ROMULUS, Mich. —- The phone suddenly interrupted the quite solitude inside the office and Uncle Mel reaches out for the receiver and brought up to his ear.
“Hello is this Uncle Mel?” whispered by the other person on the other end of the line.
“Yes,” Uncle Mel replied.
“Just hold on, I got to make sure that nobody is lurking around the corner,” the caller said still whispering.
According to the caller identification information coming across the lighted screen, the call is originating from the concrete fortress in the city were the Huron River rolls past by the shore line of the city that is named after a famous freedom fighter and Greek solider.
“You know I am not suppose to talk to you but I am curious to know what you think and I need to talk to somebody, please do not say my name,” pleaded the caller. “We are going to be opening the season soon, things are working out well but what do you know about the rest of league?”
“Wait somebody is coming!” the caller said with a frantic tone. “Whew man that was close, so can you help me out Uncle?”
“What sport are you talking about?” asked Uncle Mel.
“The orange round ball and the wood floor, do you need any more of a clue?”
“No No!” Uncle Mel said speaking into the receiver.
“Let me ask you are happy or sad about your chance to move up professionally speaking and move up to the next level?” Uncle Mel said. “Oh by the way I am guessing that you are not worried about your phone being bugged are you?”
Suddenly the click on the other end of the line and there was an eerier emptiness on the other end of the line.
The 2012-13, Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball season is starting rather on a weird note but here we are, just few hours to go before the sound of the referee whistle and following the flight of the orange ball heading for the orange rim will fill the air of the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference the Convocation Center.
Before the Eagles can move forward on preparing for the season, here is a chance for us nieces and nephews to visit and review the accomplishment of the first season for Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball coach Rob Murphy and his program.
Last season the Eagles won the West Division with a conference record of 9-7, but the first round 55-52, lost to Northern Illinois University in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament that made the accomplishment bitter sweet.
Murphy learned his craft at Syracuse University under the guidance and teaching of the Orangeman’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
Eastern Michigan University again will deploy the conference best defense on the floor last season only allowing 58.7 points. The Eagles will play a zone defense and they will play with the purpose of the defense providing an avenue for opening up the offense and controlling the tempo of the game.
Murphy brought in his Orangeman 2-3 zone defense and rode it to the end of the season when the Eagles were shown the exit door after one game of the Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament-that was last season, ancient history.
The Eagles received four first place votes from the Mid-American Conference media but fell short to the choice by the media’s choice to finish ahead of the Eagles-the University of Toledo.
Last season the Rockets figured out how to beat the 2-3 zone defense by attacking the middle but the Eagles inability to score points from the floor also contributed to the defeat. It also seemed that the Rockets also found team chemistry just in the nick-of-time for the conference tournament.
The University of Toledo’s men’s basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk finished 19-17, and made the second best turn around in Division 1 basketball.
Murphy has made a couple of adjustment by adding some players that came to school at Eastern Michigan University by transferring from programs that have respect of other programs.
A player that Murphy will be counting, a 6-8 forward coming into the program from the University of Arkansas is Glenn Bryant and 6-6 swingman that came in from the snow covered plains of the University of Wyoming, Daylen Harrison.
Bryant scored 21 points and Derrick Thompson chipped in with 17 points back on November 2, 2012 in an, 82-38, exhibition victory against the University of Michigan -Dearborn.
The season officially is tipping off Friday afternoon with the Eagles taking on Rochester College in the inaugural George “Iceman’ Gervin Classic that will feature Indiana University -Purdue University-Ft.Wayne, Eastern Illinois University and University of Texas-Pan American at the Convocation Center.
The season for the Eagles is filled with high expectations from the fans that follow the but the thing with Mid-American Conference basketball is that the coaches will adapt and make plenty of adjustment.
An adjustment that the Eagles will have to make is the ability to produce points. Last season the offense placed 12th in a 12 team league in scoring only 53.2 points. There were times when the offense looked ready to explode right on the court and score in triple figures but just as quickly the offense could get as cold as a mid February night and not be able to score a basket even if the basket was only five feet high and the opponent fell down.
Late this summer, Murphy told the Orlando Magic of the NBA a respectably thank you but no think you because he wanted to see this project known as Eastern Michigan University basketball all the way to end of the ride.
It will not be the last time Murphy receive a phone call from the National Basketball Association but for many Eagle fans they are hoping that the phone calls can be placed on hold – for a long time.
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.