Indians seek 1st exhibition victory tonight

Monday, November 12, 2001

Most college basketball coaches don't regard results of exhibition games as all that important, but Southeast Missouri State University's Gary Garner thinks there are exceptions.

Such as tonight's second and final exhibition contest of the season for Garner's Indians, who take on the Dreambuilders at the Show Me Center.

After losing their exhibition opener Thursday night when Missouri-St. Louis rallied from 22 points down to prevail 75-72, Garner believes his young and inexperienced squad needs a victory heading into Friday night's season opener against visiting Birmingham Southern.

"I think, with such a young team, a win is important for their confidence before our first game," said Garner.

The Indians seemed to have plenty of confidence in the first half Thursday as they blistered the nets on their way to a 47-27 halftime lead. That advantage stretched to 49-27 early in the second half before UMSL rallied.

"Any time you compete in anything you want to win, so it was really disappointing to lose," Garner said. "But you don't get too bent out of shape about an exhibition game. You just look at the tape and see where you can get better."

Where Garner believes the Indians need to seriously get better tonight as opposed to Thursday is defensively. Southeast allowed the Division II Rivermen to shoot 54 percent for the game, including 62 percent in the second half.

"We have to get better defensively," said Garner. "We can't let a team shoot the ball against us like that."

Depth is a problem for the Indians right now and will continue to be for at least a while longer as they have only seven available scholarship players. Drew DeMond is out with a hand injury and Kenny Johnson is awaiting NCAA certification. Johnson is expected back for Friday's opener while DeMond should miss no more than one or two regular-season games.

In addition, two more scholarship players -- Monte Gordon and Justin Smith -- won't become eligible until the second semester.

"We just don't have any depth right now, which is really hurting us," Garner said.

The Dreambuilders are a group of former collegiate players based out of Des Moines, Iowa. Two years ago, the Dreambuilders defeated Southeast in an exhibition contest.

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