There’s no place like home for the playoffs

The men’s basketball team is in the MAC Freedom Conference playoffs for the second consecutive year.

With the regular season completed, the Eagles now have a daunting task ahead of them as they face Misericordia on Feb. 24 in semifinal action.

Misericordia defeated Eastern 61-44 two weeks ago, but this time the match is on the Eagles’ home court.

The team has not lost a home conference game all season, completing its perfect conference home record with a win over Delaware Valley on Feb. 20, which also secured home court advantage for the semifinal game.

“Hosting a home game is exactly what we wanted,” sophomore guard Martin Soaries said.  “It is huge being in front of your home crowd. It is good to know all the work we put in paid off.”

Lately, the team has been working hard, as Eastern has gone 6-4 in its last 10 games.
“We are locked in and focused on what we want,” Soaries said. “Our leaders on our team have stepped up. We brought it together because we’ve been through so much together. We just want to go out and get wins.”

First-year starters Kyle Malloy and Alex Nelson’s athleticism have created match up problems for the Eagles’ opponents.

On the wing, Soaries and junior Derek Wright are called on to provide veteran leadership.
The general of the offense, senior point guard Chris Myers, is the only four-year member on the team and is responsible for fueling the offense.

“It is hard for a team to match up with us all around,” Soaries said. “I don’t think any team has the depth that we do. I think, overall, we have the best team out of the four teams that are left.”

The team’s bench has been progressing, which makes the Eagles a tougher opponent. Misericordia will have to bring its best game to the gym.

“We are excited for this match-up,” Myers said. “We look forward to taking care of business. You have to do your thing. You have some butterflies before the game, but once the ball is tipped off we will be ready.”

The question for Eastern fans is: are you ready?
 

Four athletes recognized for academic excellence

Sophomore Andre Butler, sophomore Maria Horning, senior Chris Myers and junior Katie Ruth were asked to attend the Board of Trustees dinner on Feb. 4 and speak to the Board about their academic and athletic experiences.

Basketball squads shoot for success in second half of season

The women’s basketball team is anything but weak-willed. Now more than halfway through the 2009-10 season, the positive spirit of Head Coach Katie Levis is still keeping expectations high for the team and for the school as a whole.

Having experienced both defeat and “good wins,” Levis is more than excited to see her team perform better in the remaining three weeks of the season. She stressed the importance of staying a step ahead.

“Like we have worked hard and improved, the other teams have also improved,” Levis said, demanding her girls to make a steady commitment to do well.

The team includes of only two upperclassmen, leaving the majority of the positions filled by young players who are inexperienced in college-level basketball. Nevertheless, Levis is optimistic that the girls will offer a lot to the team.

However, Levis said, the team’s biggest weakness is not its inexperience, but its inconsistent performance as a whole.

“We do not perform well all the time, which is why we don’t know how everything is going to come out,” she said.

For Levis, the biggest challenge as a coach is, “trying to take all the pieces and creating a team unit to work together.”

The team is working hard to tackle this obstacle of inconsistency. Their effort and focus on consistent play as a team has become their biggest strength, Levis said.

 
In addition to being energetic, the determined players have been putting in a lot of effort to do their best, despite the tough competitions.

 “The goal is to go with the expectation that we can win and the understanding that we need to play well,” Levis said.

Basketball squads shoot for success in second half of season

The second half of the season for the men’s basketball team is currently underway.

Not only do the Eagles hope to make a playoff appearance, but they also want to come out as champions of the Freedom conference. As conference champions, the team would earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

The season is winding down, but the Eagles are in great shape to secure a conference playoff berth, the first step to reaching the national tournament.

“We only have a few more conference games left,” said sophomore guard Martin Soaries who leads the team in scoring. “At this point last year we were battling to get into the playoffs. Right now, as the two seed, we can still win it. It would be huge if we could host a home conference game.”

Last season, the team could not close out games at home during the final stretch of the season, and, as a result, had to go on the road for the first game of the playoffs. Soaries stressed the importance of not allowing the same thing to happen this year.  

“We have to take care of business at home,” Soaries said. “That was sort of our downfall last year. We lost our last two home games last year. That ended up being the difference last year to not hosting a home playoff game.”

Finishing the season strong is the goal, but home court would be a huge advantage.
“It is real important because going on the road traveling is tough,” junior forward Derek Wright said. “It is always hard to play in the other team’s gym.”

With senior captain Chris Myers as the general on the floor, and Soaries and Wright on the wings, the Eagles will use the experience they gained last season to help with the playoff push.
“We just come out every time and fight,” Wright said. “We have to keep that intensity up if we want to make this happen.”
 

NBA All-Star Game hopes to make a slam dunk in Dallas

The 2010 NBA All-Star Game is going to be one of the most memorable of all time, as it is hosted by the Dallas Mavericks for the second time in history. It will take place on Valentine’s Day in the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Although the all star game will promise much excitement, there is a lot of controversy amongst basketball lovers about how the players are selected.

What is the NBA All-Star Game? Does it showcase the best basketball players or promote the most popular? 

Given the fact that all NBA All-Star starters are voted in by fans, some people believe that not all players deserve a shot to play because of their performance. The reserves for both the Western and Eastern conferences are chosen by coaches, although the coaches cannot vote for their own players and they must vote for players within their conferences.

Many believe that Allen Iverson should not be able to participate as a starter in the All-Star Game.

Before returning to the Philadelphia 76ers, Iverson had announced his retirement. He received 1,269,568 votes from his fans.

