Friday, October 19, 2007

Mid-American Conference Preview


The Mid-American Conference had a typical year for them: several quality teams that pulled off nice wins in the non-conference, but beat up on each other in conference play. In other words, there was too much parity in the conference for anyone to garner at-large consideration. Toledo won the overall conference title, going 14-2 in the West division. In the East division, Akron went 13-3 to get the title. Kent State finished one game back, while Miami (Ohio) went 10-6. The conference tournament featured one of the most exciting moments of Championship Week, with Miami (Ohio) knocking off Akron at the buzzer with a Doug Penno three-pointer. This season is again wide-open.

Favorites: Kent State, as usual, was in the thick of the conference race last season, finishing 12-4 and second in the league. The Golden Flashes return five starters from that team. However, they do lose two of their top three scorers. Leading the way is the frontcourt duo of Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance. Scott is a good scorer and rebounder, while Quaintance is a terrific defensive player. Julian Sullinger is another key returnee up front, while Isaac Knight will see time. On the perimeter, Chris Singletary and Rodriguez Sherman both made the conference All-Freshman team, while point guard Jordan Mincy returns at the point. Miami (Ohio), as mentioned earlier, reached the NCAA Tournament last season on a miracle buzzer shot, and return three starters from a year ago. The leader is Tim Pollitz, one of the conference’s best players. He can score in a variety of ways and is also a good rebounder. Tyler Dierkers will start next to him up front. In the backcourt, Michael Bramos returns. He is a good scorer and defender. Alex Moosman returns in the backcourt, while Carl Richburg and St. Bonaventure transfer Isaiah Carson will battle for the point guard spot. Kenny Hayes could start on the wing. Western Michigan returns all five starters from a year ago. Two all-conference candidates lead the way in guard David Kool and forward Joe Reitz. Kool is a very good shooter who can score and do a little of everything, while Reitz is one of the league’s best post scorers and rebounders. Shawntes Gary and Michael Redell also return in the backcourt for the Broncos. The perimeter is extremely deep, with Andre Ricks, Derek Drews, and Derek Fracalossi all returning. Andrew Hershberger will fight for a starting spot up front.

Contenders: Akron was one of the best mid-major teams in the country last season, but did not have a chance to show it because of the MAC Tournament final. Three starters return from that group, but Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce were two of the best in school history. The perimeter group will lead the way, mainly Nick Dials and Cedrick Middleton, two double-figure scorers. Jeremiah Wood is an all-conference candidate up front, while Nate Linhart and Quade Milum will have to improve in the frontcourt. Ohio has one of the country’s top post duos in Leon Williams and Jerome Tillman, both all-conference big men. Both are dominating forces around the basket. Central Michigan has arguably the league’s best player, guard Giordan Watson. Watson can do it all on the court for the Chippewas, and will carry CMU. His partner in the backcourt wil be Jorda Bitzer. Up front, forwards Chris Kellerman and Marko Spica will lead the way, while Justin Blevins should start at center. Purdue transfer Nate Minnoy will make an immediate impact.

Sleepers: Toledo finished last season with a 14-2 MAC record, but lose three starters from that group. Kashif Payne is an all-conference candidate due to his defensive prowess and distribution ability, while Jonathan Amos and Tyrone Kent will likely flank him on the perimeter. Ridley Johnson could also start. Up front, Shane Ross and Jerrah Young are the only returnees. Eastern Michigan’s chances rest on the health of Carlos Medlock’s foot, which he broke in January of last season. He should be completely recovered, though, and will fight for all-conference honors. Also returning on the perimeter is double-figure scorer Jesse Bunkley and Jarrod Axon. Brandon Bowdry and Justin Dobbins both return in the frontcourt, as does James Matthews. JC transfer Wendale Farrow and freshman William Cooper will split time at the small forward spot.

Rounding out the Pack: Bowling Green, after going only 3-13 last season, will push for a higher finish in the standings led by the duo of Nate Miller and Ryne Hamblet. Miller is one of the best forwards in the conference, while Hamblet is a double-figure scorer on the wing. Erik Marschall is a solid forward down low, while Darryl Clements will run the show. Brian Moten and Otis Polk will push for starting spots. Buffalo will be led by a deep perimeter group, including double-figure scorer Andy Robinson. He can also defend very well. Byron Mulkey returns at the point, while wing Greg Gamble and Rider transfer Rodney Pierce will push for time. Penn State transfer Brian Addison will start up front, along with center Vadim Fedotov. Northern Illinois went from first to worst last season, and the latter result is more likely of occurring this season. The Huskies are led by the backcourt of Cody Yelder and Ryan Paradise. Both averaged around double-figures last season, and will improve this year. Ben Rand and Jeremy Landers will fight for a starting spot. Zach Pancratz and Shaun Logan return up front. Ball State, after a slew of controversy in the offseason regarding departing coach Ronny Thompson, will hope to improve on last year’s 5-11 record. The key returning duo is forward Anthony Newell, a double-figure scorer and one of the league’s best rebounders, and center Micah Rollin. Peyton Stovall returns in the backcourt, along with Jalon Perryman.

Prediction: The Mid-American Conference, as it is every year, will be wide-open with several teams capable of winning the league this season. Although that makes for exciting regular-season battles, it hurts the conference’s chances of getting multiple bids despite the success, year-in and year-out, that the MAC achieves. This season, Kent State is the favorite in my book, due to its inside-outside balance, and defensive abilities. However, Western Michigan is loaded, and you can never count out Akron. Plus, the returning champions, Miami (Ohio) have a lot of talent at the top, while Ohio has the best duo in the league and Central Michigan has the best player in the conference. I’m going with the Golden Flashes of Kent State, but expect another wild year in the MAC.

Player of the Year: Giordan Watson, G, Central Michigan

All-Conference Team:
G- Giordan Watson, Central Michigan
F- Joe Reitz, Western Michigan
F- Tim Pollitz, Miami (Ohio)
F- Leon Williams, Ohio
F- Jerome Tillman, Ohio

Second Team:
G- David Kool, Western Michigan
G- Carlos Medlock, Eastern Michigan
G- Kashif Payne, Toledo
F- Jeremiah Wood, Akron
F- Nate Miller, Bowling Green

Photo Credit: CMU Sports


  1. Ball State's Micah Rollin was kicked off the team a couple of weeks ago.

  2. and Ball State's Perryman left the team in September.

  3. Wow, they were on the roster that I have--thanks for the heads-up. They're going to be even worse now without those two.

  4. Yeah I know they will fall from last place to .... really last place.

  5. My prediction for MAC player of the year is Jerome Tillman. At a generous height of 6-6 he's by far the best big man in the conference. He's playing like a 6-9 post player and moving down the court like a shooting guard. Watch out for Ohio to take the MAC this year.