Southeast women's perseverance is rewarded

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team appeared to be making steady improvement despite an 0-6 start under first-year coach Ty Margenthaler.

That improvement finally paid off on the scoreboard last week as the Redhawks (2-7) gave Margenthaler his first two wins as a collegiate coach.

Saturday's 66-56 victory over Lindenwood University, which is transitioning from NAIA to Division II, was expected.

But Tuesday's 56-52 triumph over a solid Arkansas State squad definitely was an upset. It was a real shot in the arm for a coaching staff and group of players trying to rebuild Southeast's struggling program.

A brutal early schedule hasn't made things easy for Margenthaler, whose team has faced a number of first-rate clubs.

While Saturday's contest offered a respite for the Redhawks, the break won't last long because 10 of their first 13 games are being played away from Cape Girardeau.

Margenthaler booked road games as he scrambled to fill Southeast's nonleague schedule after being hired. He plans on making the schedule more home-friendly in the future.

For now, he hopes the rugged slate can help prepare the Redhawks for all-important Ohio Valley Conference play.

If Southeast's recent performances are any indication, that should be the case.

The Southeast men's basketball team got back to the .500 mark with Saturday's 63-61 overtime win over Southeastern Louisiana.

Southeast's defense has been inconsistent, but the Redhawks (4-4) had one of their better defensive performances to improve to 4-0 at home this season. The four-game winning streak at the Show Me Center is their longest since the 2007-08 season. However, the Redhawks are winless on the road, going 0-4 thus far.

I've said this before, but I like the talent third-year coach Dickey Nutt has assembled. If the Redhawks can start defending well on a consistent basis, they definitely can be a major player in the OVC race.

OVC preseason men's basketball favorite Austin Peay's 0-9 record is stunning.

Austin Peay never has had such a start in coach Dave Loos' previous 21 seasons. The Governors are off to their worst start since the 1963-64 season.

In the Govs' defense, they have played only Division I opponents so far, unlike most OVC teams. And they've faced a bunch of good squads, including Memphis on Saturday.

Things won't get any easier for the Govs this week. They host Arkansas State tonight and visit Tennessee on Saturday.

I had lost track of former Southeast guard Derek Thompson, who was among the Redhawks' better players as a freshman during his lone season with them in 2009-10.

Thompson, who left Southeast and returned to his native Detroit because of an illness in the family, is now in his second season as a key contributor at Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference.

Thompson made 18 starts last year and was second on the Eagles in scoring at 9.4 points per game. His 69 3-pointers ranked third in the MAC.

Thompson is averaging 5.6 points this season after recently returning from an injury that forced him to miss three games. He started the Eagles' first four contests before being sidelined.

One of my favorite events will make its annual appearance at the Show Me Center on Friday when Southeast inducts its newest hall of fame class. I'm looking forward to seeing the inductees.

John "Hap" Bernard (basketball, football, baseball, 1908 to 1913), Greg Brune (football, baseball, 1964 to 1968), Bobby Ferguson (track & field, 1983 to 1986), Jeremy Johnson (baseball, 1996 to 2000) and Tom Thrower (football, basketball, track & field, 1958 to 1960) will be enshrined. The 1991 softball team that advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four also will be inducted.

Friday's event will begin with a dinner at 6 p.m., followed by the induction ceremony. It is open to the public, with tickets costing $25 for adults and $10 for children 10 and younger. To reserve tickets, call 651-2227.

There also will be a reception for the new inductees before Saturday's men's basketball game against UMKC from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Show Me Center front meeting rooms. The inductees will be recognized at halftime.

This marks Southeast's 10th hall of fame class. The hall now will include 71 individuals and 14 teams since it was started in 2002.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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