Pictures from the game last night. For the first half, I tried something different and shot from the stands. I’m not terribly happy with the results except for the Da’Shonte dunk.
Both Ohio and Akron lost last night, keeping the Eagles hope for a four seed in the MAC Tournament alive.
Last night’s victory by the EMU basketball team over Central Michigan reminded me of the old adage about Chinese food. It tastes great going down, but in a short time the hunger comes back. The win over CMU, always a good thing, still managed to barely satiate the hungry EMU hoops fan. To carry the metaphor forward, the win last night was merely the egg roll (or crab rangoon, if you prefer) on the plate of hoops that lays before the Eagles.
The question of whether or not we get to the almond cookie at the end of the meal is what matters most. Can EMU put a stretch of quality games together and win the MAC Tournament? Ask around the MAC and you will hear two things regarding Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament:
1) None of them think Eastern really has a chance to win the tournament and claim the automatic bid to the Big Dance.
2) None of them want to play Eastern in the MAC tournament.
I’m sure Jeremy will do a similar post, but I wanted to get my two cents in. Since the season is down to four games, it is a bit easier to attempt to make predictions. Or something like that.
Since it’s like the law that I post a picture here, here goes. And the picture fits because Coach Murphy is trying to figure it all out too.
Before I go into the numbers, a snapshot of where things stand. By my counts, Eastern sits at number six in the standings with a MAC record of 7 and 7. To have a better road in the MAC tournament, they need to get to at least a four seed. With three of their last four games at home, I think it is doable but they have to beat Toledo. Especially since those three games are against teams they should beat at home: Central, Northern Illinois and Ball State. If they beat Toledo along with those other teams, their MAC record would stand at 11-7 which means they would need some help. Something tells me that’s not going to happen.
At the top of the heap is Toledo with a current MAC record of 11 and 3. Their remaining games are against Northern Illinois, Western, Central and Eastern. My brain tells me they are going to win three of those four with the loss coming against Western. But should they lose to Eastern, that would put them at 13 and 5 and will likely stay on top of the MAC.
Next up is Western. They are also 11 and 3 in the MAC. They have almost the same road as Toledo with games against Ball State, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Central. I’m going to guess they are going to win at least three of those. That would put them challenging for the MAC. If Toledo should falter, I think they win the regular season title.
In third place is Buffalo with a current record of 10 and 4 in the MAC. Their remaining games are against Ohio, Miami, Akron and Bowling Green. I will guess they will split those and remain roughly where they are in the standings.
The wild card to Eastern’s chances of moving into the fourth spot are the Bobcats and the Zips. Each stand at 9 and 5 in the MAC. The Bobcats play Buffalo, Kent, Bowling Green and Miami. They would need to lose all four of those games to help Eastern. Something tells me that’s not going to happen. The Zips play Miami, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Kent. Again, I think they need to lose all four of those games. If they split, I think they get ahead of Eastern on head to head play.
So what does all of this tell us? I think the first thing it tells us is that Eastern is going to have to win out. Given their performance against Toledo at home, I think it is doable but given their Jekyl and Hyde nature, I don’t think that is going to happen. The other thing that has to happen is Akron and Ohio have to lose the rest of their games but given their respective schedules, I think they will split. So this means that Eastern will probably have at least one more game at the Convocation Center this year.
The embattled Eastern Michigan Eagles are set to tip-off here at University Arena in Kalamazoo against the MAC West leading Western Michigan Broncos. The bi-polar Eagles are off a terrible loss at Northern Illinois last Thursday.
Which Eastern team will be present today? Last time these two teams met, Eastern’s zone was in full effect and the Eagles dismantled the Broncs in Ypsi. Western has inside talent in Shayne Whittington, and a big time scoring guard in David Brown. They will be be out for revenge.
Today I am looking for another big time performance from DaShonte Riley, and someone (Ward, Lee, Bryant) to step up and and provide consistent offense. I’ll be posting updates during all media timeouts.
Nice crowd on hand today, time for some Sunday matinee hoops. Go Eastern!
2:12 PM (15:58 left in 1st half)
Eastern comes out playing like they have something to prove. Which is good, because they do.
A block by Riley, a steal by Harrison, and early scoring from Raven Lee get EMU going with a 8-5 lead. David Brown with all five of Western’s points.
