Eastern women’s basketball team ready for season


Jason Howell

Junior forward Erica Brown goes up for the layup during the Panthers' 66-63 loss against Austin Peay on Jan. 24 in Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team will start their 2015-2016 season this week with some new faces, some old, and also without some from last year.

The Panthers lost Sabina Oroszova, DeAnna Willis and Arnisha Thomas to graduation, but the Panthers added five freshmen to the roster. Eastern also had a few freshmen from last year not return.

Freshmen Kayla Steward, Karina Chandra, Carmen Tellez, Halle Stull and Brittin Boyer were added to the roster.

Junior Phylicia Johnson, sophomore Grace Lennox, junior Erica Brown, sophomore Mariah Madison, red-shirt senior Shakita Cox, sophomore Jalisha Smith and senior Alece Shumpert are all returning for the Panthers this year.

Coach Debbie Black is also back as head coach of the team.

Black said the team is excited to get the season under way.

“We have a slogan for this team, it’s called energy and effort,” Black said. “That, I think is what I hope is going to epitomize my team because if they can give me energy and effort everyday, and it started in June when we came back as group and into August and now preseason and now we start on Friday.”

Black said the team is feeling pretty good about themselves right now.

The last two year’s offense’s revolved around Oroszova, which is something that is going to change for the Panthers this year.

Black said they are going to share the ball more this year and establish that they have a lot of different weapons and get a lot of players involved in scoring.

Brown is in her junior year and Black said she is expecting a big year from her in helping replace the role of Oroszova, but also said it will be a group effort.

“That’s what I like about this year, that we’re not going to have to stare at one player and try to get her the ball,” Black said. “I think Erica (Brown) is going to have to take somewhere between 12 and 15 shots a game for us to be productive. But I think we’re going to have lot of players around her as well.”

Black added that the team is going to be more aggressive this year and attack the basket more than the did last year.

Lennox was the team’s starting point guard last year, and will be looking to score more this year and lead the team offensively and defensively according to Black.

Lennox went home over the summer, home being Hobart, Tasmania and worked on her shooting game.

The Panthers will open their season on Friday the 13th against Indiana-Purdue University in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost to them last year.

“We play on Friday the 13th, hopefully that’s a lucky day for us,” Black said. “That will be a great game.”

Another big game for the Panthers this year will be Nov. 17 when they take on Loyola-Chicago, a team coached by former WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes.

The Panthers will play four games in seven days to start the season and Black said the team is hoping to get as much support as they can for the home opener on Friday.

The Panthers will be playing a lot of teams in the OVC who all have different styles of playing. Black said the non-conference games they play before that will help them when that part of the season comes.

OVC play starts New Year’s Eve when the Panthers will travel to Tennessee Tech. Eastern’s first home OVC game will be Jan. 6 against Tennessee State.

Eastern is picked to finish eighth in the OVC standings according to Media OVC Preseason rankings.


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]