YPSILANTI, Mich. — Rain, rain please go away!
Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team will be traveling to the city that Glen Miller made famous with his tune, a place that is given the New York Yankees a baseball player and is the site of Western Michigan University, Wednesday Feb. 29, 2012.
The Broncos play there home games in the Mid-American Conference’s loudest basketball arena that is located inside Read Fieldhouse, will be looking to drown the Eastern Michigan University dream of winning the West Division title of the Mid-American Conference.
Eastern Michigan University first year basketball coach Rob Murphy and his team have provided many long meetings inside the offices that houses the Mid-American Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Eagles sit all alone in first place in the West Division with just two games to go in the regular season and they have a two game lead over second place Western Michigan University and the University of Toledo.
“We are fortunate to be in the race,” Murphy said after the Eagles were defeated earlier at home against Central Michigan University.
Eastern Michigan University offense is sometime a piece of work and is all ways a work in progress and there are times when the word to describe the action on the court is ugly but to the fans that have found there way back through the many doors and to an empty seat inside the Convocation Center- the offense is a work of art.
The Eagles are averaging after 29 games 53.3 points and that places Eastern Michigan University’s offense in last place in the conference.
There is no difference in scoring points in conference play either, the Eagles are averaging 53.6 points leading into the final two games of the regular season.
“We are not a scoring machine,” Murphy said about his team’s point production.
Many times during a game the offense would struggle with making shots and getting good looks at the basket looked like a team fishing because the offense would be floundering but with limited success getting points would lead to rebound chances under the basket that some how would miss the waiting hands of an Eagle.
The Eagles averaging 31 offensive rebounds and that is 11 out of 12 teams of the conference.
So how in the world is this team on the edge of success?
The answer to the question is two words that discribes the success for the Eagles.
“It is the only thing I know,” Murphy said about his zone defense after they were exposed at the home of the University of Akron’s JAR Arena.
“They do not play anything else,” University of Akron basketball coach Keith Dambrot said.
The Eagles play a 2-3 zone defense and the Eagles have learned their lesson well with Murphy holding and teaching class.
The zone defense is played with enthusiasm and all game long with an exception a full court 2-2-1 zone but the defense has caused other coaches to pace the sideline in front of their benches running their hands through the little hair left on the scalp.
The zone defense controls the tempo of the game and Bowling Green State University basketball coach Louis Orr said the Eagle defense is dedicated to limiting shots and tempo.
“Shot section,” Orr said about the Eagles and the zone defense they play. “You limit the shot selection and they control the tempo forcing you to play a game limited with shots so you have to make them and we didn’t.”
The zone defense slows the tempo down and the flow of the game and there are teams that struggle and become impatient with the deliberate style of tempo which is what Murphy wants to happens.
The Eagles’ overall defense ranks first in the conference holding opponents to an average of 58.6 points per game.
There are coaches in different sports including other basketball coaches that subscribe to the philosophy that playing a solid defense wins championships and if that is true then the rain that falls from the sky and soaks the ground in Kalamazoo should turn into tears of joy for the Eagles in the city of Ypsilanti.
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.