Discover more from The Ypsilanti Eleven
The freshmen have arrived
The NCAA Board of Governors includes... Grant Hill? Also, what should we expect out of Toledo's offense in 2022?
Welcome to The Ypsilanti Eleven! Part of the NCAA’s new constitution was go make Grant Hill one of the most powerful people in basketball even more powerful on the college side as a member of its new Board of Governors.
Also, EMU football’s freshmen are all moved in, and let’s take a quick look at Toledo’s offense, which might be good again — who’s to say?
NCAA: New Board of Governors includes Grant Hill of all people
The NCAA constitution, adopted in January, said that this moment would happen. The group’s first Board of Governors roster includes, as titled from the press release:
Mary-Beth Cooper, president, Springfield College.
Beth DeBauche, commissioner, Ohio Valley Conference.
John J. DeGioia, president, Georgetown University.
Grant Hill, independent member, co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks.
Linda Livingstone, president, Baylor University.
Jere Morehead, president, University of Georgia.
Steven Shirley, president, Minot State University.
Nadja West, independent member, 44th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.
I’m not smart enough to have strong opinions of this makeup, which does include some Division II and III school representatives, but I did tilt my head to the side when I read Grant Hill’s name. Then I titled even further when he was attributed to being an NBA team’s co-owner and not a member of Duke’s Board of Trustees (as of 2021).
Nadja West seems like a reasonable person to have come in as an outside source to help oversee how well things are running, and if the room is keeping its focus on the task at hand and not too much focus on personal gain. She’s quoted as saying: “If anything at all, I hope I can be an inspiration to any one or any group that has not seen themselves in certain positions. We all want to see people who look like us doing certain things to give us inspiration.”
But don’t tell me there isn’t a Duke guy on the board when there’s clearly a Duke guy on the board. Hill’s expertise these days is in broadcasting, and he’s part of the lead broadcast crew for March Madness, the NCAA’s biggest championship spectacle.
When the board gets together for its meetings and topics come up to discuss which divisions should be allowed for which championships and how broadcasting and media rights ought to be handled, one can only expect there to be some pro-Duke or sentiment to come from Hill, but since he’s not titled as a Duke representative (which he is, but apparently isn’t), he’s awarded some freedom to switch his verbiage up from “good for Duke” to “good for college basketball” and it’ll be tough for anybody to call foul at that.
The freshmen. They have arrived.
As much as I love seeing new freshmen and transfers in come and join the program, I also love seeing excuses to share one of my favorite clips from Detroiters. It’s not my fault the coaches took their new players fowling.
“You think LeBron James would be good a Pop-A-Shot?”
EMU President Smith excited for new housing project
The Free Press’ Jesse David reported that EMU is trading 35 years worth of student housing fees for renovations across campus and two new buildings.
As much as I love hearing about new housing ideas, this isn’t a move that’s completely popular across the board at Eastern.
Eastern Michigan University will give up all student housing fees for the next 35 years in exchange for two new residence halls, demolition of some older halls and renovations to the remaining units.
EMU Campus Living LLC and Gilbane Development Company will fund all the construction work, which is slated to begin this summer. In exchange, they will get the revenue from student housing. Eastern will still provide a variety of housing services, including residential life staff, and be paid for those services.
But not all on campus are happy with the moves. In December, the faculty passed symbolic no-confidence votes on Smith, CFO Michael Valdes and Chief of Staff Leigh Greden, over several issues, including what the faculty called the privatization of the housing facilities. At the time, EMU officials said they were simply working with a partner who was providing the funding for the renovations.
Faculty officials said in December that Eastern was simply playing word games.
“Pushing to sell off student dorms in the middle of a pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back," Faculty Senate President Suzanne Gray told the Free Press in December. "The administration made a big show of soliciting ‘input,’ but it is clear that this decision had already been predetermined. Why would we want to lose control of student housing — and likely increase costs to our students — at a time when campus safety is more important than ever? We have not gotten a clear answer as to why now is the right time to pursue this project.”
If the reported accounts are accurate, then this seems like a cheap way of getting things done around campus. It’s also a cheap way of skirting the university away from responsibilities that come with owning (or not owning) property on its own campus.
Quick Preview: On Toledo's offense
OK. Let’s try this again.
The Toledo Rockets have a lot of talent coming back this year, and there’s a lot of potential for this team to score a lot of points on offense in 2022. With the pieces that this unit has, MAC Championship should be expectation. However, if you’re familiar with Toledo’s recent history since it won the MAC title in 2017, then you’d know that that just hasn’t been the case.
But this year could be different. Maybe.
Dequan Finn’s a solid dual-threat quarterback in the MAC, but there’ some room for improvement from him. On the ground, he’s more than doing his part — 502 rushing yards and 9 TD last year. Through the air, he completed just 57.6% of his throws (144-250), averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, had 18 TD and 2 INT. With him being the QB1 entering Week 1, rather than starting out behind Carter Bradley (now at South Alabama), the expectation here is that he should be able to run the offense all year and let Tucker Gleason (Georgia Tech transfer, joined last year) come in behind him for backup duties.
The skilled talent is, yes, very good. Is that ever really in question?
At running back, Micah Kelly’s a stud and so is incoming transfer Peny Boone (Maryland). The team lost two of its top receivers in Isaiah Winstead and Matt Landers to the transfer portal (to East Carolina and Arkansas, respectively), but it’s Toledo which means there are track stars at the ready to lead this group. Team-leading receiver Devin Maddox is back, as are DeMeer Blankumsee and Jerjuan Newton. No stats, just know that everybody here is talented as hell, and they’re all dangerous with the ball in their hands.
It’s the offensive line that needs to hold its end of the bargain. Since 2017, Toledo’s been in the bottom-half of the MAC in sacks allowed every year: 30 in 2018 (2.31 allowed/game), 29 in 2019 (2.42), 15 in 2020 (2.5), and 36 in 2021 (2.77). It’s not like Toledo hasn’t tried to mask this issue with pocket-passing QBs that won’t run. Mitch Guadagni ran the ball 140 times over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Finn had 144 rush attempts just last year.
While Toledo’s got its issues to fix on the coaching staff (otherwise, they’d have at least one more ring by now), it’s also got a lot of things figured out on this side of the ball. A lot of things come down to consistency, and Toledo, with all of its talent, has failed to score in the 30’s consistently in MAC West play (23.4 avg. in 2019, 29.6 in 2021). Getting through teams offensively matters in this division, especially if you’re going to out-recruit the rest of the field for high-flying talent anyways.