How do we review a season? I like to start with the preview I wrote and compare the results of the season to how I expected them to go. Based on the fact that Eastern Michigan was going to return a good chunk of their starters from the previous season, I thought that things would go well for them. I was thinking that their regular season would go well enough that they would be in prime position to make a run for the MAC championship. In my mind, that meant they wouldn’t have to play a buy in game.
Well as we know, things didn’t end up quite that way. After a fairly strong start of 12-6, the wheels came off the bus for a while as they fell into a seven game losing streak. They never quite recovered from that and squeaked into a MAC Tournament opening home game. After losing to Akron, they finished the season at 16-17. This was Rob Murphy’s first losing season since the 2012-2013 season.
So what went wrong? Defensively, everything seemed okay. They held their opponents to fewer points than they scored. They out-stole their opponents. They out blocked their opponents. They even forced more turnovers per game. However, it seemed like there were many times they would get the block and rebound only to rush the shot to have it clang off the rim. Or they would try to dish the ball off, only to have it go out of bounds. It seems like they should have got the ball and set up the offense and go for more consistent shots.
Even when I look at player stats, it seems like the players improved from the last season. So it’s really hard to explain.
So as we write the final chapter to the 2016-2017 season, we say goodbye to Raven Lee, Ty Toney, Willie Mangum IV and Quaran Jones. I wish all four of them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
And what can we look forward to in 2017-2018? Since Rob Murphy had two 20 win seasons, he has two years left on his contract. Given other issues, I do not see Eastern Michigan firing him this year. However, a new Athletic Director may want to start with a clean slate in that regard. I do not really want to see Rob Murphy go but then again, I’m not really a fan of firing a coach for the sake of firing a coach in the first place.
As far as players go, it looks like Tim Bond and James Thompson IV will return. Baylee Steele and Jordan Nobles will also return. Hopefully that will get supplemented with the upcoming talent. It is way to early to make any other predictions for next year though.
Despite the finish, it was a fun season, at least for me anyway, and I’m looking forward to returning next year.