In response to the criticism, Iverson said, “The way I look at it is, what should I do? Should I worry about what those people say or concentrate on the million-plus people that voted for me? To me, it’s a no-brainer. My fans want to see me play and they have the right to put in who they want to put in the game.”

Obviously, Iverson loves the game of basketball and does not care about whether or not he is a deserving All-Star. He plays for the love of his fans.

A similar conflict was avoided when fans voted for deserving player Steve Nash as a Western conference starter over Tracy McGrady.

Despite having one of the highest salaries in the league, McGrady has only played in six games and for only forty-five minutes, which is less than the length of an entire game.

Many people would not agree with “T-Mac” starting in the All-Star Game ahead of another more deserving player.

“I think the fans should get to vote for five players from each conference, and then the league officials get to vote for the reserves and the starters, so that way it’s like everyone participates,” junior Joel Rios said.

Fans should have the right to vote for whomever they choose, but there should be stars that are already hand-picked due to their statistics and popularity during that season. The NBA could avoid some criticism by stepping up their All-Star selection process.

Saintly Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints are not who they used to be, finally capturing their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history after 42 years of waiting.

 The Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 after having to come back from being on the wrong side of a 10-0 first quarter start. The comeback tied a Super Bowl record.

Overcoming has been the theme of New Orleans football since the city was hit by Hurricane Katrina four years ago.

Drew Brees was named the Super Bowl MVP, joining some outstanding company and tying New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Super Bowl record of 32 completions.

But it wasn’t all a breeze for New Orleans. The game started with a number of miscues, including a pass that went right threw the hands of the Saints’ number one receiver and hit him on the helmet.

Indianapolis got the ball back at their own four-yard line and then tied a Super Bowl record for the longest drive, going 96 yards for a touchdown.

On their next possession, New Orleans, with the ball at the goal line, handed off to running back Mike Bell, who slipped and fell.

New Orleans finally showed signs of life by forcing Indianapolis to quickly punt, and then squeeze in a field goal as time expired in the first half.

 The field goal was the second of three for kicker Garrett Hartley, who broke a Super Bowl record by making three field goals that were 40 yards or longer.

However the biggest kicking highlight should be credited to Sean Payton, New Orleans head coach, who called for an onside kick when the second half began. It was the earliest onside kick attempt in Super Bowl history.

The gutsy call paid off immediately when New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas bounced off two Indianapolis defenders and dove into the endzone for a touchdown off of a 16-yard screen pass. The touchdown gave New Orleans its first lead of the night.

Indianapolis quickly answered back with a four-yard touchdown run by Joseph Addai. The Colts’ running backs significantly outperformed their regular season numbers by averaging 5.2 yards a carry.

However, after Indianapolis’ touchdown, it was all Saints for the rest of the game, scoring 18 unanswered points.

Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, the MVP of the regular season, received the ball at his own 30-yard line with 5:35 left in the game.

Just as the announcers began to talk about the possibility of overtime, New Orleans corner back Tracy Porter stepped in front of Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne to intercept Manning, going 74 yards for a touchdown that basically sealed the victory for the Saints.

Controversy arose when Manning won the MVP award over Brees earlier in the season, despite the fact that Brees had more touchdowns, five less interceptions and a quarterback rating nearly 10 points higher than Manning.

It seemed especially fitting for Manning to toss the game-losing interception while Brees received the Super Bowl MVP, an accolade he would never trade with Manning.

The Saints finally completed their long and difficult path of playing for something more than football–playing for a city that needed hope.

As he lifted the Lombardi trophy to the sky, owner Tom Benson said with conviction, “New Orleans is back, this shows the whole world … the city is back.”

Join the 6th Man at the next home basketball game

The 6th Man, created last year to encourage more fan involvement and cheering, asks all students to proudly wear white at all home games. As the basketball teams finish up their regular season this month, be sure to join the cheering section at one of the remaining home contests. Both teams play at home on Feb. 10 against Wilkes and Feb. 20 against Delaware Valley. The women’s game begins at 6 p.m., with the men’s game following at 8 p.m. The men’s team is also in good position to host a conference semifinal game during playoffs on Feb. 24.
 

Men’s basketball captain dismissed

 

 

The men’s basketball team is without one of its top scorers this semester.

 

Senior Jason Reels was dismissed from Eastern for academic reasons.  Before Reels’ departure, the three-year starter was averaging 15 points a game this season.

 

Reels also helped the Eagles offensively as they averaged 72 points a game during his eight-game tenure this year. 

 

“I think we are going to be just fine,” Head Coach Matt Nadelhoffer said. “Losing a player is part of the game. We talked about it as a team. We are trying to get use to it. We have no choice but to move on. The guys have done that.”

Eastern is currently 3-6 without Reels, but the team has put up the same offensive numbers as they did before. 

 

Sophomore guard Martin Soaries now leads the team with scoring, posting 17.6 points a contest, as first-year forward Alex Nelson has emerged as a go-to guy for the team, averaging 11.9 points a game.

 

“We rely on us being a full team than just relying on a couple guys,” senior captain Chris Myers said. “We run more offense now. We are not going to score as many points, but the tempo suits the way we play better. The steps that we are making are positive. There is no way to go but up.”

 

“Jason was the most vocal guy on the team,” Myers said. “It is a huge loss. We can still accomplish what we need to do, unfortunately without him.”

 

Nadelhoffer has already seen his troops stepping up to the challenge of filling the void.

 

“I think at first it was a little demoralizing,” Nadelhoffer said. “It is part of the game. It is part of being on a team.  I just think Chris (Myers), Martin (Soaries), and Derek (Wright) have stepped up. It is not the end of our season. We have moved on.”