Sunday, Feb. 23 • 2 p.m.
For an insiders look at the 2013-14 Chippewas, click HERE to view the Central Michigan Men’s Basketball MAC Guide. Find feature stories, coach and player bios, videos and much more.
• Central Michigan will finish out play at home in the month of February on Sunday when it hosts Northern Illinois in a 2 p.m. game at McGuirk Arena.
• On Wednesday, CMU claimed its second MAC win of the season in thrilling fashion, downing Ball State, 101-95, in triple overtime.
• Northern Illinois is coming off a last-second, double-overtime 61-59 home win over Eastern Michigan.
• CMU is 7-6 at home this season while Northern Illinois owns a 5-6 road record.
• The Chippewas have two road rematches on the schedule next week, visiting Eastern Michigan on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and then Ball State on Saturday (2 p.m.).
CMU-NORTHERN ILLINOIS SERIES
• Central Michigan possesses a 47-53 all-time record versus Northern Illinois in a series that date back to 1947.
• CMU has won 11 of the last 15 meetings with the Huskies, but suffered its worst MAC loss of the season to NIU on Feb. 12 in DeKalb (88-63).
NORTHERN ILLINOIS SCOUTING REPORT
• Northern Illinois has won four of its last six MAC games, suffering losses to only Western Michigan and Akron during that span.
• The Huskies have won three road games in MAC play, at Bowling Green, Kent State and Ball State.
• NIU boasts one of the top scoring defenses in the conference, allowing just 64.0 points per game, and leads the MAC in offensive rebounding (38.4) and rebounding margin (+4.7).
• NIU’s struggles come on the offensive end, as it is ranked last in the MAC in scoring offense (62.8), field goal percentage (.389), three-point percentage (.279) and assists (8.6).
• The Huskies have no active players who average double digits in scoring but have six who post between 6.3 and 9.5 points per game.
• Darrell Bowie leads NIU in scoring (9.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg).
Central Michigan’s roster is dominated by youth, as 11 of 14 players are underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores). The Chippewas’ starting line-up is comprised of four sophomores and one freshman. Of the total 5,100 minutes played by CMU this season, 4,401 or 86 percent have been logged by underclassmen while 87 percent (1,639-1,870)of the team’s points have come from either a freshman or sophomore.
Central Michigan is taking care of the basketball this season. CMU is averaging 10.5 turnovers per game, which ranks first in the MAC. The Chippewas are second in the conference in turnover margin (+3.3) and in assist/turnover ratio (1.1). Individually, Chris Fowler ranks second in the MAC with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.0 (131/65). Versus Ball State, he totaled 12 assists and had just one turnover.
FOWLER IN THE RECORD BOOK
With seven assists versus Northern Illinois on Feb. 12, sophomore guard Chris Fowler not only entered the top 10 but moved into eighth place on the Central Michigan career assists list, surpassing Ryan Jansen (286) (1994-98), Melvin McLaughlin (288) (1980-83)and Tony Browne (290) (2002-05). In just 56 career games, all starts, Fowler has totaled 307 assists for a 5.4 per game average. He is on pace to shatter the CMU all-time record, held by Giordan Watson (2005-08) with 489.
|1. Giordan Watson (2005-08)||489|
|2. Derrick Richmond (1986-89)||456|
|3. Dave Grauzer (1976-79)||449|
|4. Sonny Newman (1977-81)||435|
|5. Tim Kisner (1998-01)||434|
|6. Peter Lambropoulos (1982-86)||371|
|7. Willie Iverson (1966-68)||329|
|8. Chris Fowler (2012-pres.)||307|
|9. Tony Browne (2002-05)||290|
|10. Melvin McLaughlin (1980-83)||288|
FOWLER LEADS CMU
Chris Fowler has definitively shown this year that his standout freshman season was no fluke. The sophomore point guard is the MAC’s third-leading scorer, averaging 18.0 points per game and ranks second in assist/turnover ratio (2.0) and third in assists (5.2). In conference play, he ranks No. 1 in scoring (19.3). The MVP of the Central Michigan Tournament, he has scored in double figures in 22 games, including 10 20-point efforts, and has led the team in scoring in 15 games. In the win over Ball State, Fowler notched his first career double-double, tallying 18 points and 12 assists.
In 2012-13, Fowler set the program record for a freshman with 176 assists, which also ranks third all-time in single season history, securing him a spot on the All-MAC Freshman team. A starter of all 31 games, Fowler also averaged 8.1 points and 5.7 assists per game and had a sterling 2.2 assist/turnover ratio in his first collegiate season.
SIMONS MAKING KEY CONTRIBUTIONS
In addition to Chris Fowler, John Simons has been key to CMU’s fortunes thus far in the 2013-14 season. The sophomore forward has recorded double-digit scoring performances in 16 of 25 games. Last year, he had just nine in 31 total games. In the season opener versus Manchester, he posted a career-high 27 points. In CMU’s first conference win over Kent State, Simons notched a double-double, totaling 22 points and 11 assists.
Simons has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 17 games entering the match-up with Northern Illinois. The sophomore has also led CMU in rebounding in 14 of the 25 games this season. He ranks 17th in the MAC in rebounding (5.8) and 25th in scoring (11.0). By comparison, Simons averaged 7.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg last season.
HIBBITTS FOR 3
Sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts has established himself as one of the MAC’s top three-point sharpshooters during his short time at Central Michigan. Currently, he leads the Chippewas and ranks second in the conference with 55 triples.
With 122 career three-pointers (in 56 games), he needs just eight more to break into the top 10 in the CMU record book. His career three-pointer percentage of .366 has him just .001 out of 10th place all-time.
