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EMU women’s basketball vs Michigan-Ann Arbor open thread

December 11, 2011

In an ideal world, Eagle Totem would have a writer focused on women’s basketball, contributing several articles every week during the season. (Interested? Email me at eagletotemblog@gmail.com.) Then again, in an ideal world, EMU’s football team would currently be 13-0, MAC champions, and about to play in the first round of the national championship tournament. Hey, if I’m going to dream, I’m going to dream big.

In any event, while we’re still digesting the end of the football season, and while EMU’s men’s basketball team are in the middle of a nine-game road trip, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about women’s basketball.

After a solid 2010-11 season that saw the Eagles make a nice run into the WNIT, EMU is off to a great start for the 2011-12 season. The Eagles are now 5-3, with their losses coming at perennial power Green Bay (currently ranked #16/#21), by one point, in overtime, at Michigan State (another usually-strong team), and by two points, in overtime, to Missouri-Kansas City. (Those were EMU’s first back-to-back overtime games in 31 years.)

EMU actually has a very young team this year, with just two seniors playing, but Paige Reddit and Tavelyn James are enough to say this team has senior leadership. With nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster, this will be a very deep team in a year or two, but for now, it’s basically a seven-person rotation: Reddit, James, Desyree Thomas, Olivia Fouty, and Taylor Bird are the regular starters, with Natachia Watkins and India Hairston coming off the bench. Sophomore Desyree Thomas seems to be the primary point guard, and leads the team with 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game. The leading rebounders are Fouty, a sophomore, and Reddit, their primary inside presence, and of course, James is the top scorer, averaging 23.5 points.

Tavelyn James gets a special note today, because with her second point of the day she will tie and with her third point break EMU’s all-time career scoring record — men’s and women’s — currently held by Laurie Byrd with 1,899 points.

Remember this? Michigan will return to the Convocation Center for a rematch.

This afternoon, the Eagles host the Michigan-Ann Arbor Wolverines (yeah, that’s what I’m calling them now; it’s their name), in a rematch of the WNIT first-round game from this spring. If you — or your football-obsessed friends from Ann Arbor — have forgotten, there’s a little reminder to the right. Forward that to anyone who says EMU should leave Division I sports because the Eagles aren’t any good, and tell them EMU will go when Michigan-Ann Arbor goes.

Last year it was a back-and-forth game for the first fifteen minutes, until EMU put together a 14-0 run that spanned halftime, from which the Wolverines were never quite able to recover. The Eagles had a particular advantage in three-point shooting, making 8 of 21 (38%) while holding the Wolverines to 4 of 21 (19%).

This year Michigan-Ann Arbor is a more experienced and balanced team, with four of last years starters back for a solid eight-person rotation. Courtney Boylan and Rachel Sheffer are their leading scorers, while Jenny Ryan is the leader in rebounds, assists, and steals.

There are plenty of ways to keep up with the game if you don’t go — streaming video on Eagle All-Access and a radio broadcast (also streaming online) from WEMU — but if you only go to one EMU basketball game this year (yes, men’s or women’s), I suggest that this should be it.

All this is really by way of saying that you need to get to the Convo this Sunday afternoon to cheer on the Eagles! No excuses!

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