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EMU 2011-12 men’s basketball preview: roster changes

October 29, 2011

Departing players:

Brandon Bowdry, Jay Higgins, Adrian Burton, William Cooper, Kenny Stewart, Jake Fosdick, L.J. Frazier (did not play in 2010-11 due to pre-season injury).

I’ll give you a hint: those weren’t all due to graduation.

Bowdry, Higgins, and Cooper were seniors. Frazier, from what I can tell, had been at EMU four years but only played two, so he had at least one more year of eligibility, and might have been able to petition for another, since he missed 2010-11 due to a pre-season injury. (Update: Frazier is listed as having graduated.) Burton, Stewart, and Fosdick were all sophomores.

Just how much of the team were those six? I feel a table coming on…

Name Minutes Points % Rebounds % Assists %
Bowdry 31.2 19.3 31.4 9.2 26.3 1.8 13.8
Higgins 26.8 4.7 7.6 3.5 10.0 2.0 15.4
Cooper 8.1 1.1 1.8 2.0 5.7 0.3 2.3
Burton 8.5 2.3 3.7 1.0 2.9 1.0 7.7
Stewart 5.9 1.4 2.3 0.8 2.3 0.1 0.8
Fosdick 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 80.6 28.8 46.8 14.7 42.0 5.2 40.0

All the above figures are based on the total season (31 games), not the number of games played by each person. Since, of these six, only Higgins played in every game, these averages will not generally match numbers you might find elsewhere.

What do we learn from this?

Well, Brandon Bowdry represents a huge loss — 31% of the scoring, 26% of the rebounds, and nearly 14% of the assists — but no-one needed a fancy table to figure that out. Higgins also played a lot of minutes and was the #5 scorer, #3 rebounder, and #2 in assists. Cooper, Burton, and Stewart also contributed off the bench. Only Fosdick was truly not a contributor; his entire season consisted of four minutes in two games, during which time he committed a single foul and took no shots.

Altogether, the Eagles lost nearly half the scoring from an offensively weak team.

New faces:

Glenn Bryant (Arkansas), Antoine Chandler, Austin Harper (Western Michigan by way of Glen Oaks CC), Daylen Harrison (Wyoming), DaShonte Riley (Syracuse), Anthony Strickland (Adrian)

Bryant, Harrison, and Riley will be sitting out this year because they’ve just transferred from other Division I programs. Rumor had it that Riley was requesting a hardship waiver from the NCAA to allow him to play immediately (I don’t know all the circumstances, but he’s Detroit native who took a medical redshirt last year), but it seems that either it didn’t happen or it was already rejected. Murphy also recruited Harper, who’s immediately eligible because he spent a year at a junior college. Strickland, transferred from Adrian College and sat out 2010-11, so he’s also eligible to play this year.

Originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, as a senior on a state-champion basketball team, Austin Harper was named a first-team All-Stater by the Detroit Free Press and the Basketball Coaches’ Association of Michigan, a second-team All-Stater by Bankhoops.com, and an honorable-mention All-Stater by the Detroit News. His senior year he also competed in track as a sprinter and high-jumper. The summer before his senior year, he garnered offers from Western Michigan, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Detroit, Fairfield, East Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee State. He also got interest from Penn State and Nebraska, but Western Michigan wanted a quick commitment, and Harper chose to give it, rather than wait and see if he could get more offers. In the spring of 2009, a person claiming to be his track coach posted the following comment on a Western Michigan message board:

I regret that I have only 1 season to work with him because he has played AAU basketball for the past 3 springs. One season is not enough to develop his full potential, but he has a great vertical and he is very coachable. In only his 2nd meet, he went 5’11” tonight. He will eventually be a 6’3″ jumper this year or better…good enough to qualify for the Division 1 State Meet. I have followed his prep basketball career and I can assure Bronco fans that this kid will be a solid guard for WMU. At this time, I see him as a #2 guard. He could also evolve into a point guard; he has the athleticism. His 3-point jumper continues to improve and he loves to compete…Anyway, just wanted to vouch for the character of Harper. He is a great kid and I look forward to following his basketball career in the MAC…

At the same time, ESPN wrote, “Austin is a rock solid player with the IQ of a point guard but the ability to score like a wing. He has good range on his jumper which he can shoot to 20 feet. He can play either guard position.” Harper redshirted 2009-10 at Western Michigan.

At Glen Oaks Community College in 2010-11, Harper averaged 15.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 9.9 assists, and 2.9 steals per game.* He was a 43% 3-point shooter (making about one per game), a 59% 2-point shooter, and 76% from the free-throw line. I’ve not seen a really good explanation of why he left Western Michigan (rumors suggest that he didn’t think he was going to get the playing time he thought he deserved and that his father might have been over-involved), but he was apparently asked to leave; apparently he may have struggled academically (“Harper didn’t travel with the team this season so he could focus on his studies”) and found himself sinking down the depth chart. All the question markes make me a little wary of putting too much hope in him, but a commenter has suggested that “he’s going to be the face of the team this year.” The Eastern Echo has a very superficial profile on him.

*Great Lakes Hoops alleges, fairly convincingly, that Glen Oaks CC has reported padded stats for several yeares, at least with regard to assists and steals.

Anthony Strickland is a little bit of a mystery to me. A native of Ypsilanti who started high school at Willow Run, he graduated from Robichaud HS in Dearborn Heights and chose Adrian College over Siena Heights University and Oakland Community College. He played in 18 (of 27) games for the Bulldogs, starting five times and averaging 10.2 minutes per game. During those 18 games, he averaged 2.7 points, shooting 54.5% from the field (no 3-point attempts) and 68.4% from the free-throw line, and 2.1 rebounds. This on a team that was 15-12 in NCAA Division III. According to his current EMU biography, he “[s]at out last year as a transfer from Adrian College”. However, he was not listed in EMU’s 2010-11 media guide (other non-competing players, such as L.J. Frazier, were), and I can find no press release from EMU announcing his signing/transfer. Possibly he did transfer for basketball, but it seems equally possibly to me that he transferred for academic reasons and joined the team later.

With the loss of seven athletes — five meaningful contributors — from last season, Rob Murphy held an open tryout several weeks ago. He added freshman guard Antoine Chandler, from Windsor, Ontario, who joins Harper and Strickland as the three eligible newcomers.

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