YPSILANTI, Mich. —- The celebration lasted for a week and Uncle Mel also reveled and soaked up the feeling with Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy after the Eagle defeated Purdue University 47-44, Saturday December 8, 2012 at the Convocation Center.
The Eagles and Murphy deployed the 2-3 zone defense and played it exceptional well in front of 1,077 fans and the Purdue University offense could see the collapse of the zone clogging the middle and forcing the Boilermakers into a perimeter game.
“Extremely, extremely big win for our program,” Murphy said. “I knew we would have our challenges going into the game. We needed this week to focus on handling the ball, taking care of the basketball and making good decisions. We did a great job at locating shooters and keeping the ball out of the high post. Tonight it was all about our defense.”
Now nieces and nephews, Uncle Mel agrees that the defense played well but what is the most impressive thing about the game against the Boilermakers is the fact that Murphy used 10 players and all 10 players contributed to the offense.
There was not one Eagle player in double figures and in fact leading the Eagles in scoring guard Derek Thompson with eight points.
Purdue University basketball coach Matt Painter told your old Uncle Mel that it is just hard to believe and he has been around the game of basketball a long time and that was the first time he has ever seen that phenomenon.
“Never been in a game in 20 years, were you lost a game and the other team does not have a double-figure scorer,” Painter said.
Murphy substitution rotation kept just enough pressure offensively and defensively, the bench players contributed 21 points.
Leading the way for the “Bench Brothers“-guard Ray Lee with seven points, he hulled in three rebounds and all of this in 23 minutes.
Printer become frustrated with his offense execution because of the collapsing zone defense.
“The one thing we try to do against a zone, if we have a post guy. We really try to throw the ball inside to the post guy and I thought tonight we did that,” Painter said. “We just struggled just when we got it in there and fumbled the basketball and not get a clean catch and making plays.”
Maybe it was because the zone collapsed around the ball and there just seemed to be a lot arm and bodies in the way dressed in the green and white uniforms.
Or maybe it was the effort of Eastern Michigan University post player Da’Shonte Riley and that he is understanding the philosophy of the zone defense played by the Eagles. Or the fact that he is making his opponent change their shot because of the fact that Riley is learning all about swatting away shots.
Even though the basketball season is still early, Riley is second in the Mid-American Conference with 23 block shots including the two he swatted away against the Boilermakers.
Just like Uncle Mel and the rest of the Eagle fans, Murphy is excited about watching the development of Riley’s game.
“I always tell folks, it will never show up in the box score the job that Da’Shonte Riley or Matt Balkema does,” Murphy said about his two post players. “Daylen Harrison got 11 rebounds and he did a phenomenal job in the second half of getting active on the defensive glass. Da’Shonte Riley taking up space, keeping Hammons out of the middle and cleaning out the space for our forwards and guards to come back and get the rebound is huge.”
Murphy is pleased with both Balkema and Riley and he is hoping that both players learn and get a short game under the basket which would help the offense.
Saturday afternoon, December 15,2012, the Eagles will take another road trip, this time the Eagles will take the “Bench Brothers” and their tough zone defense to Chicago and will take on the Flames of the University of Illinois-Chicago of the Horizon League.
The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at the home of the flames the UIC Pavilion.
Uncle Mel is hoping that the hangover of the week long celebration of the huge win over Purdue University does not create a huge headache for Murphy and for the fans of Eastern Michigan University basketball-there is nothing like huge loss to upset the season just ask Purdue University.
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.