Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball coach Ed Arnzen is anxious to finally see his team against some outside competition.
And Arnzen won't have to wait long. The Otahkians will tip off their two-game exhibition schedule tonight with a 7 o'clock contest at the Show Me Center against St. Louis Goldstar, a squad made up of former collegiate players.
"We're looking forward to playing," said Arnzen. "Every coach says the same thing. You practice two, three weeks against yourself, you don't have a clue to where you are. You need to play somebody else."
Arnzen said he is definitely not looking for an easy time tonight. Southeast beat Goldstar 78-74 last year and the squad figures to be formidable again.
One of Goldstar's players is former Southeast standout Renee Rogliardi, who starred on the 1990-91 Otahkian squad that finished second in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
"It's a competitive group and they'll be a good test for us," Arnzen said. "But we approach exhibition games different than any other game. Every player will play. We're going to try to win, but if it means losing and not playing somebody... everybody will play."
Iversen breaks nose
The Otahkians were staying relatively injury-free until Tuesday, when senior center Pam Iversen suffered a broken nose in practice. One of five returning starters for Southeast, Iversen's status for tonight is up in the air, but she should definitely be ready for the regular season.
"Even is she misses an exhibition game or two, that wouldn't be the worst thing," Arnzen said. "She's broken her nose before and it shouldn't be a problem for the (regular) season."
Arnzen said likely starters for tonight are the five returning regulars. That includes junior Lori Chase at power forward, junior Tiffany Melis at small forward, junior LaShelle Porter at point guard and senior Veronica Benson at shooting guard. If Iversen can't go at center, then senior Cindy Bates would likely get the nod.
According to Arnzen, two spots in particular -- point guard and small forward -- have featured some spirited competition for playing time.
At the point, sophomore Christine Rathke -- who played plenty at both guard positions last year -- has looked solid.
"Rathke has had a really good fall," said Arnzen. "It's nice to have two good point guards. I'm sure we'll end up playing both at the same time. We did that a lot last year and moved Benson to the three."
At that three spot (small forward), Arnzen said junior-college transfer Ta Keela Ball and freshman Andrea Koeper out of Jackson High School have waged quite a battle with Melis.
"Ball has good quickness and has been playing well and so has Koeper," Arnzen said. "All three will probably get quite a bit of time and hopefully eventually one will emerge."
The Otahkians will have a second and final exhibition game Nov. 9 at home against Division II SIU-Edwardsville. The regular season tips off Nov. 16 at the Texas-Pan American Tournament.Men's foe changed
A foreign exhibition game scheduled first with the Czech Republic and then Ukraine has not materialized, so the Southeast men will instead open exhibition play with Division II Missouri-St. Louis Nov. 8 at the Show Me Center.
"With the threat of terrorism in the United States, it has been difficult for Sport Tours International to schedule a foreign opponent for us as scheduled," said Southeast coach Gary Garner. "Under NCAA rules we are allowed to play Division II opponents in exhibition games."