The renovations to the Rose Center was needed for CMU and everyone is looking forward to the opening on December 1st. But no one is looking forward to it as much as the players and coaches who have had to change their routines daily since they don’t have a home place to practice at. They have had to use the local high school for a exhibition game, and practiced most of the time at the student activity center that doesn’t have the privacy they are use to. That will all change as they now will have their own practice gym connected to the new area. They also have started the year with 5 road games in a row. Trips to Hawaii, Alabama and finally Chicago is how the Chippewas started the season and after a 62-52 win over UIC last night, CMU comes home at 2-3. They have been in all five games, and their three losses include two in overtime and another by three points.
It is great to come home and open a new building, but it will not be easy. Waiting for CMU on their home opener is Temple, currently ranked 20th in the country and a pre season favorite to win the A-10. CMU is a young and talented team that has shown flashes so far this year but Temple is a big and strong team that plays a lot like a Big East team. This will be a great game for CMU since head coach Ernie Zeigler preaches toughness and defense. His motto is “think tough, be tough” and I can not think of a better team to test that toughness out against them Temple.
CMU started slow in the UIC game but a 11-0 run late in the first half gave CMU a 8 point lead and it was a lead that they didn’t give up the rest of the game. UIC cut in to it a little to be down only 28-21 at halftime and then once again after CMU pushed the lead to 16, UIC went on a run to cut it back to ten. Helping CMU was Will McClure as the senior big man had his first career double double with a career best 12 points and 10 rebounds. McClure is known for his good rebounding and defense so his 12 points was a surprise to most. What wasn’t a surprise was the scoring of Freshmen Trey Zeilger, who had a game high 17. Trey didn’t start the game as his dad, and head coach, wanted to send a message to him about his defense, message sent. Trey and senior Antonio Weary played great defense on UIC second leading scorer Paul Carter, and Freshmen Derek Jackson, and senior Amir Rashid did the job on UIC’s leading scorer Robo Kreps to give CMU a nice road win. The last of the four seniors Jalin Thomas also had a nice game scoring 13 points for CMU.
Questions of outside shooting will be asked about this team all year, and while they were only 4-12 from the 3 point line they did a much better job getting to the basket in the second half and drawing fouls. After not shooting one free throw in the first half they shot 18 in the second, making 12 of them, for 66.7% If they can stay around 70% as a team from the line they will have a successful season.
Temple will be a very hard game, but luckily the CMU faithful have gotten behind this team, the game is already sold out, which may not sound like a lot to most fans, but considering CMU hasn’t had a sold out crowd since February of 2001 it is a very big deal. Attendance has improved each year under Coach Zeilger, and with this young and talented team, and a new area, it should improve a lot this year.
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