2008-2009 Eastern Michigan Eagles Basketball Preview
Eastern Michigan Eagles - MAC
2007-08: 14-17, 8-8, 2nd MAC West
2007-08 postseason: none
The excitement is building in Ypsilanti, Michigan. In what is a pretty weak Mid-American Conference West division, Eastern Michigan should be in the mix for the top spot this year. And those expectations are due in large part to Carlos Medlock. The 6-0 point guard averaged 14.8 points and 4.1 assists as a junior and turned himself into one of the best players in the MAC. He should compete for the conference Player of the Year award now that he is a senior.
Who’s Out for the EMU:
Even with Medlock on the floor, the backcourt has some questions. Jarred Axon, Jesse Bunkley and Travis Lewis, among a host of returning players, started at least one game on the wings last year. Now those three are gone and the Eagles will have to spend some time, again, trying to find the right backcourt combination. Axon was one of the more effective three-point shooters on a team that shot a lot of three-pointers. He hit 2.1 per contest at 38.7 percent and ranked third on the team with 10.1 points per game. Bunkley knocked down more long balls than Axon, but not quite as efficiently. Lewis was another dangerous outside shooting threat and hit 41.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but it was his defense and rebounding that made him a starter for about half the season. Any way you look at it, EMU is losing some decent scoring options on the perimeter. The departures in the frontcourt are not as significant. James Matthews only played in ten games in 2007-2008 and Nenad Benjanin barely averaged over 11 minutes per game.
Who’s In for EMU:
Daniel Barnes, Antonio Green and Branden Harrison hope to be in the mix this time around at the revolving wing spots. Barnes will not replace the outside shooting of Axon and Bunkley, but he is a superb athlete who will score in bunches around the basket. If he learns to play under control and keeps improving his shot, he will be a great player in the MAC before his collegiate career is over. Right now he is ready to contribute anyway and could earn a starting job at some point. So could Harrison. The 6-8 small forward is a mismatch waiting to happen. He has a nice stroke from outside and can shoot over any opposing small forward in the conference. L.J. Frazier will add some depth at the point after redshirting last year and could be on the floor at the same time as Medlock on occasion. Kamil Janton, a 6-10 center, will help replace the frontcourt losses off the bench.
Who to Watch:
But the frontcourt is now in good hands with the return of Brandon Bowdry. The 6-6 forward missed last season with a foot injury and that forced the Eagles to hoist up a ton of long balls and be a very perimeter orientated team. That will not be the case this year now that they have their former MAC all-freshman team honoree back on the floor. During that freshman campaign two years ago, Bowdry averaged 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds. After another year of maturing on the sidelines, he should be ready to emerge as a leader on the court. Justin Dobbins is back to do some scoring in the paint. The 6-8 junior was second to only Medlock on the team in scoring with 10.2 points per game. His rebounding could be better, but having Bowdry back will give the team a much needed boost on the glass. Kyle Dodd will battle with Janton for most of the minutes backing up five spot.
Final 2008-2009 Eastern Michigan Projection:
The mess on the wings has plenty more in the mix than just the freshmen. Zane Gay, Tyler Jones, Wendale Farrow, Will Cooper and Solomon Farris all started games last year. Coach Charles Ramsey has plenty of options again this year, but it will be important for the team to find some consistency from those positions if they hope to take home a MAC West title. Gay and Jones are the best outside shooters of that group, but Farrow and Cooper have the size. Farrow, who started 24 games last year but only averaged 3.9 points per game, could even see minutes at the power forward spot. He lacks a little strength to do that against some opponents, but he could also be a big help on the glass from the small forward spot.
Projected Postseason Tournament: none
2008 Eastern Michigan Basketball Projected Starting Five:
Carlos Medlock, Senior, Guard, 14.8 points per game
Zane Gay, Senior, Guard, 5.0 points per game
Wendale Farrow, Senior, Forward, 3.9 points per game
Brandon Bowdry, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Justin Dobbins, Junior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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