Southeast Missouri State signs women's basketball coach John Ishee to one-year extension

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach John Ishee received a one-year contract extension Wednesday. (Fred Lynch)

John Ishee is excited that he'll have an opportunity to help the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team rebound from one of the worst seasons in program history.

Southeast director of athletics John Shafer announced Wednesday that Ishee, whose original four-year contract as the Redhawks' coach was set to expire April 30, will receive a one-year contract extension through the 2010-11 season.

"I'm really happy and I'm appreciative to Mr. Shafer for his confidence in me," Ishee said.

The Redhawks went 7-21 overall and a last-place 4-14 in the 10-team Ohio Valley Conference this season as they matched the program record for losses in a season and missed the OVC tournament for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign.

Southeast had the fourth-youngest team in the nation with nine freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and one senior. The Redhawks showed some early promise before suffering several key injuries. They ended the year with nine consecutive defeats.

"You want to speed up the learning curve, but you can't do it," Ishee said. "With young players, it's a process."

After a slow start, the Redhawks won their first two OVC home games in early January to even their conference record at 2-2 and improve to 5-8 overall. But freshman guard Jasmine Davis and junior forward Lauren Sharpe never took the court again because of injuries.

Sharpe was Southeast's top returning player while Davis was the Redhawks' leading scorer. Another top player, freshman forward Bailie Roberts, missed six games with an injury.

Without Davis and Sharpe, and with Roberts missing extensive time, Southeast lost 12 of its final 14 OVC games and 13 of its last 15 overall.

Davis (10 ppg) and Roberts (9 ppg) ended as Southeast's top two scorers. Roberts also tied for third in rebounding (4.8) and was the team's top 3-point shooter at 39.7 percent. Sharpe (7.2 ppg) finished tied for third in scoring after ranking among the OVC's leaders in steals as a sophomore.

"There's no question the injuries hurt us. That's not really an excuse, that's a fact," Ishee said. "Everybody goes through injuries, but when you're the fourth-youngest team in the country, it really hurts.

"We had a bad season, but I feel good about the program. I've got a good group of kids and a good staff. We're ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to where we need to be."

This year marked Ishee's first losing season at Southeast. His four-year record with the Redhawks is 69-53, but it was 62-32 over his first three years. His OVC record is 47-29.

Ishee led the Redhawks to consecutive OVC regular-season titles in his first two seasons when they went 47-17. Southeast also won the OVC tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament during Ishee's first season, then received a WNIT berth during his second campaign. Ishee was OVC coach of the year in 2007.

Southeast dipped to 15-15 and a fifth-place OVC tie last year before this season's struggles. But Shafer believes Ishee deserves the chance to continue coaching at Southeast.

"I am excited about the future of women's basketball at Southeast," Shafer said in a release. "We have a group of young players who possess outstanding basketball skills. Coach Ishee has had success in the OVC and I look for us to be back in contention next year."

In addition to all the players eligible to return next season, Ishee already has signed all-state forward Brooke Taylor from Bismarck (Mo.) High School. Ishee said he might sign as many as two more players.

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