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Men’s Basketball Preview: Ready to capture the PAC Championship

Coach Nadelhoffer stopped practice midway through an inter-squad scrimmage last week to stress his point.

“You have to rebound. Our guards, you have to rebound,” Nadelhoffer yelled, and then went down his roster, saying, “You have to rebound” after each guard’s name.

Before practice began for the men’s basketball team last Wednesday, Nadelhoffer noted with a hint of discomfort the weaknesses of his team this year: defense and rebounding.

Perhaps it was out of a perfectionist’s concern that Nadelhoffer pointed out the soft spots of a team that set a school record for most wins in a season last year (16) and according to his own words is possibly the best team he has ever coached.

Watching the ’06-’07 men’s basketball team is highly entertaining. With quick ball movement, an entire squad full of athleticism and lots of offense, the Eagles look like they should steamroll most of their opposition this season.

However, talent and playing well every once in a while doesn’t guarantee results. Over confidence and a loss of focus contributed to last year’s disappointing finish to a season that looked just as promising as this year’s.

“We learned a lesson from last year,” Nadelhoffer said. “Last year at one point we were 16-6, and we had already set the best record in the history of our school. Guys started thinking way too far ahead.”

The goal last year as well as this year is to win the PAC.

“We gotta work at it. Nothing comes easy,” junior forward Marvin Jones said.

Commenting on the style of basketball he will run this season, Nadelhoffer said, “Same offense, same mentality of pushing the ball. We’re gonna pick people up ninety-four feet defensively. It should be entertaining.”

A lethal offense and a unique full-court pressure will undoubtedly win the Eagles many games this season. Such an energized style of basketball requires great depth for constant substitutions, which the Eagles also have. Their downfall may actually come from having too much depth and not being able to get players consistent playing minutes to keep them in rhythm with the game.

“We have more size this year and we have players that can play with their backs to the basket,” junior guard Dan Piotrowski said. “You mix a run n’ gun offense with some inside presence and great shooters, and we’ll be hard to stop.”

The Eagles crack open their season this week with a roadtrip to Illinois, where they will play in the Lee Fund Tip-Off Tournament with highly ranked Wheaton, Whitworth and Widener.

Nadelhoffer planned the tournament two years in advance, with hopes that his team could compete and gain valuable experience in a different environment of basketball.

“I graduated from Wheaton which is one reason why [Eastern became a part of the tournament],” Nadelhoffer said. “The other reason why is because most of our kids are from the mid-Atlantic area, and I want to get them away from that just to experience something different.”

Upon returning from their season-opening tournament in Illinois, the Eagles will start their PAC schedule against Gwynedd-Mercy College at home on Nov. 30 and against Arcadia University at home on Dec. 2. From there, the Eagles will play out a grueling schedule that, if all goes well, won’t end before the PAC Finals on Feb. 23.

Until then, the focus will be on accomplishing the things which they know they are capable of, and rebounding.

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