Rest or rust? EMU women's basketball team opens MAC tournament play Friday after 10-day break
Jeffrey Smith | for AnnArbor.com
By finishing with the second-best record in the Mid-American Conference, the Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team earned a trip straight into the semifinals of the conference’s postseason tournament.
That’s a good thing, of course. Right?
Ask Eagles coach AnnMarie Gilbert and she’ll tell you she’s not thrilled with the 10-day layoff her team will have before it plays Northern Illinois or Toledo at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
“Kids get tired of playing against each other,” she said after EMU clinched a share of the MAC West Division title last week. “You have to come up with the proper balance of rest and practice in order to make it beneficial when we get there.”
Beyond the layoff, there’s the give-and-take argument between whether it’s better to be rested or on a roll when the tournament is pared down to its final four teams.
Gilbert says she saw both sides of that argument from her own team just last season.
The Eagles were the No. 5 team in the tournament in 2010-11 and started with wins against Miami (82-74) and Kent State (69-65) before upsetting top-seeded Toledo, 61-55, in a semifinal.
EMU then lost to Bowling Green in the title game, 51-46.
“We thought that was the key to us beating Toledo last year, because Toledo had rested so long,” Gilbert said. “Our momentum carried us three games strong, but then we didn’t have enough gas against Bowling Green.”
EMU senior guard Tavelyn James, recently named the MAC Player of the Year, has said she'd like another shot at Bowling Green. The Falcons are the only MAC opponent that James and fellow senior Paige Redditt have never beaten in their four years in Ypsilanti.
Bowling Green, the tournament's No. 1 seed, plays Central Michigan or Miami in a semifinal at noon Friday.