Redhawks women hopeful to get off to hot start vs. young squad
Friday, November 12, 2010
The young Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team opens the season today against a squad that is nearly as young.
Southeast and Sam Houston State square off at 1 p.m. in Oxford, Miss., as part of the Ole Miss Classic.
The Redhawks play either host Mississippi or Jackson State at either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. Saturday.
"On paper, it should be a good matchup," Southeast coach John Ishee said of today's opener.
Southeast is coming off a 7-21 season that saw it go a last-place 4-14 in the 10-team Ohio Valley Conference. Inexperience and injuries contributed to the dismal year.
The Redhawks still are very young but have considerably more experience. There are no seniors and three juniors, along with nine sophomores and one freshman.
Sam Houston State went 11-18 overall and 8-8 in the Southland Conference to earn its first league tournament berth since 2004 a year ago.
The Bearkats, who return just one starter, have one senior along with five freshmen and three sophomores.
Expectations are not high for either Southeast or Sam Houston State, picked to finish last in their respective conferences.
Ishee hopes that what he saw out of the Redhawks in their two exhibition games doesn't indicate another season of struggles.
Southeast lost to a pair of NAIA opponents, Missouri Baptist and Bethel (Tenn.). The Redhawks are coming off Monday's 66-37 rout at the hands of Bethel that caused Ishee to say, "I'm embarrassed."
Added Ishee: "We've got to get better in every area. The main area, we have to get mentally tougher. We're going to find people that want to compete."
Sophomore Clarke Davis is Sam Houston State's lone returning starter. The 6-foot forward averaged 4.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season.
Chanice Smith, a 5-9 sophomore guard, averaged 8.7 points off the bench.
The Bearkats are bolstered by the return of 6-foot sophomore guard Britni Martin, who was a medical redshirt last season. Martin was the first Sam Houston State freshman to average double figures since 1995 with a 10.5 scoring mark two years ago.
"We had some young players put up good numbers for us last year," Bearkats coach Brenda Welch-Nichols said. "With those young ladies ready to provide a solid foundation plus another strong recruiting class, we can't wait to get started with the new season."
Following this weekend's tournament, the Redhawks play their first home game Wednesday against 2009-10 NCAA qualifier Northern Iowa as they continue a tough nonconference schedule that features matchups at the likes of traditional powers Notre Dame, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Louisville.
"I think we've got one of the toughest schedules in school history," Ishee said. "Hopefully it will make us better and help us get ready for the conference."