Mid-Week Hoops Report
Eastern heads to Kalamazoo tomorrow night for an important early MAC West showdown. Western’s 2-2 MAC record, identical to Eastern’s, tells a different story from the Eagles. While Eastern stews over give away games against Ball State and Bowling Green, Western has pummeled Toledo and NIU, while dropping their two games to Ohio and Akron, the MAC elite. Add Eastern’s pitiful road record this season and all signs point to a Western victory.
That isn’t to say that Eastern couldn’t pull this one out. These Broncs are beatable. Seth Rogan lookalike Matt Stainbrook transferred to Xavier, and Flenard Whitfield graduated. Quality players like Nate Hutcheson and Shayne Whittington remain, and Freshman forward Darius Paul looks like a solid addition. Eastern will need to play its best game if they hope to win on Wednesday.
My hope is that they put a compete effort together and win, but I suspect that won’t happen this time. Western Michigan 56, Eastern Michigan 51.
- It has become clear to me that Glenn Bryant is at his best when he is moving to the basket. His turnaround jumpers and three-point attempts rim out far too often. What we saw from Bryant against Miami, moving without the basketball and scoring on cuts to the hoop are where the evolution of his offensive game should lead.
- Eastern vs. Miami always brings me back to some of the greatest MAC games of the 90’s. Earl Boykins/Brian Tolbert/Derrick Dial battling against Wally Szczerbiack/Ira Newble/Damon Frierson. Eastern’s losing streak against Miami represents the worst of the Boone/Ramsey years.
- A couple weeks ago I wrote that J.R. Sims’ value would increase if he could prove capable of running the point. He has fallen into just that role, gaining more minutes as he becomes the number two option after Jalen Ross. Sims plays with serious intensity and is someone who has improved every year he has been here.
- The team as a whole did not fare very well against Miami’s press. They looked flustered and made poor decisions at times, allowing Miami to get back into the game. If I were an opposition coach, I would seriously consider pressing Eastern. A lot. Let’s hope they can improve before the league catches up with this weakness.
- Saturday Eastern will host Northern Illinois in a revenge game from last year’s MAC tournament opener and for every football game ever played against the Huskies. It would be wise to pull that one out since the MAC schedule gets exceedingly difficult in February.