The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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The Panthers are excited for their upcoming season

The Panthers return six players for the season, one of the being Sincere Malone (5).

The Panthers are returning only six players to their men’s basketball team this year, while nine of their players are fresh faces.

“We’re very excited,” Head Coach Marty Simmons said. “I think everybody, every team, every coach gets excited when the regular season starts. I think if you were to ask the players, they’d tell you the same.”

Simmons also spoke highly of the team’s preparation. “We’ve done really well,” Simmons said. “I think any time you see so many new players on a roster it may take time to gel and to build chemistry. I think this group has done it quicker.”

Defense is something that Simmons wants to emphasize for this year.

“We’ve got athleticism, we’ve got length, quickness, speed,” Simmons remarked. “For us to be successful, it starts on the defensive end, so we’ve put emphasis on fundamentals, on positioning, communication. A strong foundation on that end gives us a chance to be successful.”

One of the returning faces from last season is sophomore forward Sincere Malone.

“A couple guys I’ve known since elementary school days,” Malone said. “Everybody else just meshed well. It was easy adapting. We motivate each other, push each other. It’s a great environment.”

Last year, Malone led the team with 151 rebounds, averaging 4.9 rebounds per game. Malone also led the team with 62 steals last season.

“Getting my conditioning and breathing on point was one thing,” Malone said. “Another thing was consistently making shots at the perimeter.”

Last year, Malone went 4-31 from beyond the arc.

The lone newcomer that is not a transfer is freshman guard Isaiah Griffin. Griffin is from Orange, New Jersey and went to high school at The Patrick School.

“It’s kind of fun,” Griffin said. “I get to learn from the older guys. They’re all my big brothers. They show me the ins-and-outs and how to be a collegiate athlete for the first time.”

For Griffin, the biggest difference between high school and college was the change in physicality and in speed.

“As I’m progressing though, the game is slowing down for me,” Griffin said.

The Panthers first game will be in Champaign on Monday against the University of Illinois at 7 p.m.

“Can’t wait to be out there with all the lights,” Griffin said. “With all the fans. Even the hostile environments. I’m ready to be there with my teammates.”

Maurice Phipps can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Maurice Phipps, Sports Reporter
Maurice Phipps can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812.
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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