CHARLESTON — For much of the 2017-18 season, Eastern Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant said the team needed to get better at rebounding. He thought the team was a little thin and young in the post. So Bollant made it a priority to bring in a couple of post players who could go and get rebounds next season.
Bollant already had forward Abby Wahl, who signed in the fall, coming in to help with returners Jennifer Nehls, Grace McRae, Jalisha Smith and Halle Stull. Still, the Panthers were outrebounded 42.6 to 32.6.
EIU added two forwards who should help on the boards. On Wednesday, Bollant signed 6-5 center Claudia Stan, who is from Vincennes University. Stan averaged 9.1 rebounds per game. Plus he added Memphis transfer Damonique Miller, who is 5-11 and can play right away.
Bollant feels he filled the team's rebounding needs for the upcoming season.
"I think both of them are special as far as their ability to rebound, and they will both be impact players," Bollant said. "I think we will be improved in every aspect, especially rebounding. I am just really thankful for my staff and the hard work they put in to make this happen."
Stan played in all 32 games for Vincennes this past season and shot 48.4 percent from the field. She averaged 7.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. Currently, Stan, who is originally from Bucharest, Romania, is the tallest player in the OVC.
"With her size and length, she has a chance to do special things here," Bollant said. "The game I attended against State Fair, she impressed me with 14 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks."
Miller was limited to five games because of injury this past season for Memphis. She played in 26 games her redshirt sophomore season, averaging 9.3 minutes per game. In high school, she averaged 11 rebounds per game.
"Damonique is a big-time athlete and a very talented rebounder," Bollant said. "She has a great personality, and we believe she will be an impactful player in the OVC."
Miller and Stan join Wahl, Kira Arthofer and Jordyn Hughes as incoming players for next season. Wahl, Arthofer and Hughes will all be freshmen. Katrina Christian, Zharia Lenoir and Lana Marov all transferred since the start of the 2017-18 season and Bollant has gone on to fill each spot. After losing zero seniors, Bollant has no scholarships left to give for the 2018-19 season with the additions of Miller and Stan.
"Obviously we wanted to make sure we brought in the right kids and kids that could make an impact," Bollant said. "We wanted kids that can play right away because we get Grace Lennox back and we want people that can help with next year's team."
EIU finished the season with a 3-26 record in Bollant's first season, including a 2-16 mark in the OVC. But the team only had Grace Lennox, an All-OVC selection as a junior, for the first eight games before she had knee surgery. Freshmen Taylor Steele and Karle Pace stepped up in her absence, and sophomore Danielle Berry saw an increase in minutes. EIU also returns guard Carmen Tellez and will have freshman Jordan Pyle and Camino Tellez, who both redshirted this past season.
"I think we will be so much better with Grace, who is one of the best guards in the league, and now you have three freshmen and two transfers that can help right away," Bollant said. "Grace (McRae), Taylor and Karle, they were so much better in February than at the start. We go from one of the younger teams to one of the more experienced teams in the league."