YPSILANTI, Mich. — Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team walked onto their basketball court inside the Convocation Center with two missions. First on the agenda for the Eagles is to hold on to the Mid-American Conference West Division lead by taking care of business Saturday Feb 25, 2012 against Ball State University.
The next order of business is to take the emotion of celebrating Senior Day and harness the charge of the tears and the pride package into the game plan that the four seniors will remember the rest of their lives.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said his team got off to a slow start but that is common when you are at home for Senior Day.
“We got off to a slow start that it being Senior Day there was a lot of emotion going on,” Murphy said about the celebration. “Guys were crying excited that their families were here any time that you can get through of four years of college and have this day it is an honor. So I wanted to you know have a good time.”
“Understand what is all about,” Murphy continued. “But I have been apart of 11 Senior Days we never got off to a good start.”
Murphy said his team came back in the second half refocused and ready for a good time, led by senior point guard Darrell Lampley and red-shirt sophomore J.R. Sims joining the festivities.
“I thought that J.R. came in the last three minutes of the first half and did a great job on defense and he hit a shot but more importantly he played defense,” Murphy said about Sims. “He got a few rebounds and I started him in the second half and he picked us up defensively.”
Sims finished the game scoring nine points and one steal.
Plenty of emotion to go around the arena but the Eagles did not let a stale first half keep them from the point of the day against the Cardinals, the Eagles defeated Ball State University 61-50 and continue to hold on to first place in the MAC-West Division.
The emotion boiled at the end of the first half senior point Lampley driving toward the basket with time expiring in the first half hacked and pushed to the floor without getting the foul call let some emotion escape and the referee called the technical foul.
Murphy said Lampley is getting better as a true point guard and that he is beginning to see the entire floor and get everybody involved in the offense.
“Lampley did a great job had a great floor game, shooting the ball and made some great passes,” Murphy said about his point guard after the game. “He has been all of his life a scorer which there is nothing wrong with that is how he plays we have been trying to get him to see the floor as a whole and become a pure point guard.”
Lampley led the Eagles with 13 points and he did not miss a free throw 8 for 8 from the line and in 36 minutes of playing time he also made eight assists.
Ball State University Jarrod Jones stepped up to the line with everybody off of the floor except for officials and coaches watching.
Jones promptly missed both free throw shots but the Cardinals still led 22-20 at halftime.
Jones led all scores with 14 points and he pulled down 11 rebounds but he shot 2 of 7 from the free throw line.
At times during the first half the game unfolded in front of 1,507 like a typical Mid-American Conference game physical under the board and in the paint.
In the second half the game plan became fouls and free throws for the Eagles forcing the Cardinals to commit 20 fouls and giving Eastern Michigan University a chance to score points without the clock moving.
Ball State University led the conference in free throw percentage during conference play hitting 72.4 percent from the line.
The Eagles zone defense pushed the Cardinal offense out to the perimeter and when Ball State found an opening under the basket and were fouled they and made the trip to the foul line – it became an adventure for the Cardinals at the line finishing the game shooting a dismal 36.4 percent from the line.
More important to getting into a solid offense in the second half and Murphy said hitting shots was critical in getting refocused for the second half.
“We were able to settle in on defense and get them to miss a few and we came out and hit four straight shots,” Murphy said. “When you score baskets it always help but more importantly we were great defensively in the second half, we forced them into some turnovers plus we took some though shots we went up by 10 and they came back but we went back up by 10 and closed the game out.”
The Eagles will finish the season next week with two road games, first trip will be Wednesday night Feb 29, 2012 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo beginning at 7 p.m.
The final game of the regular season will be Saturday March 3, 2012 at the historical Savage Hall in Toledo, Ohio and the home of the University of Toledo Rockets the game is scheduled to tip off at 2 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.