Eagles Zone Defense is Key

The Eastern Michigan men's basketball team needs to step up its 2-3 zone defense to get through their upcoming tough schedule.

The Eastern Michigan men's basketball team is about to enter its hardest stretch of the season. Monday they will be going up against perennial power Syracuse on the road. For EMU to have a chance to win--they will need to play elite zone defense.

Junior center Da'Shonte Riley will need to play big for the Eagles to have a chance against the upcoming tough schedule. Riley has lead the team this season with 15 blocks and averaging 7.2 rebounds. Riley has been a force down low defensively and is the key part of what makes their defense work.

The 2-3 zone defense is what head coach Rob Murphy's specialty is and what defense Syracuse played when Murphy was an assistant coach from 2004-2011 and still play today under head coach Jim Boehiem. The zone creates more traffic and makes tougher defense in the paint with size but is still vulnerable to the outside three.

What the Eagles have in bulk, is size on their roster as one of the biggest teams in the Mid American Conference. Riley is seven-feet tall with senior forward Jamell Harris at 6-foot-9 and second on the team with nine blocks on the year. Their size in the paint will give them a chance defensively to match up on any team they play.

In the EMU's last game against Madonna (75-57 win), Riley had an impressive five blocks with seven points, when he regularly isn't a scoring threat. Redshit junior forward Daylen Harrison led the way scoring with 17 points along with redshirt forward Glenn Bryant with 16 points. Their names are usually top scorers along with Senior guard Derek Thompson, but in the tough games coming up--it will be Riley's defense that the Eagles will rely on the most.

On December 3., they will play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and then return home for a big home game against Purdue. If the Green and White are to have a chance they will have to play elite down low.

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