#85 Central Michigan: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #85
Conference Rank: #2 Mid-American Conference
2009-10: 15-15, 9-7
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Ernie Zeigler (54-69 at Central Michigan, 54-69 overall)
Quietly, Central Michigan has won back-to-back MAC West titles. That has not led to any major success in the postseason and winning the West has been much easier than winning the East over the last few years, but this is still a team on the rise. The loss of guards Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman will make this team look a lot different than they did over the last two seasons, but there is more than enough talent to win the West Division yet again.
Key Losses: G Jordan Bitzer, G Robbie Harman, F Chris Kellerman, C Marko Spica
Despite the loss of Bitzer and Harman, the real need for this team is in the frontcourt. Coach Ernie Zeigler picked up four big men who will battle for playing time. Andre Coimbra, a junior college transfer, and Colin Voss are the two who are ready to contribute right away. Jevon Harden and Nate VanArendonk will likely need some time to develop. The backcourt does not need too much help, but they will get it anyway. Point guard Paris Paramore and shooting guard Derek Jackson will have the luxury of learning from the bench for a year. However, Trey Zeigler does not need that luxury and should be starting, and dominating, from day one.
Bitzer and Harman did a lot for this team, but sometimes CMU relied on them too much. Shut down one of those two and the Chippewas had a tough time winning. The scoring output should be more balanced this time around. Amir Rashid will take over the point guard duties after averaging 5.2 points and 2.3 assists a year ago. On the wings there is a logjam of talent with Finis Craddock, Jalin Thomas and Antonio Weary returning. Thomas started 23 games last season and was third on the team in scoring and also grabbed an impressive 5.0 rebounds per game. At 6-4 and 200 pounds, Thomas will use his size to attack the basket and hit the glass very hard. Weary started all 22 games he played in during the 2009-2010 campaign and is a defensive menace. Like Thomas, Weary is a good rebounder for a guard, but also like Thomas, he is not much of a shooter.
It is feasible that Thomas could spend some time at the four spot since he has the strength to battle on the glass. That matchup would not work against some opponents, but if the newcomers are not ready to handle major minutes in the frontcourt, it may be Coach Zeigler’s only option. Either way, William McClure will return to his starting spot in the frontcourt. McClure, a 6-7, 240 pound senior is not much of a scorer, but he is a very good rebounder on the offensive end and he will score with easy put backs. Finding a big guy who can score more consistently would really open up the offense, but McClure will not likely be that player.
Who to Watch:
It is not often that a player turns down Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo and Ben Howland only to end up in Mount Pleasant. But that is what happened with the younger Zeigler, who opted to play for his father instead of Duke, Michigan State or UCLA. By most accounts, Zeigler is a top 30 prospect in this class and the 6-5 guard will take this team to the next level. Nepotism will not place him in the starting lineup; his talent will do that. Zeigler can do it all and, in the MAC, he will do it all extremely productively.
The key to this team will be the play of the frontcourt, most notably Coimbra and Voss. If one of those two can fill a starting spot and the other provides 20 minutes or so off of the bench, CMU has a very deep and talented roster. If not, Central Michigan may be forced to play small at times. The good news is even if they have to play small, the Chippewas can put their five best players on the floor, including some of the best rebounding guards in the conference in Zeigler, Thomas and Weary.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Amir Rashid, Senior, Guard, 5.2 ppg
Antonio Weary, Senior, Guard, 5.1 ppg
Trey Zeigler, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Andre Coimbra, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
William McClure, Senior, Center, 3.0 ppg
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