Panthers continue practices as season nears

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The 2020-21 college basketball season is on the horizon, but the Eastern men’s basketball team does not yet have a schedule in place.

The start of the season was pushed back from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25, causing many teams to have to rework their non-conference schedules.

Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour said the OVC has announced a 20-game conference schedule, which allows Eastern to play five non-conference games.

A couple of major non-conference games that were scheduled were a Nov. 16 matchup against Kansas, which is before the new start date, and a game against Butler Dec. 2.

He said finding a non-conference schedule is a fluid process that is still ongoing.

“It changes all the time,” he said. “That’s not very many (non-conference) games, so somewhere between really the beginning on December and finals week is when we’ll get all of our five games in. I’m hopeful that we can hang on to the Butler game, and Western Illinois and some of those, but it’s going to be hard to all of them for sure.”

In the meantime, Spoonhour said the team is continuing to practice, albeit in a different way to accommodate COVID-19 protocols and allow for distancing between players.

“It’s fairly normal. The big thing right now is you just try to keep guys separated as much as you can and you try to wear your mask as much as you can, and that limits you,” he said. “Really, the number one concern right now, probably even more than trying to get good at basketball, is trying to stay healthy. You’ve got to figure out a way to do both.”

“We’re not doing as much one on one, offense versus defense. We’re trying to limit the amount of contact you have until it’s absolutely necessary,” Spoonhour said. “We’re talking a lot of theory right now, and we’re trying to go over the way we want to play and the things we want to do, but  we’re not doing live play. So that’s a pretty big change right now.”

There is also a new look to the roster this year. The Panthers did not have any underclassmen on the team last season and now have four freshmen and five transfers joining seven seniors returning from last season.

Spoonhour said he expects the new transfers to make an impact on the senior-laden team.

“All of those guys, they’re coming in to a team full of seniors and they’re going to push for major minutes. All of them will,” he said. “That’s a good thing because the seniors we have are good players.”

He also said he has liked what he has seen from the freshmen

“All the freshmen have done a really nice job,” Spoonhour said. “They knew they were coming on to a senior-laden team, and I don’t care if you’re a freshman or senior. It doesn’t matter. If you’re good enough, you’re going to play. They’ve done a good job just stepping right in and trying to demand some attention.”


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