Men’s basketball team in need of win


Sean Hastings

Junior D’Angelo Jackson (front) and senior Muusa Dama (back) guard Southern Indiana’s Alex Stein in the Panthers’ loss Monday in Lantz Arena. Eastern opens its regular season on the road at Nebraska.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s basketball team seemed to set the tone of how this season was going to go after a win against Illinois, but have dropped three games in a row since then.

Only two of them have counted, though. Eastern lost its second exhibition game to Southern Indiana and its first two games of the regular season to Nebraska and Western Illinois.

All three losses were by four points or less. Maybe the tone the Panthers set is still alive, but mistakes at the end of the game cost them against Nebraska and Western.

The Panthers blew a seven-point lead in the final six minutes of Wednesday’s game against Western as Dalan Ancrum scored 11 of his 21 points over the final 5:12 of the game to get Western the win.

The Panthers are home Friday against Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis. The Jaguars are 1-1 after a 15-point loss to Bradley Saturday and a 75-43 win over Anderson University Monday.

The 0-2 Panthers have come up close in both of its losses and have seemed to find an impact player to complement last year’s returners.

Junior transfer Jajuan Starks has made his presence known at Eastern, and so far, in Division I basketball.

In the Panthers’ loss to Western, he scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Starks, along with the other junior transfers, were brought in to be guys who can drive to the basket, draw fouls and score in the paint.

Starks is Eastern’s leading scorer with 27 points through the first two regular season games. Seniors Montell Goodwin, Terrell Lewis and Muusa Dama have been playing close to what is expected, but more is needed.

Spoonhour said following the loss to Western that the problem was everyone is trying to do too much. Eastern took some shots that were not there and just so happened to run into a strong defensive team in the paint.

Eastern had eight shots blocked and was only able to block two of its own.

Spoonhour has spoken with confidence and belief that the Panthers are going to figure it out and get back on track.

Part of it has been shots simply not falling, some has been a little bit of lack of execution, something they will fix he said.

Half of Eastern’s team is new and it is still in the “figuring it out” phase on how to play together. Last year, the Panthers had a plethora of shooters and that was their style of play. It did not work and adapting to a somewhat new style is taking time.

Spoonhour has said they should be a little bit further along, but veteran leadership will turn it around.

Against Illinois, Goodwin stepped up in the second half and had four steals to help Eastern get the win. The Panthers as a team forced 19 as a team in the game and 15 in the second half alone.

It has been a trend in the first couple games, but putting together a complete one is what the team has been looking for.

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