Hurt Panthers finding ways to make things work


Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Senior Montell Goodwin dribbles around an Illinois defender in the Panthers exhibition win over the Illini Nov. 3. Goodwin is looking to be a key player for the injury-rocked Panthers when they host Tennessee State Thursday at Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor


Coach Jay Spoonhour said with what the men’s basketball team has been dealing with, their wins will not be pretty.

Eastern hosts Tennessee State Thursday night to open a four-game home stand.

Two players, senior Terrell Lewis and junior D’Angelo Jackson, who are known for making plays and getting shots for other players are sidelined with left ankle injuries.

Right now, Eastern has players jumping into roles that they are not used to. Sophomore guard Logan Koch thought he might be redshirting, but ended up playing 19, 27 and 29 minutes in the three road games Eastern had last week.

“We’re trying to make it easier on them,” Spoonhour said. “Basketball isn’t really a next-man-up sport. Baseball is, football kind of is. Basketball is not. Guys have to change their game, which is not a good thing. But they’re trying to do it. We’re doing what it is what we have to do to stay in them.”

Lewis and Jackson combined for 66 assists in the 20 combined games they played together, with senior Montell Goodwin being the only other assist-heavy player.

Spoonhour does not expect the Panthers to have to try and do what Lewis and Goodwin do, but he did say that that everyone needs to do better and what their individual roles are.

“Everybody just has to do a little bit better job,” Spoonhour said. “Better screening, better rebounding, better everything.”

For Goodwin, his minutes have not changed drastically, still playing mid 30 minutes, but he has tried to bring more to the table.

He is trying to rebound more, he said. He had the most rebounds in Eastern’s win against Morehead State with six and third most against Eastern Kentucky with six as well.

Goodwin became a “lead by example” type of player in his two years here, but without Lewis there, Goodwin became more vocal.

“I feel like I’m handling it pretty well right now,” he said. “Coach wanted me to speak up and be more vocal, orchestrate the offense, try to get guys in certain spots. I’m trying to rebound more, get more assists and just help the team win.”

He also has eight double-digit point games in a row.

With the little added pressure, Goodwin said what he is learning about himself now and playing the way he is, makes him feel like he can bring more to the table once Lewis and Jackson return.

“I feel more confident and my teammates are gaining confidence (having to adjust),” he said.

After picking up two wins on a four-game road trip, coming home for four in a row is good timing for the Panthers. Spoonhour did not stress any added importance on these games, saying “they all count the same.”

“You feel like you have a chance that you can do something,” Spoonhour said. “The teams we’re playing are awful good.”

The Panthers have not been in Lantz Arena since Dec. 21 when they beat Saint Francis 74-38 and Eastern’s last two wins were its first out of 11 tries. The non-conference schedule was tough for the Panthers and coming home gives them something to look forward to.

“When you go win a couple on the road, that puts you ahead of the ball game,” Spoonhour said. “You’re always talking about defending home court.”

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

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