As far as I can tell, only threee EMU teams have seen action in the past week and a half.
The EMU wrestling team was at the 48th Annual Midlands Championships, hosted by Northwestern University, last week. Only one EMU wrestler, sophomore Aaron Sulzer, advanced to the second day of the event, but was ousted from the consolation bracket in his first match the next day. Overall, the EMU wrestlers went 10-20, finishing 25th out of 44 competing teams. Next up, the wrestlers will travel to East Lansing this weekend for the Spartan Duals.
In the pre-season coaches’ poll, the EMU gymnastics team has been picked to finish seventh in the MAC.
Out of seven schools.
Really, EMU, can’t you just say “last”? I know it doesn’t sound good, but that’s what it is. That’s what it was with the football team. That’s what it was with the volleyball team. And that’s what it is with gymnastics.
Kent State, the 2010 regular season champion, was picked to win the regular season and conference championship, with Central Michigan, last year’s conference champion, picked second. Last year the Eagles finished third in the MAC championship; they return 14 gymnasts, and welcome 6 freshmen to the team.
As we commented on last week, the EMU women’s basketball team steamrolled Niagara in their final non-conference game, crushing the Purple Eagles by an absolutely ridiculous score of 89-34.
The Eagles followed it up by going on the road for the first time in more than a month and kicking off MAC play with a very solid 79-63 win at Northern Illinois (6-8; 0-1 MAC). With the win, EMU has now won 20 of their last 23 games against the Huskies, and is 25-9 all-time against Northern Illinois.
Tavelyn James led the way for the Eagles with 26 points, including making 6 of her 11 three-point shots (but only 3 of 13 two-point attempts!), while Cassie Schrock scored 24 points, going 12 for 12 in free throws. Paige Redditt also had a good game, registering 11 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Kristin Thomas’s 12 rebounds helped the Eagles to a 42-28 rebounding advantage, and EMU grabbed 18 of the first 22 rebounds. This team has hustle!
Don’t count your chickens yet, but they’ve put together a five-game winning streak, heading into another three-game homestand. As of this moment, the MAC West Division looks to be a three-way race among EMU, Central Michigan (9-4; 1-0 MAC), and Toledo (9-5; 1-0 MAC). The Eagles will host Ball State (5-9; 0-1 MAC) this afternoon in a game EMU should win, and then host Central Michigan and Toledo next week, in games that may go a long way toward sorting out the division race. Conventional wisdom is that only the MAC champion is likely to get an NCAA tournament bid, so the Eagles will need to do well just to have a shot.
OK, I guess sooner or later we have to talk about the men’s basketball team too, and I’ve put it off as long as I can.
On New Year’s Eve, it looked like the Eagles were finally going to get their first Division I win when they led Samford by 8 points at halftime and 6 points with 3:23 remaining, but EMU didn’t score again until Lampley made a layup with just 5 seconds remaining.
Tuesday evening, the Eagles registered what the school is calling a “big win” over Ferris State. I don’t accept that. Ferris State may be talented, but they’re a talented Division II team, and in my book, this game should have been an exhibition. Let’s also not forget that the Bulldogs led for most of the first half, going up by as many as eight points before the Thompson hit back-to-back threes to tie and then give the Eagles the lead.
The one bright spot – and we’re only talking one lumen here – is that there are several other terrible teams in the MAC West Division. Toledo is 3-11, Central Michigan is 3-10, and Northern Illinois is 4-8. The Eagles have a realistic shot at winning four or five MAC games.
In fact, EMU kicks off the MAC schedule with two winnable games.
This Saturday they travel to Toledo. The Rockets have not only kept pace with the Eagles in number of losses, but they’ve gotten blown out in a way that EMU has largely avoided. The Eagles have eight losses by seven points or less, and only lost big at Canisius (71-51) and at Michigan State (96-66). By contrast Toledo has only three losses of less than 11 points, and blow out losses at Illinois (84-45), at Temple (82-49), home to Cincinnati (81-47), at NC Wilmington (64-42), and this Monday at Alabama (83-41). Toledo is every bit as bad as EMU offensively, and even worse defensively.
Tuesday, EMU hosts Northern Illinois. The Huskies are probably a bit better than the Eagles, and they have no common opponents, making it a hard comparison, but Northern Illinois is still not a very good team, and the game is in Ypsi, so I think the Eagles will have a shot.