OVC Basketball Media Day was held virtually Nov. 9 on the heels of the announcement of the basketball schedules last week.
The Eastern women’s basketball team will open its against UIC on Nov. 25, and Associate Head Coach Kyley Simmons and senior guard Karle Pace participated in media day activities for the Panthers.
“We’re just extremely excited to get the year started,” Simmons said. “We’ve been working hard, our girls in the gym, we’ve got a lot of returners back, and I think that’s exciting for us, to be more veteran. The first three years here we haven’t had that.”
Simmons has been a member of head coach Matt Bollant’s staff since the start of his time in Eastern in April 2017.
Simmons also spoke on the vast improvements the team has made over the last several seasons, going from last place in the OVC in 2017-18 to fourth place just last season.
“I would just say that the culture is where it’s at,” she said. “It’s not easy to build a culture of high-quality, character kids, and that’s something that we’ve really taken pride in in our recruiting process. It’s been fun to see the kids that we’ve recruited be able to grow our culture and our program on and off the court.”
Senior guard Karle Pace also spoke during media day, talking about the goals for the season for both herself and the team.
“Personally, I’m just excited that we’re actually having a season this year,” Pace said. “There was times when I thought we wouldn’t have a season and it was just kind of nerve-racking. And now it’s actually coming up.”
Pace also spoke about the challenges faced throughout the spring and summer as normal team activities were interrupted by COVID-19.
“The hardest part for me was not having a lot of gym access,” she said. “Usually after the season you have a little break that you take, but never that long of a time that I wasn’t able to be in the gym.”
In addition to individual challenges, Pace said it was also difficult being away from her teammates for so long.
“It was just a long time for us to not have actually been together,” she said. “So that was pretty hard for me.”
After all that time away, Pace and the Panthers will be back on the court at home in just two weeks.
They will begin conference play on Dec. 18.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]