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Weekly Tidbits: Basketball only!

February 5, 2011

We had some technical difficulties this week, ostensibly related to the storm, but they seem to be resolved, and we’ll be starting some upgrades in a few weeks in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, to make things more manageable, this edition of the Weekly Tidbits will be broken up into several parts.

First a quick non-athletic item. Governor Rick Snyder appointed two new regents for EMU. Mike Morris graduated from EMU in 1973 and was a regent from 1997-2004. Michael Hawks is the son of outgoing regent Gary Hawks, and was one of the two that Governor Granholm attempted to appoint last year. What do these appointments mean for EMU athletics? Hawks was a four-year football player at EMU (I haven’t been able to figure out when, other than before 1990), so he’ll probably be supportive of athletics. Beyond that these are both in-the-box appointments, and while neither is necessarily bad, neither is knock-your-socks-off impressive. This looks to me like business as usual, and apparently I’m not the only one.

For the second week in a row, the men’s basketball team went 1-1, losing on the road but winning at home. Make no mistake, going 1-1 is an improvement, though it shouldn’t be nearly enough to save Ramsey’s job. At Bowling Green, the Eagles jumped out to an early 12-2 lead but couldn’t hold on. In particular, the Falcons’ bench came on strong, with the starters averaging few than 16 minutes each, showing a depth that EMU fans can only dream of. One odd note from the game was that at one point late in the first half, EMU had made 6 of 7 3-pointers (85.7%) but just 3 of 12 2-pointers (25%); I’ve named it the Chewbacca Offense.

Wednesday night the Eagles hosted Akron, despite EMU being still closed from the over-hyped Tuesday night snowstorm. Brandon Bowdry registered his 34th career double-double (do we even still need to mention these?) in what started off looking like another dog of a game. Four minutes in the game was tied at just 2-2, and the halftime score was an generally unimpressive 27-19. But the teams, especially the Zips, woke up in the second half and remembered that goal is to put the round orange thing through the other round orange thing. It looked like the game was over when EMU built a 14-point lead with 7 minutes remaining, but Akron stormed back to make it a close game.  EMU held on for a 60-56 win, and since the Zips are now 12-10, this was the first win over a winning team since…well, since some time in early 2010.

This afternoon at 4:30 the Eagles will host Miami University. The RedHawks are a bit of a mirror image of Akron this year; while the Zips played well in the non-conference schedule but have struggled in MAC play, Miami went 5-9 in non-conference play, finished on a four-game losing streak, and have since gone 5-3 in the MAC. The RedHawks have three talented starters in Mavunga, Winbush, and Ballard, each averaging more than 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. It’s also worth noting that at this point, the Eagles would need to win out in order to finish the regular season at 0.500. This might still be a winnable game, since Miami has struggled on the road (2-8), but it will be a tough one for the Eagles. After that, the Eagles will hit the road for a Monday night game at Kent State.

The MAC Basketball blog has a brief (4 minute) interview with Brandon Bowdry up right now.

ESPN announced the 2011 BracketBusters matchups this week, and while EMU doesn’t really have much chance of busting anyone’s bracket, they’re in the lineup. That’s OK, because The Worldwide Leader paired teams with similar RPIs — which generally translates into similar likelihood of making any difference in the post-season — so EMU, at 334 (out of 345)bat the beginning of the week, gets Jacksonville State, which was at 335. The Gamecocks, from Jacksonville, Alabama, are 4-19 overall, 2-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference, and like the Eagles, they have won two of their last four games. Also like the Eagles, despite the many losses they haven’t really been blown out. Their biggest margin of loss was 21 points at Morehead State, one of the better teams in the OVC, and they’ve only lost a handful of games by more than 10 points. EMU will probably be a solid favorite in this game, but it make for an entertaining break from MAC play.

The women’s basketball team continued their success in interdivisional play with two games in Ohio. Saturday they beat Miami University in Oxford, 72-62, and Wednesday they beat East Division leader Kent State, 75-66, ending the Golden Flashes’ 15-game home winning streak. Cassie Schrock and Tavelyn James seemed to score at will this week, combining for 88 points in those two games — that’s 22 points each per game! — and I’ve got to think that the 30 points Schrock dumped on a very good Kent State team makes her a front-runner for MACWDPotW.

They return home to finish off the interdivisional portion of their schedule, hosting Buffalo (11-10, 4-4 MAC) for the women’s basketball edition of the Ontario Sandwich Trophy this afternoon at 2, then taking a week off before hosting Bowling Green (18-4, 6-3 MAC) next Saturday. The Eagles are very much in contention for not only the West Division but the regular season conference championship, and while Buffalo should be a reasonably easy win, the Bowling Green Falcons are a good team, plus you just never know what will happen; that’s why they play the games! (As a trivial aside, the Eagles haven’t lost to a team from New York in eight years!)

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, at halftime today’s women’s basketball game, the school will retire the #4 jersey of Laurie Byrd, the all-time leading scorer with 1,899 career points. Byrd also holds EMU career records in scoring average (19.2 ppg), field goals made (854), and field goals attempted (1,788). Her single-season scoring record of 602 stood until Tavelyn James broke it just last year. Byrd is currently an assistant coach in the WNBA, and she has truly had an amazing athletic career, and Byrd will be the first EMU women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired by the school.

The EMU women’s basketball team got some national recognition this week, entering the OmniRankings.com Mid-Major Top 25 at #18, the third of five MAC teams in that ranking. With a win today they should move up a fair bit, since they beat #25 Kent State on Wednesday. Their oponent for next Saturday, Bowling Green, is currently ranked #7.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ralph permalink
    February 5, 2011 1:42 pm

    Just a quick comment on Michael Morris. He has put his money where his mouth is! The man has given quite a bit of cash to the University during and after being a Regent.

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