Chippewa Men Ready For MAC Opener

CMU coach Keno Davis and his Chippewas open Mid-American Conference play on Tuesday at home against Ohio.
Jan. 1, 2018

11-2, 0-0 MAC 7-5, 0-0 MAC
Tuesday, Jan. 2 | 7 p.m.
McGuirk Arena | Mount Pleasant, Mich.
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Game Notes: Central Michigan | Ohio
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Andy Sneddon,

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – And thus it begins.

Certainly, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team has impressed through the nonconference portion of its schedule.

The Chippewas are 11-2, are the highest-ranked Mid-American Conference team in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll (No. 21), and possess the MAC’s third-best RPI number (119).

All of which looks nice on paper. None of which, frankly, matters much as the Chippweas open MAC play on Tuesday (7 p.m.) at home against Ohio at McGuirk Arena.

“It’s a new season, everyone’s 0-0 in the conference,” CMU sophomore David DiLeo said after the Chippewas defeated Lawrence Tech, 91-73, on Friday for their program-record 11th nonconference victory.

There will also be a measure of new for the Chippewas as they navigate the 18-game MAC grind. While the likes of DiLeo and seniors Cecil Williams, Luke Meyer and Josh Kozinski have been through it before, there are a number of Chippewas, either because they are new to the program or new to their role on the team, who will be doing it for the first time.

CMU’s start to the season is encouraging and confidence-building, but the league campaign requires more, and there are no layups on the schedule, no nights off. Coach Keno Davis said there are several traits his team has displayed over the first two months of the season, cohesiveness and work ethic among them.

Those attributes, among many others, should help the Chippewas weather the inevitable storms from now until March.

“Our players are really good players, and they’re great people,” said CMU coach Keno Davis, whose team has won two of the last three MAC West titles. “They’re guys that you want around, guys that you want to be around. Makes it enjoyable for a coach to come to work and for our fans to not only be able to watch a good product on the court, but to have people that you’re proud to have represent CMU.

“I think that they’ve got to be able to keep their focus for each and every game. And we talk about not letting one play affect the next. If you have a bad play you’ve got to continue to do the same thing, believe in what you’re doing, and we’ve got to do that from one game to the next.”

The ability to learn and then move on has been a consistant factor to this point, Davis said. It’s one that should well serve the Chippewas going forward.

“The great thing about college basketball is you get a lot of opportunities to play and each time that we play, win or lose, the next day it’s about getting better as a team, getting better individually and not so much worrying about the result of one game is,” he said. “We know that at the end of the year we’re going to have to string together three or four games to be able to go to the NCAA Tournament. Bringing that attitude, bringing that effort each and every game, regardless of what the last result was, is going to be important for us to get better.

“We don’t know quite how good we’ll be in the conference, but we know the direction we’re going.”

In Ohio, the Chippewas will lock horns with a team that is 7-5, with three of those losses coming to teams – Clemson, Dayton and Maryland -- that rank in the RPI top 100. The Bobcats’ other two losses have come to Marshall and Iona, which hold the 105 and 112 spots, respectively, in the RPI.
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