Analysis: 3 things for men’s basketball to execute

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s men’s basketball team is coming off a seven-game stretch where the games have been decided by single figures.

The Panthers are 2-5 in those games with their wins coming at home against Southeast Missouri and Morehead State.

That stretch, if you’ve followed, shows that the team is better than these numbers, but here are things that if executed could give the Panthers a chance to finish conference play strong and have momentum going into the OVC Tournament.

Less turnovers, more assists

Before this seven-game stretch the Panthers proved that when they share the ball and make plays for others they are a dangerous team. Against Jacksonville State and Tennessee-Martin the Panthers averaged 22 assists while committing 11 turnovers, securing a double digit win.

The Panthers are averaging 12.9 assists during this seven-game stretch, while being held to just single-digit assist totals in three of those games.

In those seven games the Panthers turned the ball over 12.3 times a game. These turnovers have been from dribbling the ball right into a defender, throwing poor passes and being careless with the ball.

Head coach Jay Spoonhour has stated multiple times throughout the season his team is a much better team when they share the ball and commit less turnovers.

Those plays are essentially what can lose or win basketball games for a team.

The Panthers have players such as George Dixon, Mack Smith, Marvin Johnson and Shareef Smith who are all proven passing playmakers, but are also prone to making mistakes. Those results have shown in Eastern’s final scores and for some in their individual statistics.

Wallace’s consistency

In this seven-game stretch junior Josiah Wallace put himself in opportunities to score. Wallace is shooting an overall 46 percent from the field and averaged 18.9 points per game. In Eastern’s two wins he averaged 18 points.

If you look at the box scores there are games where he has scored over 20 points and also times where he’s taken over 20 shots, but that is what scorers do. There is a saying that suggests to be a good or leading scorer that you have to have short-term memory and worry about the next play.

Wallace’s arsenal of scoring comes from mainly midrange and three-pointers, but it expands to his ability to drive the ball inside and make tough floaters in the lane. If Wallace’s consistency continues the Panthers have their clear weapon while still having the scoring abilities such as Mack Smith and Dixon to be relied on when needed.

Skipper-Brown’s threat as a two-way player

All season long junior Jordan Skipper-Brown has been known as a rim-protector for the Panthers with 28 blocks, the second-most on the team. Particularly in the recent three-game homestand Skipper-Brown showed his ability to be a threat on both ends of the floor.

Skipper-Brown averaged 9.3 points per game and seven rebounds per game during that stretch. Skipper-Brown’s scoring came from being able to muscle his way into the paint and being open for dunks. His rebounds came from his positioning and being able to be in the right spot and secure the ball.

Skipper-Brown’s ability to be a threat ties back in to the Panthers having to make assists and not turn the ball over. If given the ball, Skipper-Brown has shown he can finish and score.

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