Matthew Evarts Staff Writer
October is here and with it comes the start of the 2018-2019 season for the Eastern Warrior’s men’s basketball team. The team has very high hopes for this season after coming off two straight LEC Championships and having two trips to the Division 3 NCAA tournaments. Last season they made the NCAA tournament and were riding high after winning the LEC championship. In the first round, they defeated Johnson and Whales, then proceeded to get out-rebounded by Middlebury college and eventually lost by a score 83-58. This was a disappointing way to end the season after so much had been put into their journey. Looking back at last season, the biggest thing that the team needs to improve on is definitely the rebounding. Last season they were giving up 35 rebounds a game and that problem reared its head in the tournament game against Middlebury College—Eastern got out-rebounded 54 to 26. That can’t happen if the team plans to make a run for the championship this year.
The team is taking a big hit this season after losing their top two scorers from last year in Tarchee Brown who averaged 19.4 points per game (PPG) while shooting 52% from the field and Kendall Marquez who averaged 13.3 PPG but was a great spacer for the team with his perimeter shooting. The team hopes that junior guard Carlos Gonzalez and sophomore Cory Muckle can fill those roles this year and bring a spark into the lineup. They also need the supporting players to take steps to improve scoring. “This is a group of hardworking guys who are all trying to get to one place and that is holding up the championship at the end of the year,” stated senior Guard Donny Craig, talking about the players on the team this year. This year there will be eight returning players from last year’s LEC championship winning team and all of them look to bring leadership to the incoming players.
These players also want to teach the freshman coming in about the way Eastern Warriors play basketball. “All the players on the team have really helped me grow as a player but Carlos has helped me the most with him playing my position,” freshman recruit, Thomas Close, said about which upperclassmen has helped him the most transitioning from high school to college basketball.
One of the strengths of the team this year will be on defense. Especially if they make their starting lineup as follows; Carlos Gonzalez, Jake Collagan, Cory Muckle, Leonel Hyatt, and Jake McCarthy. That starting five is a great defensive team and also solid on offense as each of those players can guard their positions and hit shots at any point in the game. It also helps in the rebounding category as both Hyatt and McCarthy are both lengthy big men who can go up and grab rebounds. Carlos Gonzales also hopes to build on a 2017-2018 season where he was named LEC Defensive player of the year and the anchor of Eastern’s defense while averaging 3.3 steals per game. If he puts up that kind of production this year on defense then the team’s defense will be as good as it was last year.