It was giveaway day at the Covocation Center on Saturday. Tim Horton’s provided breakfast to hungry EMU fans who braved the cold and treacherous conditions to see Eastern play Ohio. Coffee and doughnuts. Bagels and muffins. And basketball games. All given away.
Losing Wednesday night against Akron was difficult enough, but those things happen sometimes. A team comes out flat, the other teams comes out shooting well, and a deficit is built up that cannot be overcome. Losing in that way teaches a valuable lesson, and you can usually get over losing in that fashion pretty quickly. Losing the way Eastern did to Ohio, however, is far more difficult to get over. It stings. A loss like that leaves scars on the entire season.
Come March, when MAC Tournament seedings are handed out, the wound from the giveaway loss to Ohio will be there, festering. Later in the season, Eastern will find themselves up seven with three minutes to go and the giveaway to Ohio will be burning in the back of their minds, eroding confidence.
It is up to Rob Murphy and his staff to make sure the 58-56 loss to Ohio on Saturday is not a mortal wound for this team. Murphy has created a defensive identity for Eastern, but what happens when the defense melts down? There are talented offensive players on this team, but if they can’t get the job done defensively, Murphy will bench them, leaving the team as it has been the last couple of years.
For this team to achieve their goals, they will have to make these losses up on the road, not an easy proposition in the MAC. This team has six seniors. When their legacy is complete, what will they leave behind? As much as I have enjoyed watching these guys play, how can it be argued that their legacy at this point is something other than disappointment and unfulfilled potential?
This season could now go one of three ways. 1) The team rallies around each other and goes on a winning streak in the conference, moving the Eagles back into the top tier of the MAC. 2) The team fails to recover from the two losses this week, falls to the middle to the pack, and quietly exits the MAC Tourney in an early round. Or 3) The team plays roughly .500 ball the rest of the way, manages to win a couple of games in the MAC Tourney but still falls short in a duplicate of last season.
The frustration for EMU fans is palpable. We’ve waited a long time to have a team that can potentially win the MAC title. If Eastern can’t turn things around, and quickly, the wait will continue.
- I know it is considered prestigious to be on national TV, but how much prestige is gained from a national TV audience seeing a completely empty arena? 11AM is a very inconvenient start time, and that appears to be confirmed by the fact that (outside of the student section) there were about eight people in attendance.
- Maybe I’m just bitter because the early start time meant I had to miss the game. My daughter turned five on Saturday, and a lunch party was planned long ago. I ended up watching the game last night, in the comfort of my living room with a couple of Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPAs as consolation.
- Part of the reason the two losses last week hurt so much is that all eyes in the MAC were on EMU. The Akron and Ohio games were going to let everyone know if EMU basketball was for real, or a pretender. Welcome to pretender status, and it is going to take a lot of work to get back the lost credibility.
- If the Athletic department is serious about breakfast, they should have asked beezy’s to cater. Or for a night game, Blue Wolf Grill. We should be supporting locally owned businesses, not the raging Canuck hordes, planning to take over America one Tim Horton’s at a time.