Senior Day, 2012
Senior Day has been a bittersweet experience at best over the last decade or so. Gratitude for the effort of the players who make their way through the program is contrasted with the disappointment of what might have been. No more evidence is necessary than two years ago, when stellar senior Carlos Medlock, the best point guard we’ve had since Earl Boykins, had to endure a heartbreaking night (along with fellow four year contributor Justin Dobbins) of having a MAC West title slip away against the despised Chippewas of Central Michigan. Medlock’s legacy was secured by his monster game that year in the MAC tourney, when he dropped 45 points on Akron in yet another heartbreaking loss.
On that devastating senior night two years ago, then sophomores Antonio Green, Kamil Janton, and Quintin Dailey all felt the sting of that loss to CMU. Since then they endured a brutal season last year, the hiring of a new coach, and with that new coach the implementation of a new system. Not much was expected come this year’s senior day, when these three (along with Darrell Lampley, who will be discussed later) were going to be honored for their effort.
A funny thing happened on the way to disappointment…
Lo and behold the new coach and his system just so happened to click with his inherited crop of players. And after yesterday’s 61-50 win over Ball State, a share of the MAC West title that has been so elusive for so long was taken, rightfully earned by this year’s team. You can thank Rob Murphy, you can thank A.D. Derrick Gragg for having the wisdom to hire Coach Murphy, and you can thank the effort of all the players. But remember this, no team in Eastern’s situation can achieve what it has without senior leadership.
After spending three years hoping Antonio Green would become something he is not, a 15 PPG shooting guard, it turns out it was enough for him to be what he is: a top notch defensive guard who can knock down a clutch three when you need it. Effort, hustle, and desire are all there with Green, and his teammates must love him for it. He has been a credit to this program, and has represented EMU well.
Kamil Janton is the kind of player who pushes those around him to get better. Under former Coach Charles Ramsay, Janton was often described as the best player in practice. You could just picture him giving Dobbins and Brandon Bowdry fits day after day in practice. Players like Janton are crucial to a program’s success. This year, Janton had his shot at real playing time, especially in the first half of the season. It was clear that over the course of significant playing time, Janton’s weaknesses were exposed. That didn’t stop him from having his share of positive moments this year. Kamil Janton deserves our respect for fighting for four years in every practice, and for the contribution he has made on the floor this season.
Quintin Dailey came to Eastern with great expectations and high hopes. Carrying the pedigree of his father, a notable talent in the NBA, EMU fans hoped to see Dailey as the scorer we so desperately needed. Unfortunately, Dailey’s first two years at EMU were disappointing on the floor. Add the personal tragedy of losing his father, and Quintin’s first two years at EMU carried an inordinate amount of difficulties. Like most Eastern fans, I went from being disappointed in Dailey to hanging on the edge of my seat rooting for him to succeed. Which is why this year has been so gratifying. There was a stretch of games where Quintin was on fire, and I can state with absolute certainty that we would not be in first place in the MAC West if not for that offensive spark by Dailey, especially in the first game against Western. Offense has been hard to come by for the Eagles, and his contribution kept them afloat. No doubt that Quintin deserves many thanks and appreciation from EMU fans for his time here. He persevered where others would have faltered.
Finally, we come to Darrell Lampley. No one player has more at stake over the remainder of the season, as far as their EMU legacy is concerned, than Lampley. Under Lampley’s leadership, this team could win the MAC West outright, and possibly make a run in the MAC tourney. There is no question that without serious contribution from Lampley none of these things will happen. He must make the big shot. He must hit the clutch free throw, he must make the smart pass, and he must take care of the rock. If Lampley can do these things and maneuver EMU to any degree of postseason success, then Lampley will have a championship legacy to leave behind.
I look forward to seeing this group of seniors finish this last chapter of their story here at Eastern Michigan. A big thank you to the four of them for their efforts, and here’s hoping they continue to defy expectations. Either way it has been a fun ride this year, and it couldn’t have happened without them.