The Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team starts its 2019-20 season on Friday, Nov. 8 against Siena Heights at the Convocation Center. The game tips off at 9:45 a.m. as EMU hosts the annual Education Day.
The Eagles are 4-0 against Siena Heights and defeated the Saints 90-72 last season.
“I’m excited,” head coach Rob Murphy said. “We have a lot of new faces. I’m excited to see this team take the floor and show what we have been working on all summer and into the fall. We have a host of new players that really care for each other. Our chemistry is a lot better this year. They are high character student athletes, so we have a lot of leadership, too.”
Murphy said he is planning on starting Darion Spottsville and Yeikson Montero in the backcourt. Spottsville is a 6’3” junior from Phoenix. He averaged 11.1 points and 2.5 steals per game in his last season at South Mountain. Montero, who is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, put up 16.8 points during his last year with Pensacola State.
Both Spottsville and Montero have two years of eligibility left.
Murphy also announced that Noah Morgan will be the third newcomer to start against Siena Heights. The final two spots in the starting lineup will go to veteran returners Ty Groce and Boubacar Toure. Both players have a lot of experience as they’re heading into their junior and senior year, respectively.
Toure will start at center for the Eagles.
“With Boubacar Toure in his new role as our go-to post player, I’m excited to see what will happen,” Murphy said. “I think we’ll get to see him score consistently, and I expect him to block shots and rebound the ball. Also, Ty Groce has done an unbelievable job during the offseason. He’s improved his outside shot and his dribble drive game.”
Murphy also spoke positively about Morgan.
“Noah kind of reminds me of Tim Bond,” Murphy said. “He can play a lot of positions. He is a very good defender. He has picked up the defense a lot, and he gets a lot of steals and deflections. On offense, he can create his own shot and can get shots for other players around him. We’re looking for him to have a really good year for us.”
Toure is expected to be the go-to player for the Eagles after he averaged 8.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season. He also averaged 1.4 blocks, 0.5 steals and 0.4 assists in 24.5 minutes per game. Toure was one of the most efficient players on the team last season, as he shot 65.1% from the field. Toure shot just 47.6% from the free-throw line.
“I expect him [Toure] to be a defensive presence and anchor the zone,” Murphy said. “Alter shots, block shots, intimidate people and rebound the ball. I think he’ll be one of the better defenders in our league.
On offense, I want him to show that he can pass out of the double team in the post. He has really been working on that. He wants to score, like everyone does, but we have to make the right play and pass up a good shot for a great shot.”
ESPN FPI gives EMU a 93.7% chance to beat Siena Heights.