A excitement that has not be around for years is all around CMU basketball this year. Is may be because the new event center will be opening on December 1st when the men take on Temple. Or because the men have won back to back MAC West titles, or because they have the highest rated recruiting class ever, lead by Coach Zeigler’s son Trey, rating #26 in the country by scout, or is it because for the first time in four years with four games to play the football team is completely out of it, and is 2-6 on the year? What ever the reason CMU men’s and women’s basketball held their media day today and there was excitement around both programs that have not been seen around Mt Pleasant for a long time.
For the ladies, they welcome back Brandie Baker, who was the MAC freshmen of the year in 2009, but missed all of last year with a torn ACL. The 6’0 point guard will lead a exciting attack, that pushes the ball, shoots a lot of 3s, and presses. Last year they averaged just over 71 points per game, and shot over 700 3s on the year. Also coming back is two third team All-MAC Players in senior’s Shonda Long, 14.9 ppg, and Kaihla Szunko, 12.7 ppg 9.4 rpg. Szunko was a beast on the boards last year, but she will get some help this year. With Baker being back and also Freshmen Taylor Johnson who Coach Guevara mentioned as a freshmen who has a chance to start from day one. The lady Chippewa’s will be on the road even longer then the men, as they don’t play at home until December 18th against Ole Miss, there other big non conference home game is against Pittsburgh on December 31st. CMU was 8-8 in conference, but a impressive 7-1 at home. Winning on the road has been a problem for this team, but hopefully with the new players they have, plus the returning players they have, this year will be different. Not to be outdone by the men, they have a highly rated recruiting class of their own all ready in the 2011 class, so this year will be just a start of good things to come.
For the men’s team it is new faces all around, but those new players are all long and athletic, and gives CMU talent, and most importantly a lot of depth that they have not had in a long time. Coach Zeigler knows the talent he has and CMU fans will see a much different style of play then they have the last few years. Gone are great 3 point shooters Robbie Harman and Jordan Bitzer, so running a bunch of sets to get open 3 looks will not be used much. This team will look to push the ball and get the best shot they can with in the first ten seconds of the shot clock. They will also pick up full court a lot more, since they have the depth and the athletic guards to do so.
Most of the national attention may be on Trey Zeigler, and he is a wonderful player, I know I was an assistant coach at Mt Pleasant High School all during his career, but make no mistake about it, there is lots of other talent in this class. 6’0 foot guard Derek Jackson out of Cleveland is a very athletic guard who is a decent shooter, and let me tell you can flat out get up, I have seen him go between his legs dunk before. The class also has some nice big man, in 6’7 Colin Voss and 6’9 Nate VanArendonk. Voss was also a all state tight end and turned down some offers from BCS schools to play basketball at Central. He has 3 point range and is a strong and should bang inside. Nate has great feet for his size and moves well, he will continue to improve his touch and get stronger, but he will be a good one. CMU also got two Ju Co transfers PG Paris Paramore and forward Andre Coimbra, who is also long and athletic and though he doesn’t have a great back to the basket game yet, he will help this team in defense and rebounding. The Class also has another long and athletic 6’8 big in Jevon Hardin, though he is raw, and should be red shirted, and I believe he will be. Brook Turson a 6’3 guard from Plymouth Ohio is probably the best shooter on the team, but he will also be red shirted, since he was going to go to Robert Morris until a coach change opened back up his recruitment.
Leading the way for the young Chippewa’s will be four seniors, Will McClure, basically a rebounder, low post defender and good for a few put backs a game, Jalin Thomas, who has really worked on his jump shot over the summer, and should have a great year, Amir Rashid, a PG who had a lot of highs and lows last year, but has worked very hard in the off season, and Antonio Weary, a very athletic wing, who has worked on his shot as well, if he can hit that consistently, I believe he could be a All-Conference player. Those four have done a great job leading this young team and Coach Z gave them a lot of credit today at media day. Talking to all of them, they are focused on the year and are ready to go.
CMU has won the MAC West the last two years, and the overall win total has slowly gone up, it will not happen right away with so many new guys but hopefully this year will be another step forward for the CMU Basketball program. I believe it will be, and I am ready for the season, lets roll out the balls and play.
About the Author
Written by Steve Schwanda
Proud 2006 grad of CMU. Chippewacountry.com basketball analyst, I love and follow most sports, but I follow basketball the most. Coached and worked camps for 8 years. Favorite pro teams are: NY Giants, Detroit Pistons, Tigers, and Wings