SEASON REVIEW: Ups, Downs And Buzzer Beaters

(photo by Scott Eyre)
(photo by Scott Eyre)

In a transition season full of buzzer beaters, EMU's basketball men made a good start to the Melvin Felix era in 2018-19.

The Runnin Royals kept their up-tempo style under Felix, and added good rebounding where they finished fifth in the ODAC with +3 rebounding margin. The team's eight seniors helped keep the men within striking distance in most games, making for some exciting finishes.

In the end, a blocked three pointer stopped EMU from a chance to upset the defending ODAC champions in this year's tournament, cutting short the season but leaving the Royals with a promising future.

Record in 2018-19: 10-16 (5-11 ODAC)
Coach: Melvin Felix (10-16 overall, 5-11 ODAC in one season)

Coach Felix Comments:
"This season was one of adjusting and growing with me as a first year head coach. I am extremely proud of our eight seniors that will leave the program and do great things with their lives. We had ups and downs this year, from a great buzzer beater win at Virginia Wesleyan to losing in the ODAC Tournament on missed shot at the end of regulation. Overall, I had a great time coaching this team - our work ethic stayed consistent through the season and the guys laid the foundation for future Royals. Off the court, we were blessed with the opportunity to be involved and give back to the community by helping with the Unified Games and basketball clinics. I am very excited for what the future holds for our program and how we will continue to strive for excellence on and off the court!"

Awards:
Tariq Caldwell - Royals Athlete of the Week (Dec. 31-Jan. 6)
Travis Clower - Royals Athlete of the Week (Dec. 3-9)
Sammy Thomas - ODAC Player of the Week (Dec. 10-16), Royals Athlete of the Week (Nov. 12-18)

Statistical Leaders:
- Guard Travis Clower was No. 9 in the ODAC in Free Throw Shooting Percentage at 80.9%, No. 12 in 3-Point Shooting Percentage at 40.6%, No. 13 in Steals with 37, and No. 19 in Points Per Game at 13.2.
- Center Sammy Thomas was No. 3 in the ODAC in Field Goal Shooting Percentage at 60.5%, No. 17 in Rebounds Per Game at 6.1 and No. 22 in Points Per Game at 12.5.
- Point guard Tim Jones was No. 11 in the ODAC in Assists with 77, No. 11 in steals with 38, and No. 23 in Points Per Game at 12.3.
- Forward DJ Hill was No. 5 in the ODAC in Field Goal Shooting Percentage at 57.7%.
- Forward Tariq Caldwell was No. 9 in the ODAC in Rebounds Per Game at 7.4.

Season Highlights:
- Won their season opener at Averett, 90-74.
- Beat Virginia Wesleyan on the road, 68-66, getting a last-second putback from DJ Hill.
- Earned overtime against nationally-ranked Lynchburg when Travis Clower hit a three pointer at the buzzer.
- Earned overtime in a Rowdy Royals Game against rival Bridgewater when Xavier McCants drove to the hoop for a layup with 2.4 seconds remaining.

Career Statistical Notes:
- Guard Travis Clower finished with a career three-point field goal shooting percentage of 43.4% (121-279), coming just shy of Gary Chupp's program record of 47.0% (294-626). Clower owns the EMU record for season three-point field goal percentage from the 2016-17 season at 58.5% (31-53).

Athlete Comments:
"Like everything in life there were ups and downs, but I'm thankful for being able to go out and compete every day with my brothers." – Senior Travis Clower