With a clean bill of health and a veteran presence, the Eastern Michigan University basketball team looks to build on last season’s late push to get its first winning season since 1999-2000.
After finishing last season on a four-game winning streak before losing in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament, the Eagles won Saturday’s exhibition against Concordia University, 90-47, at the Convocation Center.
The Eagles were led by senior center Justin Dobbins, who muscled his way to 27 points and 10 rebounds, both game highs.
Dobbins overmatched Concordia inside with quick feet and three powerful dunks. He said he’s feeling well rested and in shape, which should allow him to stay out of foul trouble.
EMU junior power forward Brandon Bowdry also had a strong showing with 14 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore guard Antonio Green and junior forward Jay Higgins each had 12 points.
Although senior point guard Carlos Medlock did not dress due to a heart-related catheter surgery, coach Charles Ramsey said he will be recovered enough to play in EMU’s season opener Saturday at Oakland University.
“He had a medical procedure, and he’ll be fine,” Ramsey said. “It’s something we had scheduled and couldn’t get it done sooner. He had the procedure and should be ready to go next week.”
Sophomore L.J. Frazier had six assists and three steals in 24 minutes as a starter in Medlock’s place.
A starting point
With Medlock expected to be ready for the Eagles’ first game, Frazier will provide experience in a backup role. Medlock, a preseason all-MAC west selection, has had a history of injuries, undergoing two surgeries on his foot.
New kids on the block
Freshmen J.R. Sims, Jake Fosdick, Jamell Harris and Matt Balkema are joined this season by junior college transfers Higgins and Quintin Dailey. The six-man class is set to provide much-needed versatile depth.
“I would say this is the most versatile team I’ve been on at EMU,” Dobbins said. “I’m pretty comfortable with them being here.”
The 6-foot-10, 290-pound Balkema showed soft hands and the possibility of developing a mid-range game. Ramsey said the Warren Cousino product is in a good spot learning behind Bowdry and Dobbins because of his size, and that he can make free throws.
“Brandon and Justin are now veterans, and we’ve got some young kids who will give us some depth,” Ramsey said. “I feel good about it. Matt is going to come with it. He plays as a freshman at times, but he’s going to get better every time he hits the floor.”
After the upcoming Oakland game, the Eagles will play The Citadel (S.C.), Maryland Eastern Shore and Missouri State the following weekend in the Hispanic College Fund Classic in Springfield, Mo.
EMU is 0-4 in pre-conference tournaments over the past two seasons. But with another opponent in the “Show-Me State,” Southeast Missouri State, Ramsey is excited to see what his team is made of in his fifth season at EMU.
“It’s going to be interesting. We’re now on the road for five straight matches so that’s going to give us a good opportunity to see who we are,” he said. “I like that we are on the road for five straight. And it’ll be a good test. Our goal is to come back home with a winning record and gain some confidence.”
EMU is to open its home schedule Nov. 28 against Davenport University.
Women also win
Prior to the men’s game, the women’s team proved too much for Madonna in an exhibition, coming away with an 84-36 win.
EMU started off sluggish, it led 17-16 with 09:14 left in the first half. It wasn’t long before the Eagles began to pile it on, outscoring Madonna by 28 in the second.
Tavelyn James had 20 points in 26 minutes. Cassie Schrock, a 2008-09 honorable mention All-MAC selection, contributed with 10 points, six assists, two steals and two rebounds.
Paige Redditt had an all-around performance, as she had nine points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.
EMU is slated to open its season in Chicago against Illinois-Chicago on Friday. Tip-off is to be at 7 p.m.
Staff writer Ryan Remstad contributed to this report.