Analysis: Panthers flourish on offense and defense in home win


The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Deang Deang guards an opposing ball handler while preparing for an incoming screen. Eastern defeated Indiana Northwest 114-61 Monday in Lantz Arena.

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Panther defense controlled the Indiana Northwest Redhawks in a 114-61 home win.

The Panther defense helped the Panthers scored 100 points for the first time since 2016.

Juniors Deang Deang and Marvin Johnson used their defensive presence to impact the game on both ends of the floor.

Deang is emerging as a two-way floor general for the Panthers. On defense Deang controls the intensity and is the vocal leader on that side of the floor.

On offense Deang controls the tempo with his ball handling and passing ability. Deang’s numbers against Indiana Northwest spoke for themselves with six points, eight assists and five steals. Deang is the first Panther since Terrell Lewis in 2016 to record five steals in a single game.

“We need somebody that will harass the ball handlers and that’s what he (Deang) does,” said junior Mack Smith. “He doesn’t get tired and he doesn’t give in. He goes out there and actually makes our job a little bit easier.”

Johnson came off the bench and integrated his presence in the game. Johnson recorded 16 points, seven assists and four steals. Johnson’s steals were used to jumpstart the offense whether it was him finishing dunks or moving the ball around.

“He’s efficient and had a good game,” said head coach Jay Spoonhour. “He’s really good in transition and this game was a little bit more open floor which is the thing he can do. The turnovers he had you gotta live with and some of those turnovers you’ll have when he has the ball and is going fast with it.”

The Panther offense also flourished in the game. Seven players for the Panthers scored in double figures: Smith, Johnson, Jordan Skipper-Brown, Kashawn Charles, Josiah Wallace, George Dixon and Dondre Duffus.

“Everybody on this team can score,” Deang said. “Hopefully when we carry out this season and you guys can see everything and see how great this whole team can be. It’s a matter of sharing the ball and knocking the shots down.”

Smith led the game in scoring with 17 points and started his scoring with back-to back three pointers made. Smith increased his nation-leading consecutive games with a three-pointer made streak to 53.

“He (Smith) was always good without the ball and listened and tried real hard,” Spoonhour said. “He’s a consistent and really efficient player and when he gets a good look he makes it.”

The Panthers’ offensive tempo did not just score the ball well. The Panthers tallied 29 assists as a team and showed their chemistry in the game or on the sidelines. Whether it was a player making a big play in the game and his teammates cheering or the player making the unselfish play the Panthers’ chemistry is evident early in the season.

“We all get along outside the locker room and makes it easier for me to start with the starters or Dre to start the other night with the starters,” Deang said. “Everybody wants everybody to be successful and so that’s why it doesn’t matter who starts.”

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]