Team preview: Central Michigan

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Central Michigan is the MAC's Jekyll and Hyde program. It's either feast or famine—there's been no in between. Jay Smith's eight Mt. Pleasant seasons have yielded six years of 10 wins or less (10-18 last season) sandwiched around two regular-season conference championships and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2003.

In the two seasons since NBA lottery pick Chris Kaman left in 2003 after a 25-7 campaign, there's been a revolving door at Rose Arena. Four players left after an emotionally draining 6-24 season in 2004, with the biggest hit being guard David Hoskins. Last season's leading scorer as a junior, Kevin Nelson (17.0 ppg), a 6-3 guard, is out.

Suspended twice during the season, Nelson apparently was part of the problem and not part of the solution. He was the team MVP in 2004-05 and the last connection to CMU's 2003 MAC championship team. His 169 career three-point baskets were 17 short of the school record.

To his credit, Smith accepts some of the blame.

"By thinking we could get a better athlete, we jeopardized character [in our recruiting],'' he said. "That's where we slipped."

Key points in Central's 10-18 mark last winter:

• Sefton Barrett (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), a 6-6 forward, suffered a stress fracture in his foot two minutes into CMU's opener at Evansille and missed six games.

• Nelson and Barrett were suspended for three games in the middle of the season for violating team policy.