Men’s basketball team searching for special stretch

Maher Kawash, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team is going through its fair share of struggles this season, but it may be following a similar trend as years past.

Since the 2014-15 campaign, the Panthers have followed a nearly identical rollercoaster-type feel to their seasons consisting with a slow start, then an up and down stretch, before a final streak in Ohio Valley Conference play that brings them back into contention for a tournament spot.

In the 2014 season, Eastern had one of its best runs despite a 3-6 start to the season as the Panthers rallied through their conference slate to win for a nine-game winning streak.

That team went on to finish with a positive 18-15 record as well as a solid playoff run with a second-round exit which was still enough for a berth in the postseason tournament.

The 2015-16 Panthers went through a bit more of a struggle and tougher end to the season, but nonetheless, still had a key winning streak behind their OVC tournament berth.

In that campaign, Eastern used a five-game winning streak at the most important part of its conference slate in an effort to notch that berth before getting beat by a tough Murray State squad.

Some might remember that last year the Panthers did not make the tournament, though.

And it fell back on one key stretch of its season again.

In this case, though, it is when it all derailed for Eastern as they lost eight of nine OVC games to seemingly end any chance at a tournament berth.

Fast forward to the present, and here the team is with a chance to head in either direction.

Unluckily, the Panthers face this upcoming stretch without two of their best players as senior Terrell Lewis and junior D’Angelo Jackson continue to nurse injuries.

There is much more depth on this team than some of the past few seasons so there is that chance still, but it’s also worth noting what opponents are on the slate for the next few games.

The good news is there are two straight home games to start that off as well as the fact that those two teams, Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri, are going through many of the same struggles Eastern is.

The bad news is the next handful of games also includes some of the better teams in the OVC with matchups against Belmont, Tennessee Tech, and Jacksonville State.

It is proving to be one of the deeper years this conference has seen though, with plenty of teams showing they can compete, so if Eastern is going to hit its stride, there is no better time than now.

Time is certainly on the Panthers’ side too as they still are just six games into the lengthy conference slate, but with that depth of the conference this season, there may not be much more time to right the ship.

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