Indians need big emotional rebound

Thursday, February 13, 2003

ggarner

Last week was not a good week for our basketball team. We had hoped to win at least two of the three games, but we ended up losing all three.

The most disturbing loss was to Eastern Kentucky Saturday night. We controlled the game and led all the way up to 1:42 remaining.

It was evident that our team was very tired at the end and EKU made the plays to take the lead and escape with the victory. Losing Brett Hale to injury in the second half really hurt us. He has really been playing well, but played only four minutes in the second half because of a badly bruised hip.

Brett's loss really magnified our lack of depth. Hopefully after a few days of treatment and rest, Brett will be able to play Thursday night.

I was pleased with our play in the Morehead State game. We really can't play much better than we did, but the league leaders still came away with a win. Ricky Minard showed why many think he is the top player in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The good thing about college basketball is that we are right back at it this week with two tough road games. We play at Tennessee-Martin tonight and at Murray State Saturday in a game that will be televised by WPSD-TV. Both games, which begin at 7 p.m., are nearby and I hope that many of you will make the trips.

As the season winds down, it is an exciting time for college basketball teams, particularly those of us who are in a conference. Everyone is looking at the standings and remaining games to try and figure out the pairings for the post-season tournaments. One thing I know is that you can't wait for the tournament; you have to be playing well and with confidence at tournament time to have a chance to make some noise.

The race in the OVC is really wide open with Morehead State and Austin Peay each having two losses and Tennessee Tech three losses. After that it is a real scramble for the fourth position that means a home game in the opening round of the tournament.

Preparation will be the key to being successful this week. We have to be totally prepared and focused to have a chance to win on the road. I think our players look forward to both games.

Tennessee-Martin hit a late off-balance 3-pointer to send our earlier game at the Show Me Center into overtime and then went 6-for-6 from the field in the extra period to gain a come-from-behind 88-80 win. That loss really hurt, and I know our players are anxious to return the favor.

We beat Murray State earlier this season at the Show Me Center 78-68 and so we should have confidence going into the game at Murray. Needless to say the Racers will be out to avenge the earlier loss. Having a televised game is always a plus for our program.

Congratulations to Brandon Griffin for being named the OVC Newcomer of the Week for the fourth time this season. Brandon had outstanding numbers last week, averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds in the three games.

We need to get Brett healthy and be totally prepared for tonight's game. We have to focus on just one game at a time. We can't worry about Murray State until after the game tonight.

I hope you do have a chance to travel to at least one of our games this week and don't forget we will be back at the Show Me Center on Tuesday, Feb. 18, to go against a Western Illinois team that beat us at their place earlier this year.

Gary Garner is the men's basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State University.

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