The Eastern men’s basketball team has now lost four straight games and is steadily seeing its Ohio Valley Conference tournament hopes slip away.
But what has been the problem?
It all begins with the turnovers.
Eastern turned the ball over a costly 18 times this past weekend against Southeast Missouri State, and it led to 24 points for the opponent as well as the Panthers fourth straight loss.
The Panthers have averaged about 12 turnovers per game throughout this season, but in the past four games that has been surpassed.
Eastern has turned the ball over at least 14 times in three of its last four games, and it has proven to be costly as four losses have followed.
Panthers coach Jay Spoonhour has said how important it is to not allow opponents so many second chance points, and that also begins with the rebounding.
Eastern is averaging about five more rebounds than last season’s 33 per game average, but the difference has been in the margin.
Last season the Panthers were on average being outrebounded by five each game, and now the difference from their opponents is just one.
While the numbers have improved, the little mistakes are proving to be the difference.
Spoonhour has stressed that the team’s big man, junior Muusa Dama, has only been playing basketball since his junior year of high school, so little mistakes are bound to come.
But he has said how those little mistakes are things that can be fixed, it’s just that some of the little mistakes from earlier in the season are still plaguing the team.
As Dama only continues to grow in the paint, as he has despite the team’s losing streak, the Panthers will be able to focus on turnovers and second chance points.
Time is essentially running out on the Panthers chances to crack the top eight of the conference standings and earn a berth in the postseason tournament, but there is hope.
Despite a recent stretch plagued by turnovers and little mistakes, the Panthers have been right there in all four games.
There has not been an over dominating loss for Eastern and that gives some upside.
For example, the Panthers still had five players score in double-figures in the loss against SEMO, but just could not keep up.
If there is a problem to have at this point in the college basketball season it may just be better to have it be these little things.
There is no easy road to finish the season for any team in the conference, and the Panthers more than anyone could use a mid-conference schedule winning streak such as it has in the past two years.
Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]