Can Eastern Michigan with the MAC Championship with two returning starters and two other returning players? Well, this is the season that we will find out.
Gone from last year’s squad due to graduation are Raven Lee, Willie Mangum and Ty Toney. Baylee Steele transferred to Utah Valley University and I’m not sure what happened to Nick Madray. Baylee Steele did a decent job of anchoring Rob Murphy’s defense and Nick Madray was able to help in that regard.
Returning to the team are Tim Bond (whom I already wrote about) and James Thompson IV (whom I will write about) as starters from last season’s team. Also returning are Jordan Nobles who played in every game and Jalen Brown who played in 18 of 33 games. I’m pretty sure that Bond and Thompson will do well. Jordan Nobles seems to be growing into the role and I don’t have enough information about Jalen Brown.
Transfers to the team are Paul Jackson from Eastern Kentucky, Terry Harris from Houston Baptist, Elijah Minnie from Robert Morris and Isaiah Green from Lansing Community College. Of those four, I expect Elijah Minnie to have the most impact. In his last season at Robert Morris, he scored an average 12 points per game and had 6.6 rebounds per game. I would also expect Paul Jackson to make a good contribution to the Eagles.
Last season, the Eagles went 18 and 17 with a 7 and 11 record in the MAC. I really expected them to do much better. Since much of the team is unproven this year, I have no idea what to expect. It seems that one element lacking this season is a tall person to anchor Murphy’s two-three zone defense. James Thompson is the tallest Eagle at 6’10” and I’m not sure how well that stacks against the rest of the MAC.
The non-conference schedule seems very favorable to a young team. The challenges will be presented by a home and home with Oakland. The Eagles travel to Syracuse on December 27th. They open the season on Friday against Spring Arbor with a 10:30 A.M. start at the Convocation Center.