Indians lock out all distractions in effort to bond

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Southeast began practicing for early exhibition games in Canada.

By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian

Southeast Missouri State University's men's basketball team on Monday held the first of 10 practices for its Labor Day weekend trip to Canada.

And the workout was no doubt distraction free because coach Gary Garner announced earlier Monday that each of the 10 practices will be closed to the public and media.

No, said Garner, he has not all of a sudden developed extreme paranoia about possible major secrets regarding his squad getting out to the public -- or worse yet, opposing teams.

Garner said that, with six first-year players and a brand new coaching staff, he simply wants the group to use these two weeks to bond together as much a possible with as few distractions as possible.

"I don't know that I've ever closed practice before," Garner said. "But for these 10 days, we really want to come together as a team. On this trip, it's only going to be coaches and players, no family and basically nobody else, and we want it to be the same during these 10 days.

"It's just a psychological thing. We just want it to be us and the Show Me Center to bond together, with no distractions. That's the only reason. I'm not worried about any secrets getting out or anything."

Garner said when individual workouts begin later this month and when official preseason practice starts in October, those sessions will likely once again be open, as has generally been the case during Garner's previous seven seasons at Southeast.

Meanwhile, Garner again emphasized just how valuable he believes the 10 days of practice and three games in Canada will be for the Indians. Under NCAA rules, college teams are allowed to play a series of games outside the United States once every four years, and the NCAA allows 10 days of practice prior to the trip. The trip is being funded by money raised by the basketball program, with no university funding being used.

"This is just a great opportunity for us, and it's a perfect time for us to do this because we've got three new staff members and six new players," said Garner, whose squad returns six players. "The 10 days of practice will be invaluable, giving us a chance to evaluate our players."

The Indians will leave for the trip on Sept. 3, play two games against Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, on Sept. 4, and one game against Guelph University in Guelph, Ontario, on Sept. 5. They'll return to Cape Girardeau on Sept. 6.

"We want to win all three games, but we're going to play everybody, and everybody will probably play about an equal amount of time," Garner said. "We need to take a look at everybody."

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