Southeast basketball teams debut this week

Monday, November 7, 2011

Southeast Missouri State basketball teams open their seasons Friday, the men at Missouri and the women at North Carolina State.

Neither Southeast squad will ease into the campaign.

The men play three of their first four contests on the road, with all three of the trips being their annual "money" games to generate revenue for the athletic department.

Matchups at Missouri, Bradley and Oregon will fetch a total of $250,000 minus expenses. Mizzou and Oregon are both paying Southeast $90,000, with Bradley forking over $70,000.

The women play their first three games on the road and have 10 of 13 contests away from Cape Girardeau at the start of the season.

It will be interesting to see if third-year coach Dickey Nutt can continue the steady improvement of the men's program and if first-year coach Ty Margenthaler can surprise people with the women's team, which was picked to finish last in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Southeast fans won't have to wait long for answers.

The OVC is using a 16-game format this year instead of the round-robin schedule that the league has featured in all but two seasons. The change came after the league increased to 11 teams and means teams won't play every squad twice.

The schedule likely will take on a different look next season as the OVC expands to 12 teams with the addition of Belmont.

OVC officials are exploring the use of a divisional format for all sports but football, which consists of nine schools.

Logical divisions, based on proximity and existing rivalries, could consist of Southeast, Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, SIU-Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin in one group, with Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State in the other.

A sensational OVC football race is being waged with two weeks left in the regular season.

Eastern Kentucky took over first place with Saturday's 52-48 comeback win at preseason favorite Jacksonville State.

The Colonels scored 28 points in the final seven minutes to wipe out a 48-24 deficit, then stopped JSU at the 1-yard line as time expired. EKU improved to 5-1 in league play.

JSU, which has lost two straight games -- both at home -- is in a three-way tie for second place with Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin, all at 4-2.

EKU still has to play Tech and Martin, both at home, so things could get crazier.

JSU visits Southeast this week, and you know the Gamecocks will be breathing fire after the loss to EKU.

I wrote a couple months ago, after SIU routed Southeast 38-10 in the season football opener, that I expected the Salukis to have a good year.

Boy, was I wrong. SIU is assured of its second consecutive losing record after the Salukis suffered their sixth consecutive defeat -- the school's longest losing streak since 2001 -- at South Dakota State on Saturday. SIU is 2-7 overall and 1-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

It hasn't helped SIU that talented dual-threat quarterback Paul McIntosh has not played since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Western Illinois on Oct. 1.

Sophomore Kory Faulkner, a Ste. Genevieve High School graduate, has done a solid job in replacing McIntosh, but losing the experience and all-around ability of McIntosh was a big blow to the Salukis.

Congratulations to Scott City High School senior Brandon Shemonia for winning the Class 2 cross country championship.

Shemonia finally broke through Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo., after finishing as the state runner-up the previous two years.

Kudos to all the other area runners who fared well at state in such a grueling and demanding sport.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa surprised a lot of people last week -- myself included -- with his retirement announcement, but what a way for him to go out after St. Louis' stunning World Series victory.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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