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Syracuse 84, EMU 48 recap

November 30, 2011

Yesterday I wrote a brilliant, insightful preview for the men’s basketball game against Syracuse, in which I exactly predicted the final score, and I predicted that Lampley would bounce back with a big game. Unfortunately, it got lost in the pipes of the internet (as did a monster two-week Tuesday Tidbits — I will try to revisit some of the highlights next week) and no one will ever know just how amazing it was.

In truth, it was fairly superficial. The fact is, when EMU faces a men’s basketball game like this — particularly when it comes just two days after another such game — I just can’t bring myself to spend the time to do a full, comprehensive game preview. Here’s some of what I wrote:

Fun fact: EMU is 1-0 against Syracuse! And no, that wasn’t back in the days when peach baskets were nailed to the wall, it was just 15 years ago. On December 14, 1996, the Eagles edged out the Orange, 68-65, to win the Carrier Classic. (No, not the one on the aircraft carrier, the one in the Carrier Dome.)

Let’s be honest, though. EMU in 2011-12 is not nearly as good as they were in the mid-1990s — that was Earl Boykins’s junior year — while Syracuse is much better. The Orange are currently ranked #3/#4, while that season they didn’t even make the NCAA tournament (a terrible season by modern Syracuse standards). The Orange are favored to win by 29 points, and, as is often the case with a large spread, whether they cover will probably have more to do with when Jim Boeheim decides to rest his starters than anything EMU does.

I honestly don’t have much interest in this game, and I’m not particularly disappointed that it’s not televised locally. The key items I’ll be looking for have mostly to do with EMU personnel going forward. Is Derek Thompson’s sprained ankle healed enough for him to play? If so, will he return to the starting lineup, or have J.R. Sims’s two double-doubles been enough to become the permanent starter? Someone is going to be the sixth man, and how will that player react to not starting? Will Darrell Lampley bounce back offensively, or will the odd sight-lines in the Carrier Dome lead to another anemic offensive performance? Also, there have been rumors that DaShonte Riley may be eligible to play some time after the end of the fall semester — will we learn anything more about that?

So, let’s look at how EMU did on the items I was watching for.

  • Is Derek Thompson’s sprained ankle healed enough for him to play? Obviously not, because he didn’t. That also negates the questions about whether Thompson or Sims would start, and how the non-starter would react to a bench role. We’ll roll these questions forward to the next game.
  • Will Darrell Lampley bounce back offensively, or will the odd sight-lines in the Carrier Dome lead to another anemic offensive performance? No worries here! Lampley had an outstanding night on offense, hitting 3 of 4 two-point shots, 3 of 5 three-pointers, and 4 of 4 free throws, for 19 points. Balkema also barely exceed his scoring average with 9, and Sims scored 7 (just below his average, but well below what he did the previous two games as a starter). No one else really showed up offensively.
  • Also, there have been rumors that DaShonte Riley may be eligible to play some time after the end of the fall semester — will we learn anything more about that? Unless I missed it, I still haven’t seen or heard anything confirmed about when Riley might be able to play.

For about the first thirteen minutes, the game was neck-and-neck, with EMU spending most of the time with a slight lead. Syracuse took over the game for good with a 21-3 run from 7:44 in the first half until 17:37 in the second half, and after that EMU gradually slipped farther and farther behind. In the end, this game just continues to reinforce what we already knew about this EMU team: they can play defense (at least for a while), but they lack the offensive firepower to stay in a medium- to high-scoring game.

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