Panthers to resume practices Tuesday

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern women’s basketball team will be back together on the court Tuesday for the first time since the OVC Tournament in March.

The Panthers are coming off a season in which they went 19-12 with a conference record of 12-6, finishing fourth in the OVC and advancing to the semifinals of the OVC Tournament. It was the Panthers’ best season the 2012-13 campaign, in which they went 20-12.

Head coach Matt Bollant said that he is happy to be back on campus with the team after so much time away from the court.

“I’m just excited to be back with our team, excited for the season to hit,” he said.

Like many people, Bollant said that he originally did not expect the COVID-19 pandemic to last this long, possibly affecting the start of the 2020-21 season.

“I did not anticipate it going this long,” he said. “I certainly thought it would affect the spring, and thought we’d be okay in the summer and certainly thought we’d be okay in the fall, but it’s lasted.”

As of now, the season is still scheduled to begin on time, but COVID-19 has taken away a large amount of practice time from the team in recent months.

“Typically, we’d give them a couple of weeks off after the season and then we’re back in the gym until near graduation, and then we have six weeks with them in the summer as well, and we haven’t been able to have any of that,” Bollant said.

Despite the time off, Bollant said he expects the team to come back and practice hard right away.

“I’m not really someone who likes to ease into things,” he said. “I like to go hard, be intense, so we’ll try to do that the best we can.”

The team is allowed to practice on the court for four hours per week and put in four more hours of weights and conditioning. Bollant said that the staff will be sensitive to where players are at when it comes to conditioning, but he thinks they have done a good job staying in shape during the extended offseason.

“I think our players have done a good job controling what they can control and they look fit and they look ready to go, but we’ll learn a little more as we’re on the court tomorrow.”

Another issue created by the lack of practice over the summer was the in ability to get the incoming freshmen on the court and working with their new teammates.

Bollant said that he is not too concerned about that since the team has more veteran leaders on this season.

“It’s been different for the freshmen coming in, but thankfully we have really good leaders and we have a really strong program, just our cultures are really good,” he said. “It’s certainly the best nucleus that we have had. We finished fourth in our league and returned everybody but one.”

The season is scheduled to begin on Nov. 10 when the Panthers host Indiana State.


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]