Coach of the Year: Jay Spoonhour

Head+coach%2C+Jay+Spoonhour%2C+goes+over+a+game+plan+with+his+team+in+one+of+the+regular+season+games+in+Lantz+Arena.+Spoonhour+and+the+Panthers+ended+the+season+with+a+18-15+record.

Kevin Hall

Head coach, Jay Spoonhour, goes over a game plan with his team in one of the regular season games in Lantz Arena. Spoonhour and the Panthers ended the season with a 18-15 record.

Jehad Abbed, Assistant Sports Editor

The Daily Eastern News staff has chosen Eastern men’s basketball coach Jay Spoonhour as the 2014-2015 Coach of the Year.

Spoonhour entered his third year as head coach for the Panthers with a returning core group of players along with three additions in freshman guard Cornell Johnston, junior guard LeTrell Viser and junior forward Trae Anderson.

Spoonhour led Eastern to an 18-15 record after recording the school’s best Ohio Valley Conference start in more than 15 years when the Panthers went on one of the nation’s top winning streaks at nine games.

The Panthers took down Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 78-66, in Nashville, winning their first conference tournament game since 2010 when Eastern beat Eastern Kentucky University, 68-61, at Lantz Arena.

Spoonhour led his team into the Collegeinsider.com tournament where the Panthers won Eastern’s first postseason basketball game in the school’s history as a Division-I program.

Spoonhour had 22 combined wins in his first two seasons as the Panthers’ head coach while losing 40 games between the two seasons. This is Eastern’s first winning season since 2009-2010 when the team recorded 19 wins and 12 losses.

Spoonhour led the second-best defense in the conference this year. The Panthers allowed just less than 65 points per game, just a point behind the top OVC defense in Eastern Kentucky which allowed an average of 63.6 points per game.

The Panthers were a top team in most other defensive categories including field-goal percentage defense, three-point percentage defense and blocked shots.

Eastern was the second-leading team in field goal percentage defense, forcing opponents to shoot under 42-percent on average and under 35-percent from behind the 3-point line.

Spoonhour’s defense averaged a conference third-best 4.3 blocks per game just behind Southeast Missouri State University at 4.4 per game.

The Panthers’ offense was a top five team in the OVC for three-point percentage shooting over 37 percent on the year.

Spoonhour brought the spirit of Panther basketball back to Lantz Arena when the Panthers hosted the eventual conference champion Murray State Racers on the tail end of their nine-game winning streak.

Lantz filled with students and citizens of Charleston to watch Spoonhour’s defensive minded Panthers take on the Racers, filling the arena like most current students have never witnessed before.

Spoonhour heads into his fourth season with the Panthers in the fall.

 

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