Challenging season opener is in store

The Eastern women’s basketball team played and defeated Western Michigan last season, but none of the coaches or players are looking at that game to guess how they will do Friday.

Western Michigan returns with its two leading scorers from last season, Miame Giden and Ebony Cleary. The Panthers did not play against Cleary last season because she was ineligible at that time.

Both players are even better this season, according to Eastern head coach Brady Sallee; in fact, Sallee said the whole team is much more experienced.

“It’s about as different of a match-up from one year to the next as you can get,” Sallee said.

The players are excited to go up against a Mid-American Conference team.

Actually, they are just excited to play against players who are not their teammates.

“They’re in the MAC so it should be good competition,” sophomore guard Ta’Kenya Nixon said.

Sallee said he is excited to see his team in action.

“I’m excited to get this group under the lights and see how they perform,” Sallee said. “I like my team. I’m eager to see how we stack up.”

Starting with WMU, and against every other opponent this season, Sallee said he is going to be looking for his team to be the hardest working team on the court.

“Without that I don’t think we can talk about much else really,” Sallee said. “That by far is first and second of what I’m looking for.”

For the new players on the team, Nixon said she wants to see them come out and play relaxed.

Nixon said she hopes the freshmen play like she knows they can.

Junior forward Chantelle Pressley said she expects freshmen such as Jessica Parker,

Jordyne Crunk and Taryn Olson to make and impact on the floor.

Pressley said she expects Parker to provide good three-point shooting. She said Crunk could get time at the point guard position, while Olson will help the team with a taller presence.

Pressley said she will have the duty of guarding one of the best players on the floor for

WMU, Giden. Pressley said the coaches have been watching tape of Giden with her.

“I played against her last year and we did a pretty good job holding her under her average,” Pressley said.

This season, Sallee said Giden is going to be as good of a player as the Panthers will play one-on-one.

“She can score inside and out, she can shoot the three,” Sallee said. “She can really go get it.”

No matter what team the Panthers are playing, Nixon said they will be prepared.

“We’re ready for a good game,” Nixon said.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 581-7944 or [email protected]