Redhawks make final tuneup for OVC play

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Southeast looks to avenge last season's one-point loss to Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Southeast Missouri State played its best offensive game of the season Friday night and had its top defensive performance Monday night.

The Redhawks (2-4) will shoot for a combination of the two tonight when they host Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne (2-4) in their final tuneup before starting Ohio Valley Conference play.

Tonight's 7:30 p.m. tipoff will mark just Southeast's second regular-season home game under first-year coach Scott Edgar. The Redhawks, who hosted two exhibition games, have had three road games and two neutral site contests.

"It seems like this youthful team has lived on the road extensively," Edgar said. "We're looking forward to being back at the Show Me Center."

Southeast's only previous home game resulted in a 78-75 win over California-Riverside on Friday night. The Redhawks shot a season-high 50 percent and reached a season-high point total.

But in their six contests overall, the Redhawks are shooting just 36.9 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from 3-point range while averaging only 57.7 points per game.

Those are certainly not the kind of numbers Edgar envisioned when he brought his "Fast and Furious" brand of basketball to Cape Girardeau.

Yet Edgar also is not surprised by the slow offensive start. He knew all along that getting adjusted to his new system would not be an easy task for the Redhawks.

"We've played half-court basketball. We have to play transition basketball. That's what I came here for," Edgar said. "At times we're too cautious, and we're thinking too much. We have to aggressively play through mistakes instead of cautiously playing through errors.

"I think it's a mental and physical mindset to play the way we want to play. Any system you teach does not come overnight. It takes time to get a system in. Our system is different ... for me it's the best way. This is a process."

As Edgar continues to preach optimism and patience, he can't help but point to his first Murray State team in 1991-92. The Racers were slow in adjusting to their new coach and started 3-9 before recovering to win the OVC title.

"I don't want to always compare, but you have to draw from comparisons," Edgar said. "I see a lot of comparisons from when I coached [at Murray State].

"We continued to work and eventually we were a very hard team to play against."

The Redhawks have also not been overly impressive defensively, but they guarded the best they have all year Monday night, holding host Evansville to 36.2-percent shooting.

But Southeast scored its fewest points in a game since the 2000-01 season in suffering a 65-45 defeat. All four of the Redhawks' losses have been by 20 points or more.

"I thought we played good defense, but we couldn't do anything offensively," junior point guard Paul Paradoski said. "We have to learn to play a complete game."

IPFW is playing at the Show Me Center for the second year in a row. Last season, the Mastodons beat the Redhawks 65-64.

The Mastodons, who returned four starters from last year's 10-18 team, are led offensively by junior forward DeWitt Scott with 11 points per game. He paced last season's IPFW squad with a 14.2 average.

"Obviously they'll feel a little confident because they came in and won here last year," Edgar said. "It should be a hard-fought college basketball game."

And one Edgar said is important for the Redhawks to win, especially with OVC play looming. Southeast begins its conference schedule Saturday night by hosting Tennessee-Martin.

"It's a game we need. It's very important," Edgar said. "My feeling is that the OVC championship goes through the Show Me Center. You have to establish yourself at home.

"This game is huge as we want to inch closer to .500 and hopefully encourage some more people to come out to see us, to get a better crowd for the Tennessee-Martin game."

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