It is hard not to have fun in Hawaii. And even though I am sure the players, coaches and staff that made the trip did have some good times off the court a 1-2 record is not what they were looking for on the court. As part of ESPN’s 24 hour college hoops marathon, or as I like to call it, the prefect day, CMU played host Hawaii in the last game of the Rainbow Classic at 4am this morning, or 11pm on the island.
CMU started their 3 game trip against Cal State Fullerton and played a very close game throughout and eventually won on a 3 pointer at the buzzer by senior forward Jalin Thomas after fellow senior Amir Rashid took a charge on Fullerton’s last chance to win the game with 5 seconds left. Thomas lead four Chippewas in double figures with 21 points. Freshmen Trey Zeigler had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Amir Rashid had 13 points. Ju Co transfer Andre Coimbra had 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench as the 6’9 Brazil native was 2-2 from the three point line.
The next night, or early morning on the mainland CMU once again found its self in a close game. This time Zeigler hit a 3 to tie the game, and then had a chance at a deep 3 at the end of the game to win, but it was rushed and not the best shot they would have liked and the teams went to overt time. Sadly for CMU, Montana State controlled the extra session and won 65-58. Zeigler lead the Chippewas with 21, while Thomas had 15, but no other CMU player had more then 7 points in the loss.
CMU then got a day off to visit Perl Harbor and another Navy base, and get a practice in, before taking on Hawaii on Monday night Hawaii time, early Tuesday morning in Michigan. Hawaii got off to a quick start but CMU was able to come back and make it another close game. For the third game in a row CMU had a 3 pointer at the buzzer but this time it was a half court heave by Derek Jackson and the freshman’s shot hit the side of the backboard. CMU found itself down only one but after they were not able to score with 16 seconds left, Hawaii did a great job of spreading the floor to let more time run off. CMU wasn’t able to foul until 5.7 seconds left, and even though Hawaii spilt the free throws to be up only one, CMU turned the ball over on the inbound and after another spilt at the line, and another knock away, CMU was left with only 3.9 seconds down 3. Despite the two close losses for a team with some many young players I still consider this a very good trip for CMU. Having that experience of playing close games on the road will only help this team. In the Hawaii game they even had the home town crowd to deal with who was very much in to the game. The biggest thing that the team needs to work on is their zone offense. I expect they are going to see a lot of it this year. They went 6-25 from the 3 point line against Hawaii and that is way too many 3s for this team. Last year that was the best part of their game, but gone are Robbie Harmon and Jordan Bitzer. This years team is longer and much more athletic and even against the zone, any kind of zone, and Hawaii did a great job switching their defenses, from a straight 2-3, to a 1-2-2, to even throwing in some 1-2-2 3/4 court press, they need to attack the basket and get the ball in the paint. Play more inside-out, instead of standing around the arch passing back and forth for 15-20 seconds and then jacking up a 3. I believe this is something that they will improve on.
For the game Zeigler again had a good game, scoring 24 points and he had 5 rebounds, but he also had 5 turnovers and only one assist. CMU only had 5 assist for the entire game, which is too low, which shows you how much one on one and jacking up jump shots there was. Thomas was once again the only other player in double figures for CMU has he had 14 points, however 12 of those were in the first half. CMU didn’t shoot well at all, and when that is happening you need to go to the basket even more and try to get to the foul line and get some easy baskets. Hawaii played very physical and I thought they were very well coaches. They have a lot of new players as well, in fact they have 10, to CMU’s 9, but played very hard. It was a very good college basketball game and worth waking up at 4am for. I just wish CMU could pull it out, but they will get better, and there is no question that good things are coming in Mt. Pleasant. CMU will head back to Michigan for a few days of rest, and practice, until they head to Alabama to play at South Alabama on Saturday.
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