FanSpeak March14

Sunday, March 14, 2004

My secret fishing hole

THIS IS to all of you who do not really know where the cleanest trout fishing is. It's Meramec Springs. I fished there for years. It's a crystal clear, beautiful and, yes, it's much slower than Montauk. Meramec Springs is beautiful, clear water. It is well organized and well maintained.

Golfers need some heckling

DAVIS LOVE III has just given us the clearest demonstration ever of the difference between the mental toughness of the mindset of a golfer versus the mindset of a basketball player. Notice how a few good-hearted cheers for Tiger Woods completely melted the concentration of Love's golf game. Compare this to the pressure at the free-throw line of any high-stakes basketball game with the screaming mobs and the waving and distractions going on behind the backboard. The aristocracy of the golf course versus the working-class mindset of the basketball player, it's no contest.

Garner's recruiting suspect

I READ the vote of confidence article on Coach Garner with great interest. My problems with Coach Garner are not his floor-coaching ability, he seems to know the X's and O's well enough, it is the recruiting. The article did not mention the fact that if not for the recruiting efforts of Tom Schuberth, most of those good players would never have come to SEMO. The decline of talent on the team began as soon as Coach Schuberth left. If Coach Garner does not turn things around in the remaining two years on his contract, SEMO would be foolish to stick with him.

Congrats to Jackson girls

I JUST wanted to congratulate the Jackson girls basketball team on an outstanding season. It was great to see the teamwork that made their season successful. I also would like to acknowledge the wonderful coaching. It is about time that the women's program had a woman on the sidelines; I believe she did a wonderful job. I also believe coach Sam Sides did a great job with the Indians this year. He was there to coach an entire team, and everyone received a chance. Congratulations to the players and the coaches for an amazing season. Good luck in the years to come.

Good news all around

GOOD NEWS isn't hard to find. In a year where Southeast Missouri is going to send five teams to the final four and possibly bring home four state championships in boys basketball it is sad that the best you can do is write about how Saxony Lutheran beat another opponent in the tough Mississippi Valley Conference. Look at the turnarounds at Delta and Scott City under promising first-year coaches who returned to their alma mater. Bell City is having another great year and has the best player in the area in Dominitrix Johnson. Look at the Delta girls team and the job they've done with a lot of underclassmen. What about Ronnie Cookson returning to the sidelines and jump-starting that program at Scott County Central? How can these things not get any recognition? This is a banner year for the area and these things deserved better coverage.

Congrats to Delta boys

I WANT to congratulate the Delta boys basketball team for a tremendous season. They finished with the best season we have had in a long time. I have enjoyed watching them this year. None of you should be hanging your head. You did a great job and I know the school and community is very proud of all of you. Keep up the hard work and we will see you next year. For the three seniors: Thanks for giving all your time and dedication.

SE logo too vague

I DON'T know who is responsible for the new SE logo but it could stand for Southeast any state. The way it's set up, people could call us the same as Springfield -- SMS. Getting rid of the diamond SE has jinxed us. We were to be in the top two or three in football, finish fourth in basketball and the girls were picked preseason first. Look what happened to us. The diamond SE was recognized all over the country after we played LSU. Let's bring back SEMO, not SMS.

Garner is A-OK

AS AN alumnus of SEMO and fan of SEMO basketball, give Gary Garner a break. The guy is a great coach, and I don't think fans realize how lucky we are to have him here. Fans tend to forget he took a team with little talent and won the OVC regular-season and conference championships in 2000 and went on to the NCAA tourney. SEMO would have went the year before if not for a buzzer beater by Murray State in the 1999 OVC championship game. That team also had less talent then most OVC teams. Sure it's been rough couple of years, but it was rough six years in Division I before Garner got here. The problem the last couple of years has been no bench. He had to play the starters 35-plus minutes a game. But all that should change next year with all of the players returning and coming in. It's not his fault players get homesick and leave, transfer, graduate early, get hurt or even commit crimes in the offseason. Recruiting is tough at all mid-major schools, especially tough here at SEMO due our proximity to so many other Division I schools. Bottom line: Coach Garner is doing the best he can with what he has and fans should appreciate that. Don't give up. Coach Garner will have this team ready for the OVC title next season.

A reason to like Monday

READING DAVID Wilson's column is one of the few things I know I can look forward to every Monday. Keep up the good work.

Ready for the Salukis

NEXT DECEMBER, when the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team hosts the Southern Illinois University Salukis, our Indians just might be playing in front of a sold-out Show Me Center. Eight-thousand vocal SIU fans attended the MVC tournament in St. Louis last weekend, so there's no reason they won't all come over to Cape Girardeau next season. And since the so-called "loyal" Southeast fans have decided to stay home the last three years, the Show Me Center will turn into a sea of Salukis maroon. Maybe the SEMO sports marketing department should come up with a plan to keep ticket sales on our side of the river and limit the number of SIU fans that get in the building. Don't be surprised to see 4,000 Saluki supporters at the SMC next year. If there is one game SEMO fans should come out and really support our team, it's against SIU. Who knows? By that time, the Indians could get a rare chance to knock off a top-25 team when the Dawgs come calling.

It's all about money

A FEW years back, Southeast Missouri State considered joining the Missouri Valley Conference, which would definitely bring some much-needed exposure to the university and it would make sense geographically. And SEMO could compete against those teams in any sport. Anyone that followed the MVC men's basketball race this year knows that those teams were down a lot, with the exception of SIU and maybe Creighton. Even some of the MVC administrators would welcome SEMO into their conference, and they also believe the Indians and Otahkians could hold their own. That all sounds good until you look at the funding, which is the main issue. President Ken Dobbins and the university won't give our coaches the big bucks it takes to compete well at the MVC level. Our coaches are expected to run Division I programs (Division I-AA in football) with a Division II budget. The money just isn't there. Nor are the athletes, nor are the wins or the championships. Until our coaches are granted the proper money to fund their teams, don't expect many league titles to come our way.

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