Southeast can't shake injuries heading into SIU showdown

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Gary Garner is in his 22nd season as a head college basketball coach -- and he said he's never before experienced anything quite like the rash of injuries that has hit Southeast Missouri State University this year.

"I've never been through anything like this," Garner said.

Southeast's latest ailment was the most unusual as starting center Ketshner Guerrier injured a knee during the shootaround prior to Saturday's game against Central Methodist.

Guerrier, a junior college transfer who provided needed athleticism in the middle, was originally thought to be out for a minimum of three weeks with what appeared to at least be a sprained knee.

But further examination indicated that Guerrier could miss quite a bit more than three weeks and, if there is structural damage to the knee, he could be out for the rest of the season. Southeast is awaiting results of an MRI that will determine the exact extent of the injury.

"Until we get the MRI results, we really don't know," Garner said.

Southeast's other junior college transfer at center, Waylon Francis, is already playing with a dislocated finger that, had Guerrier not been hurt prior to the Central Methodist game, probably would have kept him out of that contest.

"It's a pretty significant injury, but with Ketshner out, we have to have Waylon in there," Garner said.

Junior college transfer forward James White, ticketed for a backup role, has not yet played in a game because of a knee injury and almost certainly will miss the entire season. He would be able to gain a medical redshirt and preserve the year of eligibility, unlike Guerrier, who has already participated in too many games.

"James could really be helping us," Garner said. "He's not a great player, but he's a big body in there who could rebound and defend."

Senior guard Mike Nelke is playing with a small fracture in his left wrist and senior guard Derek Winans -- Southeast's leading scorer the past three seasons -- only recently returned to action after missing the first four games and all of preseason practice with a stress fracture in his left leg.

In addition, junior college transfer backup forward Cody Lewis missed the Central Methodist game with a bruised back.

"We've had so many injuries, it's just been unbelievable," Garner said.

Being shorthanded is probably not the best way to try and pull off a major upset, which is what it would take for Southeast (3-4) to win its next game, Saturday's 8 p.m. contest against Southern Illinois (6-2) at the Show Me Center.

SIU has made three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings against Southeast, whose last victory over the Salukis came during the 2000-01 season.

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