YPSILANTI, Mich. —- The music inside the best basketball venue in the Mid-American Conference, the Convocation Center cranked up, the stands filling with many cheering fans and the excitement is at a fever pitch to get the 2012-13 Eastern Michigan University basketball season started.
The Eagles rolled out the welcome mat and open up the doors to the Convocation Center for the inaugural EMU “Ice Man” Classic and the first game of the season against a familiar foe, Rochester College. The Eagles have faced the Warriors five times and have defeated Rochester College all five times.
Eastern Michigan University defeated Rochester College 66-52, getting the new basketball season off on the right foot for Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy.
“They were a tough, tough, tough game and we started out solid, actually I warned my staff about by being Education Day that there would be a lot of kids, ring ceremony and a lot of times that takes your focus off the task at hand,” Murphy said after the game. “So we started the first two minutes of the game slow I thought that Derrick Thompson came in and shot the ball hit two or three threes that kind of stretched the lead out 19-5 and at that point, I think we relaxed a little bit.”
Thompson led Eastern Michigan University with 14 points and Murphy said that the play of his guard might have helped saved the Eagles against Rochester College. Eastern Michigan University new shooting guard Daylen Harrison and point guard Ray Lee both chipped in by scoring 12 points for the Eagles.
“Derrick played expectantly well I thought in spurts. When we wanted to play defense, we made it really tough to score against our zone,” Murphy said. “We gave up some corner threes and that is probably the worst shot in basketball but at the same time you have to defend it and if a guy shoot enough obviously they will hit some.”
Murphy believes that coming into the game from the bench, Thompson gets a chance to see the game develop and watch the flow of the play before getting called upon from the bench.
“I was pleased with (Ray) Lee coming off the bench in the first half but he really played poorly turning the ball over a couple of times right away,” Murphy said about Lee. “I think he saved us in the second half. Coming out and getting seven assist and being able to get to the basket and made some plays. I was very proud of his play.”
Eastern Michigan University played there patent standard 2-3 zone defense that forced the Warriors out on the perimeter and the left too many rebounds for the Eagles to pick off of the glass.
Rochester College offense scored 40 percent from the floor against the 2-3 zone defense and the Warriors scored 23 points off of the 16 turnovers committed by the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan University out rebounded Rochester College 39-22 but there were a lot mental break downs on the defensive end of the court for the Eagles and Murphy said after the game that his team will look at the film and make the corrections needed to make them better on the floor.
Senior post player for the Eagles 6-10 Matt Balkema led both teams with seven rebounds and he also scored seven points, helping Balkema on the boards 6-10 forward James Still pulled down seven rebounds and scored six points.
The Eagles found out that, if they hung onto the ball that they could score. Eastern Michigan University shot 49 percent from the floor against a scrappy defense played by Rochester College.
“Didn’t execute on the offense inside of the ball and made some unforced errors that allowed Rochester to hit a few threes,” Murphy said. “We allowed them to get back into the game probably at the eight or six minute mark in the second half . I give Rochester a lot of credit they have some good players.”
Rochester College forward Drew Maynard finished the game with 27 points leading all scores on the court.
Murphy described Maynard as a good and tough player that is a transfer from Valdosta State University and understands Rochester College basketball coach Klint Pleasant style and philosophy.
The Eagles have packed up the suitcases and loaded up the bus for a quick trip to the state of Alabama to play Sunday afternoon November 11, 2012 at Jacksonville State University. The game against the Gamecocks is scheduled to start 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.