YPISILANTI, Mich. — Oh the weather outside is frightful!
The game that unfolded in front of the 830 fans inside the Convocation Center, it was that kind of basketball in which no body could sing about, the Eagles looked sluggish on defense and again struggled with the offense but at the end could have won the game.
There might have been silver lanes glisten outside the Convocation Center but Oakland University found gold in the lane leading toward the basket while the Eagles were looking for a manger to lay down.
Oakland University helped Eastern Michigan University officially celebrate the holiday season and the Golden Grizzlies did not leave empty handed as they defeated Eastern Michigan University 59-57, not the way to begin the season of giving.
“Tough loss here at home. I planed on going 17-0 in this building this season,” Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said. “We did not get off a good start, I thought we shot the ball very poorly for the first nine, ten minutes of the game. Oakland made some shots we played from behind. We made a lot of mistakes early.’
Eastern Michigan University freshman point guard Jalen Ross with his 17 points lead the Eagles from the floor. His team mates Derek Thompson helped with 11 points and Daylen Harrison scored 10 points for the Eagles.
Murphy knows that the Eagles must play solid defense because the offense struggles finding points.
Oakland University let the Eagles hang around for 37 minutes and the final three minutes turned an ugly game into a game full of drama and suspense.
With a chance to either win the game or send the game into overtime presented itself for the Eagles but once again as history sometimes repeat the Eagles could not make free throw attempts.
Eagle center Matt Balkema and forward Jamell Harris both with chances to win the game and both left the first free throw short off of the rim.
“You have to step up and make free throws that the bottom line,” Murphy said. “We step up and make those we possibly win the game. With three minutes to go and you make defensive plays you have to stick your free throws. They put us on the line. The referees made the calls in our building we just didn’t step up and make them. That is on us and something that is on us and you have to deal with it and get better and move forward.”
Eastern Michigan University finished shooting just 66.7 percent from the free throw line.
The suspense came to an end when Oakland University point guard Ryan Bass hit a running 12-foot jump shot to end all of the drama with just three seconds left in the game.
Bass finished the game with nine points and four assist for the Golden Grizzlies.
“The concentration levels are not to high and the history of this is that you usually see a sloppy game,” Oakland University basketball coach Greg Kampe said after the game. “And today you saw a real sloppy one. That was unbelievable bad display of shooting of a basketball especially at the free throw line by both teams.”
Kampe said that he likes looking at ugly wins instead of beautiful losses and after a couple of days will pass, the most important fact is that the Golden Grizzlies won the game.
At the start of the game, the Eagle zone defense failed to collapse and Oakland shooters found the opening in the zone and were able to make the jump shot from beyond the three-point line.
Golden Grizzlies guard Travis Bader found the basket and drained a three point shot after getting away from his defender.
Bader lead all scores with 21 points including the three point shot he made with 2:06 left in the game to put his team back into the lead.
“Freshman guard (Jalen) Ross losses Bader and he hit a three,” Murphy said. “We tied the game again and had a chance to send it into overtime. Ross did not slide his feet and allowed 33 (Bass) to hit the game winner.”
Murphy believes that the zone defense, when played properly by his team, the Eagles are a hard team to beat.
“With 2:30 minutes to go, I feel so confident in our defense that we would when that game,” Murphy said about his defense. “I defiantly would bet that we would not lose one of the best shooters in the country but we did tonight but I give Oakland a lot of credit they came in with a lot of energy.’
Murphy said he told his team that he is looking for players that want to step up and play defense.
“I told our guys we needed to find five guys who wanted to be committed to defensive side of the ball,” Murphy said. “We can get back into the game found out (Matt) Balkema came to play today he did a great job defensively for us, (Daylen) Harrison, Jamell did a phenomenal job playing 34 minuets unexpected minutes.”
Murphy expect everybody to play defense and if a player does not commit to the defense they find a comfortable spot on the bench and watch the game instead of contributing.
Eagles forward Glenn Bryant found this fact out when it appeared to Murphy that Bryant did not seemed dedicated to the defense.
Bryant started the game for the Eagles and finished with seven points and only 12 minutes on the court-all in the first half.
After watching Bryant getting the ball picked out of hand by Oakland University Duke Mondy who reached inside and just pulled the ball away from Bryant. Murphy felt Bryant just was not prepared to play and notice that Bryant’s commit to defense lacked intensity.
“He did not start the second half. He played with no energy to start the game, he made a few shots,” Murphy said about benching Bryant. “But the energy was not there on the defense side of the ball.”
Murphy is aware that all of his players like to shoot the ball but at Eastern Michigan University – a player will have to commit to play defense.
A lesson that Bryant needs to learn if he wants to come back to the court.
Eastern Michigan University will close out 2012 with an afternoon game, Friday December 28,2012, at the Convocation Center against Siena Heights. The game is scheduled to tip off at 4 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.