YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Oh man!
Nieces and nephew Uncle Mel says enough with the snow!
Looking at the calendar on top of Uncle Mel’s official news desk and after chuckling at the cartoon that is on displayed and checking the official schedule is indicating that the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball season is in the final two weeks, just four more games remaining and the Eagles are still looking for a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Not only are the Eagles looking to host a first round game of the tournament but nieces and nephews they are still searching for answers to a lot of unanswered question about this team.
Questions like who is going to lead this program back into some kind of respectability?
Who and where is the heart and soul of the club?
What direction is the program heading?
Well nieces and nephews this squad of Eagles never really materialized, they never seemed to come up with any kind of team chemistry-a swagger adding to the team’s personality.
This team did not defeat a division 1 school until the opening night of conference play against the University of Toledo and the Rockets are a program that is rebuilding from the ground up but still folk’s victories against Madonna University, Rochester College and let not forget the crushing victory against Ferris State University-just are not sexy enough for this team.
The season started in East Lansing, Michigan at the home of the Michigan State University Spartans at the Breslin Arena and that night Brandon Bowdry turned the head of Spartan basketball coach Tom Izzo by dropping 32 points against his team.
Luckly for the Spartans the rest of the Eagles could not shoot the ball and hit the rim let alone stay in the arena and on the floor with the Spartans.
Could have the Eagles won the game against the Spartans, if anybody could have found a shot to give the Eagles another gunner Izzo thought that his team did not play well under the defensive board. An Eagle upset of the Spartans would have sent shock waves around the NCAA that they would have brought an army of investigators to the campus in Ypsilanti and checking the water for something other than the wetness.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Charles Ramsey said after the game his team just did not responded well and the better team won.
Uncle Mel asked all of you nephews and nieces, how could the Eagles not be motivated to play at the time of the game the No. 2 team in the nation?
There should have been enough excitement and electricity in the locker room to light up the city of East Lansing and Ypsilanti combine but the Eagles offense fell flat and the Spartans looked impressive.
Ramsey is still searching for back-to-back victories to validate his season but his team struggles with scoring points and at times the defense fail too many times to get the one important stop that could change the game around and bring fans to their collective feet.
Ramsey said after the game against the University at Buffalo that fans forget that this team is still basically a young team.
Uncle Mel question is simply this for Ramsey, can a player be young and still have a quality shot?
Because the team is so young is that why the Eagles play too many non-division 1 schools?
Uncle Mel wants to tell you all of you a little history lesson please be patient with an old man.
Eastern Michigan University basketball program at one time was the shinning crown in the Mid-American Conference and in the state of Michigan; this school put basketball players on the floor with dignity and the Eagles players had basketball talent plus style.
Plenty of National Basketball Association type of talent once graced the floor at Eastern Michigan University.
Players like George Gervin played here before he showed that he had ice water in his veins in pressure situations on the court.
The Eagles have an assistant coach on Ramsey staff that knows the sweet taste of success as his team back in 1989 went to the NCAA tournament and Charles Thomas helped his team make the Sweet 16.
Thomas and his team mates were honored at the Convocation Center, a celebration during halftime back on February 12, the victory against the University at Buffalo
He stood just 5-9 but he played like a giant, he played with a style and with a grace that only a few players have, his style would be compared to New York Knick guard Walt Frazer – smooth.
His shot against the University of Toledo inside Bowen Field house still is the greatest shot that Uncle Mel had the privilege to witness. With one second left in the game this point guard stepped across the mid court line and put up a shot that when you saw it in flight you knew that it was in the basket-all net.
The made shot lifted the voices of the crowd into such a pitch that the vibration of the noise could be felt throughout the campus and the city of Ypsilanti.
The win lunched the Eagles into the conference tournament in search for a title and a date with destiny, Boykins and his team mates brought home the conference title and a ticket to the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
Boykins could shot the ball and he could place the offense into motion but he also could play defense too but the Eagles also had another option a small forward that would play in the NBA and would win a world championship.
Derrick Dial played next to Boykins and he supplied the Eagles another option on offense, his jump shot was deadly anywhere on the court, they idea for former Eagle basketball coach Milton Barnes if Boykins did not get you in to a tail spin then Dial would catch the opponent leaning toward doubling up Boykins leaving Dial open for his deadly shot.
Dial played and won a NBA world championship as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
The example of this history lesson is to show to the loyal fans of the Eagle to understand this program at one time was respected; there was a pride felt by the players and for the fans that followed the Eagles.
Now the direction is spinning out of control and heading for a crash landing and who is responsible for the direction the program.
Many fans might want to blame Ramsey but Uncle Mel would like to extend the blame to previous coach Jim Boone.
Boone arrived in Ypsilanti from the golden shores of the tri-river Pittsburgh area and a successful run at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, he came with hope but he did not recruit well within the state of Michigan or within the city of Detroit-he left a lot of hard feelings toward the program by many high school coaches.
Boone disinterested in the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit left the Eastern Michigan University basketball program looking for good players and a lack of talented depth making Ramsey six years tough to overcome.
Ramsey cannot escape the blame either he has had six years to overcome the hard feelings plus he is blessed with the talent of Bowdry.
Ramsey is explosive on the bench and sometimes he comes across that he is not happy with his team’s effort even on a good play. He is busy instructing his players from the sideline with some added adjectives added to his vocabulary.
Watching the Eagles on the court this season is frustrating because there were high hopes for advancement this season but so far is an exercise of accepting the present for what it is- futility.
Uncle Mel is packing his bag, putting on his flannel shirt and Wranglers and his John Deere baseball hat and will be heading for the plowed cornfields that surround Muncie, Indiana and Ball State University.
The Eagles will visit University Arena on the campus of Ball State Wednesday February 23, 2011 for a night beginning at 7 p.m.
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.