Eagles Should Have More Firepower Available Monday

Jeffrey Forbes expected to play as Eagles conclude exhibition season with home game versus Montana State-Billings

The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team hopes to have a key guard back on Monday (Nov. 8) when the Eagles close their exhibition season with a game against Montana State-Billings at 7 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Sophomore guard Jeffrey Forbes, a starter who averaged in double figures as a freshman last season, did not play in EWU's 87-82 loss to Seattle Pacific last Tuesday (Nov. 2) at Reese Court because of a knee strain. Eastern had only eight players participate in that game, with the trio of Kevin Winford (40 minutes), Cliff Colimon (37) and Tremayne Johnson (37) logging a combined 114 minutes. They also combined for 55 of EWU's 82 points.

Eastern has no seniors on its 2010-11 roster, and features a quartet of returning letter winners from last year's team that finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference. Sophomore Glen Dean, the 2009-10 Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year, is also out with a stress fracture in his foot, and he will be re-evaluated on the day after the MSU-Billings game.

"I would have liked to have them out there," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of the absence of two-thirds of his returning starting backcourt from a year ago. "Kevin played 40 minutes, and he did some things at the end of the first half and the second half that were completely uncharacteristic of him. He made fatigue mistakes, and I don't think they happen if Glen or Jeffrey are playing. And the three minutes that Cliff was out of the game, we had Tremayne as our point guard. That's not going to happen during the year. These exhibition games are supposed to help you prepare for the rest of the year, but it really didn't for us (against SPU) in a lot of ways."

Besides Forbes, Eastern also received good news on the prognosis of freshman Geoffrey Allen, who was feared lost for the season with what was thought to be a broken hand. But once swelling and bruising subsided, the injury wasn't as severe as first thought and  Earlywine said he should return to practice next week.

Also, freshman Carter Warnock is expected back soon after missing the past two weeks with a severe case of pink eye, and freshman walk-on redshirt Sean Fischer is still out with a nagging shoulder injury. In addition, freshman Willie Hankins has yet to be cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Regardless of what personnel he has available, Earlywine is certain of one thing after he watched SPU make 62 percent of its shots from the floor -- including 67 percent in the first half.

"We have to defend better -- we can't let teams shoot 62 percent against us and win," he said. "And that was across the board -- it was everybody -- we were not good defensively. And that's disappointing because we spend probably 70 percent of our practice time on defense.

"But to be honest, fatigue might have been a factor," he continued. "We practiced hard (the day before the SPU game) and it was five days since we took a day off. Usually we take every fourth day off. Regardless, we have to defend better against Montana State-Billings."

Like Seattle Pacific, Montana State-Billings is a member of the Great Northwest Conference and came one victory shy of a NCAA Tournament berth a year ago. Coached by former Idaho and Lewis-Clark State head coach George Pfeifer, the Yellowjackets finished 15-10 overall and 9-7 in the conference. They are 25-27 overall in Pfeifer's two seasons at the helm, a vast improvement on the 7-49 record the school had the two previous seasons.

The Yellowjackets opened their exhibition season with a 92-79 loss at Idaho State on Nov. 2. Senior Raason Young had 17 points, five assists and six rebounds for MSUB. DeAndre Chambers finished with 16 points and four rebounds, while Robert Mayes and Emery Henning had 13 points apiece.  Henning added a team-high nine boards.

Eastern officially opens the season at home on Friday, Nov. 12 against San Jose State at 5:35 p.m. at Reese Court. Season ticket and single game ticket information is available at www.goeags.com.


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