Any time a team can improve at all off a three win season from the previous year, then there already positives to celebrate.
But once the team gets over that little moral victory, they need to take the next step; make the postseason.
The Eastern Illinois women’s basketball team has clearly improved this season despite losing half of its starting lineup, but a recent cold stretch has sent them into the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
Just the top eight teams in the conference will qualify for a berth in the OVC postseason tournament, and as of right now the Panthers are tied for that eighth spot with a 3-6 conference record.
With that being said, they are not just tied with one other team.
Instead, they are tied with pretty much half of the OVC as five teams hold that eighth spot with a 3-6 record.
Will that be too much pressure on a young Eastern squad? it could be.
Not many people even expected the Panthers to contend for a berth in the tournament considering the fact that the only returning starters were point guard Grace Lennox and forward Erica Brown.
This is about to be the most crucial stretch to decide if the Panthers have it in them to earn that eighth seed as three of their next four games are against teams also tied for the eighth spot.
The Panthers final stretch also includes facing some of the top teams in the conference such as Murray State and Austin Peay, and that may be the difference for them.
Regardless, the young Panthers’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, but this upcoming stretch bodes well for the present and future of the program.