Southeast basketball aims for sellout in season finale

Monday, February 15, 2010

Even though neither Southeast Missouri State basketball team is tearing things up this season, the university hopes to end the campaign with a bang.

Southeast has launched an effort to sell out the Show Me Center for the final home games against Austin Peay on Feb. 27.

The event, titled "The Show Me Sellout," encourages fans from across the region to pack the Show Me Center.

Specially priced group tickets for that night can be purchased for $5 each, with a minimum purchase of 20 tickets.

Southeast fans can also sponsor tickets for area youth groups, providing an opportunity for those who might not otherwise have the ability to attend a game. Those wishing to make a contribution can donate the purchased tickets to the department of athletics, and they will be distributed on the donor's behalf.

A variety of activities also will be held that night, including face painting for kids, photos with Rowdy the Redhawk and autograph stations with the squads between the women's and men's games.

Southeast last had a sellout when 7,241 fans attended a game against Murray State on Feb. 12, 2000. That happened to be the season Southeast's men made their only NCAA Division I tournament appearance.

I can't imagine Southeast selling out the finale, but you've got to admire the administration for at least trying to generate excitement around the basketball programs.

According to a release from the university, over 3,000 tickets already have been sold since the announcement of the event, so that's a strong start.

And from first-year men's coach Dickey Nutt's angle, he told me he really hopes fans get behind the idea because he expects to have several recruits on hand that night.

To its credit, the Southeast men's basketball team has overachieved at various times this season, particularly given its injuries, including the loss of anticipated top player Leon Powell before the campaign even started and the loss of top inside player Cameron Butler for an extended period.

But Nutt always has known -- and said publicly -- that the Redhawks have little margin for error, meaning they must be at the top of their game most nights in order to have a chance to win, or even be competitive.

That has been amplified in recent weeks as the Redhawks have lost 10 of their last 12 games, including seven straight Ohio Valley Conference contests.

If anything, what this season has shown is that Southeast has a long way to go in order to climb up the OVC ranks. I've said it before, but you just don't dig out of the kind of mess Nutt inherited overnight.

While it's nice to see Southeast playing hard and trying to do the right things most nights, the bottom line is the talent level needs to be upgraded significantly before the Redhawks once again become OVC contenders. Nutt knows that more than anybody.

The Southeast volleyball program achieved a first when two of its signees -- Andrea Baylin and Colleen Yarber -- recently were named All-Americans after completing their senior seasons of high school. Southeast had never before signed a prep All-American.

Baylin, from Dublin, Ohio, made two separate All-American teams. She was an honorable mention pick on the American Volleyball Coaches Association/Under Armour squad and among 150 selections on the team.

Yarber, from Freeburg, Ill., also was named to the squad. She was placed on the highest honorable mention list, ranking her among the nation's top 250 prep players.

A Southeast women's basketball signee recently picked up a nice honor as Bismarck High School senior forward Brooke Taylor was named a McDonald's All-American nominee.

Taylor, among 27 girls nominees from Missouri, was not selected for the prestigious all-star game that will be played March 31 in Columbus, Ohio, but to be considered is impressive.

Notre Dame Regional High School senior forward Jane Morrill was another nominee. The Arkansas State signee was not selected for the game.

The Southeast department of athletics is organizing a shoe drive this month to help send water to Haiti.

The effort encourages people to donate shoes (new or used) to the Redhawks Success Center or any home Southeast athletic events this month. People should tie the strings together or put a rubber band around the shoes so they can be packaged and distributed properly.

The shoes will be shipped to South America and sold to people who cannot afford new shoes.

All proceeds will be used to purchase a drilling rig and towing vehicle which has the capability of drilling 30 to 40 wells in Haiti per year, giving people a permanent clean water source.

For more information, call 986-6007.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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