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CMU Blazer Athletics

Young And Undersized, Men’s Basketball Has Something To Prove In Minnesota

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"Hungry" might be the best word to describe the CMU Blazers Men's Basketball team as they embark on their first regular season road trip of the NIAC season. A 2018-19 preseason that ended without a win and a largely new roster of players, this will be a season where the Blazers will be underdogs and they know it. 

Removed two seasons from their famous MCAC Championship win, no member of the current squad was there in 2017 to taste provincial glory with head coach Billy Isaac and his long time assistant, Dan Neufeld. Seth McKenzie, Riley Ens, Erik Sinclair and Nathan Rogalsky, who redshirted last season, make up the full cast of returning players and there is a lot riding on their young shoulders as second-year leaders on the team.

After losses to Alberta's Breircrest Clippers and St. Mary's Lightning in the late September, Isaac has made the most of the almost four week break to implement a new offense for the undersized Blazers.

"We have been working hard at a new zone offense that we think will create better looks for us from the outside and make up for our lack of size," explained McKenzie, a second-year guard. Returning to the practice and to the lineup for CMU this weekend will be recent MCAC Men's Soccer Championship winner Kieran Baydock who missed October's basketball games and practices with a wrist injury. Baydock stood out in limited court time in the preseason and will inject intensity, shooting and good decision-making into the Blazer's offense.

"It really feels like we are a whole new team this year," said McKenzie, "Now we have everyone healthy, we've gotten to know how we all play and we are definitely ready to get into meaningful games. I think we're more than ready."

The NIAC season for CMU tips off in Maple Grove, Minnesota on Friday and Saturday against the AFLBS Conquerors. Another undersized team in 2017-18, AFLBS is coming off a disappointing regular season that saw the program finish below the top-eight teams that qualified for the NIAC Championship tournament. CMU advanced through the first-round with a memorable win over Red River but bowed out to the eventual NIAC winners, Leech Lake Lakers.

CMU will play their first two conference games with AFLBS this weekend before travelling to Lake Region State College in Devil's Lake for exhibition games next weekend. From there, the Blazers play away games at local MCAC rival, Red River and nearby Turtle Mountain Community College, four hours southwest in Belcourt, North Dakota, before hosting the same two teams on the final weekend of November in the Loewen Athletic Centre to close out the first half of the Men's Basketball season.

 

 

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