ROMULUS, Mich. — Uncle Mel is going through some major basketball withdraw, it has been 44 days ago was the last time he saw a Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball game being played inside the friendliest basketball venue in the Mid-American Conference – the Convocation Center.
Since the last time Uncle Mel and all the nieces and nephews that follow the men’s Eagle basketball program, there is finally the end of a long nine-game road trip that stretched across from sea-to-sea, the Eagles have traveled across the famous Tobacco Road, home fires and family dinners, Christmas Day and the end of the old year.
Eastern Michigan University first year basketball coach Rob Murphy is continuing searching for points from the court and a consistence shooter that would provide any kind of offense for the Eagles.
The Eagles still on the road and will be opening the Mid-American Conference season in DeKalb, Illinois against the Huskies of Northern Illinois University, Saturday afternoon at the Huskies’ Convocation Center the game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. CST.
Murphy is putting a team on the court, players that at times look like they understand and get the philosophy that Murphy is teaching but then are times when this team struggles and seem to be fighting themselves.
Entering league play the Eagles scoring offense is 11th out of 12, averaging 53.4 points after 14 games, ironically the Huskie offense is worst than the Eagles averaging after 11 games 52.8 points.
Uncle Mel is thinking that it would be nice for the Eagles to finish the road trip with a convincing victory against the Huskies and start the Mid-American Conference season on the right foot.
In order for that to happen, the Eagle front line will really need to show up and play a strong game.
Uncle Mel thought that a seven-foot post player might be an ingredient that gives the Eagles a player, a center to get some offense rebounds and giving the Eagles a strong and physical present under the basket but so far Da’Shonte Riley is still looking for his game.
Riley a transfer student from Syracuse University received a waiver from the NCAA and made his debut against Radford University, Murphy believes the development of Riley’s game can help the Eagles.
Starting the league play, Riley is scoring 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds but his 11 turnovers after four games is turning the ball over too much for Murphy.
Against the Air Force Academy in the consolation game of the Cable Car Classic being played at Santa Clara University, Riley scored seven points and he hulled in six rebounds all off of the defense end of the court.
The Eagles fell short against the Falcons losing 42-37 and left the west coast and the sunny state of California still searching for points.
“I want to win now!” Murphy said. “Losing does not set well. I know you have to look at your personnel and be realistic, but at the same time I want to get the best out of the personnel we have here with player development and getting these guys better.”
Uncle Mel understands that no longer on the roster from last season all everything power forward Brandon Bowdry and that is a lot of points to replace but the sad thing is that the Eagles did not win the West Division or any kind of championship with him either.
Bowdry gave the Eagles an emotional edge there are night that sometime the Eagle are searching for him on the floor or any player that could fill his shoes but those are some large shoes to fill.
There are a couple of players that are on the roster that can show up and make their own statement on the court.
Uncle Mel and the rest of the Eagle fans are waiting for power forward Jamell Harris to find any kind of shooting touch around the basket. Murphy would feel like he just hit the lottery if Harris found a shooting touch.
Harris can rebound and when he is focused he can play a defense that can make an opposing coaches watch in wonder and make courtside adjustments.
Harris last season blocked 72 shots, this season after 14 games, Harris has blocked 22 shots but he is only scoring 4.4 points is anemic and averaging 6.8 rebounds per game looks like enough but too many times an easy rebound slips through Harris hands that make Murphy place his hands across face.
Antonio Green is the off-guard for the Eagles and he is also looking for his shot, his 6.6 scoring average is not consistent enough but sometime he arrives on the court and he calms the team down and the Eagles regain composure.
Green has played in over 105 games for the Eagles, is Green the leader that the Eagles need?
The only player that is starting the Mid-American Conference season scoring in double figures is point guard Darrell Lampley, his 14.3 scoring average leads the Eagles but his 45 turnovers is a concern for Murphy.
The second game of the recent nine-game road trip Lampley scored 37 points against Colgate University, a transfer from Saint Peter’s College and Lakeland Community College just wanted to be near relatives in the Ypsilanti area.
“It was a better situation for me,” Lampley said about playing and going to school at Eastern Michigan University.
Murphy is looking for consistency from his offense and his zone defense gives the Eagles an edge and is able to push the opposing team out to the perimeter giving the Eagles a chance to control rebounds.
The problem with Eagles offense is that shooting percentage of 36.7 is not going to win too many games.
“My philosophy is simple on offense. You put players in position to be successful to make plays for themselves and their teammates. I am an up-tempo type of guy. When you get the opportunity, you want to get out in transition and if you can get early opportunity lay-ups, offensive lay-ups that is a good thing. If not depending on personnel and everything is predicated on personnel, if we can get the ball inside that is always good,” Murphy said.
Saturday afternoon January 7, 2012 begins a new season for the Eagles and Eastern Michigan University basketball fans are hoping that leaving the old year behind that the poor shooting will be left behind and forgotten.
The end of the withdraw for Uncle Mel will end January 11, 2012 when Eastern Michigan University will roll out the red carpet and welcome Central Michigan University to the Convocation Center starting 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.