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Kent State Golden Flashes 73, EMU 58: Kent’s big men dominate

January 26, 2016

That was a horribly ugly second half, and we have some ugly final stats to go with it.

EMU v Kent four factors final 2016-01-26

Yeah, it’s ugly. EMU was outshot by 14% eFG%, outrebounded by 10%, and Kent State shot many more free throws. The Eagles did have a big turnover advantage, but it was nowhere near enough to overcome the rest of that.

For EMU, James Thompson had a nice 14-point, 10-rebound performance before he fouled out, while Lee had 15 points and Willie Mangum had 12.

The problem was Kent State’s big men. Khaliq Spicer exploded for 21 points and 13 rebounds, Jimmy Hall had 13 and 7, and Chris Ortiz added 12 and 5. The problem for EMU was that, while James Thompson is solid at both ends of the court, Nazione is a liability on offense. He played most of the first half, while EMU led, but once Kent State made it a game, Murphy subbed for more offense, which left Thompson basically alone to defend the paint. Kent State’s big men exploited that, scoring 46 points — 26 in the second half — and getting Thompson fouled out. Part of that (the technical foul) is on Thompson, but I have no doubt that even without that he’d have fouled out shortly.

And that’s really the problem with this team right now. They’re one solid — not great, mind you, just solid — center or power forward away from a vastly different season. Someone like Lekan Ajayi, who transferred out. Someone like Khaliq Spicer, who played high school ball in Dearborn Heights but left the state of Michigan for Kent State.

With tonight’s loss, EMU falls to 10-10, and 2-5 in the MAC. I’ll remind you that against NCAA Division I opponents, the Eagles are just 6-10. This Saturday, the Eagles will play at another not-quite-.500 team, when they travel to Kalamazoo to face Western Michigan.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. EMU Sports Guru permalink
    January 27, 2016 7:33 am

    I agree with most of what you said here, but if you’re going to call Nazione an offensive liability, do you really think Ajayi would be any better? The guy was a defensive force, but couldn’t make a layup to save his starting position.

    I miss Ward, Bryant, and Talley…

  2. Jeremy Rosenberg permalink*
    January 27, 2016 12:20 pm

    Ajayi would be useful as size and depth off the bench. He is a physically imposing player, and many times last year was a real presence in the middle. As a player who has legit size, can rebound, has experience in Murphy’s system, and has five hard fouls to give, Ajayi would have been a big asset off the bench for the team.

    Yes, his offensive game was non-existent, but Thompson has no true backup center behind him. Ajayi is missed.

    At some point we have to stop being surprised when Murphy coached teams underperform in the regular season. Aside from year one, bad conference losses at home have been par for the course.

    • EMUSportsGuru permalink
      January 27, 2016 1:32 pm

      I don’t think anybody is surprised here in year five…just dissapointed.

      • Block E permalink
        January 29, 2016 11:38 am

        I see this as the reason that you have to wean yourself off JuCos at some point – your rebuilding years are a lot closer together.

        I still think Murphy is the answer. This year is weird, though. It seems nearly all the problems are predictable from EMU’s defensive approach, which is completely mismatched with the lack of depth underneath. That’s why Kent (stars with size) can light up EMU but CMU (stars on the wing) cannot.

      • Ken permalink
        January 29, 2016 1:10 pm

        I think the question after Da’Shonte left was whether the 3-2 could be run without a 7 foot center. I still think it can but you need some depth at the “goalie” position.

  3. January 28, 2016 1:04 pm

    Give this team another year to grow up. Another twenty pounds and some hand strength should genuinely make a difference in JT4. He’s young, the overall talent on the team is young and some of the veterans have not stepped up. It is what… I’m disappointed too EMUSportsGuru. Sorry to read coach Murphy ended the B.S. game with more B.S.

    Any thoughts on football or basketball recruitin for 2016???

    1970 EMU ALUMNUS

    • Ken permalink
      January 28, 2016 10:09 pm

      I heard that football recruiting sounds bleak….but we’ll see I guess

    • Carter Adler permalink*
      January 28, 2016 10:44 pm

      Honestly, I don’t follow recruiting that closely. It’s just not my thing.

  4. Ken Barna permalink
    January 30, 2016 10:00 am

    Dear Ken,
    Why the bleak comment? Not saying everything is coming up roses with football recruiting, but from what I have read, Eastern has some three star recruits and is in the mix for some more this late in the game. What I try to keep in mind, is that recruiting is a crap shoot. One can get three and four star athletes that really never perform to expectations, and on the other hand, athletes with no reputation that become stars.

    • Ken permalink
      February 1, 2016 2:41 pm

      I heard that there were 12 signees for signing day, which is why I had my bleak comment. With 85 scholarships, it seems like you would need around 20~25 to fill the holes that have been left over the years. But college recruiting is like pro recruiting, I guess. you don’t know who’s going to perform and who isn’t. It’s probably even more of a crap shoot, since you have disparities in competition amongst the various high school conferences.

      • Josh permalink
        February 5, 2016 2:03 am

        Turned out ok. Bunch of three stars and contributors. Real solid OL recruits. 6’8″ 320 pound lacrosse player? They found some guys that slipped through the cracks.

        Kind of surprised by the preferred walkons. How do you convince a D1 player to commit to Emu without a guaranteed scholie?

        Maybe I dont have a good handle on demographics, but this class seems heavy on catholic or christian HS alums. Creighton seems to have an in there. Not too surprising since he exudes class if not success (yet?).

  5. January 30, 2016 2:35 pm

    Dear K. Barna and Ken:

    Yes sir, you’re right. Looks like we might lose Qwantrezz Knight to Maryland after he committed to EMU. Maryland must have took a look at this kid and wondered how they overlooked him. I saw some clips and he would sure help heal our defensive schemes.
    Coaches at EMU have talked with him on a daily basis and continued to get his commitment, but I seriously wonder what he will do now. He has tremendous raw talent. I would be disappointed if he leaves after all the work put into his recruitment. If you have not seen this guy on film, take a look.

    1970 EMU ALUMNUS

    • josh permalink
      February 1, 2016 10:45 am

      And he’s gone. Can’t really blame him.

      Looks like 14 commits right now, with a half dozen possibilities come signing day. Mostly 2 to no stars, but that doesn’t mean much. At least at the MAC level, motor means a lot more than physical assets and that’s hard to judge.

  6. James Gerber permalink
    February 1, 2016 2:45 pm

    Our football recruiting will okay, over 75% of the verbals had at least one FBS offer and many had multiple offers from other MAC schools including WMU and Toledo. It won’t score well in terms of rankings but there should be some players here that will help make the program more competitive. Think about this Tuttle, Browning and Daugherty from last year’s team had nil for FBS offers but showed they could play at that level. Don’t forget transfers like Samuelson from U of M who was a 3 star recruit or Willie Parker a greyshirt RB. The biggest problem I see right now is that we need 2 strong DL to add to the rotation and a more experience at WR. We have the top strength and conditioning coach in FBS. Look at the jump that Darius Jackson made between his junior year and senior year. If others make a similar jump this year we’ll surprise a lot of people.

  7. February 2, 2016 3:46 pm


    Just say’in it ain’t right. Maybe the NCAA will come up with a policy that will take away 1 scholarship for any player that is being tampered with by another team. Maryland is wrong in using this tactic. What does this say about our values???

    Watch a new recruit by the name of Tyler Lyle. Could be a good one. I understand Neathery is good at making marginal recruits really, really good. This kid is undersized, but he is a “hit” master.

    1970 EMU ALUMNUS

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