YPSILANTI — Mother Nature reminded the good folks of the Huron River Valley that winter is still upon the area with a good snow fall Friday night.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy started this Saturday afternoon Jan. 21, 2012, with an idea that if the snow can cover the area then maybe his 2-3 zone could snowball and do the same to the offense of the University of Toledo-blanket them.
Eastern Michigan University used their patented 2-3 zone defense and defeated the University of Toledo, 41-38 at the Convocation Center.
The win keeps the Eagles close to the top spot in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.
The Eagles used a balance offense, domination of the rebounds, solid bench play and of course the 2-3 zone defense.
In the first half the Rockets only shot 21.7 percent from the floor including going 0 for 9 behind the three-point line. The Rockets finished the night shooting 30 percent for the game and only scored three basket from behind the arc.
The Eagles bench produces 19 points and turning 11 turnover into 13 points.
Murphy said earlier this season his team does not have the go-to-guy but he said after the game he has a team full of go-to-guy.
Eastern Michigan University had nine players in the scoring column led by senior guard Darrell Lampley with nine points and Jamell Harris pulled down seven rebounds with eight points but he made two block that gave the Eagles a chance to get into a transition game.
Harris blocked a dunk attempt by Matt Smith that took University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk to his knees in disbelief and brought the 1,009 in the stands to stand up on to their feet.
“We were fortunate tonight, very fortunate really ugly first half miss some opportunities. We missed eight lay ups that we charted in the first half,” Murphy said. “But all-in-all we played great defense when you hold a team to 14 points in the first half I think that is a pretty good job seven were scored against our zone and seven scored in transition.”
Eastern Michigan University defense forced three straight turnover before the end of time in the first half and the Eagles led by one point 15-14 at halftime.
The Eagles forced the Rockets into there poorest offensive point production of any half but Kowalczyk walked off the court wondering about the Eagles and were in the world did this defense come from but he has an offense that is second in the conference scoring averaging 73.9 points.
“I told the guys the very first thing that we talked about with Eastern Michigan was that it was going to be unbelievable low position game,” Kowalczyk said after the game. “That is how they play and that is how they build their program, it is going to be a game were there is going to be frustration and you better be able to deal with it and I thought there zone tonight frustrated us little bit too much and you got to make some shots against a zone we were 3 of 18, I thought for the most part we had some good looks and did not make them.”
“Defensively proud of our effort we guarded, we competed and we really did some good things,” Kowalczyk continued. “They made some shots down the stretch and you have to give them credit.”
“This a very difficult team to play against because all five guys on the floor are job done by capable of shooting three point shots,” Murphy said about the Rocket offense. “It is a hard cover, we were coming out and the short corner was open hoping to get the ball into the high post and do some damage there. I give Toledo a lot of credit, they fought, they really play good half court defense today, they were physical and they made it tough for us to score basket.”
Murphy also said he does not want people to make a mistake and think that the Eagles are a scoring machine but so far they get the job done by applying the right amount of defense.
Eastern Michigan University will open up the East Division portion of the schedule with a road trip Tuesday night, January 24, 2012 at the University at Buffalo the game is scheduled to start 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.