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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

    Editorial Cartoon: Blago told you so!

    Despite losing all three games during Thanksgiving break, Eastern head coach Mike Miller said he saw improvements in his basketball team.

    The Panthers dropped two games to Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne by a combined six points, but Miller said he saw improvements from the 81-77 overtime loss on Nov. 22 to the 76-74 loss on Friday.

    “Some of the things that I was pleased with were our emphasis on rebounding,” Miller said. “We played Fort Wayne the first time, and they out-rebounded us by three. We played them the second time and out-rebounded them by 13. So there is a big swing in there with the same people playing.”

    Miller said the Panthers are slowly seeing aspects of the game that they are becoming more consistent with after those aspects were emphasized.

    “Our team is really close right now, really close, and we need to do a few more of those things that will get us to the top,” Miller said.

    Among the other improvements Miller said he saw during the three games during Thanksgiving Break were some of the returning players stepping up and playing more consistently.

    Miller said junior center Ousmane Cisse was efficient in his play against IPFW on Nov. 29 as he had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. He said junior guard Romain Martin and sophomore guard Tyler Laser were also consistent during the three games.

    “For the first two weeks, we have shown that we can score a little bit and we can score pretty quick at times and in different ways,” Miller said. “When you can do that you can stay in games. When you can stop people you can win games.”

    The Panthers (1-4) will look to continue to improve as they open Ohio Valley Conference play 8 tonight at Lantz Arena against Tennessee State (2-5).

    “(The Tigers) are an athletic team, and they are very talented,” Miller said. “They are playing off three guys that can score a lot of points.”

    Sophomore guard Gerald Robinson, who Miller said was one of the top guards in the OVC right now, leads the Tigers with 22 points per game and four assists per game.

    The Tigers feature a tall front court with 6-foot-8 senior center Jerrell Houston averaging 17 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, while 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Darrius Cox is also a force on the boards scoring 14.4 ppg to go along with 7.6 rpg.

    In addition to the strong play from those three players, Miller said the Tigers play well on the offensive glass and score in transition.

    Eastern junior guard Dewayne Wright Jr. said the Tigers have an aggressive style.

    “I think with our defense and our pressure release we’ll be OK,” Wright said.

    Wright said having the team stay together during Thanksgiving Break brought the team together and helped them form a bond.

    “We learned there’s still some things we need to work on,” Wright said. “On defense, I think we made too many little mistakes, but its nothing we can’t improve on. I think our offense really clicked. We showed we can score the ball whenever we want, but it comes down to defense, which we have to concentrate on.”

    Freshman forward Zavier Sanders said the team sharpened up different aspects of its game. He said the team performed well in practice, which should help them during the game.

    For Wright and Sanders, this will be their first OVC Conference game and both said they are excited.

    “I think this is a time you don’t want to lose any games – this is conference play,” Wright said. “I think we can go out here, protect home court, and we’ll be alright.”

    Dan Cusack can be reached at 581-7944 or at [email protected].

      Editorial Cartoon: Blago told you so!

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      (Drawn from the News/Chris Lee)

      (more…)

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