Olivier looking to keep streak alive.

Jehad Abbed, Assistant Sports Editor

Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week and junior forward Chris Olivier has led Eastern men’s basketball to its best conference start in nearly 17 years.

Winning awards isn’t the most important thing to Olivier right now.

“It’s a big deal, but then again it isn’t,” Olivier said.

Through the first few games of OVC play, Olivier is a top-ten player in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots.

He is the third highest scorer in the conference with 18 points per game along with an average of seven rebounds.

Olivier has been in and out of the starting line-up this season, but he seemed to really improve once he started coming off the bench.

This, again, is something that is not a big deal to him. He said that his improvements from last year or even the beginning of this season have been about his mentality.

“I’ve just been focusing on the game really, and just staying mentally prepared,” Olivier said.

During a winning streak like the seven-game ride the Panthers are on, staying focused is important to Olivier. He is also sure to maintain a routine.

Neither he nor the rest of the team is terribly superstitious according to Olivier, but he said they do try to make sure to keep everything the same.

Olivier mentioned he likes to keep music in his head to get himself pumped up for games.  While on such a streak, he keeps a similar playlist.

“I try to listen to all the same stuff,” he said. “I try doing the same things just to keep the streak going.”

Olivier said he listens to Chicago-based rapper Chief Keef as well as a personal friend of his, Reem, who released a rap mixtape recently.

Along with music, Olivier has been trying to be consistent about the shoes he wears while Eastern is continuing its winning ways.  He has been wearing his Air Jordan XIII’s throughout most of the season.

“I got the Jordan IV’s that came out on Saturday,” Olivier said. “I’m going to wait to break those out for when we play Murray State.”

Both Murray State and Eastern Kentucky are two teams that he is looking forward to playing.

Murray State has the best overall record of the 12 OVC teams with 13 wins and four losses. Their success is a big reason Olivier is eager to play them.

Eastern Kentucky is the next game on the schedule for the Panthers. They are also undefeated in the conference, which may be a little more motivation for Olivier.

“I didn’t have a good game against EKU last year,” He said. “I owe them one.”

Olivier is the Panthers’ leading scorer this semester while shooting nearly 56-percent for the season so far.  He recognizes that he has been playing well, but insists that he is not playing as well as he could.

“I’ve still got better games to go,” Olivier said.

He said that since playing against Cleveland State and Indiana State that his confidence has just been “up there.”

Even with high confidence, Olivier attributes much of his successful to the rest of the team.

He believes that he wouldn’t be playing as well without them; therefore he does not want to let them down. He recognizes that his teammates benefit from his positive impact when he is on the floor.

“When teams double-team me, it opens up the floor for other people,” Olivier said.

He mentioned that Eastern’s leading three-point shooter and junior guard LeTrell Viser gets a lot of open threes from it.

Olivier said the team is really enjoying everything this year compared to the struggles the team faced last year.

The Panthers have accumulated ten wins through 16 games so far while the only won 11 through the entire 2013-2014 season.

Olivier noted the fact that the rest of the OVC can’t just overlook Eastern anymore.

“I’m happy to get my name out there,” He said. “And get recognition for all the hard work we’ve been putting in.”

Jehad Abbed can be reached at 217-581-2812 or [email protected].