January 31, 2012
Behind Enemy Lines: Central Michigan
KentStateReport: What are Central Michigan's greatest strengths?
ChippewaCountry.com: They have good guard play. Their leading scorers are all perimeter players: small forward Trey Zeigler (16.1 ppg), shooting guard Derek Jackson (11.7 ppg) and Austin McBroom (10.5 ppg). You would expect a perimeter oriented team to be able to shoot the ball from three-point range and CMU can do that. They have six or seven players that can step out and hit a three-point shot and are fifth in the MAC in conference play in three-point percentage. The Chippewas can also force turnovers and are fourth in conference play in steals per game.
KentStateReport: Kent State has five players averaging nine points per game. Central Michigan has five players averaging at least 10 points per conference game with the top two scorers averaging 16.1 and 15.1 points per conference game. Does this show Central Michigan's lack of depth or a strong coaching strategy?
ChippewaCountry.com: Probably a little bit of both. They only have a few guys that can score consistently, but the coaching staff has done a good job recognizing that and molding the offense to fit their strengths.
KentStateReport: What is the Chippewas' greatest weakness?
ChippewaCountry.com: This team has had several problems this season. On offense, CMU turns the ball over too much and they do not move the ball enough. The Chippewas really have trouble rebounding the ball and they have not been able to get to the free throw line. And even though they can shoot the ball well from three-point range, they have been below mediocre from inside the three-point arc.
KentStateReport: What is the biggest reason Central Michigan is 7-13 overall?
ChippewaCountry.com: Aside from all the reasons that I listed above, the biggest problem is that they are ranked ninth in defensive points per possession. They just have not been able to get stops. Opponents have gotten to the free throw line against CMU in MAC play more than any other team and other teams have shot the lights out against CMU in conference play. The Chippewas are ranked last in MAC play in opponents effective field goal percentage.
KentStateReport: What is the current feeling in the locker room?
ChippewaCountry.com: Any time a team loses five games in a row, it is frustrating, but I do not think Coach Zeigler has lost this team. In their last game against Akron, who has the best record in the MAC, they were within three points and had the ball with less than three minutes to go in the game. That was after being down by 19 in the first half. This team is still fighting and is still trying to get better every night.
KentStateReport: Is Ernie Ziegler on the hot seat?
ChippewaCountry.com: I'm not sure. I think a lot of fans were frustrated coming into this winter because of the expectations that were on the team last season and that that season fell so far short of those expectations. This year has not been any better, with a 7-13 record and the play has been so frustrating to watch. To this point, athletic director Dave Heeke has proved to be one of the most level-headed and patient sport administrators in the MAC, so he is not going to do anything rash and would only consider moving in a different direction if he is certain that the program needs a change at the top. I do not think that he is near that point yet.
KentStateReport: How is it working with Trey Zeigler, the team's leading scorer, being the head coach's son? Does that cause any conflict?
ChippewaCountry.com: It really does not cause any conflict that I can tell. Trey basically falls in line and it does not seem that Coach Zeigler give him any preferential treatment. Trey is talented enough to be the No. 1 option on offense for most teams in the MAC. Coach Zeigler is also not afraid to put his foot down with Trey, as he as he brought him off the bench in several games as a disciplinary measure.
KentStateReport: What is your outlook on tonight's game? You have a final score prediction?
ChippewaCountry.com: I think that it is going to be a high scoring game and I would expect CMU to give Kent State a fight, but I do not think that the Chippewas have the firepower on offense to pull off the upset. I'll say Golden Flashes win by five.
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