TOLEDO, Ohio — Uncle Mel back on the road again with a few friends from Eastern Michigan University and the destination is the city that gives the mighty Maumee River a place to flow by and where the gray sky of Northwest Ohio gather and deposit some type of precipitation in the area.
Yes, that is right nieces and nephews live from inside the grand Bob Nichols Court and inside the most historical basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference and the home of the hottest team in the league the University of Toledo- Savage Arena.
What Uncle Mel watched and what transpire on the court, well it sent a sense of concern into the mind of your old uncle.
Danger! Danger! Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball and coach Rob Murphy is the new watch word of the day.
Members of the Eastern Michigan University basketball team that are upperclassman have lived with the frustration of basketball seasons from the past and that dealing with a sudden season of success is an intoxicating feeling.
The newly crowned West Division winners the Eastern Michigan University Eagles brought the road show Saturday afternoon March 3, 2012 to the city of Toledo and to close out the regular season but the effort on the court lacked something by the Eagles.
There was no sense of urgency to build any kind of momentum for the next round of the season and Uncle Mel thinks that is a bad habit for this team or any other Eastern Michigan University team to practice.
The University of Toledo defeated Eastern Michigan University 76-51 and Murphy said he felt the game get out of hand after just six minutes had expired in the first half.
Uncle Mel witnessed from his seat Saturday afternoon, one team trying to catch fire and keep the momentum going into the post season tournament play.
Then he watched another team show up on the court and just forgot to understand that there is still plenty of work to get done before the drive for the conference tournament and a bid for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“We were not active on defense and we made a few shots the first five or six minutes and we forgot who we were and against Toledo you can’t do that. They want you to play an up and down game,” Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said outside the locker room. “They want you to keep scoring and we did not continue to stay patient.”
The Rockets are 7-9 in conference play and 16-15 overall but Toledo had a point to prove to the Eagles, the Rockets are the hottest team in the conference.
“We have been playing our best basketball since February,” University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk said after the game. “The only thing that would have been better would be playing for the West Division championship.”
Kowalczyk said that the zone offense had a better night shooting the ball.
His zone offense finished the game shooting a respectable 46 percent from the floor.
Eastern Michigan University stuck with the zone defense the entire game but what Uncle Mel and Murphy saw on the court was players looking like they had better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than finish the regular season of a basketball season.
“That was not EMU basketball,” Murphy said.
Uncle Mel understands the hangover of a good thing but winning the division crown Thursday night Feb, 29 is only a stepping stone for the Eagles and Murphy knows this, he also understands that there is plenty of work to be done because the prize of winning the conference tournament and getting the NCAA Tournament bid is his goal and his players need to get over the fact they did win the division crown.
Let face the fact nieces and nephews, the Mid-American Conference West Division will not be mistaken to be a strong basketball portion of any conference.
The Eagles did win the crown but finished the season with an over all record of 14-17, the conference worst scoring offense and what used to be a strong suit of the Eagles is now becoming a struggle – rebounding the basketball.
Part of the problem against the Rockets Saturday is that the Eagles were out muscled under their basket and gave up too many offensive rebounds to give the Rockets multiple offensive chances.
Monday night, March 5, 2011 the opening round of the Mid-American Conference begins with a home game at the Convocation Center against the 12th seed Northern Illinois University Huskies, this will be the third time this season that the Eagles will see Northern Illinois University.
The Huskies derailed Toledo’s bid to play Eastern Michigan University for the division title, they are capable of keeping Eastern Michigan University at home, if the Eagles do not snap out of it and play Eastern Michigan University style of basketball.
Murphy kept saying during the season that the Eagles were fortunate to be in the position of being in the hunt for the division tile.
Eagle fans are hoping that the good fortune continues and a left over mircle is located somewhere on the road to Cleveland, Ohio and that a Mid-American Conference title is waiting for the Eagles to pick up and display in the trophy case in 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.