Men’s hoops heads home to face EIU

David Koier, Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — After a two-game road trip, the Western Illinois Leatherneck men’s basketball team travels back to Macomb. This Friday, the Purple and Gold face off against the 4-4 Panthers of Eastern Illinois University.

Earlier this season, the two teams faced off in Charleston with EIU scoring the 68-66 win over the Leathernecks in overtime. Kobe Webster led the Leathernecks that game scoring 18 points and producing five rebounds. While he led the team in scoring, he still didn’t have the best game. Webster went only 6-21 on field goals and shot 0-7 beyond the arc. He also turned the ball over three times.

The Leathernecks are looking to get their revenge as non-conference play is winding down. The Leathernecks have shot fairly well so far this season, posting a .456 shooting percentage. Isaac Johnson has been a strong shooter for the Leathernecks this season, making 47 of his 92 attempted field goals.

Johnson has the second most points scored on the team with 120, just behind close friend Webster who leads the team with 136 points. Johnson is also strong defensively, posting a strong 53 rebounds, 49 of those defensive.

Speaking of rebounds, that’s a category where the Leathernecks tend to struggle. On offense, the Purple and Gold have only recorded a mere 69 offensive rebounds. To put that into perspective, Eastern Illinois has recorded 96 offensive rebounds this season. If the Leathernecks want to get a neck up (no pun intended) on the Panthers this Friday, it’s important for them to rebound their own shots for a second chance effort.

In the previous matchup between these two teams, Western struggled heavily on second chance efforts. They only scored two second chance points in the entire game while Eastern Illinois posted a whopping 15 second chance points. Coach Billy Wright should be practicing offensive rebounding this week and putbacks if he wants the upper hand in this Friday’s matchup.

Looking back at the previous game, players off the bench were big factors for Eastern Illinois. Eastern Illinois had 23 points scored from bench players, while Western Illinois’ bench only scored seven. This has to do with how much Eastern Illinois utilizes who is on their bench.

In the Panthers last matchup against the Leathernecks, five players came off of the bench to play. Those five players combined for 74 total minutes played, which when averaged out is roughly 14.8 minutes per player.

Now, Western Illinois only subbed in three players for a combined 49 minutes in the game. With only seven points coming from those three players, that means that Wright relied on his starters to score the other 59 points.

Wright needs to utilize his bench more and give his starters a rest if he wants to try and beat this strong Eastern Illinois team.

The Leathernecks face off against the Panthers tomorrow night at Western Hall. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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