Slow starts hurt 'Hawks, leave Garner perplexed

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Southeast has had to play from behind in its first two games.

Slow starts and a struggling offense have been the primary problems for Southeast Missouri State two games into the basketball season.

Coach Gary Garner knows it's too early to push the panic button -- but he also realizes the Redhawks have to improve quickly in both areas if they hope to have any kind of chance during their first road trip.

The Redhawks (1-1) play at South Dakota State (1-2) Thursday night and at Nebraska (3-0) Sunday afternoon.

"We're going to have to play a lot better than we have been," Garner said.

In Friday night's opener against Division II Truman State, the Redhawks trailed by 10 points in the second half but rallied to win 59-56.

Against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne Monday night, the Mastodons scored the game's first 13 points, led by 17 points early in the second half and held on for a 65-64 victory. It was their first road triumph in three years.

"I don't know what our problem is, but we've started every game sluggish, even our two exhibition games," Garner said. "I wish I knew why -- I'd correct it.

"Then, when you get so far behind, it takes its toll. We're not a good enough team to do that. You'll win every once in a while, but not very often."

Garner has been fairly pleased with the Redhawks' defense, as they are holding the opposition to 37.9 percent shooting from the field, although he acknowledged that has come against what figure to be two of the weakest teams on the schedule.

"We're not doing too bad defensively. You hold teams to 38 percent, that's good enough," he said. "That will probably change when we start playing better teams, but if you stayed at 38 percent you'd probably lead the conference and rank high nationally."

Offense, however, has been another matter. The Redhawks are shooting just 38.2 percent.

"We're really bad offensively right now," Garner said. "Our shot selection is really poor. We're not consistent at all on offense."

With just four returning players and seven newcomers, Garner expected it would take time for the Redhawks to come together. He hopes it is only a matter of time before they do, particularly offensively.

"We're doing so many little things wrong, it would take me an hour to talk about them all," Garner said. "We just have to keep working. Hopefully we'll get better. We have to."

Jones impresses, breaks finger

Eric Jones, the lone freshman for the Redhawks this year, was held out of the opener as a minor disciplinary measure for missing a class.

Jones returned to Garner's good graces for Monday's game -- and wound up drawing the highest praise among all of Southeast's players.

Jones, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, saw 16 minutes of action off the bench. He scored two points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.

"I was more pleased with him than anybody," Garner said. "He's kind of timid offensively. You expect that from a freshman. But boy, defensively, that's where you can turn it loose. He's banging. He's really active.

"He's a very good athlete, and he plays a lot bigger than 6-4. Some guys are 6-8, but they play like they're 6-3 or 6-4. He plays a lot bigger than he is."

But the news was not all good for Jones as he apparently suffered a broken finger some time prior to Monday's game. Garner said he will likely not play either Thursday or Sunday.

"We don't think he broke it in the game, but it had been bothering him and we got it checked out [Tuesday]," Garner said. "It's not real serious, but he'll probably be out a week."

Johnson misses game

David Johnson, a junior college transfer guard/forward who helped bail out the Redhawks against Truman State with 11 points off the bench, did not play Monday after he sustained a head injury during Sunday's practice.

The injury is not believed to be serious, although Johnson was to be re-examined Tuesday. Garner hopes to have him available for Thursday''s game at South Dakota State.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: