Posted: 9:54 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By Matt Sussman
Basketball is not always an elegant game. Eastern Michigan has traditionally not made it a beautiful spectacle, and that could explain the attendance. Everybody wants a "win," much like several people enjoy sausage, but they often care not to see how it is manufactured. When EMU wins, they manufacture it in a very tedious way, but it works for them.
The fans didn't like it, but Rob Murphy certainly did. And he has to be thrilled with Da'Shonte Riley, the anchor of that zone defense which forced 20 turnovers in the game. Along with 10 points on the other side, he accounted for nine rebounds (eight defensive), four steals and three blocks. There wasn't much to sing about for EMU on the other side, but Derek Thompson did muster 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting, while dishing out five assists.
A couple of late 3-pointers inflated Miami's O-PPP to about 0.74, which is saying something. They went about 10 minutes without a field goal, totaling just one point in that stretch. It took them over 16 minutes until they scored 10 points for the half, and they experienced similar droughts in the first half. Will Felder and Jon Harris each scored 14 points, which is good for them but the rest of the team totaled just 19 points on 22 shots.
After a tremendous, improbable win at Bowling Green, perhaps a game like this out of Miami was to be expected. John Cooper had a rough first year in Oxford, but everybody always does, but he's losing just one player to graduation (backup center Vince Legarza). Next year he should have a healthy Bill Edwards and Allen Roberts with a good meniscus.
But Eastern Michigan finally wins a game in Cleveland for the first time in five years. In tomorrow's quarterfinals they'll meet Western Michigan, the 3-seed and MAC West champions. They split the season series on them, so this could be another crawl to 50 if Murphy and his defense gets their way. But Western likes the game in the high 60s and their defense isn't too shabby either.