Indians welcome time for practice

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

$$$Start

ggarner

I hope everyone is ready for a big Thanksgiving. On behalf of our coaching staff and players, we want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

We all have a lot to be thankful for and I am thankful that we will be able to get in some extra practices while school is not in session.

We will practice twice today, twice on Thanksgiving Day and twice Friday, once at the Show Me Center before we leave for Springfield and a night practice at the Hammons Center once we arrive in Springfield. In addition to the two practices on Thanksgiving Day, we will take the team and staff to a Thanksgiving buffet at a Cape Girardeau restaurant.

We need the practice time to continue to get better as a basketball team. We lost our opener to Birmingham Southern last Friday and, although our team played hard, we just didn't shoot well in the first half.

After the game I told our team that there are nights when the ball just won't fall and that we can't control whether or not the shot goes down. What we have to do is control the things we can control.

We can control how hard we play, how we block off after shots, how we get back on defense and how we play defense. Those are the things we need to improve on to get better. The shots will fall, we just have to do a better job of controlling the things we can control.

I was proud of how hard our players played in the opener. I was particularly pleased with the play of walk-on guard Kevin Roberts. He suffered a badly sprained ankle two days before the game and at the shoot-around the afternoon of the game I was 99 percent convinced that he wouldn't play.

Kevin did play, though, and was 3-for-3 from the floor in 34 minutes. I know he was in pain, but he played hard and well at both ends of the floor. Saturday, he was back on crutches and he missed practice Sunday and Monday, but he should be ready for Saturday night's game at Southwest Missouri.

Derek Winans will be available Saturday and it will be good to get him back in the lineup. We need his scoring and his ability to create shots. He also gives us a spark defensively.

Drew DeMond, who had been out with hand injury, will also be available as he was cleared to play Monday. Having him back will give us a big lift.

We gain Derek and Drew, but we lose Daniel Weaver for Saturday's game. Daniel will be out of town to serve as best man at his brother's wedding. His being gone comes at a bad time for us, but family always comes first and it is important to the Weaver family that Daniel be best man at his brother's wedding.

Southwest Missouri has a very good basketball team that is coming off a 79-77 loss at North Texas. I know they will be ready after we beat them last year at the Show Me Center.

We will have to shoot the ball well to have a chance for an upset Saturday night. The last three years our defense kept us in a lot of games and we only had to shoot okay. This year, with so many new players and a lack of depth, we have to shoot well.

Again, everyone have a great Thanksgiving and remember we will be back at the Show Me Center next Tuesday night to host a very good Arkansas-Little Rock team.

Gary Garner is the head basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State University

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