Before we get into the game recap, allow me to apologize for the extreme lack of content here. But now that finals are out of the way, I can get back to posting here regularly. Moving on, last night CMU returned home to play their second game in the new McGuirk Arena. And just like football season, the basketball team is joining the trend of playing close games, but not being able to pull out a win, dropping a non-conference game to Wright State 53-49, and falling to 2-7 in the process. It was the fourth straight loss for CMU.
This was my first chance to see this years CMU team in person, and it was not a pretty showing.
The first half was absolutely terrible on both ends. Neither team could do anything other than turn the ball over, get called for charging, or violate the shot clock. Wright State managed to shoot 42% from the floor in the first half, while CMU struggled to the tune of 32%, including a long draught that left then stranded at 9 points for a large part of the half. As horrible as CMU looked in the opening half, they trailed by only 2, 23-21. CMU was dominated in the paint in the first half, 12-4, while being out-rebounded 21-9.
The second half was more of the same, CMU being dominated on the glass, and crushed in the paint on both ends of the floor. At one point Wright State extended the lead to 10, but from there it became the Jalin Thomas show for CMU. He rattled off 14 straight points for CMU to tie things up at 45. Thomas finished with a game high 17 points. But that was as close as CMU would come to taking the lead for the rest of the game. It was close the rest of the way, with CMU getting timely stops. Trailing by 2, 51-49, and holding the ball with under 20 seconds left, freshman Trey Zeigler drove the lane, put up a contested shot, but it bounced off the rim. Wright State corralled the rebound, and converted both free throws for the final margin 53-49.
Wright State was lead by Vaughn Duggins, who lead Wright State in scoring with 13, while pulling down team high 6 rebounds. But it was a team effort rebounding, as the dominated the Chippewas on the glass 37-19. They also were able to beat up on CMU inside, besting them in paint scoring 30-10.
CMU had strong efforts from Jalin Thomas, who led with 17, while Derek Jackson had 12 points. Once again William McClure led the Chippewas in rebounding, pulling down a game high 10, but had 0 points. Highly touted freshman Trey Zeigler struggled all game, putting up only 6 points.
There were a couple things that stood out in my mind from watching this game, and it being about one-third of the way through the season, they appear to be trends that are going to continue all season long.
As mentioned earlier, CMU was dominated in the post, both rebounding and scoring. CMU has guys with decent size, with McClure, Voss, and Coimbra, but none of the three are post scorers, and aside from McClure, they do not like to get physical in the post to grab rebounds. And at least last season they had a couple guys who could shoot the three pointer, but this season aside from Thomas, there are almost no secondary scoring options.
But the team plays very good defense, and has limited almost every team it has played this season to low shooting percentages. If CMU can figure out a way to rebound the ball better, and get any sort of scoring from their big men, they could find success just based on how well they play defense.
Watching their offense is a test of patience, there is no urgency, and every time down the floor, they stand around waiting until they have used up half the shot clock before finally getting the offense in motion.
Based on what I saw last night, it could be a very long season for CMU. But it is encouraging to see them play so many close games to test this team. It would be nice though if they could learn to win a couple.
CMU’s next game is Saturday at home against Detroit Mercy, and other highly touted freshman Ray Macallum. The game tips off at 7, and will be nationally televised on ESPNU.