Struggling Eastern needs win against SIUE

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

At 1-7 in OVC play, a few things are going on right now for the Eastern men’s basketball team. The first is frustration; knowing that they are a better team than what the stat sheet shows. The other is Eastern needs to get a win against 0-8 Southern Illinois Edwardsville Saturday.

With the margin for error being so small, a win against an 0-8 team is pretty much needed for the Panthers. A loss and they will drop to the bottom of the conference with the hopes of a trip to Nashville in OVC for the tournament slipping away.

As talented as the Panthers are, a 1-7 start has been tough to swallow and the losses have had a lot of the same mistakes  and it resulted in coach Jay Spoonhour running out of things to say.

Eastern had talented shooters as it is and bringing in the likes of junior Montell Goodwin has added to the mix. But Goodwin has found himself in games where he cannot seem to miss, but then others, the shots just do not fall.

And that goes for everyone.

“It is not easy for these guys right now,” Spoonhour said. “They know they can be a good team and they know they have been a good team and it’s a tough thing.”

With junior Muusa Dama down low seemingly able to bring down any ball coming off an errant shot, or junior Terrell Lewis putting moves on guys that make them look silly, senior Demetrius McReynolds showing comfort from anywhere on the court whether it is a pull up shot or a drive to the hoop, Goodwin and sophomore Casey Teson with a pure stroke from beyond the arc, it is obvious how it can be frustrating for Eastern.

With that much talent, it is kind of shocking how they have ended up where they are at in the OVC. Some of it has been “lack of poise,” some of it has just been struggles, but a lot of it has been bad luck.

Shots just have not been falling, and that happens to any team.

“Stuff that you have been doing well, you all of a sudden can’t find it,” Spoonhour said. “It happens to pros, it happens to baseball players, it happens to golfers and it’s happening to the Panthers right now and it isn’t much fun.”

And in Eastern’s only win in OVC play this season, it shot 9-21(42.9 percent) from beyond the arc, outrebounded Eastern Kentucky 42-36, and shot 31 free throws.

It’s there for the Panthers; it is just a shame that it has taken so long to come back, you could say and it has them in must win mode and it starts Saturday against an also struggling SIUE team.

An OVC Tournament berth is still there for the Panthers’ taking, but it is going to take good play from here on out to get there, where this team belongs.

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