(By Daily Eastern News)
Building upon a team in transition, men's basketball is looking to a younger and more athletic bunch as the new season approaches.
The team announced on Monday that they had finally inked a player with a little name recognition for those who have followed college basketball in the last handful of years.
Bil Duany (201-G) signed a letter of intent to Eastern Illinois late in the summer after he decided between college and prep-school. He is the younger brother of Kueth Duany of the national championship 2001 Syracuse Orangemen and Duany Duany who went to the Final Four with Wisconsin.
The experience that Bil's older brothers had playing college basketball in the past helped pave the way for the youngest Duany brother to come to Eastern.
"I have been very close to my family throughout this whole process," Duany said. "I've been talking to my sisters (Nok and Nyagon) and finally we have been able to get together with all my sisters and brothers to talk about this and work it out."
Duany comes to Eastern after spending his high school career in Bloomington, Ind. He also considered going to a prep-school before going to college.
But after the consideration he applied after talking to Samuels and his staff as well as his family, Duany decided now was his time to play college basketball.
One person who certainly is not disappointed in Duany's decision is Samuels. As he now has to scramble a little since last year's shooting guard Derik Hollyfiled was suspended for the year because of academic issues, the added presence of Duany adds to Samuels' excitement over the swing positions right now.
"First off, Duany does add help as far as both shooting guard and small forward are concerned, but we are excited to see how he can handle point guard," Samuels said.
The coach also envisioned a 1-3-1 zone in which red-shirt freshman Bobby Catchings and true freshman George Tandy on the wings, Duany at the head of the press and Josh Gomes running the sideline.
One person who could fill in the middle of that zone would be another recent signee, Wes Wilken.
Wilken played high school ball at Waldron, Mich., and played at Schoolcraft Community College, also in Michigan.
A season-ending ankle injury cut his time short, but didn't slow down Samuels from pursuing the 6 foot 9 inch center, who Samuels says is around 240 pounds.
"He is a multifaceted player which is a nice fit for our offense," Samuels said. "He can post up with his back to the basket, but can also face-up (to the defender) and shoot over the top."
That fits well in Samuels' flex offense that allows the man-in-the-middle to shoot from the perimeter.
Those two additions to the Panther team this year allow a little different roles to be played by many different people.
At this point the coaching staff isn't sure how to best utilize Duany, but as individual drills near, that will be sorted out.
(Article published in August 2004)