Murphy likes to play the tough teams
The return of redshirt freshman guard Ray Lee and redshirt junior guard Mike Talley, who transferred from Duquesne University added much needed depth to the Eastern Michigan University backcourt this upcoming season.
“Overall, we have five really good guards this season,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “J.R. Sims was able to play both guard positions for us last season and even played some [at small forward]. Jalen Ross was able to start 18 games [in place of Lee] at the point guard position and grew as the season went on. Lee is fully healthy and will play more of the [shooting] guard position. Then you have Mike Talley; who is an electric, quick, and dynamic point guard who can score and get others involved. Finally, Darrell Combs, who can play both guard positions and can make plays for others.”
Murphy went on to mention that all five guards could make an impact at any given moment on the floor.
Lee averaged 5.5 points per game (PPG) through eight contests before a foot injury that sidelined him for the rest of last season.
Redshirt senior forward Glenn Bryant is the team’s returning leading scorer at 10.6 PPG last season.
Bryant was also named to the 2013-14 West Division Preseason All-Mid-American Conference team.
“Glenn is playing at a high level and very confident in his abilities,” Murphy said. “He played the [small forward] position for us last season, but we are moving him back to [power forward] position where he is more comfortable. He will post a lot more and play with the elbow in where he will not take as many jump shots.”
The return of redshirt senior guard/forward Daylen Harrison and the addition of junior forward Karrington Ward, who transferred from Moraine Valley Community College, will give some much needed depth in the frontcourt.
“Harrison shot the ball well and was extremely confident,” Murphy said. “The addition of Ward, who was a 20-point plus scorer at the junior college level. Our forward positions should be solidified as they all can rebound, score, and run on transition which gives us the opportunity to score early in the shot clock.”
Murphy will emphasize more of an up-tempo style after finishing last season 339th in Division I with an average of 56.6 PPG.
“We will make a conscious effort to push the ball in transition,” Murphy said. “As long as our wings and bigs are running the floor to get some early buckets in transition, then we will be fine as long as the guys can score in the half court sets. At the end of the day, we still can not lose sight of our defensive abilities.”
Senior center Da’Shonte Riley came on as he scored in double figures in two of the final three games last season and has worked on his conditioning in the off-season.
“Right after the season, he spent time in the weight room with our strength and conditioning coaches,” Murphy said. “Coming back [in September] he was in really good shape and spending time in the weight room helps in terms of him having the ability to take bumps and be more physical on the floor.”
This season’s schedule features a strong non-conference slate with teams such as top-ranked University of Kentucky, Syracuse University, Duke University and Purdue University, who they defeated last season at the Convocation Center 47-44.
Murphy believes in playing this type of schedule every year to help in recruiting and putting the program on the map nationally.
“We want to play a tough schedule every year especially if you get the chance to play some of the schools with great tradition,” Murphy said. “It helps us to get on television and receive publicity for playing the [bigger] schools.”
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.