YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Welcome home Eastern Michigan University!
After 45 days away from the Convocation Center, the Eagles open the home portion of the 2012 Mid-American Conference schedule Wednesday night against Central Michigan University.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy is reacquainting himself to the friendly surroundings of the Convocation Center.
Murphy said getting to play at the Convocation Center felt like the first game of his coaching career at Eastern Michigan University
“Yes it was tough, to be honest with you it was like UIC all over again,” Murphy said. “It was like my first game ever in this building never been able to get comfortable here but that is not an excuse for us we are happy to be back at home and it feels good to play at home we have been gone for so long it still feels new to me.”
The road was not kind to the Eagles and exposed some weakness that Murphy is hoping that over the course of the league’s season to find improvement and wins for his program.
Eastern Michigan University getting used to being at home could not find any points on the floor or hold on to the ball in the second half and Central Michigan University found just enough offense to defeat the Eagles 60-56, Wednesday night.
“I believe that is were we gave the game up, that is were we lost the game,” Murphy said about the start of the second half. “We held them to 19 points for 20 minutes, they came out and scored 11 points I believe in the first two minutes of the half. It backed us up a little bit and put us back on our heels but we continued to fight through it and scored some points and get back on the defensive tract.”
“We came out with a sense of purpose we were going to impose our will. We thought in the first half that we played that we panic,” Central Michigan University basketball coach Ernie Zeigler said about the Chippewas play in the second half. “Their zone is a tough cookie to crack and coach Murphy is doing a really good job of changing the culture here and putting his team in position to be competitive.”
“We struggled against and we panic against them and we talked about coming out with poise,” Zeigler said. “Attack and take those open shots and put us in position to win a hard fought win on the road.”
The Chippewas offense attack was charged up by the play of freshman guards Austin McBroom and his team mate sophomore Derek Jackson they both listen to Zeigler’s halftime speech and understood the adjustment to be made to the offense and came out and started the second half by overcoming the six point deficit.
McBroom scored 13 points including three of four from beyond the three point arch, Jackson led the Chippewas offense 15 points and both players did not make a turnover.
“He has the ability to stretch the defense,” Zeigler said about his freshman guard McBroom. “He is not afraid to take good shots as a freshman.”
Being last in the conference in scoring with and average of 53 points after 15 games is a major concern for Murphy and he wants his team to take care of the basketball.
The Eagles turn the ball over 19 times against the Chippewas.
“The unforced ones are the most concern with that team plays an aggressive defense they press a lot,” Murphy said about his team’s ball handling. “A lot of our turnovers are unforced especially late in the game done by four points and get a rebound and Da’Shonte (Riley) loses focus and the just slaps the ball out of his hands. We need to continue to get better.”
Riley is going to be a good player and Murphy and Zeigler said after the game he is going to get better as soon as he get more experience.
Riley finished the game with five points and he hauled down 10 rebounds.
Eastern Michigan University started the game by attacking the boards at both ends of the court and leading the charge for the Eagles junior power forward Jamell Harris.
Harris played a strong defensive game and made five blocks and two steals and led the Eagles with 12 points.
“Jamell has been working extremely hard, he is actually a captain,” Murphy said about Harris. “We named him a captain two weeks ago because of his work ethic, his competitiveness and he does all the things on the floor that we have asked so we named him a captain and since then he has played with a lot more aggression and a lot more confidence and I think from here he will continue to get better.”
After the game Murphy spent a lot of time behind closed doors but the vibration seemed to continued to echo long after the doors opened.
Eastern Michigan University will be back on the road Saturday afternoon January 14, 2012 and the harvested cornfields that surround the city of Muncie, Indiana and Ball State University.
The tip off is schedule is 2 p.m. at Worthen Arena on the campus of Ball State University.
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.