2:23 PM (11:57 left in 1st half)
Western grabs the momentum and cuts Eastern’s lead to one, 11-10. Rob Murphy benched Glenn Bryant for not playing well at NIU, and GB is in danger of the same today. With Riley on the bench, Murphy goes with a small lineup and GB struggles at the five.
Refs calling the the game close, Daylen Harrison draws two hand check fouls in less than a minute.
2:40 PM (7:38 left in 1st half)
Back to back and-ones for Western as Riley picks up his second foul with ten minutes left in the first half. Mo Hughley in and promptly fouls Whittington. Now Lekan Ajayi is in. Eastern’s backup center woes continue.
Technical foul on Tucker Haymond for throwing an elbow at Daylen Harrison during a fight for a rebound. Day makes them both but Western has a 20-15 lead.
The lid on the basket from the other night is back on the hoop for Eastern. Nothing dropped for them in that last stretch.
2:52 PM (3:46 left in 1st half)
There is almost zero flow to this game. Constant fouls, traveling calls, and committee meetings by the refs are making the game drag out. I’m worried about my dinner plans at the Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall.
As for the game, Western is taking advantage of Riley being on the bench and causing trouble inside. WMU jumps to a 27-21 lead.
3:06 PM (Halftime)
A twenty minute half of basketball took over an hour to complete. Lots of fouls on both teams, but the absence of Riley really hurt Eastern on defense. At the half, the score is Western Michigan 34, Eastern Michigan 26. David Brown is the player of the game so far with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Eastern has no chance for a comeback if Riley keeps picking up fouls. Even with Riley, Eastern still needs more consistent scoring to mount a comeback against the Broncos.
Ready for the second half. Wandering around the arena during halftime I thought of the last time I was here, a snowy February night in 1998. Earl Boykins and the Eagles dropped a game to Western that evening. Western students chanted “Webster, Webster” at Boykins. That was imaginative heckling.
As for the arena, I do like these old school fieldhouses. Nice college atmosphere.
3:26 PM (15:43 left in 2nd half)
All the fouls are catching up with the players. Brown picks up his third for Western, while Talley and Lee have three as well. Six team fouls called in the first three minutes of this half.
Western is lighting up EMU from three, as the vaunted zone is not stopping the Broncs. Glenn Bryant has announced his presence this half with a signature dunk, but Western still has a significant lead, 46-37.
3:39 PM (11:04 left in 2nd half)
Darell Combs on fire with thirteen points and an assist in the last stretch. Combs is playing out of his mind. He has completely taken the game over and Eastern has tied the Broncos, 52-52.
More foul trouble as Riley picks up his third, and Austin Ritchie gets called for his fourth for Western. But right now the whole arena is in awe of Combs.
3:49 PM (7:44 left in 2nd half)
Raven Lee wants to get in on the fun with Combs and drains a big three to give Eastern the lead, 59-56.
DaShonte Riley and Connor Tava just picked up their fourth fouls. While Eastern has much more depth than Western, and a battle of attrition is in EMU’s favor, Riley is the exception. He cannot foul out. I give you the overtime periods against NIU as exhibits A and B.
4:02 PM (3:35 left in 2nd half)
Western crowd picks up the Broncs and they take the lead, 68-62. Whittington with a big offensive board, bucket-and-one, and brings the crowd to their feet. Riley picks up his fifth foul and momentum has definitely swung to Western. Ajayi proceeds to pick up his fourth and things look bleak for Eastern.
Can Combs carry them back once more?
4:06 PM (2:10 left in 2nd half)
Combs drive and dish to Ajayi. How does that make sense? Ajayi confirms my disbelief by putting up an air-ball from three feet away. Comeback looking improbable. Western up 69-62.
4:17 PM (In the words of Bill Paxton, “Game over, man!”)
Foul trouble throughout the game for Riley doomed Eastern’s zone, and Western holds on to beat EMU 75-67. Karrington Ward was notably absent today, with only two points on the game.
Game ball for Darell Combs, who was electric on offense today with 21 points off the bench for Eastern.
No shame losing on the road to a good Western team. The shame is that Eastern couldn’t play at this level the other night at Northern Illinois.
Final thoughts after the press conference.
