Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- There are as many question marks as there are unfamiliar faces.
Answers to those questions for coach Keno Davis and his Central Michigan men's basketball team will continue to emerge on Friday (4 p.m.) when the Chippewas open with a nonconference game at McGuirk Arena against Siena Heights.
The Chippewas return three starters, a number that would typically lead observers to believe that it is an experienced group. One that, should everything fall into place, would be in the hunt for the Mid-American Conference championship.
For Davis and his staff, the front-burner concerns are establishing a rotation and the discovery of how so much new will eventually mesh.
"I keep telling myself that not only are seven of the guys new to the rotation, but even the guys who are returning are new to the roles they are playing this year," said Davis, who is in his sixth year in charge of the program.
"It's an entirely different team stepping on the court," he said. "Every day we step on the court we're going to see some great things and we're also going to see where there is work that needs to be done."
The Chippewas have two scrimmages an exhibition game under their belt. They defeated Northwood, 81-71, on Sunday in an exhibition game at McGuirk Arena. Five Chippewas scored in double figures in that contest, eight logged double-digit minutes, and CMU shot 48 free throws, making 44.
"What I want to continue to see is the effort and the attitude that we've had," Davis said, "and then I think the idea is you just try to get a little bit better in each area.
"If we can take a little bit better shot, if we can have fewer breakdowns on the defensive end -- little things here and there. If we can continue to do that week to week, we could be really good when we get into the heart of the season."
Siena Heights is an NAIA school that plays in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference. The Saints finished 16-15 a year ago and in seventh-place in the 12-team league.
Kozinski on the mend
Josh Kozinski is one of those three returning starters along with 6-foot-10 ½ Luke Meyer and 6-6 Cecil Williams. All three are seniors.
Kozinski has battled a wrist injury throughout preseason practices. The injury certainly could limit the 6-foot-4 sharpshooting guard, who averaged 7.2 points per game a year ago and ranks third in program history with 236 3-pointers.
"I expect Josh to play (on Friday)," Davis said. "I don't expect him at 100 percent. We've been very cautious with him, trying to get him to improve. You'll see him get better and better as the weeks progress. Hopefully in a couple weeks we'll see him at full strength. ... I think he'll be able to catch up pretty quickly."
Sophomore guard Kevin McKay was particularly impressive in the exhibition game against Northwood. He scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 222 pounds, McKay is capable of playing any number of positions. He also possesses the size, quickness and athleticism to defend any number of opponents.
The hope, Davis said, is that McKay settles in to one or two primary positions, a prospect that largely depends how and where his teammates emerge.
"I think the thing for Kevin is, on certain days, in certain practices, he's been our best offensive player and on certain days he's been our best defensive player and on certain days he's been our best rebounder," Davis said. "So when you have somebody who can be your best on any given day in all areas, you've got to find a way to get him on the court and find out what position is best for him.
"The more we can focus in on a spot or two, the more his progression should improve. We know he's going to be on the court, whether he starts for us or comes off the bench, he's looking at starter's minutes and he's an important part of our team."
The Chippewas will take a step up in competition when they play at Michigan on Monday (7 p.m.).
The Wolverines, who open against North Florida on Saturday, won the Big Ten Tournament last season, reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, and finished 26-12.