Redhawks have chance to rebound from road trip
Monday, January 18, 2010
It was, on the surface, a totally lost eight days for the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team.
The Redhawks went 0-3 on their rugged road swing to Eastern Illinois, Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky.
The closest Southeast came was 16 points, Saturday's 79-63 setback at Eastern Kentucky. There was Thursday's 40-point blowout at Morehead State and a 20-point pasting at Eastern Illinois a week ago Saturday.
But if you're a Southeast fan who thinks the sky is falling, there is a silver lining to be found.
That's because Southeast was facing three of the Ohio Valley Conference's better squads. Morehead State is in second place, with Eastern Kentucky third and Eastern Illinois fifth.
So it's not exactly like Southeast was getting pounded on by chopped liver. As badly as the Redhawks were overmatched, at least they now have three of their toughest conference road games behind them.
The losses, despite their lopsided nature, were expected -- Southeast was a double-digit underdog in each contest -- although perhaps not by those types of margins.
The bottom line is that they haven't wiped out the Redhawks' chances of making the OVC tournament, an event for which eight of the league's 10 teams qualify. Southeast (5-12 overall, 2-5 OVC) currently is tied for seventh place.
Entering the season, simply getting into the conference tournament would have been a major -- and surprising -- accomplishment for first-year coach Dickey Nutt's rebuilding Redhawks.
Seven contests into their 18-game OVC schedule -- five of those seven have been away from home -- the Redhawks are on track to play in the postseason, even if only by the slimmest of margins.
For this year at least, Southeast fans would be thrilled with that.
Southeast doesn't have nearly enough firepower to overcome the loss of key players, so the Redhawks really need junior forward Cameron Butler in the lineup this week when they host a pair of games.
Butler, Southeast's No. 2 scorer and rebounder, has missed the past two contests with a foot injury.
There is a chance Butler will return to action Thursday against last-place Tennessee-Martin. That game will be followed by a Saturday visit from OVC leader Murray State, which is undefeated in league play.
The Redhawks also miss freshman Lucas Nutt, their best pure point guard whose season ended several weeks ago because of a broken foot.
Southeast's women appeared headed for just as rough a three-game road stretch as the men after getting blasted by 28 points at first-place Eastern Illinois and 38 points at second-place Morehead State.
But the Redhawks bounced back Saturday, winning at fourth-place Eastern Kentucky 43-41. Southeast (6-10, 3-4) is tied for sixth place.
The Redhawks' first road victory of the season has strengthened their OVC outlook after they lost leading scorer Jasmine Davis and third-leading scorer Lauren Sharpe.
Davis, a freshman guard, suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. Sharpe, a junior wing, is out indefinitely with back problems. Coach John Ishee said there is a strong chance Sharpe won't play again this year.
The Redhawks have a decent shot to climb above the .500 mark in OVC play this week when they host last-place Tennessee-Martin and Murray State, which is tied for sixth with Southeast.
It made me extremely sad to to learn that former Southeast assistant men's basketball coach Randy Curl died Jan. 11 after a bout with lung cancer. He was 53.
Curl was on Ron Shumate's staff for the final 10 years of Shumate's 16-season tenure at Southeast, which ended following the 1996-97 campaign.
Curl, known as an outstanding recruiter, played a major role in building some of Southeast's powerhouse Division II teams under Shumate and also helping the program move into Division I.
More than being a fine coach, Curl was also a great guy who I became good friends with during his decade in Cape Girardeau. We stayed in touch after he left the area.
Curl was really looking forward to returning to Cape in December when the 1988-89 Southeast squad that finished second in the Division II national tournament with him as an assistant was inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame.
But after being diagnosed with lung cancer in August, his health declined rapidly, and he could not make it to the induction ceremony from his home in Des Moines, Iowa.
Among the many things that stood out the most to me about Randy were his tremendous personality and zest for life. He was about as personable and funny as anybody I've gotten to know over the years. He made countless friends during his time in Cape and all will miss him, myself included.
According to the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, there is a chance Missouri State freshman forward Michael Porter from Sikeston will take a medical redshirt this season.
Porter has missed the last eight games with a hamstring injury. That came after he missed the season's first four games because of an emergency appendectomy.
Porter is averaging 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in six games and, according to the News-Leader, probably was only healthy for two of those before the hamstring trouble flared up.
Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.