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Weekly Tidbits

January 28, 2011
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Ashlee Abraham was the MAC Track Athlete of the Week for the second time in three weeks.

The men’s and women’s track and field squads were in Ann Arbor last weekend for the Harvey-Simmons Invitational, and both had a degree of success. Freshman Max Babits took first place in the pole vault for the men. The women posted wins in six events, but once again, the most impressive was by Ashlee Abraham, who won the 60-meter dash, tying the Michigan Indoor Track Building record, and registering the 12th best time in the nation this year. For the second time in three weeks, Abraham was named the MAC Track Athlete of the Week.

As we’ve been doing a lot lately, we’ll talk about the men’s basketball team second. Why second? I generally like to lead off with something positive, but then I like to get the negative stories out of the way quickly. Make no mistake, the men’s basketball team continues to be a negative story.

Sunday afternoon, the Eagles faced off against in-state rival Central Michigan, and the teams proved that the MAC West Division is possibly the worst division of any D-I conference in the nation. In a game that has already been termed the ugliest game of the year (AnnArbor.com, Hustle Belt), EMU eked out a win. With a score of 41-38, this game didn’t just get whacked with an ugly-stick, it fell out of the tree and hit every branch on the way down. No, that wasn’t the halftime score. (It was 21-13. Really.) Yes, the football teams can outscore the basketball teams. This was the fewest points scored in an EMU win since 1943. The only positives in this games were the comments from the coaches. Charles Ramsey put the game in a historical context:

Dr. Naithsmith is probably rolling in his grave, because we set that game back to peach basket days. It was something to look at.

Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler was more blunt, describing his team’s showing as “probably the worst offensive display in Division I history.” Zeigler might well be right; the Chippewas made just 4 of 30 shots in the first half, for an astounding 13%, and followed it up with no field goals in the first six minutes of the second half. If not the worst in Division I history, the entire game was surely the worst in the 105-year history of this series.

In typical EMU athletic department fashion, the school trumpeted that the men’s basketball team had won a “thriller over CMU”. There are certainly a lot of adjectives that could be applied to that game, but no one who actually saw it, or who even just listened on the radio, could conceivably call it a “thriller”.

The Eagles followed their “thriller” by emphasizing just how bad the MAC West is, losing badly to one of the weaker teams in the MAC East Division, Ohio. Although the final score was 79-65, it was really nowhere near that close; Ohio was up 77-51 with less than four minutes remaining when EMU went on a 14-2 run to close the game. Perhaps most troubling, Brandon Bowdry, who had been EMU’s only consistent scoring threat, has now managed just 6 and 8 points in the last two games.

Next up, the Eagles continue their eastern road trip by heading south-southwest to Bowling Green. Fortunately for EMU, the Falcons are almost as bad at scoring as the Eagles, averaging 62.9 points per game to EMU’s 61.9, while both teams allow about 65 points per game. But after a rough start (1-8), Bowling Green has gone 8-3, and has not lost a home game in nearly two months.

The EMU women’s basketball team continues to significantly outperform the men. Saturday afternoon, the Eagles outlasted Akron, 56-51, and they followed it up with an 85-40 thrashing of Ohio. EMU shot 62.3% from the field, setting a Convocation Center record, and every one of the 13 EMU players scored. The Eagles look to stay in contention for the MAC West lead when they continue interdivision play at Miami (10-10, 2-5 MAC) Saturday afternoon.

Troy Esentan was the MAC Swimmer of the Week

Last weekend, the EMU women’s swimming and diving team lost to Buffalo, 137-161, while the men’s swimming and diving team won, 164-136, taking their 58th consecutive MAC dual meet. Junior Troy Esentan led the way for the men, winning the 100 breaststroke and the 500 freestyle, and he was named the MAC Swimmer of the Week.

The aquatics teams followed it up with  a pair of wins over Xavier University earlier tonight. The men stay in action this weekend, hosting Miami University at 1 pm Saturday, while the women will be off for two weeks.

Last weekend, the EMU wrestling team split their Pennsylvania road trip, losing 24-12 at Edinboro, then defeating Clarion 33-10. This Saturday, the Eagles will host Tiffin University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Oakland University for the Eastern Duals at noon in Bowen Field House.

The EMU gymnastics team placed last — that’s fourth in EMU-speak — at the Redbird Quad last weekend. No Eagle gymnast placed higher than eighth in any event. This Saturday, EMU will host Ball State at 1 pm in Bowen Field House. So go for the wrestling and stay for the gymnastics. Or something like that…

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