Ishee-less Southeast women will face UTM

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Redhawks coach will serve his suspension today after being ejected from last Saturday's contest.

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team hopes to continue its hot play without its head coach.

The Redhawks believe they'll be able to do that.

So does John Ishee.

Ishee will be forced to miss today's nationally televised game against visiting Tennessee-Martin due to an Ohio Valley Conference suspension.

That suspension came after Ishee was ejected from Southeast's previous game, Saturday's 81-74 victory at Murray State.

Ishee was whistled for two technical fouls during the first eight minutes of the contest, which resulted in an automatic ejection.

OVC rules stipulate that the penalty for being ejected is an automatic one-game suspension.

"I'm sorry I'm going to miss the game. I never meant to embarrass the university or the program," Ishee said. "But I have the utmost confidence in our players and coaching staff."

Southeast (14-6, 9-2) has won five straight games and 10 of its past 11 entering the 3 p.m. contest at the Show Me Center that will be televised by ESPNU. The two-time defending OVC regular-season champions are in second place, one game behind Eastern Illinois, but the squads are tied in the loss column.

"We pretty much know what coach says day after day. Compete, rebound, share the ball," senior center Missy Whitney said. "We wish coach could be with us, but I think we'll be fine. We have it down pat what he wants us to do."

Southeast was fine after Ishee was tossed from the Murray State game. The Redhawks rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit without their leader.

In the absence of Ishee, the Redhawks were directed by assistant Chris Harris, a former head coach on the NAIA and junior college levels.

Harris, who is in his first season at Southeast, will be in charge today.

"I've actually had two previous coaches I've worked for who got kicked out of games, and I've had to do that before," said Harris.

As for his thoughts entering today's game, Harris said: "Coach Ishee has led us through practice all week. I'll handle it."

Added a laughing Harris: "But I'm still an assistant. I'll be reminded of that."

Ishee will be with the Redhawks for just about all of their game-day preparation.

OVC regulations stipulate that he must be out of the Show Me Center from 30 minutes prior to tipoff to 30 minutes following the conclusion of the contest.

"Me and my assistants will prepare the best we can, then I'll watch the game at home on television," Ishee said. "I've got a great coaching staff."

Even though UT-Martin (4-18, 1-11) has struggled this season -- the Skyhawks are last in the 11-team OVC, although their lone win came at Eastern Illinois -- Ishee said Southeast should not expect an automatic victory.

The Skyhawks returned three starters from last year's squad that went 17-14 and made the OVC tournament semifinals, but they have been hampered by injuries.

Crystal Fuller, a 6-foot senior center, is among the OVC's premier players. She is fifth in both scoring (16.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.5).

Fuller is the reigning OVC player of week after scoring a career-high 35 points against Jacksonville State.

"She's a very good player and they're a very worthy opponent," Ishee said. "They'll be very capable."

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