The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team enters the season as the reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Champions. On Oct. 30, the Eagles were projected to finish second in the west in the MAC preseason rankings, receiving four first place votes.
Rob Murphy is entering his second year as the head coach of the Eagles. He led the team to a 14-18 record (9-7 MAC West). EMU lost four players to graduation this past spring, but between the new transfers and returning players, the Eagles have the experience present to make another run at the title.
Murphy made headlines over the summer when he was offered another opportunity to become the director of college scouting for the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He decided to stay at EMU, but it led to speculation by many that his richly restructured contract may have been the chief factor behind his decision.
In an Oct. 30 conference call, Murphy was all business. He, like many of his counterparts in the MAC, doesn’t take much stock in the preseason rankings.
“We want to continue to be competitive,” Murphy said. “I think we overachieved last year.”
The Eagles are led on the court by senior forward Jamell Harris, who started all 32 games last season and is currently second in EMU history in shot blocking, with 134 career blocks. Harris has yet to practice with the team due to injury, but Murphy is confident he’ll play. Another player Murphy has high expectations for this year is redshirt junior forward Glenn Bryant.
“Bryant is the most energetic and best player we have right now,” Murphy said. “The whole unit is playing well; they really understand the team concept.”
The team plays an exhibition game Nov. 2 against the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
EMU starts their regular season against Rochester College Nov. 9 at noon, also at the Convocation Center.
The most notable games on their schedule are on the road. They begin Dec. 3 at Syracuse, tip off against Michigan Dec. 20 and start off the new year with two games at Kentucky and the University of Massachusetts before starting conference play Jan. 9 at home against Ball State University.
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