Goodwin, Starks key players for Panthers

Maher Kawash, Basketball Reporter


It is never an easy task for a college basketball team to go without one of its best players, especially when it comes time for conference play.

But, that is what the Eastern men’s basketball team has been dealt as senior guard Terrell Lewis continues to sit on the sideline with an ankle injury he suffered against Green Bay Dec. 6.

The Panthers have fared pretty well in that span, winning four of seven games without the veteran presence of Lewis.

What hurts the most about it is just how much time Lewis logged on the court each game due to the lack of depth at point guard as well as his overall dominance.

But, with the absence of one player opens the opportunity to shine for someone else.

For Eastern, it has been a widespread effort in what has been a desperate search for consistency, especially on offense.

In the span of the last seven games, it is Montell Goodwin filling the role as the number one scoring option for the Panthers.

Heading into the season, that was already expected from Goodwin as he comes off a year in which he averaged about 14 points per game.

It is more of the same in his second campaign with Eastern, as his 13.6 points per game has found some assistance from teammates.

While the Panthers rank last in scoring in the Ohio Valley Conference, Jajuan Starks has still another dominant presence as he averages about 12 points each game.

Between Starks and Goodwin trying to space out the offense, it is the presence of big-man Muusa Dama that usually makes the difference as he snags boards and posts about 10 points per game.

But, when taking a look at the last seven games specifically, it appears that Goodwin has picked up most of the offense’s slack.

After not scoring more than 14 points in all games with Lewis on the court, Goodwin has since notched three 20-point games.

He has taken double-digit shot attempts in all seven games, and has depended largely on the three-point shot.

There have been some negatives, such as his 1-6 outing from deep in the team’s last game against Eastern Kentucky, but there have also been positives, like when he made five three-pointers against Austin Peay and Saint Francis.

There is not one sole answer for the Panthers offensive woes without Lewis, but as seen in their recent four wins, it comes down to multiple options coming through.

Coming into the season, the expectations may have been a bit higher considering the fact that Eastern has four of its five starters back from a year ago as well as the highly-touted additions of the transfers like Starks and Jackson.

It is unknown when Lewis will be back on the court and logging 30-plus minutes each night for the Panthers, but until then the team gears up for the core of its OVC slate, starting with Tennessee State coming to town Thursday night.

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