Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The bullseye looks good on the Chippewas. After all, they wore it throughout the entire 2016-17 season and that worked out pretty well.
Though not entirely as they would have hoped.
The Central Michigan women’s basketball team was picked to win the overall Mid-American Conference West Division, the overall regular-season championship, and the league tournament in a poll of league coaches released today.
A year ago, the Chippewas were also picked to win all three. They went on to capture the West and the overall crown, CMU’s first in women’s basketball since 1985, but fell short in the league tournament, losing a quarterfinal game to Western Michigan.
CMU returns four starters from that team, including guard Presley Hudson and forward Tinara Moore, both of whom were selected to the five-member Preseason All-MAC West Team.
“We appreciate the respect of my fellow coaches,” said Sue Guevara, who is in her 11th year in charge of the Chippewa program and last season became the all-time winningest coach in program history. “We know how tough this conference is, we also know it doesn’t matter where you’re picked in the preseason. It’s where you finish in the postseason.”
The Chippewas received 10 first-place votes to win the West and the overall title. Defending MAC Tournament-champion Toledo finished second in the West followed by Ball State, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.
Buffalo received 10 first-place votes to top the East poll. Kent State, the defending East champion, was second, followed by Ohio, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green and Akron.
The Chippewas, as has been their convention under Guevara, face a brutal nonconference schedule that begins with a Nov. 10 home game against Purdue of the Big Ten. They face SEC member Vanderbilt at home four days later.
CMU goes to Ball State on Dec. 30 in its MAC opener.
The Chippewas finished 23-9 a year ago including 15-3 in the MAC. The win total was the second highest in program history, and it marked the sixth time in seven years that CMU has won at least 20 games.
The loss in the opener of the 2017 MAC Tournament is clearly a motivator.
“What we talk about with this team with regard to expectations is going further than what we did last year, going beyond what we did last year,” Guevara said. “We are so process-driven to be better at finishing plays – that’s what we’re focused on, finishing plays on both ends of the floor and we know we have to do that if we want to go further.”