At the press conference, Murphy praised his team for fighting back. I asked about K-Ward’s play, and Murphy said it wasn’t just the lack of scoring, Karrington missed assignments on defense as well. We all know that nothing lands you in the Rob Murphy doghouse faster than defensive lapses.
Eastern gets three in a row at home next, with CMU, Ball State, and Northern Illinois heading to the Convo. Eastern has to win all three to set up decent seeding for the MAC Tournament.
The EMU/WMU rivalry is one of my favorites in the MAC. If we get another crack at the Broncos in the tourney it should be a fun game.
See you Wednesday night at the Convo. Good night from Kalamazoo.
Game day for the reinvigorated Eagles, riding high off three wins in a row and a defensive tour de force against Toledo last Saturday. Tonight, Eastern Michigan heads to the Vegas of the Midwest, DeKalb, Illinois, to take on the upstart NIU Huskies.
In case you have forgotten, allow me to remind you of the painful experience that was NIU/EMU last year at the Convo. The halftime score had Eastern up 18-4. NIU was 1-33 from three-point range for the game. NIU had no idea what to do with the 2-3 zone other than to shoot three-point shots over the top. It failed.
The players I wrote about, Abdel Nader and Akeem Springs, have left the NIU program. Nader transferred to Iowa State, which I thought was kind of odd, Nader is not a bad basketball player but certainly didn’t look like Big XII material to me. Springs, who was 0-10 in last year’s game, transferred to Milwaukee, which is telling in and of itself: Someone voluntarily moved to Milwaukee just to get away from EMU’s 2-3 zone.
I was invited back to the sparkling Echo Podcast Studio this morning for some sports talk with legendary Eastern Echo sports reporter/editor/genius Al Willman. Al and I discussed the men’s basketball team and their 65-44 win over the formidable Toledo Rockets, as well as the bright future of women’s hoops under head coach Tory Verdi.
It was also last call for talk about the Toledo suspension scandal; Al and I contributed our concluding thoughts on the subject.
Here are some pictures from the game yesterday.
It was a pretty good win for Eastern. I am hoping this bodes well for the rest of the season.
Time for basketball, which is good because I’m getting tired of off court distractions. EMU desperately needs a win to improve their MAC tourney seeding, and to prove to the conference that they are a legit contender. Toledo will provide a serious test for the Eagles.
The one player EMU has that Toledo can not contain is Glenn Bryant. Bryant’s size, athleticism, and energy can be a difference maker, if he brings his “A” game.
You cannot discount Raven Lee and his scoring ability. Toledo has really solid guards, but when Lee is on he is electric. EMU will need Lee to be at his best as well.
See you at the first media timeout.
Raven Lee has come to play. A big three followed by a steal and layup helps EMU spring to a 10-7 lead. DaShonte Riley with a nice block and inside bucket. If Riley is on his game, life will be very difficult inside for Toledo. Nice start for the Eagles.
Chippy play…Rian Pearson leads the charge and UT takes the lead 14-12. Riley on the bench for this stretch and it shows. Really need his inside presence. So far pretty quiet from Bryant.
Tight defensive play and the score is 16-14 Toledo. Lee and Darell Combs running together in the back court. More strong play from Riley, and a Glenn-sanity sighting with a GB dunk.
Other observations: Smallish crowd, rumors of UT fans over running the Convo are greatly exaggerated. EMU student section chanting “.167″ in reference to Drummond’s blood alcohol content.
Defensive play reigns at the Convo. Clearly this favors EMU’s game. 2-3 zone looks sharp, and EMU has a 20-18 lead with 3:42 left in the first. Nice stretch of play by the “glue guy” Daylen Harrison. Day is 3-3 from the floor.
This game is like the melting snow outside, sloppy and messy, but nothing us Michiganders can’t handle. Back to back threes by Talley and K-Ward, as well as stifling defense propel Eastern to a 26-22 lead at the half.
Karrington Ward has 6 points, and is cleaning up on the glass with 6 rebounds. Daylen Harrison also has 6 points, and Riley has 3 blocks.
Justin Drummond decided to suspend himself in the first half, as he has 0 points and 2 rebounds in 11 minutes of play.
Officials letting them play, really physical out there. Nice to see a hard fought game. Drummond sinks two free throws while being mercilessly taunted by EMU student section. Riley blocks Boothe again, and is owning the interior. EMU up 28-24 with 15:45 left in the game.
