Basketball season is finally here and the Colonels are looking to bounce back from a disappointing end to the season last year, falling in the OVC title game. After the annual Hoopfest and scrimmages, the Colonels are looking poised to make yet another deep post-season run.
The Colonels are coming into the 2016- 17 season off an 18-12, 10-6 OVC, record. They are led by pre-season OVC co-player of the year Jalen O’ Bannon, and return three starters, though senior guard Michaela Hunter is going through an injury as of right now.
“I don’t know that we’ll have her this season,” Coach Roberts said. “We practice as if we won’t. We need everybody from all different angles, we don’t want to be a team that relies on one or two players.”
EKU’s leader, Jalen O’ Bannon, averaged 17.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG last season and shot 50.8 percent from the field and 77.2 percent from the free throw line.
O’Bannon will look to continue her dominate performance from last season and with fellow senior Michaela Hunter out, she might have an even bigger workload.
The Colonels will also look to get contributions from 6’3” junior center Madison Wood.
“She’s solid, she works hard, she’s always asking questions because she wants to get it right”, Roberts said.
Roberts also had high regards for sophomore Abby Wright.
“She can flat-out shoot it. She plays inside-out and she’s growing every day,” Coach Roberts said of her players.
There’s no doubt that the Colonels want to be back in the post-season, where they came so close to going to the NCAA tournament just last year.
“We didn’t finish first, and our goal is to be on top.” Coach Roberts said. “Last year was great, but it’s a new season. We want to be in the running for an OVC championship.”
The Colonels certainly have the talent to win the OVC, despite being picked to finish third.
Roberts said that last season’s loss to Belmont in the OVC title game hurt, but it was motivation for the team this coming season.
This team is definitely one of the more talented teams Eastern has had in a while, and they have what it takes to get back into the OVC championship game. Hopefully this time, the big dance is their next stop.
They kick off exhibition play on November 5th, followed by the season opener at home on November 11th.