pleasant. At 6-3 and 270 pounds, Minnoy is an unusual looking forward. Even at 6-3, Minnoy can be a dominating power forward in the MAC. He will get on the glass and can do plenty of scoring against taller competition in the paint. Junior college transfer Marcus Van will step in and help out on the glass right away. The 6-7 forward fills a huge need in the rebounding department and his experience at Wabash Valley Community College has him prepared to be more than just a rebounder. The perimeter group needs less immediate help and a trio of incoming freshmen cement Central Michigan as a contender for years to come. The athletic 6-5 Chase Simon can play any position on the perimeter and is a quality recruit for any MAC program. He is a great scorer and sees the floor very well. Talent wise, Simon will be starting as a freshman, but it may take a little time for him to adjust to the level of play. Jeremy Allen, another wing, is a tough competitor and slasher. He has plenty of potential to see playing time as a freshman, but it is Simon who is the future superstar. William Eddie is a true point guard with a knack for defending. Jon Yeazel will return to the team after spending last year at a junior college. As a freshman, the guard averaged 2.3 points per game.
Who to Watch:
Through the tough times, Giordan Watson stuck around CMU and helped build the team from cellar dweller to contender. Watson, who led the team with 18.8 points, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals, is a terrific outside shooter and will take all the big shots. Sophomore Jordan Bitzer lived up to his hype coming into CMU and averaged 7.4 points per game. With a little more consistency on the outside shot, Bitzer will be a great two guard. Seniors Eddie Spencer and Reynold Walters both have significant starting experience and will battle for playing time on the wings. Robbie Harman is not the most talented player in the backcourt, but will likely play important minutes backing up Watson at the point.
As good and deep as the perimeter is, the frontcourt may be the strength of the team. Adding to newcomers Minnoy and Van are Marko Spica, Chris Kellerman and Justin Blevins. After a year in the system, Spica is in position to become a dominating big man. The 6-9 sophomore, who originally signed with UCLA, showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman. He is a versatile scorer and with a little work on the defensive end, Spica will see many more minutes this year. Chris Kellerman is a dynamic scorer as well and was one of the better shooters from long range. At 6-8 he is a matchup nightmare and Kellermann could handle playing at the three if the coaching staff wants to put Minnoy at the four. Justin Blevins, who earned 17 starts last season, will be a quality backup at the four and five spots. There are a ton of options and CMU can go at least 11 deep if necessary. It might take a while for the team to come together, but by March nobody in the MAC will want to go up against the Chippewas.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Giordan Watson, Senior, Guard, 18.8 points per game
Jordan Bitzer, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 points per game
Nate Minnoy, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Chris Kellermann, Junior, Forward, 8.8 points per game
Marko Spica, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 points per game