YPSILANTI, Mich. —- The bus is packed with bags and equipment, the diesel motor of the bus is warming up and the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team is once again on the road- a swift tour of the Mid-American Conference East Division the first stop is Athens, Ohio, Wednesday night at the other Convocation Center the home of the Ohio University Bobcats.
The Eagles will be stepping into an angry den of Bobcats. The last time out, back on Saturday afternoon January 22, Ohio University lost an 18-point lead and were beaten by the State University at Bullalo,73-68 sending Ohio University basketball coach John Groce into his office worrying about the status of his team.
“I did not like the look in our guys’ eyes out there once lost the lead,” Groce said. “That is my fault!”
Last season the Bobcat were in the same position in the league only to make a comeback that is regarded as one of the best in Ohio University history and not only won the conference title in Cleveland, Ohio but also made some noise in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Georgetown University.
That was last season and now this season Groce is seeing his team play with less momentum and all most no confidence, Buffalo shot an impressive 72 percent in the second half to catch up and pass by the Bobcats. As the game turn ugly for the Bobcats there was no intensity or concentration instead the players on the floor played with doubt and indecisiveness.
“It is Embarrassing! Ridiculous! Absurd!” Groce said after his team allowed Buffalo to shoot 72 percent from the floor.
“We could not get any spark out there,” Ohio University senior forward Tommy Freeman said. “It was like someone ran over our dog or something.”
Perhaps the cure and the spring board that the Bobcats need is a visit by Eastern Michigan University.
Eastern Michigan University defeated Central Michigan University Sunday afternoon January 23, at the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference the real Convocation Center 41-38, the action of the game is described by Central Michigan University basketball coach Ernie Zeigler as an intense rival game.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Charles Ramsey said after the game that he would take his team’s effort on defense at home anytime and that he thought his team showed some character but he also added that the flow of the game lacked appeal.
“Dr James Nesmith must be spinning in his grave,” Ramsey said after the game against the Chippewas. “That performance set the game back to peach basket days.”
Central Michigan University game plan against the Eagles a simple idea that was to not let Eastern Michigan University senior power forward Brandon Bowdry beat them make the other Eagle shoot and make shots
Bowdry was held to his lowest point production of the season with just six points but the other Eagle did stepped up and did just enough to secure the win over the Chippewas.
Ramsey said he believed that the confidence the other Eagles displayed is because of the recent one game suspension that Ramsey administered to Bowdry for behavior that was considered by Ramsey as detrimental to the team back on January 9 at Western Michigan University.
The Eagles defense held Central Michigan University to 23 percent from the floor and kept the pressure to disrupt the offensive flow of the Chippewas.
The Bobcat leader on the floor is sophomore point guard D.J. Cooper, he lead his team with 18 points per game and is good at finding the open team mate he has 150 assist so far this season.
Cooper has 48 steals and is only made 67 turnovers while directing hid team at the point, guarding him will be a host of Eagles starting with Darrell Lampley.
Lampley and Derek Thompson led the Eagles against the Central Michigan University each player scored 11 points. Lampley will have to keep his head up and anticipate Cooper’s attention on the court and stay in front of Cooper – a though assignment.
Cooper likes to make penetration into the key and then look for a team mate below or he will drive to the basket looking for positive results.
The perimeter offense for the Bobcats is a lethal weapon with two players able to score from beyond the arc.
Freeman is leading his team from the promise land of three points shooting a respectable 47.2 percent and if Freeman is covered the next option for the Bobcats perimeter attack is guard Nick Kellogg who possess his father’s shooting eye the former Ohio State University player and broadcaster Clarke Kellogg, the younger Kellogg hit about 46.4 percent from behind the three point line.
Ramsey is hoping that his team is making the necessary strides in becoming a team.
He is looking for his players to be mature, he is confident that his team can score but he wants his team to be confident in every phase of the game.
The Eagles have learned their lesson about playing defense because it is that phase of their game that is important to them because it opens the many option on offense but it also defines their team’s character – a scrappy and physical team.
“I think the program has taken a step to where there is now a respect throughout the league. I do not know if you can say that in the past,” Ramsey said. “So we have changed in that regard. You have to get to the point where people respect you enough to have some fear of you and we have gotten to that point.”
Ramsey is watching in front of his eyes this team growi up, if he wants his team to be feared in and around the league, if he wants his team to be a respected basketball program the answer is so simple, just go on the road in the Mid-American Conference and win – the rest will take care of its self.
The Eagles can begin their journey by walking into the hostile den of some angry Bobcats with a deadly focus and determination to take care of business and after the game board the bus back home to Ypsilanti with a victory.
It sounds so easy to do but in the Mid-American Conference that is a tough task to master.
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.