It's been an ugly start to the season for Keno Davis and the Chippewas. The team looked promising during the non-conference portion of the schedule, but conference play has been horrendous.
7-11 (0-6 MAC)
Cal State Northridge
When you only win seven games it's pretty easy to pick the best one. The Matadors are 10-11 and have the highest Ken Pom ranking of all the teams Central Michigan beat (251). Not much to see here.
Miami, at Miami
Realistically the Chippewas should have won at least one of these. Miami's a decent team but Central needed to win one against them. The good thing is that two games with each of Ball State and Northern Illinois are still on the schedule.
Fowler is the best thing the Chippewas have and he's doing much of what Kyle Randall did last year. He's played in all eighteen games and is averaging seventeen points per game. Fowler also averages five assists per game, which is pretty impressive seeing the state of talent around him. Simons is also playing well averaging eleven points and six rebounds per game. It's tough to find bright spots on this team, but these guys are the clear leaders.
Players That Need to Step Up:
The entire bench
I had to throw the whole second team in here, because they are getting nothing out of this group other than Austin Keel. It's tough to win when only five or six guys score in a game and that's all Central Michigan gets consistently. The bench guys don't need to average ten points each, but they need to step up when the starters need a break or get in foul trouble. If they get any sort of production from the bench they might be able to win a game or two.
Glass Half Full:
The Chips find a way to get to six wins in conference play with a sweep over Northern Illinois and Ball State and upsets over Kent State and Western Michigan. Hibbitts consistently plays like he did against Akron and gives Central Michigan a reliable third scorer. Fowler finds a way to cut down on turnovers and become more of a scorer and less of a distributor. They get past the first round of the MAC Tournament with a win at Bowling Green but fall short against Toledo in Cleveland.
Well, there's not much water in the glass right now (or vodka, if you're a CMU supporter). So for it to get worse means that the Chippewas wouldn't win a game for the rest of the year. I don't see that happening; they'll beat Northern Illinois at least once. But I just can't see this team knocking off a team ahead of them in the standings.
Next Four Games:
at Western Michigan
Central Michigan will have a hard time breaking four wins in the conference this year. They don't have the firepower to beat one of the top-tier teams and can barely hang with the other cellar-dwellers. Fowler can't do everything, and they'll need someone else to step up the scoring load. It's looking like another first round exit in the MAC Tournament.