Men’s basketball team off to slow start

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

Senior wing Trae Anderson is 48.6 percent in field goals and 76.2 percent from the arc with 50 points scored so far this season.
Senior wing Trae Anderson is 48.6 percent in field goals and 76.2 percent from the arc with 50 points scored so far this season.

The Eastern men’s basketball team has gotten off to a bleak start to begin the season as they hold a 0-4 record heading into the final two games of their home stand.

The Panthers are coming off an 81-72 loss against Green Bay where they held the lead for the majority of the first 30 minutes of the game, but fell behind after late comeback from the Phoenix.

The late surge from Green Bay sent Eastern to another disappointing loss on the season as they are still searching for their first victory of the season.

The team came into the season with plenty of expectations of improvement as they opened the season with one of the newest rosters in the NCAA.

The Panthers brought on six freshman and three transfers who would be expected to make significant contributions to the team’s improvement this year.

Although they have struggled to finish games and earn a victory on the season, the team is gaining chemistry with each minute on the court together.

After ranking 7th in the nation with most newcomers on a roster, chemistry will be the x-factor of the Panthers’ success.

Junior A.J. Riley has been a large part of the team’s success thus far as he is averaging a team leading 17 points per game.

Riley was one of the three transfers for Eastern as he previously played at John A. Logan College where he led his team to the NJCAA Tournament as a sophomore.

Riley scored a season-high 25 points in the loss to Green Bay.

Another key contributor has been sophomore Cornell Johnston, who is coming off a strong freshman season.

Johnston was the only EIU player to start all 33 games last season even though he was just a freshman.

Johnston is also looking to improve off a year where he earned OVC Freshman of the Year, OVC All-Newcomer team, as well as EIU Newcomer of the year.

Johnston is averaging six points and three assists per game while averaging 34 minutes played each game.

Although Johnston is just a sophomore, he continues to be one of the proven leaders of this young Eastern team, as they carry just four seniors on the team.

The Panthers will now move their focus to Indiana State as they will host the Sycamores on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at home.

Indiana State will come into Lantz Arena boasting a 3-2 record on the season, while coming off a 67-66 victory over Hofstra.

Eastern will continue to search for that first victory of the season as they continue to build on the young talent they have.

 

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]