MACsketball 2011-12 was pronounced dead on March 25, 2012. We continue our look back on the season with a series of recaps focusing on each team.
Record: 11-21 Overall, 5-11 MAC
Finish: 5th in the MAC West, 11th overall.
MAC Tournament: Lost in second round to Toledo.
You know when you are playing a video game, and it is going so badly that you just hit reset? That is kind of how the last few years of Central Michigan basketball have gone.
I am not going to try and blame all of this on Ernie Ziegler, although he deserves a good amount.
There is no doubt that Ziegler could recruit. He did it elsewhere, and he brought in guys who could be impact players within the conference. Now, it helps that the biggest recruit he landed was his son.
But there is no doubt there was talent on this roster, and always a chance of breaking through.
The team seemed to be stagnant though, and in the end that might have cost Ernie his job more than anything else.
But here lies the problem. Central went and hired Keno Davis, who was let go at Providence after he couldn't replicate the success he had at Drake in one season.
Remember, that is ONE season, a season where he inherited all of the best work that his father had done at the school. His work at Providence was a little less than successful, including his ability to hang onto players he had brought into the program.
We will get to questions later, but this seems like an odd move for a school that failed to properly develop its own players under its previous coach. Just saying.
Gone: Some guys are just great assistant coaches, and it certainly seems that Ernie Ziegler was that. He had success at his other stops when he wasn't the head man. He just couldn't transform that into success when he got the seat at the end of the bench.
He leaves with only one .500 season under his belt, and his departure dismantles whatever minor success he may have been building at Central.
That is because his son is off for greener pastures, possibly in the state of Michigan, not necessarily for the team that wears green.
Trey leaves with a 12.3 HOOPWAR over his two seasons, easily the best for the Chippewas during that time. This was clearly a player who could have succeeded in a bigger program, and now he will get that chance somewhere, assuming that some school calls him back.
Leaving with him is freshman Austin McBroom, who was one of just four players to register a positive HOOPWAR for Central Michigan this season. His 1.0 HOOPWAR could be a nice addition to a bench somewhere, especially considering most freshman average a negative HOOPWAR their first season on the floor.
Yes, hard to believe, but freshmen do take time to acclimate to the college game. McBroom just got there faster than most.
Other players may still leave Central Michigan in the wake of Ziegler's departure, but they were all asked to wait until a coach was hired before requesting a release. It is yet to be seen if Davis can convince them all to stay.
Bright Spots: Central Michigan won the Michigan MAC Championship, so there's that. Outside of that achievement, this was a school that lost to Northern Illinois, that lost to Miami, that lost to Texas A&M. And not that Texas A&M. They lost to the one that plays on that little island off of Texas known as Corpus Christi.
So yeah, not a lot of brightness here, other than beating Eastern twice.
1. Can Keno Davis do what he couldn't do at Providence?
It truly seemed rough waters for Davis at Providence. He recruited, and then failed to turn those recruits into anything resembling a competitive force in the Big East. He even had trouble holding on to the guys that he brought into the program.
They weren't getting better, they were just staying the same.
Central Michigan seems to be in that boat. Under Ziegler, they won Division titles, but they didn't do it in style. They were .500 in exactly one season.
Davis will have a lot of work to do with the remnants of the roster to even get to that point next season, considering two of Central's three best players from last year will be gone.
The real stretch will be how well Davis can develop the talent he has on the roster, talent that has been stagnant or worse under Ziegler.
2. Who else is gone?
At this point, Davis needs to work on holding onto Derek Jackson, who provided the bulk of the scoring outside of the two players who have already flown the coop. Through increased playing time this year, his offensive numbers jumped and he became a real second option in the Chippewa offense.
Next season, he will be the option, at least unless someone steps up.
Maybe that will be Oliver Mbaigoto who could develop into a decent small forward for Central Michigan. He only has one year remaining, and Davis would need to work some serious magic for him to become more than a 2 HOOPWAR player next season, but he could at least provide some support.
This team will experience a lot of pain next year, and if anyone else leaves, that pain is going to increase exponentially.