The big question heading into the next basketball season for Rob Murphy and EMU Nation is the status of the frontcourt. Talented guards and small forwards return, as do transfers and redshirts. Talley, Combs, Lee, Ward, Ross, Martin, Price, Perry, and of course Ali Farhat guarantee that Eastern will have a really strong backcourt next season.
The only returning big man is Lekan Ajayi, a prospect that is a cause for concern. Murphy has to add frontcourt help, and is doing just that with the addition of forward/center Tristan Wilson. Wilson is from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, and at 6-8 205 fits the mold of a rangy, athletic forward who can be disruptive in the 2-3 zone.
Ajayi is an extremely raw and unfinished project, he cannot be counted on for more than 5-10 minutes a game next year unless there is marked improvement in his play. I’m sure a big part of Murphy’s pitch to Wilson was, “Playing time is there for you if you can earn it.” Also, playing with Karrington Ward, Mike Talley, and Raven Lee has to be an attractive incentive as well.
Are you ready for some football?
If you ask me, trying to analyze a season’s opponents before the spring game — which Eastern Michigan will hold April 12, hopefully doing better logistically than last year’s fiasco — is absurdly early. Not that there’s anything wrong with absurdly early. Let’s take a look at the 2014 Eastern Michigan football schedule!
|August 30||Morgan State Bears||Rynearson Stadium|
|September 6||Florida Gators||Gainesville, FL|
|September 13||Old Dominion Monarchs||Norfolk, VA|
|September 20||Michigan State Spartans||East Lansing, MI|
|October 4||Akron Zips||Akron, OH|
|October 11||Rynearson Stadium|
|October 18||Massachusetts Minutemen|
|October 25||Northern Illinois Huskies||Rynearson Stadium|
|November 1||Central Michigan Chippewas||Rynearson Stadium|
|November 15||Western Michigan Broncos||Kalamazoo, MI|
|November 22||Ball State Cardinals||Muncie, IN|
|November 28||Toledo Rockets||Rynearson Stadium|
All times are TBA.
Start spreading the news, Eagle Nation, as March Madness continues for the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team. Next up is a trip to New York City to battle the brainiacs of Columbia University. I’ve been pretty clear on what I think of the CIT, but a visit to the Big Apple is a really great reward for the EMU players and coaches. I hope they enjoy themselves. Get some New York street food, maybe check out the Met, and cap off the visit by helping Columbia check out of the CIT.
Columbia is led by junior forward Alex Rosenberg (no relation, but good on him) and sophomore guard Maodo Lo. Rosenberg has some pretty ridiculous free throw numbers, 82% (218-264) from the line. Two hundred sixty-four attempts is a crazy amount, one suspects Rosenberg will be spend the entire game attacking the rim. Riley needs to make sure he isn’t the one picking up the fouls; my guess is this guy has a date with Daylen Harrison in his future. I’m not sure if the Ivy league has forwards like Harrison, Karrington Ward, and Glenn Bryant.
Rosenberg vs. the inside of the EMU zone is the key matchup. (While I certainly hope Eastern Michigan wins, the idea of writing a headline titled “Rosenberg Dominates EMU” does have a certain appeal to me).
Busy day at Eagle Totem, but I managed to head over to the Eastern Echo Podcast studio for an explosive conversation about EMU attendance issues, Glenn Bryant’s tweet, and to answer the age old question: What does Pakmode actually do?
Eastern Michigan started off the post-season right Tuesday night with a victory over a pretty spirited group of Spartans from Norfolk State. It was a hard fought, tight game from start to finish – just what one would hope for out of a March tournament game. For a recap of the game, and outstanding pictures of the players and, uh, crowd by Eagle Totem’s own uber-talented photographer Ken Bailey, click this big long sentence.
The win means EMU advances to the round of sixteen in the CIT. Before I get cynical, I want to make sure that it is understood that I think this is a good thing. The experience is valuable for the returning players (exhibit A, Lekan Ajayi). The experience is valuable for Rob Murphy, both professionally and financially (for the record, Murphy deserves his bonuses, it is very important for EMU to pay Rob Murphy fair market value).
Some team is going to prove that of all the CIT teams, one of them is the best. There will be a champion in this tournament – it might as well be EMU.
Here is something to keep in mind about this team. Does anyone recall the time one of these guys complained about not starting, or a diminished role, or getting benched for an extended period of time by Rob Murphy? In fact, all three of those things happened to Glenn Bryant during the season, and he never complained. Read more…
I thought my shooting basketball for the season was done at 10:16 P.M. on Friday night as I was starting to leave Gund…err, Quicken Loans Arena. There was no chance that Eastern Michigan would find its way to the NCAA Tournament. Nor was it likely that they were going to make it to the NIT. Then I found out that Eastern Michigan was selected for the CIT, my first question was what is the CIT? Apparently it stands for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. My next question was, how old is this thing? It sounds pretty new…like this year new. Turns out that this thing has been around since 2009 and has something to with the fact that there are now over 300 teams in Division I basketball. Since this tournament uses the old NIT format, the games are played at campus locations and this meant that Eastern got to host the game. This was fine by me, since that meant I got to take another set of basketball pictures.
Jeremy asked me to write a couple paragraphs about the game itself. Keep in mind that when I’m shooting the game, I’m not really paying attention to the ebb and flow of the game, so much of this is going to come from memory. One thing that stood out in my mind is that this game seemed alot closer than it should have been. If I were going to guess, I would have put Norfolk State in the same category as some of the teams that Eastern dispatched early in the season. But I guess that doesn’t count for the fact that they have nothing to lose. Not that Eastern really had that much to lose either.
