Michigan has played Eastern Michigan plenty of times in the past, but Sunday's
match-up with the Eagles was a little bit different. This game marked
the return of former Wolverine assistant and current Eagle head coach, Charles Ramsey. The relationship between the two programs has grown in Ramsey's
short tenure and the players from each side have gotten to know each other
very well as a result. They've certainly gotten to know one another's
games, thanks to the frequent open gym sessions they participated in on each
other's campuses. That familiarity was evident prior to tip-off. Coach
Ramsey and Dion Harris shared a moment together, and then he went over talked
with some of the staff at Michigan. That, however, is where the love ended.
Michigan poured it on Eastern early and often as Dion Harris canned a three
over Carlos Medlock to take a 9-2 lead. Medlock and Harris have known each
other since high school and they were getting after each other early game.
Harris later shed some light on the relationship.
“I have known Carlos since high school and he was a young guy who looked
up to me when I was at (Detroit) Redford," he said. "I just
wanted to come out and be the aggressor."
The rest of the Wolverines appeared just as intent on imposing their will
on their cross-county rivals. Once again, it was the defense that led
the charge. They contested every shot and pass, they dived on the floor for
every loose ball, and when it came to rebounds… they took those too.
Offensively the Maize & blue made it a point to look to the post, and
their interior guys had their way with Eastern. Courtney Sims had another fine
outing. For the second game in a row he was solid at being a presence
in the middle. He also did a nice job passing out of the double team. He
appeared much more comfortable and was able to get the ball to the open guy.
Ron Coleman continued his aggressive ways as well. The Romulus native
scored, rebounded and defended very well.
Coach Amaker also got valuable contributions from his bench. He relied
on his second team players much more in this game, as Jevohn Shepherd, Jerret Smith, Ekpe Udoh, Courtney Sims, K'len Morris and Reed Baker all saw action
in the first half, and all contributed nicely. Shepherd gave Michigan a lift
with his seven points and three steals in 13 minutes. Jerret Smith played
okay as well, but wasn't quite up to the level that he achieved in the game
The player that really got the crowd going, though, was Deshawn Sims. It
was a tough week for the young man with the death of his brother Marcus. The
basketball floor has been his refuge, and it showed on Sunday. He entered
the game and scored two baskets and a blocked shot all in forty seconds.
Eastern had no answer for what seemed to be endless depth for Michigan on
the other side. The lead continued to grow despite Amaker's decision
to play Dion Harris and Lester Abram only six and eight minutes in the first
half. The Wolverines had built a 50-20 lead at the half and never looked
In the second half it was more of the same, as Michigan kept the lead around
30 the rest of the way. The game became somewhat of a scrimmage for Michigan
and they began working on spreading the floor, getting the reserves more time,
and kicking the ball down to Brent Petway to work on his post moves. Michigan
even ran some back door plays that looked good. When time finally expired,
the home team had earned an 80-51 victory.
Eastern Michigan’s main two scorers, Carlos Medlock and Jesse Bunkley,
never got on track to keep there team in the game. They finished with
10 and eight points respectively.
“I thought again our defense was the story for us, especially
in the first half we forced them into some tough shots and held them to a very
low field goal percentage," Amaker said afterward. "That's
something we have been able to do thus far this season. I was very pleased
with the opening half for our team I thought we set the tone early. I was pleased
to see the way we started I thought we showed a lot of maturity by coming here
this afternoon to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the defense end."
For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes Quotes.
Michigan will wrap up the John Thompson Challenge in a Wednesday nigh finale
against UW-Milwaukee. Tip-off is scheduled for 7PM EST.