In college basketball there’s always something to be said for locking down your backyard recruiting-wise.
And when you’re the new coach at Central Michigan University at a time when Northern Michigan is producing a steady stream of D-1 talent that’s so close to you, it behooves you to try and get in on some of that action.
In recent years it’s been the big boys like Michigan State landing the prime talent (Dwaun Anderson, a kid who ended up transferring to Wagner and who just might make — along with his teammates — Bobby Hurley regret passing on the Wagner head job) while the mid-majors out East have feasted.
The Lake Michigan Conference has sent players to Lehigh (Holden Greiner from Traverse City St Francis) Brown (Scott Friske from Charlevoix) William & Mary (Sean Sheldon –another St Francis kid) and Bucknell (Cory Starkey from Petoskey and Chris Hass from Pelliston). Not too shabby for a Class C league (Michigan goes A, B, C AND D from largest to smallest). Keno Davis noticed the exodus and, with an environment that suits any Northern Michigan kid in Mt Pleasant, instantly started trying to hit his local area hard.
That’s paid off with the earliest MAC verbal we can remember in Redman. I had heard of Redman some because I keep up with some folks back in Michigan (where I spent a good deal of my younger years) so I instantly knew the man to check in with regarding Redman’s game — Parallel 45′s AAU coach and Michigan HS Hoop’s go-to-guy Steve Bell. For those of you wanting the latest scuttlebutt on the scene in Michigan you need to check out his message board and site at Bankhoops.com. Bell shared a little bit about Redman and why he thinks this is a fantastic development for CMU’s future.
“He’s got that long, sinewy, athletic body that’s built for basketball,” says Bell. He’s a legit 6-4 who can shoot it with a quick release and does so with supreme confidence.” Bell mentioned that Redman has to improve on his strength and explosion around the hoop but what soon-to-be-sophomore in high school doesn’t?
Redman averaged 12 points a game as a 9th grader for a varsity team that featured three other kids that will play at the college level. The kid has always played up in AAU competition and had big games at both Spiece and the King James event playing for THE ACB/BANKHOOPS 16U TEAM. Redman is Boyne City’s first D-1 kid since Jason Rozycki did his thing for Oakland from 1998-2002. Redman managed to impress the CMU staff early during their team camp with a couple of major throwdowns that started their wheels spinning. And Redman isn’t the only talented youngster in the area. Shae Somers of Bellaire and Gage Kreski of St Ignace are both talents that will be heard from in the 2016 class according to Bell.
Who knows, maybe Corey Redman is the start of a pipeline of Northern Michigan kids to CMU? The pied piper if you will. Chippewa fans would love nothing more to see their glory days return with the help of some Michiganders.
Keno Davis will spend the next few years mining that same area for new talent…and babysitting the one who’s pledged already.
South Dakota State beat Western Michigan earlier today 82-76 in a game that saw WMU’s 6’10″ sophomore center Matt Stainbrook go for 32 points. The Jackrabbits had no answer for “Big Stain” a lefty with a variety of post moves (although they all usually end up going over his right shoulder) and a soft touch who torched SDSU on 14-16 shooting from the floor and 4-5 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the victorious Jackrabbits got 32 points of their own from the splendid junior point guard Nate Wolters (who lit up the Broncos last year in Kalamazoo for 28 in a losing effort).
Both Stainbrook, a lightly recruited big man out of Ohio who’s at WMU because a former assistant talked head coach Steve Hawkins into watching him late in the recruiting period, and Wolters are players for college fans to keep an eye on as the season progresses and their teams compete for conference titles.
We didn’t get much of a chance to write about Akron’s beatdown of Mississippi State the other night. The Zips, led by Quincy Diggs on offense and Zeke Marshall on defense, controlled the SEC group for the full 40 minutes before winning by ten. Akron coach Keith Dambrot was kind enough to join us following the win for our new podcast called “The Experience” which will be available online tomorrow (keep your eye out for it).
Myself and Lauren Kirschman will be doing the podcast throughout the season and hope to bring you interesting discussions that you won’t get anywhere else.
The second podcast has been scheduled for tomorrow morning with a coach who has a Final Four on his record. I’ll also be checking out Wisconsin Green Bay vs Duquesne tomorrow afternoon before driving up the block to catch Pitt vs Rider in the evening (Robert Morris drilled Rider by 26 last night). Green Bay features a really talented sophomore big in 7’1″ Alec Brown, while the Dukes have a sophomore star of their own in TJ McConnell.