It seemed like the same things plagued the Eagles that plague them the whole season. Number one on that list was their late game free throw shooting. Eastern had several opportunities to put the game away but it seemed like they couldn’t connect from the free throw line. By my estimates, they missed the first shots of most of their one and ones. Fortunately, their final free throw went in with 3 point something seconds left and sealed the game. They seemed pretty tenative at the beginning of the game and not displaying patience in thier shot selection. I don’t know how many three pointers they had clang from the rim.
That being said, it was a good thing their defense was on tonight. Even though Da’Shonte fouled out, he remained pretty dominant the time he was in the game. There were a few times where Norfolk State had the ball and turned it over. Again, like the rest of the season, they lived by their defense.
One more note. Despite this being a post-season game, the Convocation Center looked pretty empty. The students turned out their normal crowd but it seemed like the rest of the crowd were many of the same people that I see at the games. At least the few folks that came to the game got to see a fairly (but too) exciting game.
I don’t know if Eastern is going to play one more game in Ypsilanti but if they do, I will try to make it.
I realized, I didn’t mention the important part…Eastern won 58-54.
One of my favorite features on another blog that I used to read all the time was a feature they called “Know Your Foe”. They would run down the history and stuff about Michigan football opponents for the week. If people like this, this is a feature I would like to start doing on this blog. So after exhaustive research (i.e., looking at Wikipedia), I bring you “Know Your Foe”.
Norfolk State is a historically black college that is located in Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk is also home to Naval Station Norfolk which is the largest naval base in the world. It is the home of five aircraft carriers and various supporting ships. Norfolk-Southern Railroad (which is a descendant of the Norfolk and Western depicted above) also calls Norfolk home, along with the Maersk Line which is the largest US flagged cargo fleet.
Norfolk State is accredited to issue associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. It was established in 1935 as a unit of the Virginia State College (now University) and had an initial class of 85 students. In 1942, it was known as Norfolk Polytechnic Institute. In 1969, it was split off from Virginia State College and became Norfolk State College and in 1979 it became a University. The campus itself is located on the former Memorial Park Golf Course which was sold to the college by the city of Norfolk for 1 dollar. Currently there are 6,200 undergrads and 835 post-graduate students enrolled at the University.
There are 13 teams that represent the Norfolk State Spartans. They play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and are a Division 1-AA (or FCS as the kids call it these days). Their basketball team has only appeared in the NCAA Tournament once. They were a 15th seed and defeated number two seed Missouri. Norfolk State has never faced off against Eastern Michigan in basketball.
They have a few notable alumni. One of them was Paul Hines who was the inspiration for Denzel Washington’s character in Remember the Titans.
Norfolk State goes into the game tonight with a 19 and 14 record (11 and 5 in the MEAC). They average 71 points per game. Their scoring is led by Pendarvis Williams and Malcolm Hawkins. I am going to guess they are like the non-conference opponents that Eastern defeated earlier in the season.
I think the keys to the game are the keys that are normal for Eastern. If Eastern’s defence can hold down the Spartans, we should be fine.
As for the game itself, I’m not a huge fan of the bowl inflation that has creeped into football and I view this tournament as something similar. Despite that, I’m excited that the Eagles get to play in some sort of post-season tournament. I am hoping this can be like the NIT for many teams in that it is a springboard for good things in the next season. So I can’t wait to see you all at the Convocation Center.
To no one’s surprise, Eastern Michigan will be playing postseason basketball in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament, or CIT. (It’s a good thing they didn’t use one of the l’s in “college” in their acronym.)
The rumor that Eastern was to play in the, uh, CIT had been gently and rythmically moving all around the internet over the past two days. By the time the rumor was confirmed Sunday night, Eagle Nation was properly warmed up and ready for the climactic news — EMU is not only in the CIT, but they also get to end their post-season dry spell right here at home.
The question is, does Eastern have the stamina for a long run, or will their post season dalliance end prematurely? If such a thing were to happen, I think that EMU fans would tell the team that it’s no big deal. It happens to all basketball programs at some point.
But with a home opener against Norfolk State, one could say that the post-season is pregnant with possibilities, if one were disposed to use bad sexual puns.
The NCAA Tournament has sixty-eight teams. The NIT has thirty-two. My TI-83 graphing calculator tells me if you add those two numbers together it equals one hundred.
Does college basketball really need to have over one hundred teams playing in the post-season?
That being the case, Rob Murphy and his EMU crew might as well be one of the teams remaining, and they might as well get out there and win the whole thing. EMU has devoured non-conference mid-major competition this year. If they can keep the MAC Tourney intensity, they can beat anyone on this list.
But let’s be realistic, the CIT is not the lingerie model, or the girl next door. The CIT is the drunk, disheveled girl alone at the bar at 2:15 AM. But hey, she’s willing, and after fifteen years, we’re desperate.
Unnecessary End Comments
- The final score for the MAC is Western Michigan gets the lingerie model, Toledo gets the girl next door, and EMU, Ohio, and Akron get the drunk girl at the bar.
- Somehow, Buffalo goes home dateless. Not sure how that makes sense.
- On a personal note, I am originally from St. Louis and grew up a Missouri Tiger fan. I spent my freshman year at Mizzou before I transferred to EMU. Norfolk State knocked off #2 seeded Missouri in the NCAA Tournament a couple of years ago. I’d love nothing more than a platter of sweet, cold revenge against NSU.