In 2012, Hibbitts attempted 185 three-pointers, which ranks tied for sixth in program history, making a team-high 67, placing him in a tie for ninth in the record book.
RAYSON MAKING AN IMPACT
While several members of the freshman class have made an immediate impact this season, none has been as sizeable as the one made by Braylon Rayson. The speedy and cat-quick Rayson has given Keno Davis not just key minutes off the bench to spell Chris Fowler at point guard or as a starter in the back court, but he has given the Chippewas another scoring threat. The Texas native is third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 points per game.
At the Central Michigan Tournament, Rayson came off the bench to score a total of 43 points in three games, including 18 in a win over Austin Peay. Versus Marygrove, Rayson went off for 27, shooting 69 percent from the field. In the win over Ball State, he scored a career-high 30 points, including 13 of CMU’s 16 points in triple overtime, just one shy of the McGuirk Arena record of 31, set by Kyle Randall in 2013.
In the Chippewas’ 127-44 rout of Marygrove in the non-conference finale, CMU broke the program record for largest margin of victory and tied the mark for most points in the game. The 83-point margin of victory easily topped the previous high of 71, set in a 107-36 win over Hillsdale on February 28, 1963. The Chippewas also reached the 127-point milestone in a victory over Oakland on December 3, 1987. Individually, five players established new career highs in scoring, led by freshman guard Braylon Rayson, who tallied a game-high 27 points.
With the 127-44 victory over Marygrove, CMU finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with seven wins for the second consecutive year. In 2012-13, in his first season at Central Michigan, Keno Davis became only the second coach in the program’s Division I era to win seven non-conference games and the first to do so in his first year at the helm.
CMU WINS HOME TOURNAMENT
CMU captured the title at its home tournament in late November, scoring 90 points in wins over Austin Peay and Cal State Northridge to keep the championship trophy in Mount Pleasant. Chris Fowler earned tournament MVP honors while Blake Hibbitts was named to the all-tournament team. Braylon Rayson was also key to the claiming the title, scoring 43 points in three games.
CLUTCH WHEN IT’S CLOSE
Central Michigan showed a knack for coming up with clutch plays in crunch time at the end of games early on in 2013-14. In a stretch of three games, the Chippewas claimed wins by a total of 10 points. Against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Blake Hibbitts knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining and Austin Keel made two free throws to secure the 68-64 win. Versus Jacksonville State, Hibbitts once again took center stage, hitting a key three-pointer and then sinking two free throws late to salt away a 66-61 victory. At SIU Edwardsville, Chris Fowler played the role of hero, hitting a game-winning shot with 6.2 seconds remaining.
That trend has re-emerged in MAC play, as both of CMU’s conference wins have come in overtime. Against Ball State, Hibbitts hit three three-pointers in the final 22 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime. Braylon Rayson then scored 13 of CMU’s 16 points in triple overtime to secure the win.
CMU’S ROSTER IS HOME GROWN
Central Michigan’s current roster contains nine student-athletes who hail from the state of Michigan, which is more than any other Division I institution in the state, ranking ahead of Michigan State (7), Eastern Michigan (7), Western Michigan (7) and Michigan (2).
SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM
Hard work has paid off for the Chippewas in the classroom, as the team was one of only 19 NCAA Division I programs to receive the Team Academic Excellence Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Only one of two Mid-American Conference teams to earn the honor, which is based on the academic standing during the 2012-13 season, the award recognizes outstanding academic achievement by a team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. That success has continued this year as following the fall term, a record 10 student-athletes posted above a 3.0 grade point average during the fall term. Blake Hibbitts led the way with a 4.0 while senior forward Zach Saylor (3.50), sophomore guard Austin Stewart (3.48) and Fowler (3.44) also had strong academic semesters.
Fowler, Hibbitts and Simons were also nominees for CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America recognition.
FATHER-SON COACHING TANDEMS
Keno and his father, Tom, are among the most successful father-son coaching duos in NCAA history. In 2008, Keno joined his father (Iowa, 1987) as the NCAA’s first father-son combination to capture national coach of the year awards. Dr. Tom compiled 597 wins over a 32-year career, and Keno has added 94 as the pair has combined for a 691-448 record and a 60 winning percentage, which ranks 11th among father-son combinations.
FOWLER A CANDIDATE FOR ALLSTATE NABC GOOD WORKS TEAM
Sophomore guard Chris Fowler is a candidate for the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, an honor that recognizes student-athletes who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement and embody the true spirit of “teamwork” and “giving back.”
The sophomore sensation is the MAC’s third-leading scorer, third-leading scorer, averaging 18.0 points per game and ranks second in assist/turnover ratio (2.0) and third in assists (5.2). The MVP of the Central Michigan Tournament, he has scored in double figures in 22 games, including 10 20-point efforts, and has led the team in scoring in 15 games.
Fowler embodies the definition of a true student-athlete, as the excellence he has achieved on the basketball court is equaled by his accomplishments in the classroom. Fowler possesses a 3.43 cumulative GPA, including two semesters in which he averaged above a 3.50. During the fall of 2012, he was honored on the Dean’s List.
Despite the number of demands placed on a student-athlete, Fowler makes the time to take part in various community service activities. He worked with the Special OIympics basketball team last December, putting the athletes through drills while providing pointers on how to improve. He also volunteered with Meals on Wheels during the holidays, delivering food to at-risk seniors.
MEYER SIGNS WITH CHIPPEWAS
CMU has signed Luke Meyer, a 6-10, 205 forward from Addison High School, to a National Letter of Intent. He earned Class C first team all-state honors from the Associated Press and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan as a junior last year, averaging 18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks. The Addison, Mich. native was also named to the Jackson Citizen Patriot Dream Team and was the Adrian Daily Telegram Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season.