Exclamation jam and a three by K-Ward, as well as a steal and bucket for Lee springs EMU to a 37-29 lead with 11:14 left in the game.
Really impressed with the play of Harrison and Ward today. 8 points and 8 boards for Day.
Riley with a huge block down low, showing us why he was recruited by Syracuse. EMU holds on to their lead, up 44-34 with 8:03 left in the game.
Eastern better keep their foot on the gas pedal, we can’t have another late meltdown.
EMU in a serious scoring drought but clamping down hard on defense. Drummond picks up his fifth foul and the refs suspend him for the duration of the game.
Big dunk by Glenn Bryant, a nice layup by JR Sims and Eastern is up 51-40 with 3:51 left in the game. If EMU holds Toledo under fifty this is one hell of a defensive performance.
That’s a winner from the Convo. Toledo gets taken down by karma and suffocating defense. Final score: Eastern Michigan 65, Toledo 44. Eastern looked like the better team today. By far.
Balanced attack for EMU, a really solid all-around performance. When this team plays at the top of their game, especially on defense, they can beat anyone in the MAC, any time. Lots of game balls to hand out, but a gold star to JR Sims for knocking down four clutch free throws in a row.
I’ll be back with a final post after the press conference. Should be a fun one.
Busier press conference than usual. Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk graciously appeared before the media, and I had a chance to ask him the question so many of us who were appalled by his one game suspension of Drummond have been wanting to ask:
“Coach, you’ve had some time to reflect on your decision, considering the fact that on average over 7000 Ohioans a year are either killed or injured by drunk drivers, what kind of a message does it send to the students and student-athletes, not just at Toledo but all across the Mid-American Conference, to give a high profile athlete such a lenient punishment for such a serious offense?”
His answer — nothing. He responded with pre-packaged “Eastern Michigan played a great game and deserved to win” argle-bargle. It is certainly his right not to answer, or even to give a non-answer.
It is then my right to say that he must not be very proud of what he did. He must not think his decision is defensible.
It is his right not to answer, but it is also my right to call him a coward for his refusal. I wonder if his non-answer is a by-product of being coddled by the Toledo media.
In one word: Weak. I called his decision to suspend Drummond for one game “morally bankrupt.” I stand by that.
As for Murphy, he was obviously ecstatic over his team’s defensive play. Really complimentary of Daylen Harrison, DaShonte Riley, Mike Talley, and the team as a whole.
I asked DaShonte if he felt he could win MAC Defensive Player of the Year with a big finish, and he said yes. If he continues to play like he did tonight, I think he may be right.
It’s been a fun day, a big win for Eastern and the Eagles are back in the MAC West hunt. Goodbye from the Convo.
Being part of the new media means one is exposed to all the internet has to offer, from a wonderful abundance of information, to a not so wonderful abundance of dunces. Yesterday’s article critical of the handling of the Justin Drummond arrest by the University of Toledo coaching staff, Athletic Department, and media has been met with predictable howls of idiocy. With all due respect to Lorde, I’m kinda over arguing with idiots.
Before I post some of the choicest reactions, allow me to remind you that a UT basketball player got completely ripped, got behind the wheel of a car, was pulled over, arrested, and blew twice the legal limit. The coaching staff and Athletic Department deemed that a one game suspension was appropriate. The Toledo media gave them a free pass.
Moses Ayegba is a senior forward who plays for the Georgetown Hoyas. Ayegba is Nigerian, and before enrolling at Georgetown he accepted a plane ticket home as a gift from his then high school coach. After enrolling at Georgetown, the NCAA launched an investigation, and over the course of his career Ayegba has been suspended for a grand total of ten games for going to see his family.
Whether or not Ayegba should miss any games is another discussion. Around college basketball, it is accepted that players will get suspended sometimes for, in the NCAA’s words, “pre-enrollment reconciliation.” It is doubtful that Ayegba knew he was violating any rules, especially one buried in the depths of the NCAA rulebook.
If ignorance of the law is no defense, what happens when you knowingly break the law, and put the public in danger?
Toledo forward Justin Drummond was pulled over and arrested for DUI last weekend. Drummond blew twice the legal limit, and he currently has charges pending against him. Twice the legal limit is no joke. You are legitimately fucked up at that point, and have no business getting behind the wheel. And you know it, too. It’s disgustingly irresponsible.