Southeast men likely to renew basketball rivalry with Salukis

Monday, July 14, 2008

The 2008-09 Southeast Missouri State men's basketball schedule has not been released, but it looks like one of the Redhawks' rivals will be back on the slate after a three-year absence.

As I first reported in my blog on the Southeast Missourian Web site last week, reliable sources have told me that Southeast and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale will square off in hoops for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Details are still being worked out — including the length of the contract — but I've been told it likely will be for more than two years, with the 2008-09 meeting to be held at the Show Me Center.

Most of the opponents on Southeast's 2008-09 schedule were set a couple of months ago — some dates and times still have to be worked out, which is why the slate hasn't been released — and SIU originally wasn't supposed to be on it.

If the SIU series does come to fruition, I'm sure that will be good news for Southeast fans who enjoyed watching the Redhawks play the powerful Salukis — even if SIU usually got the better end of the deal.

As was reported several months ago, Southeast and SIU will renew their football rivalry in 2009 as part of a three-year contract. The Redhawks and Salukis have not met in football since 2005.

As for basketball, SIU will be just one of several tough nonconference opponents awaiting the 2008-09 Redhawks.

Southeast also will play at Kansas State, Iowa, New Mexico and Bradley.

The contests at New Mexico — the season opener — and Bradley are guarantee games in which Southeast's athletic department receives nice sums of money.

Southeast also will be paid for visiting Kansas State and Iowa as part of an eight-team Las Vegas tournament that will feature the final two games in Vegas against lesser competition.

That Vegas event is similar to the Chicago Invitational the Redhawks participated in last year that included games at Xavier and Illinois State, along with two contests in Chicago against lesser opponents.

Also for the coming season, Southeast will have games at home and on the road against Western Illinois, a home game with future Ohio Valley Conference member SIU-Edwardsville, a contest at Arkansas State that begins a four-year series, a home BracketBuster game and a home date against a Division II squad.

That's in addition to the 18 Ohio Valley Conference games.

The entire schedule should be released by the university in the coming weeks.

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Also regarding Southeast men's basketball, Roderick Pearson officially has transferred to Oral Roberts University.

Pearson, the Redhawks' starting point guard the past two seasons, will have to sit out 2008-09 under NCAA transfer rules. He then will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Pearson is joining an impressive program that ranks among the nation's best on the mid-major level.

Oral Roberts has made three straight trips to the NCAA tournament as the Summit League champion. The Golden Eagles went 24-9 last season.

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The Southeast women's basketball schedule, which is basically set as well, also should be released in the next few weeks.

Among the more notable nonconference games for the Redhawks will be dates at Florida State, Missouri and Southern Mississippi, along with a home contest against Missouri State.

The Redhawks will participate in a four-team tournament in New Orleans that includes host Tulane, Providence and Alabama State.

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There wasn't a whole lot of suspense, but the Plaza Tire Capahas again have punched their ticket to Wichita, Kan.

The Capahas, as expected, rolled to the title of the National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional, punctuating their fourth straight regional title by mauling the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Braves 15-0.

Let's be honest. There wasn't much competition for the Capahas during the three-team event in Cape Girardeau.

Pine Bluff and the Charleston Riverdogs seem to be full of good guys who play hard and have fun.

On the baseball field, however, they're simply overmatched against a squad like the Capahas that is full of former or current Division I players, along with a few ex-professionals.

But it's not the Capahas' fault that the tournament field hasn't been better in recent years. Manager Jess Bolen tries to get more quality teams to enter, and he's hopeful that will be the case next year.

Bolen holds the regional each year as a qualifier for the NBC World Series. Otherwise, the Capahas would have to rely on an at-large NBC World Series berth, which would not be a given.

As it is, the Capahas are assured of making their 27th consecutive World Series appearance, which is quite an accomplishment.

And make no mistake about it, this Capahas team is talented enough to make some noise in Wichita, as it did last year by finishing seventh.

Bolen said the Capahas have been notified they will be the No. 8 seed in Wichita, meaning tournament officials expect them to be among the top contenders.

Whether the Capahas do fare well next month remains to be seen, but they've definitely got a chance.

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I know there have been some great Wimbledon finals over the years, and I'm old enough to remember some of the true classics, especially that one in 1980 featuring Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

But I can't imagine anything topping the show that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal put on.

Matching one incredible shot after another, the world's top two players waged a five-set thriller that was one for the ages. It already is being called perhaps the greatest match ever at Wimbledon.

Nadal finally edged Federer 9-7 in the fifth set to deny the top-seeded player a sixth consecutive Wimbledon championship, but that was really beside the point.

The exceptional quality of the match is what made it stand out.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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