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Tuesday Tidbits

October 26, 2010

The men’s basketball pre-season officially gets underway this Saturday with the Green & White Scrimmage this Saturday from 2-3 pm. The scrimmage is free and will be held in the Convocation Center.

Speaking of men’s basketball, Jeff Arnold at AnnArbor.com recently interviewed Charles Ramsey about the upcoming season. Ramsey talked a lot about the team’s emotional maturity — mentioning that he is doing less motivating and more straight-up coaching this year — but also about the depth. In addition to saying that, although the starting line-up is pretty well set, reserves will get a lot of playing time and he doesn’t expect much of a drop-off in performance from starters to reserves, he also hinted at how he plans to use the team’s improved depth.

We’re trying to manufacture more points with our defense. We’re going to pick up more of the floor and you’re going to see more of a 94-foot team. It’s not something we’re going to hide. That’s the way we’re going to play. I’ve never had the personnel, I’ve never had the depth. Carlos was playing 37 minutes a game and you can’t do that to your point guard. We needed him on the floor. Now, with the depth, we can do a lot more.

That sounds to me as though we may see a fair amount of full-court press, which makes sense. If a team expects to generally have a depth and/or conditioning advantage over their opponents, the way to convert that advantage into points — and wins — is to push the tempo on offense and press on defense. Personally, I’m excited about this change. Although I grew up as a Kentucky fan, the other team I always loved to watch (and loved to hate!) was Arkansas under Nolan Richardson. His “40 Minutes of Hell” approach was absolutely brutal to even well-conditioned opponents, and if we see anything even approaching that intensity, it should be a lot of fun to watch!

The EMU swimming & diving teams (can’t we call this aquatics? Eagle Totem Style Guide decision: Yes) begin their 2010-11 seasons this weekend. The women will host Ohio Friday evening at 5pm, and then the men and women will host Ball State at 1 pm Saturday. The women are hoping to improve on last year’s fourth place finish in the MAC, while the men are seeking their fifth consecutive MAC championship and have won 56 consecutive MAC dual meets, a streak dating to the 1997-98 season. Home meets are held at the Jones Natatorium, inside the Olds-Robb Student Recreation/Intramural Complex.

Freshman transfer running back Mike Marrow’s hardship waiver has been declined by the NCAA. EMU is appealing the decision, but it always struck me as a long shot for him to be cleared to play this fall.

The EMU soccer team split their matches over the weekend, downing Ball State (6-10-2; 0-8-2 MAC)1-0 in double overtime before falling 1-0 to Toledo (14-2-2; 10-0-0 MAC). With the win over Ball State, the Eagles secured a home game for the first round of the MAC tournament on Halloween. If I’m reading the standings correctly, EMU’s likely opponent is Miami University. Also, with 8 saves against Ball State, Monique Budani set an EMU single-season record, which she extended to 140 in the loss to Toledo; the previous record was 126. This Thursday, the Eagles travel to Mount Pleasant to face Central Michigan (if you head up to Mount Pleasant, stay for the volleyball game!), in a game both teams will be playing for pride; neither a win nor a loss by either team will affect their position in the standings. I’ll post more information on the Halloween tournament game once it’s released.

The volleyball team swept a road trip east, winning 3-1 over Buffalo (14-12; 2-8 MAC) on Friday and 3-2 over Akron (13-9; 5-5 MAC) Saturday. This Thursday, EMU travels to Mount Pleasant — if you’re heading up for the volleyball game, go early to see what should be a great soccer game — to face the Chippewas (11-11; 5-5 MAC) and Saturday evening they’ll head down to Athens to face the Ohio Bobcats (13-10; 5-5 MAC), who are currently tied with Akron atop the East Division. EMU is currently in a three-way tie for second in the West Division (and second overall) with Ball State and Western Michigan, and the Northern Illinois Huskies are just one game ahead. EMU has one game remaining against each of those teams, so the Eagles control their fate in the MAC, but with such a crowd at the top of the conference, EMU can’t afford to lose any games.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams stayed close to home for the EMU Fall Classic at Hudson Mills Metropark near Dexter. The top EMU runners did not participate, instead resting for the MAC Championship this Saturday. The championship will be at the Pine View Golf Course in Three Rivers, Michigan; the women’s race will start at 11 am, and the men’s race will start at noon.

Penn State football fans seem to have just noticed that EMU will be heading to Beaver Stadium to face the Nittany Lions in 2013 (September 7). I think a comment from Linebacker U says all that can be said about this matchup.

So, it’s not an Alabama, Oregon State, or TCU (remember that rumor a few years ago?). But at least it’s not a damn FCS (I-AA) team.

Personally, I think Penn State will have to renegotiate the 2013 game or EMU will break it; they’re only scheduled to pay $425,000 (negotiated by the previous EMU AD) for the game, while the following weekend EMU will get $850,000 to go to Rutgers. The Eagles will also face Penn State next fall.

Speaking of paycheck games, last week Derrick Gragg reported to the Board of Regents that EMU football will bring in $3.8 million from paycheck games during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons. I’d expect that number to come up somewhat, since EMU still has an open date each in 2011 and 2012, and Gragg is also trying to renegotiate several below-market contracts that the previous AD had scheduled; he’s already renegotiated the 2012 trip to East Lansing up from $400,000 to $650,000, though I wonder what he had to offer Michigan State for that.

Continuing the look at finances, EMUtalk.org links to “The Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool” from the US Department of Education. The data on this site (2007-08 school year) appears to show EMU’s men’s basketball program producing a small ($18,943) surplus, with all other programs losing money.

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