The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team is hosting Coppin State Friday in its regular season opener.
It’s a brand new season with a new coach.
First year head coach Dan McHale says this Colonel team features good shooters and good chemistry. The one time assistant at the University of Louisville says he’s been groomed the last 15 years for this position. McHale says the schedule is very challenging. “That’s why they’re gonna be battle tested, playing the likes at Marshall, at Western, like we talked about, at West Virginia, at East Tennessee State," said McHale. "We have a very, very difficult schedule. I think it’s the toughest schedule in the last 20 years at this school.”
EKU travels to Bowling Green next month to take on Western Kentucky. That game will renew a longtime rivalry after an eight year hiatus. Friday will also be the first start in a Colonel uniform for 6'9 Maine freshman Nick Mayo. Mayo realizes he will be going up against some taller big men in preseason matchups. “I shoot a little bit outside, so I might bring them out of the rim a little bit and work on my outside game and just being able to box them out and stuff like that,” said Mayo.
Coach McHale says one of the areas that still needs work is rebounding. One of the few returning players is forward Ja’Mill Powell. “Older guys are leading the young ones that just came in, trying to keep an up tempo pace this year and just continue to be great," Powell said. "EKU was a great program last year, trying to keep the tradition up. Working hard every day in practice.”
Eastern beat Coppin State last year on a last second shot in Baltimore. The tipoff for Friday's contest in Richmond is 7 pm. The EKU lady colonels open their regular season on the road Sunday afternoon against the University of Richmond.