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Central Michigan has lost six out of its last seven games but continues to develop its young roster in the process.
Freshman guard Derrick Richardson Jr. got the start vs. Miami (Ohio) on Feb. 2. (Brittni Hengesbach | GCmag)
Central Michigan tried to grind out a victory and snap its three-game losing streak on Saturday night but fell short, as Miami (Ohio) took home the victory, 70-61. Head coach Keno Davis said despite the team’s recent struggles (the team has lost six out of its last seven games), the team will continue to get better as they work on a few fundamental parts of their collective game.
“We found ways to win and right now, we haven’t found ways to win, but that doesn’t mean we’re not as good of a team as we were in the nonconference,” Davis said. “It only means we have to improve some of the little things as we go forward and that’s what we focus on. So each player, can they limit the turnover? Can they work on their free throw a little bit more? Can they work their checkout? And if each guy does that, we’ll continue to get better not just in the future but this season.”
The team struggled from the line throughout the first half, making only four-of-11 free throw attempts. However, the team did much better at the charity stripe in the second half, making 11-of-12 attempts. Senior guard Kyle Randall scored 20 points and was eight-of-12 from the free throw line. Randall said the team struggled with the free throws in the first half due a lack of focus.
“In the second half, we proved that we are a good free throw shooting team and we just got to go to the line more focused throughout the whole game and knock them down,” Randall said.
Randall added that the team needs to make more shots and get more defensive stops in order to improve. Randall said making those type of improvements will better prepare the team for the MAC Tournament in March.
“We want to keep improving and playing our best basketball in March,” Randall said. “Nights like this are tough especially when shots aren’t going the whole entire game and we got to keep working and improving.”
Freshman point guard Chris Fowler scored eight points, going three-of-six from the field but struggled at the line, making just two of his four free throw attempts on the night. After improving their field goal percentage and free throw percentage in the final half, Fowler was asked what the team did differently in the second half compared to the first. Fowler said there was no change offensively, the team simply saw more open looks. He said he’s more concerned about the uncharacteristic mistakes the team made and how they can learn from them going forward.
“There’s mistakes that we made that were uncharacteristic of us and we can improve that,” Fowler said. “There’s a lot of things that we can say about tonight’s game but all of the things are correctable and we feel that if we correct those little things that we could go on a winning streak just as easy as this losing streak happen.”
Fowler, who is a starter, is only a freshman and is already making a name for himself. Davis said the young point guard has been asked to do everything on the court and has yet to disappoint.
“I won’t say it’s come unexpected, but he’s been more than what I could hope for,” Davis said of the Southfield native. “You look at him and what he’s able to do out on this court and yet we’re asking him to do everything. To score, distribute, rebound, defend.”
During Saturday night’s game Central added another freshmen guard to the starting lineup in Derrick Richardson, Jr. Davis said adding Richardson to the starting five was meant to add a little more athleticism and a little more quickness on the defensive end. Davis said fans can expect to see different guys playing different roles for the remainder of the season.
“Trying to put the best starting lineup together to get us off to a good start,” Davis said. “We also as we continue to develop the program, we want to look at different lineups for this season and for the next.”
Central Michigan will take its 9-12 record (2-6 MAC) on the road next week, when they play Akron on Feb. 5.
Photos by Brittni Hengesbach
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