Team preview: Eastern Illinois
Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
Eastern Illinois coach Rick Samuels is able to find a positive from a very disappointing 2003-04 season.
Falling to a share of the OVC cellar was a learning experience for the players, as was their trip to Costa Rica in the spring.
"We had five seniors benefit from a difficult experience last season and then have positive experiences from the foreign trip," Samuels said. "That group must show a united and determined effort to build a great team."
Samuels lost only one key player from the 2003-04 team -- 6-8 senior forward/post Jesse Mackinson (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
Not only do the Panthers return most of last year's team, they also have several newcomers who should give them a much-needed boost.