Southeast Missouri State University's men's basketball team will look for continued improvement tonight when the Indians close out their two-game exhibition schedule.
Division II Missouri-Rolla will provide the opposition in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff at the Show Me Center. The Indians routed Truman State, another Division II squad, 93-66 in Thursday's exhibition opener.
"The first exhibition game went kind of like I expected. We maybe scored a few more points than I thought we would," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "I was pleased for this time of the year, but we still have a long way to go. Hopefully we'll see a lot of improvement in this game."
What Garner hopes more than anything is that the Indians can soon be at full strength.
"The first thing we have to do is get everybody healthy," Garner said. "That's our biggest concern."
The Indians have suffered a variety of injuries during practice, the most serious being to junior forward Reggie Golson (ankle). Golson has missed the last two weeks of workouts and is expected to be out from two to four more weeks.
Golson is almost certain to miss the season's first two games -- home contests Nov. 21 against Wisconsin-Green Bay and Nov. 24 against Kentucky Christian -- but Garner hopes he can return for at least spot duty during the Montana Tournament Nov. 29-30.
"Reggie might be our most talented player. We really need him back," Garner said. "Hopefully he'll be 100 percent by conference time. That's our goal."
Junior guard/forward Norman Prather (ankle) has returned to practice and should play tonight. Junior backup center Adam Crader missed several days of practice with a severe case of the flu but could be available tonight.
Freshman guard/forward Terrick Willoughby suffered a cut lip during Sunday's practice and received several stitches, but he should be able to play tonight.
"If you're going to get hurt, now's the time to get hurt," Garner said. "But for the new guys like Reggie and Norman, you hate to have them miss so much practice. Reggie will really be behind by the time he gets back."
Another of Southeast's new players, junior forward Dainmon Gonner, had an impressive debut with 24 points and 15 rebounds against Truman State.
"For a first game, I think we did all right, but we have to shape up on defense," Gonner said.
Scheduled to start tonight are Gonner, senior center Brandon Griffin and junior guards Brett Hale, Derek Winans and Kevin Roberts.
Missouri-Rolla went 12-15 last season and returns four starters, including 6-foot-9 All-American center Brian Westre, who averaged 19.6 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior.
Westre, who was recruited by several Division I programs -- including Southeast -- out of Clayton High School in St. Louis, had 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Miners beat Dawson's Traveling Stars 98-72 in their exhibition opener.
"Westre is a very good player, but we really don't prepare for exhibition games," Garner said. "We're worried about our team."Noteworthy
***Today marks the beginning of the early signing period and Southeast should receive letters of intent from two players who gave the Indians verbal commitments last month.
Expected to sign are point guard Paul Paradoski, a senior at Vianney High School in St. Louis, and forward James White, a sophomore at Southwestern Illinois College.