The Eastern Michigan Eagles were coming off of a disappointing 2012-2013 season. With a full year to develop chemistry head coach Rob Murphy unleashed an Eagles squad on the 2013-2014 season that no fan, MAC foe, or expert could have anticipated seeing. Awards a plenty were being handed out to the Eagles, but a 20+ win season for the first time in over a decade put these Eagles back on the MAC radar.
There were so many key moments for the Eagles this season. To start the season EMU went on a six game winning streak A trip to the MAC tournament semi finals against Toledo put the Eagles on the map. Da'Shonte Riley became the first player in EMU history to be named MAC Defensive Player of the Year. He also became the all-time leader in blocked shots for the Eagles.
The Eagles saw their highest win total since the 1996-1997 season with 22. They also hit the postseason for the first time in 16 years, and captured their first postseason win in 18. The Eagles won an impressive 16 games at home during the course of the season which lead the MAC. They also led the MAC in every major defensive statistic, and lead the NCAA in field goal percentage against.
Every positive must have some sort of negative, and while the Eagles season was overall positive, they did have their moments that made you say "does this team seriously play Division I basketball?".
One moment that instantly comes to mind is a double overtime loss to the Northern Illinois Huskies in Dekalb. It was a game in which defense was the focus. Thirty five turnovers and 28 percent shooting from the field allowed the Huskies to get a 61-59 win in what may be the lowest scoring double-overtime game ever.
While the Eagles were successful and excited to play in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, after advancing to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, the loss was a disapointing final chapter in the season as the Eagles vanished for the final nine minutes of the game. One field goal and a 13-point defeat later, and the Eagles season had finally come to an end.
Murphy has found success in a different kind of way. Recruiting is a very important element of college sports, and while most coaches will check out high school teams and players, Murphy has a unique ability to pluck talent from other colleges who are not utilizing players or getting them involved enough to keep said players happy.
The Eagles key losses are Glenn Bryant, and Riley (both transfers from high-major programs), but overall the Eagles will be losing five of their 16 players currently on the roster. Riley lead the team in blocks and rebounding, while Bryant's presence on the court was always felt, whether he was posting a double-double or just playing physical in the paint.
While the Eagles are losing a significant amount of their roster, they do return some key players. Players of note are Raven Lee (10.6 PPG), Mike Talley (10.2 PPG), Jordan Martin, and Jodan Price. The most intriguing player on this list is Price. I expect Price to step into the starting lineup immediately for the Eagles next season after following NCAA rules and sitting out this season due to his transfer from DePaul.
Final Season Grade: A-
When a team has not made any postseason appearance in 16 seasons, and has not won more than 20 games in over a decade there is no way to consider a season like what EMU just had anything other than a success. Most teams set a preseason goal of winning the conference, winning the conference tournament, or making an appearance in the big dance. Murphy has excelled at bringing out the best in the talent he pulls from other schools, and is producing results. The Eagles finish the season with an A-.