The Western Michigan University men's basketball team will square off against in-state opponent Marygrove (NAIA) this Tuesday, November 13th at 7:00 p.m. ET in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Team: Marygrove College Mustangs (NAIA)
Current Record: 0-2
Location: Detroit, MI
Conference: Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC)
Last Year: 12-17
Home Record: 7-2
Away Record: 2-13
Neutral Court: 3-2
WMU vs. Marygrove College (all-time series record): 0-0
Leading the Marygrove basketball coaching staff is Dave Sichterman, who is entering his 8th season as head coach of the Mustangs, and his 13th year of Marygrove's Director of Athletics. Of particular interest to Broncos fans, Sichterman holds a B.S. in Communications from Western Michigan University, where he was a walk-on offensive lineman for the Broncos' 1988 MAC championship team. He's also had stints at Kalamazoo College (defensive line coach, 1992-1995) and Northern Illinois (Marketing Department, 1996).
Sichterman is followed by assistant coach Craig Covington (6th season), assistant coach Greg Thomas (6th season), and assistant coach Tasaun Zeigler (7th season), who is the cousin of former Central Michigan head basketball coach Ernie Zeigler.
The Mustangs are losing shooting guard Marcus Hopkins who started 26 of 28 games and led the team in 3-point field goal percentage (35%) and steals (37). They're also losing Omar Thomas who led the team in minutes played (30.8 mpg), field goal percentage (56%), and rebounding (9.1 rpg) and Vaughn Bobbitt who led the team in blocks (40) and total rebounds (239).
In addition to Marygrove's junior varsity basketball team to draw talent from, the Mustangs also bring in transfer Keith Paris (Macomb C.C.) and 11 incoming freshmen. Paris averaged 8.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 4.7 assists per game last year in the MCCAA Eastern Conference.
Darryll Dixon is without a doubt, Marygrove's top returner from last year's squad. Dixon led last year's team with 15.8 points per game, 3.4 assists per game, and averaged approximately 34 minutes per game as a sophomore. Dixon also shoots 38% from the field and 33% from behind the 3-point arc. However, Dixon has not played in either of Mayrgrove's first two games, perhaps due to injury.
Returning senior guard Cameron Coburn started 20 games last season while recording a total of 30 assists and 17 steals in 17 minutes per game. Sophomore forward Kevin Dunaj also started 13 games, and showed the ability to score, rebound, block shots, and shoot the occasional three when given space.
Marygrove College was formerly a dual member of both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). This season, the Mustangs will now begin their inaugural season as a member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). To give fans some sort of a point of reference, Marygrove plays in a conference that is probably one notch below the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (GLIAC).
Like most NAIA teams, the Mustangs are undersized when compared to Mid-American Conference teams, and very guard-heavy. Marygrove only has three players (out of 23 on the roster) over 6-foot-5; sophomore Kevin Dunaj (6-foot-7), and freshmen Corey Dunaj (6-foot-6) and Manny Washington (6-foot-6).
The Mustangs do not have a true center on their roster. However, despite being undersized for division one standards, the Mustangs ranked 5th and 8th in offensive rebounds per game (14.3) and total rebounds per game (40.6) respectively last season, so the Broncos can expect to see a scrappy bunch in this match-up.
The Mustangs played a tough schedule last year as they began the transition of scheduling soon-to-be WHAC conference opponents, mixed with Division II basketball powers Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State, and Wayne State.
Marygrove's defense was exposed at times, having given up at least 90 points eight times over the course of their first 12 games. Some of that can be attributed to the difficulty of schedule, however it will still be a point of concern for Coach Sichterman and the coaching staff in 2012-2013.
Similar to Coach Hawkins, Sichterman preaches hard-work and unselfishness. Despite defensive struggles last season, the Mustangs do rebound the ball well and are a gritty group of players. The Mustangs will likely at least be competitive in the WHAC, however were predicted to finish 11th in the preseason poll this season, ahead of only Lawrence Tech.
The Marygrove players have likely circled this date on their calendars as one to look forward to early. If the Mustangs are on their game and are able to out-hustle and out-shoot Western Michigan, they might keep this one interesting in the beginning minutes. But without leading returner Darryll Dixon and facing a completely overmatched opponent in the Broncos, the Mustangs could be in for a very long day.
Projected Starting Lineup:
(PG) Diante Taylor
(SG) Cameron Coburn
(SG) Darryl Foster
(PF) Manny Washington
(PF) Kevin Dunaj