TOLEDO, Ohio —- It was a typical day in Toledo, the weather was normal and the air had a crispness of a January night but on the floor of the historical Savage Arena the action from the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team kept the heat from escaping from Bob Nichols Court.
Eastern Michigan University open up there 37th Mid-American Conference Saturday night against the University of Toledo, a rival game, with both teams struggling this season the first game in the league is an important game for both clubs – staying with the rest of the West Division.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Charles Ramsey knows the feeling of the first game of the conference is an exciting moment for the Eagles and for University of Toledo’s first year coach Tod Kowalczyk he is beginning his maiden voyage of the Mid-American Conference season.
Eastern Michigan University contained the emotion of the opening night of conference play and kept the defense pressure on the Toledo offense left Savage Arena with a 71-48 victory.
“We had great effort all over the floor,” Ramsey said in the hallway of Savage Arena outside a happy Eagle locker room. “It is huge and I can not tell you the last time Eastern won on the road to open MAC play, now we got to comeback and validate.”
The game had all the emotion of the rival game, emotional play from both teams and some good old fashion hard-nose play created a game atmosphere of a playoff game.
“We got out toughed,” University of Toledo guard Reese Holiday said. “And next week we will be a better but tonight we did not have a chip on our shoulder.”
Eastern Michigan offense fed off of their pressure style of defense and created a balanced attack for the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan University power forward Brandon Bowdry finished the game leading scorer, his 32nd double-double of his career with 19 points and 13 rebounds and left the Rocket coaching staff and players wondering.
How do you slow Bowdry down?
“Bowdry they tell me is the best talent in the league,” Kowalczyk said at the press conference after the game.
The Eagles defense played a sagging style and collapsed around the basket creating poor Toledo shot selection and giving the Eagles plenty of opportunity to get into a transition game but strong recognition what Ramsey calls basketball smart from point guard Darrell Lamphly helped the Eagles offense into a smooth transition.
“Point guard’s play has been terrific four or five games,” Ramsey said about Lamphly’s effort.
Lamphly finished with 14 points and six assists against the Rocket defense in 33 minutes of playing time.
When asked about the Eagle defense intensity, Ramsey said he thought his team showed that they rose up to the challenge by the Rockets.
“It was good!” Ramsey said. “One thing we thought, is that they do not do a great job of shooting the ball from outside. We made a concerned effort to make them shot from the outside and I thought that we did a pretty good job and when they missed we wanted to go and get rebounds and we did a great job.”
The first half ended with the Eagles sprinting off of the Bob Nichols floor leading the Rockets 33-26.
“I told the fellows that we want come out and get a double digit lead,” Ramsey said. “When you mature you do not let teams back in, we kinds’ let them back in but then we opened it up again.”
“We came out flat,” Rocket guard Malcolm Griffin said. “We wanted to come out and play a strong second half but we came out flat.”
The second half the Eagles came back on the floor and the offense did not lose any momentum and the Eagle defense played with a burning intensity lead by the hard-nose style of play and Kamil Janton.
“Kamil this is how he has been practicing it is unbelievable,” Ramsey said about his blue-collar 6-10 post player. “Could not feel better about a kid he is just doing all of the little things.”
Janton finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds and a couple of burses from some bone jarring picks he placed for his team mates.
The bench production was 26 points and Ramsey said his bench again tonight supplied the Eagles offense with plenty of effort.
“This is more reminiscent of the guys we thought we were going to have,” Ramsey said. “We had great efforts from everybody.”
The Eagles came off of the bus Saturday night and went to work at Savage Arena and kept there focus through out the game and so the trip going back home to Ypsilanti on this dark and cold January night will just be a short trip instead of an over night journey.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.