Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Cecil Williams scored 18 points to lead five Chippewas in double figures on Sunday as the Central Michigan men's basketball team downed Northwood, 81-71, in an exhibition game at McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas open the season on Friday (4 p.m.) at home with a non-league game against Siena Heights. They play at Michigan on Monday, Nov. 13.
Kevin McKay finished with a double-double - 14 points, 11 rebounds -- for the Chippewas, who attempted 48 free throws in the game, and made 44. CMU was a perfect 26-for-26 from the charity stripe in the second half.
"I think our guys fought through it and it was exactly what you want from an exhibition game," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "You don't want an exhibition game where you run away from somebody and they can't match up. Northwood played extremely tough and credit them for that."
Gavin Peppers finished with 15 points, Shawn Roundtree had 14, and David DiLeo added 12 for CMU, which finished 3-of-14 from 3-point range against a Timberwolves team clearly bent on limiting the Chippewas' triple tries.
"We shot 14 threes and we probably should have shot six or seven," Davis said. "Probably half of them weren't the best shots. We'll see that, (opponents) getting out on the shooters. We've got guys who can get to the basket too.
"We've been talking about that since the summer that if we can get inside when teams get out on our shooters, I don't see how you stop us. We've got guys who can shoot the ball from the three, but they can also get to the basket and draw fouls that's going to create difficult defensive matchups for our opponents the entire year."
Roundtree led the way at the line, finishing 10-for-10. Peppers was 8-for-8 and Williams finished 9-of-11.
David Jelinek scored 13 points to lead Northwood, a Division II team that plays in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Spreading it around
As is typical in an exhibition game, Davis meted out the minutes in liberal fashion. DiLeo, McKay, Williams, Luke Meyer and Josh Kozinski started, while Peppers, Roundtree and Corey Redman each logged double-digit minutes off the bench.
Davis also utilized 6-foot-11 Innocent Nwoko and guards Matt Beachler and Matty Smith.
With five players in double figures and another, Meyer, with eight points, the Chippewas put on display the offensive philosophy they hope carries them throughout the season.
A year ago, the majority of the shots came from the guard duo of Braylon Rayson and Marcus Keene, who combined to average 51-plus points per game. Keene led the nation in scoring at 30 points per game.
"Last year, obviously, we had two great scorers and we might have had other guys who might have 10 points here and there," McKay said. "This year we have a lot of people who have to step up. We had four or five people tonight in double figures, and we have people on our bench who can go double figures on any given night. We have a lot of options."
Davis said he fully anticipates that balance will be a critical element throughout the season.
"I expect that the entire season and not only that, I don't think you could figure out which five guys will be the double-figure scorers," he said.
McKay poised to break out
McKay, a 6-foot-5, 222-pound sophomore, got an opportunity to show his potential in the exhibition. He was 4-of-9 from the floor, 6-of-7 from the free throw line and four of his 11 boards came on the offensive end. He logged 28 minutes.
"By far our most-improved player," Davis said. "Had a great summer and I think you're going to see him take off as we're able to get our rotation and our lineup a little more solid."