Former Southeast Missouri State coach Ishee returns to the profession

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Former Southeast women's basketball coach takes reins at the juco level

Former Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach John Ishee is back in the profession.

Ishee recently was hired as the women's basketball coach at Ranger Junior College in Ranger, Texas. The community has a population of about 3,000 and is located approximately 100 miles west of Dallas.

"I'm real excited,"said Ishee, who spent five seasons in charge of Southeast's program before the university decided not to renew his contract in March of 2011. "Things happen for a reason, I guess. I know they do."

Ishee, 51, spent the past year working for several recruiting services, including Blue Star Basketball.

"I was called their ‘national evaluator.' I guess when you get fired you become an expert," Ishee said with a laugh.

Ishee, who continued to make his home in Cape Girardeau after being let go by Southeast, said it was a difficult year for him for several reasons, including financially.

"It's been a tough year. That's why I'm so grateful for this opportunity," Ishee said. "You can never take opportunities for granted. There are a lot more coaches than there are coaching jobs."

Ishee's run as Southeast's coach began spectacularly. The Redhawks' assistant was named acting coach two days before the 2006-2007 season when B.J. Smith was put on administrative leave amid reports of potential NCAA violations.

Ishee led the Redhawks to the 2006-07 Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title, the OVC tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament. He was named the league's coach of the year and had the "acting" tag removed from his coaching title late in the season.

Ishee also led Southeast to the OVC regular-season championship and a WNIT berth in 2007-2008. He had a 47-17 record through those first two seasons.

But Ishee never came close to matching that initial success during his final three years with the Redhawks.

Southeast dipped to 15-15 and a fifth-place OVC tie during Ishee's third season in 2008-2009, then the bottom fell out.

The Redhawks went 7-21 and 8-21 during Ishee's last two seasons. He compiled identical 4-14 OVC records, and Southeast failed to make the eight-team OVC tournament both years. Southeast previously had not missed the tournament since the 1996-1997 campaign.

Ishee's record with the Redhawks was 77-74, including 62-32 over his first three years.

But all that is long in the past for Ishee, who is taking on the challenge of building a Ranger program that is coming off a 4-25 season and has struggled for years.

"It's an opportunity to get back into what I love to do," Ishee said. "I've never coached community college basketball before, but coaching basketball is coaching basketball."

Ishee said he really hasn't given much thought about the possibility of some day returning to Division I coaching.

"If the opportunity is right. ... but my big deal, I want to be happy every day I wake up," he said. "I want to enjoy the people I'm around. Right now I'm just very happy to be where I'm at."

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