Get your popcorn ready, because the men’s basketball team is looking to bring its A-game for its fans.
“I really like our team right now, and for me to say that (early in the season) is a good thing,” Head Coach Matt Nadelhoffer said. “I am very excited to see us battle throughout the year.”
The road to the MAC championship this year will be a battle for the Eagles’ slightly-altered roster.
“We aren’t as athletic as we were last season, but our chemistry is much better,” Nadelhoffer said.
After making the playoffs last season, the Eagles’ expectations are even higher.
“Our (players) have gone from wanting to win to expecting to win and (being) willing to put in the extra effort in the weight room and their individual skills to do so,” Nadelhoffer said. “Our commitment level is at an all-time program high–this is the tightest group of 14 players we’ve had here.”
Nadelhoffer’s troops are just as ready to win.
“Everyone is excited we have a good group here that is dedicated and ready to get after it,” sophomore guard Martin Soaries said.
One of the few things that the Eagles look to accomplish this season is to advance further in the MAC tournament, which would result in an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament.
“Last year, we felt we let a great opportunity slip away in the semi-finals (of the MAC tournament), so that has given us motivation this year to do even bigger things,” senior point guard Chris Myers said.
With a sour taste in the mouths of last year’s players, the Eagles are more motivated then ever to get over the hump.
“We know we’re more than capable to improve on our results from last year, and we have the resources to accomplish that,” Soaries said.
There will be some key games the team will need to win to reach the championship.
“Any MAC game is important,” Nadelhoffer said. “DeSales, who made the Elite 8 last season, will be tough, and we play them twice.
“We also have Richard Stockton at our place, and they lost in the National Championship last season. Cabrini in the ‘Battle of Eagle Road’ is at our place this season, and we want that street sign back where it belongs.”
The team is hoping to prove that basketball belongs at Eastern.
“The main goal of the program is to change the culture of Eastern basketball and our guys are well on their way of doing this,” Nadelhoffer said.
“Our goal is to change the culture of Eastern Basketball for decades to come,” Soaries said. “We are a focused group and are taking it one game at a time.”
Every game that the Eagles go into may mean one game closer to the team’s goal of a championship. Can a championship be seen as soon as this year?
“We feel we have the necessary pieces in place to accomplish something great, so we decided to come up with a goal that would stretch us to our maximum potential,” Myers said. “So we’ll just have to wait and see.”