Back in the days when Eastern University was called Eastern College, no one really knew much about our small campus. In 1988, however, Eastern was finally put on the map – by the men’s basketball team.
On March 9, 1988, the Eastern Eagles, coached by Nate Ware, faced the Philadelphia Pharmacy Devils in the NAIA District 19 championship game. On the line was a slot in the NAIA National Tournament at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Amazingly enough, the Eagles came away with a close 76-71 victory, to earn their first appearance in the tournament. They lost in the first round but ended the season with a solid record of 30 wins and six losses.
Why is that important now? On Jan 31st, the current men’s basketball team will play Manhattanville; during halftime, 10 to 15 of the players from the star lineup of ’88 will be honored in front of the home crowd. One of those players will be Mike McCarron, a senior during the ’88 season, who owns Eastern’s record for assists (1,048), and currently serves as head coach of the North Catholic High School boy’s basketball team in Philadelphia. There will also be a luncheon held for the players and their families before the game.
According to current Assistant Coach Chris McMonagle, it is the 20th anniversary of the 1987-1988 squad’s victory, making it the perfect time to honor the team’s success. “At the time, it was unprecedented that an Eastern team be so good,” he said.
The athletic department also wants to be more connected to the greater Eastern community by keeping alumni involved.
“It’s definitely something we put an emphasis on,” McMonagle said. “In the end, we’re just trying to build pride in the program.”