Watched Wright State and Ohio State Friday night in a game that the Buckeyes won handily. Not sure if Ohio State is a top-3 team as of yet. They have three really good players and a lot of inexperienced parts, but those three players (Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft and William Buford) are special, just not sure this team is as good as Thad Matta’s previous team that featured David Lighty and had Dallas Lauderdale backing up Sullinger. Time will tell.
Wright State will be up and down all year but they have a really strong first year core of Reggie Arceneaux, Tavares Sledge and Kendall Griffin. Arceneaux is a 5’8″ jet who battled Craft and Shannon Scott all night long. Sledge is a 6’9″ athlete with a body who’s capable of defending and rebounding at a high level already (I think he had 8 in 16 minutes vs OSU) while Griffin will be a steady 2/3 for the Raiders for the next four years. Sophomore big man AJ Pacher has vastly improved his game as well. Wright State has Cole Darling and Matt Vest out with injuries right now and needs their two first-year junior guards (Julius Mays and John Balwigaire) to play well if they want to compete and win games. One thing that’s different about Wright State’s team from last years squad is that Arceneaux is the only Raider who can break his man down off the dribble consistently, while last year’s team had two real creative guys off the bounce in Vaughn Duggins and N’Gai Evans.
By RAY MERNAGH
Will this season signal the Return of the MAC?
MAC basketball is a subject that will always stay, at minimum, in my peripheral — like James Worthy stayed in Magic’s during the Showtime Era in LA (By the way, that NBA Video game commercial is really ticking me off. The three biggest gripes I have with it: 1) Drake shouldn’t be in it, if they wanted to publicize a myth that so many young fans believe up to this point, either about the Heat or about Lebron, they should’ve gone with this scene from an entirely forgettable movie last year; 2) The aforementioned Showtime Lakers were a fading memory when Detroit blitzed them, although that didn’t stop me from completely and utterly enjoying it ; and 3) Bird dunked quite a few times in his career).
Sorry for the rant, back to the MAC. The league has a storied history and was at the top of any best lists for years when it came to leagues that don’t reside in the big-money neighborhoods of college athletics. That’s changed over the last several years, with the MAC falling from a consistent #10-11-12-type spot to as low as the 20′s…having said that, the talent in the league this season seems pretty good. Kent State is the only sure-fire favorite, any other site that prognosticates otherwise should be laughed at and clicked off of immediately. Anybody arguing that someone other than the Golden Flashes are the on paper favorite needs their head examined.
Still, there’s at least 5 or 6 teams capable and possessing enough talent to, with the right breaks, actually win this league. The key to both in-conference success and attention gathering wins out of conference at the MAC level — IMHO — is to have strong returning players. And the league is full of vets coming back for their second, third and fourth years, as well as some transfers that could add to puzzles already seemingly primed for an upswing (keep your eyes on Chris Evans at Kent State and Walter Offutt at Ohio).
Part of the MAC’s trouble has been the divisional alignment of the league. It’s been a mistake since they did it and has hampered — really done away with– what was once a great regular season conference race and replaced it with one dominant division the East, and one lesser light in the West. Winning the West has been good for getting coaches contract extensions. Finishing third or lower in the West has been good for getting coaches fired.
The MAC has changed the conference tournament seeding system so that it will no longer automatically reward one division winner with the #2 seed (which is smart). The West is still not as strong as the East but it does have two teams, Ball State and Western Michigan, that have been proclaimed, based on last year’s results and returning players, ready to challenge for the league’s top spot. Both have talent, toughness and some decent size returning. They will no doubt battle for the West.
Toledo should be helped by an infusion of guys that are eligible to suit up following transfer years. Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois offer the hope that comes with new coaching hires (Rob Murphy and Mark Montgomery). The West division has also been riddled, in retrospect, with poor coaching hires in years past. Some just didn’t work out on the court in wins and losses (Eastern Michigan) while others were complete abominations that had people scratching their heads from day one (Ball State, NIU and Toledo). The current coaches at those three spots have a chance to right their collective ships.
Time will tell.
So let’s take a look at the East Division first followed by the West. The entire East is full of capable teams should Kent falter. The league breaks down into one clear favorite and a bunch of teams that are just a tier below that favorite.
And that’s how we’re going to preview it.