The Eastern men’s basketball took part in OVC Basketball Media Day on Monday, as head coach Jay Spoonhour and senior guard Mack Smith provided updates on the team as the start of the season approaches.
The Panthers are going to open the season on the road on Nov. 25 against No. 7 Wisconsin.
Spoonhour said that as the season draws nearer, COVID-19 will continue to loom over things.
“We’ve had what feel like pretty normal practices,” he said. “You test and you kind of hold your breath on that all the time and hope guys are staying healthy when they get away from you. I think before long when we go to three tests a week, it’ll get a bit more nerve-racking. You’re thinking about those things as much as you think about what you need to run on offense or defense.”
The Panthers’ schedule in the 2020-21 season features three big non-conference games. There is of course the opener with Wisconsin, and also matchups with Marquette and Butler. Spoonhour said that when making the schedule, trying to build some revenue was a major factor, moreso than the difficulty of the games. Eastern lost out on a game with Kansas that would have paid them handsomely.
“You have to generate revenue with your schedule,” he said. “We lost a big game that would’ve paid us early on in the year, so we had to scramble to just try to generate as much revenue as we could. It’s not as though you would ever want to start, nor should you start your season at Wisconsin and then go to Marquette and then go to Butler.”
Smith also spoke with the media Monday, and he shared his feelings about the season finally approaching and what the hardest part of dealing with COVID-19 over the past several months.
“I had to adjust my lifestyle, because as everybody knows there were no gyms open, we had to stay in the house, and the neighborhood I lived in wasn’t the best, so my grandma and my mom, they didn’t want me to go down to the park,” he said. “When I was able to, they had put chains on the rims so we couldn’t shoot the ball, and it was just hard. I had to make like homemade weights in the backyard. I actually bought a goal and put it in the driveway, and I just had to maneuver around things like that.”
Smith was named to the preseason All-OVC team last week, joining teammate Josiah Wallace on the honorary squad. Smith will also head into the season having made a three pointer in 81 straight games, the second-longest streak in NCAA Division I history.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]