Preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eagles' zone D has been effective, but offense must quickly get better

Updated: October 4, 2013, 11:15 AM ET
By Jeff Haley | ESPN Insider

2013-14 MAC Projected Standings

EAST: 1. Kent State | 2. Akron | 3. Ohio | 4. Bowling Green | 5. Buffalo | 6. Miami
WEST: 1. Toledo | 2. Western Michigan | 3. Ball State | 4. Central Michigan | 5. Eastern Michigan | 6. Northern Illinois
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Eastern Michigan Eagles

2012-13: 16-18 (7-9 MAC); lost to Western Michigan 70-55, MAC quarterfinals
In-conference offense: 0.95 points per possession (10th)
In-conference defense: 0.95 points allowed per possession (3rd)

When Rob Murphy took over the program two seasons ago, he installed the zone defense of his old boss Jim Boeheim. Like Syracuse, the Eagles tend to block shots and force many 3-pointers while holding opponents to low three point shooting percentages. Like their counterparts in upstate New York, guards like senior J.R. Sims can live in the passing lanes, getting deflections and creating turnovers. And just like Syracuse, Eastern Michigan gives up many offensive rebounds.

Projected starting lineup

Pos. Name Year
C
Da'Shonte Riley
Sr.
F
Glenn Bryant
Sr.
F
Daylen Harrison
Sr.
G
J.R. Sims
Sr.
G
Jalen Ross
So.

On the offensive end on the floor, Eastern Michigan has been a total disaster. While the Eagles fared well on the offensive boards last season, they did little else to help the scoring cause. The only easy points for Murphy's squad came on the many live ball turnovers that their defense created. Mixing an effective defense, a rough offense, and an excruciatingly slow pace of play, Eastern Michigan games often turn into rock fights where the first team to 60 wins. This season, expect more of the same.

Eastern Michigan has size and talent, particularly on the front line. Former Syracuse transfer Da'Shonte Riley, at 7-foot, is a ferocious shot blocker and rebounder, but struggles offensively. With Zeke Marshall no longer at Akron, Riley now becomes the most physically imposing big man in the MAC. Former Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant was a highly regarded high school player out of Oak Hill Academy. The 6-8 senior seems likely to lead the Eagles in scoring, and also doubles as an outstanding interior defender. Sophomore point guard Jalen Ross struggled with turnovers as a freshman, and an improvement in ball security would help the offense tremendously.

Projected 2013-14 conference finish: 5th in West

Jeff Haley

ESPN Insider
Jeff Haley is a writer for TeamRankings.com, which provides data-driven sports predictions and contest advice.

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