Panthers move toward potential start of season

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The NCAA announced last week that Nov. 25 would be the date that the 2020-21 college basketball season could potentially begin.

For the Eastern women’s basketball team, this starting date will be an opportunity to pick up where they left off last season when they finished fourth in the OVC.

“We’re going to be able to play seven non-conference games, which is great,” Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said. “I think overall that its a good thing and we’re excited to get to our season.”

The Panthers went 7-6 in their non-conference matchups last season. It was in these games that forward Abby Wahl, then a sophomore, began to show the improvements that she made following her freshmen season.

Before last season, Bollant said he thought Wahl was a candidate for a breakout season. She made his prediction come true, ranking 13th in the OVC in scoring and seventh in field goal percentage.

Bollant said he has a couple of players in mind that can make a similar jump this season: Morgan Litwiller and Kira Arthofer.

“In our early practices, those two have really impressed me with their energy and their consistency, and I think they can both take a big step this year,” he said.

As a freshman last season, Litwiller appeared in 30 games and started 10. She averaged 5.8 points and 3 rebounds per game.

Litwiller ranked second on the team in three point percentage (.359) and scored a season-high 18 points against Austin Peay on Feb. 1.

Arthofer was a major part of the offense last season as a sophomore, serving as the Panthers’ point guard and ranking fourth in the OVC with 3.8 assists per game.

She was also one of the team’s top defenders, ranking third in the OVC with 2.1 steals per game.

Scoring is the area where Arthofer has not contributed as much, finishing seventh on the team with 3.5 points per game.

Last season’s freshman class of Litwiller, Lariah Washington and Paige Schumann all contributed on the court. Bollant said he has been impressed so far with this season’s freshmen class of Haley Cameron, Jacqueline Maulucci, Parker Stafford and Alana Vinson, albeit in limited practice time.

“They’ve been a little better than maybe what I expected,” Bollant said. “They’re all really competitive, they’re all smart, they pick things up quickly. All four of them have had days where they’ve looked really, really good and really not looked like freshmen. Of course there’s going to be ups and downs, we understand that. But overall I’ve been very happy with the four of them and I think they’ll continue to get better.”

 

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