YPSILANTI — Your old Uncle Mel sat on the edge of his seat with his beverage in his hand Wednesday night January 18, 2012, inside the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference and the home of Uncle Mel’s beloved Eastern Michigan University the Convocation Center and along with Eagles basket ball coach Rob Murphy left the building with a smile and a extra sense of pride.
To quote one of the best sports journalist and television personality and graduate of Central Michigan University Dick Enburgh – “Oh my!”
Uncle Mel and 1,008 nieces and nephews witnessed a group of road warriors that step up and shake off the dust from the highway and take care of business against Western Michigan University 62-59 in overtime.
Eastern Michigan University defeated the media’s choice for the division title and a big win on the road against Ball State University.
“It feels good it is a big step for our program to win those two games back-to-back two team picked one and two in our division,” Murphy said. “To win on the road is huge.”
“Coming back home I’ve been installing into our guys we have to protect our home court,” Murphy continued. “In the preseason our non-conference we had lost to Michigan State that is the only lost then coming in we felt we gave one away against Central Michigan they out played us in the last four minutes in the game but all-in-all we should win our home games. You have to win on the road successful program win at home and you steal a few on the road.”
Murphy gives credit to both teams for playing an entertaining game..
“Our guys fought through out the game,” Murphy said. “I thought the situation with Antonio (Green) hit another big three to put us up by three we had a defensive breakdown they hit a big three and that is what champion teams do at that point they had the momentum going into overtime and our guys could’ve just hung there heads but they continue to fight and executed especially on the defensive side in overtime.”
Murphy is unleashing from the arsenal for the Eagles a 2-3 zone defense that most teams only occasionally see during a game but not for the entire 40 minutes.
The Eagles defense kept there hands up, contested shots and deflected a lot of passes and the result of the defense played by Eastern Michigan University the Broncos turn the ball over.
“The way they were breaking us down tonight is they penetrated a lot,” Murphy said about his defense. “They tried to impede our defense with penetration were they get the ball to the high post and kick it out to shooters we did a good job covering their shooters they were 4 of 19 for three that is pretty good defense.”
Wednesday night the zone defense push the Bronco’s offense out on the perimeter and forced the Broncos into according to Western Michigan University basketball coach Steve Hawkins into uncharacteristic 20 turnovers that the Eagles turned into 25 points.
“The biggest part of the game obviously that jumps out is the turnovers and we turned it over 20 times and they had 25 points off of those turnovers,” Hawkins said. “Obviously that is too many points to give up. We had our opportunities anytime you play a overtime game you are talking about needing one point missed free throws and one less turnover you get the ball to bounce your way do not pick up one of those foul that we picked up and puts them on the line any little thing can happen but it didn’t.”
“I thought Eastern played well,” Hawkins said about Eastern Michigan University’s performance. “Another big difference in the game coming into the game they were shooting at 28 percent for three they shoot 47 percent from the three that was also a big difference they will be difficult to deal with if they shoot the ball like that from the perimeter.”
Hawkins said that the zone defense is a good tool for Eastern Michigan University but he said it takes good patients and recognize good shot selection.
“ If you shoot the ball well from the perimeter not very,” Hawkins said about the zone defense played by the Eagles. “Then if you don’t it varies there is no reason for them to come out from packing it in if you do not knock down shots. We went 4-of-19 from the three and some of those were wide open looks I would like more of them to drop we are talking very differently.”
Hawkins also said that the game against the Eagles is a typical road game for the Mid-American Conference – something that Eastern Michigan University is all too familiar with playing on the road for 45 days.
“That is the difference of playing at home than on the road,” Hawkins said about shooting the ball on the road instead of at home. “Generally you have more confidence shooting the ball with there own shooting background we have been shooting the three pretty well in the last couple of games and then tonight we did not.”
The next step for the Eagles is Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center at 2 p.m. against the University of Toledo.
Murphy is hoping that after the game Saturday afternoon against the Rockets that he is still smiling and not frowning.
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.