Road Trippin' With Reghi: MAC 'Birds' Taking Flight! (Blog Post 1/27/12)
by SportsTime Ohio's/ESPN Cleveland's Michael Reghi
Falcons and Eagles. Both solidly taking the appropriate steps to making noise, sooner rather then later in the MAC pecking order! Take a closer look at how both Louis Orr at Bowling Green, and Rob Murphy at Eastern Michigan, are getting their programs off the launching pad. The progress from both is obvious, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them square off Saturday night on Sportstime Ohio.
Orr's squad is young, very athletic, and making their mark on the offensive end with a very nice blend of shooting proficiency from the perimeter, and those lively legs around the rim. The Falcons rank 2nd in the MAC in field goal percentage, and 3rd in three point accuracy. At 3-3 in the MAC East, BG can hit you with every component you need, and are difficult to defend. Point guard Jordan Crawford adds the dash, is 2nd in the MAC in assists per night, and distributes the ball to shooters Scott Thomas, and Dee Brown, and loves to find A'uston Calhoun and Torian Oglesby around the rim. Calhoun has blown up of late, dropping home a career high 29 points against Buffalo, and backing that up with a 14 point 11 rebound double double in a win over C. Michigan this week. You'll love the 'quick jump' skills of Calhoun and Oglesby, who connected on an NCAA record 26 consecutive field goals earlier this season. Throw in Cameron Black, the 3rd best shot blocker in the MAC, and Orr can trot out an impressive front line. This group of Falcons certainly could give the MAC East heavyweights plenty of problems as February turns to March.
Murphy, the Eastern Michigan first year head coach, is taking a different approach entirely. Inheriting a roster that is offensively challenged, Murphy, who comes to Ypsilanti from Jim Boeheim's Syracuse staff, has installed the legendary '2-3' Boeheim zone, and voila!, the results have been staggering! The Eagles have responded beautifully from the Murphy teachings. They rank 17th in the nation defensively, allowing just 59.2 points per game, a double digit plus upgrade from the Eagles' 'D' the last few seasons. Murphy demands attention to detail on that end of the floor, and he has the Eagles locked in. Jamel Harris and Da'Shonte Riley are the stalwarts, Harris the rugged rebounder, while Riley is developing into a block shot specialist. The Syracuse transfer rejected 7 Buffalo shots Weds. night, while also grabbing 8 boards, while playing against standouts Mitchell Watt and Javon McCrea. The 7 foot sophomore has tremendous upside as the 'protector of the rim' that Murphy needs at the back of his defense. The Eagles, an impressive 4-2, and tied with Ball State atop the MAC West, are a fascinating watch, especially during this three week cross period against the veteran toughness of the MAC East programs.
Will look for all of you, along with my partner Steve Mix, Saturday at 6pm, on SportsTime Ohio. See all of you then!