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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

July 5th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Preview: Eastern Washington Eagles

Overall Rank: #128

Conference Rank: #2 Big Sky

 

2005-06: 15-15, 9-5, 3rd

2005-06 postseason: none

 

It didn’t take Coach Mike Burns long to put his own imprint on Eastern Washington basketball.  After taking over the reigning Big Sky championship team, Coach Burns went 8-20.  Last season he turned that into a 15-15 team.  His third season at the helm have expectations through the roof. 

 

Who’s Out: Starting guard Deuce Smith averaged 8.4 points and 2.6 assists as a senior.  His departure will leave the backcourt with less experience, but there is plenty of talent to take over.  Tim Scheffler redshirted last season and the shooting guard will not return to play for the Eagles this season.

 

Who’s In: What EWU really needed was a point guard or two so last season’s Freshman of the Year Rodney Stuckey could spend more time on the wing.  Michael Taylor and Omar Krayem answered the call and will compete with returning senior Rhett Humphrey for the starting gig.  Taylor might not be ready to start right away as a true freshman, but he is hoped to be the long term answer to the point guard question.  Krayem has experience at the junior college level and will be given a chance to earn significant minutes.  The backcourt receives another scoring option in Marcus Hinton.  The 6-3 guard averaged over 20 points per game over two seasons at Centralia Community College.  He’s a solid shooter from long range and has the ability to get to the rim.  Incoming freshmen Chris Sprinker and Jack Loofburrow, along with redshirt freshman Brandon Moore will add depth to the frontcourt.  Moore is likely to see the most minutes of that trio this season.  The 6-9, 230 pounder isn’t much of a threat outside of the paint, but has the body to be effective inside.

 

Who to Watch: If you haven’t seen Stuckey play, he is who you’ll want to watch.  He may not have to average 24.2 points per game again this year, but he’ll always be fun to watch.  However, the frontcourt duo of Paul Butorac and Jake Beitinger need to be solid if Eastern Washington has NCAA dreams.  Butorac, a 6-10, 215 pound senior, averaged 10.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.  Beitinger tacked on 6.3 points, 3.6 boards and 1.1 blocks.  After those two, the frontcourt depth will have to be handled by the newcomers and senior Derek Risper.

 

Final Projection: After the point guard position, the most interesting battle for a starting spot is opposite Stuckey on the wing.  Matt Penoncello and Kellen Williams both have starting experience and one of them will be an early candidate for the conference’s ‘sixth man of the year’ award.  Penoncello, a 6-5 sophomore from Moscow, Idaho, has the better shooting range of the two, while Williams is more effective on the glass.  No matter who starts, expect both to play a big role for the Eagles.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: none

 

Projected Starting Five:

Rhett Humphrey, Senior, Guard, 3.0 points per game

Rodney Stuckey, Sophomore, Guard, 24.2 points per game

Matt Penoncello, Sophomore, Guard, 6.6 points per game

Jake Beitinger, Junior, Forward, 6.3 points per game

Paul Butorac, Senior, Forward, 10.3 points per game

#129 Siena » Complete List » #127 Colorado

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