By most, Eastern Washington was picked to finish in the top half of the Big Sky conference. They may yet get there, but things are off to a poor start, as a loss to Utah Valley on Tuesday dropped the Eagles to 0-4.
For a half, it looked like they were on their way to their first win of the year, as they led 43-32 and looked to have things going well on both ends. However, their offense struggled to find consistency in the second half, and (more importantly) they couldn’t get a stop, eventually losing 86-83. The Eagles missed their first ten shots of the second half, which dropped them into a deficit that they could not come back from.
There were plenty of solid individual efforts from EWU players. Venky Jois had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, and he continues to look like one of the best freshmen in the conference. Martin Seiferth was solid with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks. However, those guys aren’t getting the ball enough for how good they have been. The Eagles were an astounding 11/42 from downtown, including these performances:
Justin Crogsile: 1/11
Collin Chiverton: 3/9
Kevin Winford: 2/8
Jeffrey Forbes: 3/8
I understand these guys have the green light, but they have to be a little bit smarter about when they pull the trigger, especially when the big guys are playing so well (Jois and Seiferth were a combined 11/15 from the field). Crogsile has been the most egregious offender… he has launched 44 threes in four games despite the fact that he is a 30% three-point shooter.
It sounds as if all of this is not lost on Jim Hayford. “We have to be able to handle freedom in our offense a little bit better,” said Hayford. “You want shooters to have confidence that the next one is going in, but we could have used a little bit better discretion.”
I still do think they will be fine. Individually, they are one of the most talented teams in the conference, and they will figure this stuff out. But they have to start playing more as one unit rather than a group of guys, and things need to pick up defensively. If these things happen, they have the personnel to be a very good team.
Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball