It was great to get a win Saturday night. When you have lost five games in a row, it is very big to get a win regardless of who you are playing.
We should have beaten North Alabama and we did, 75-68. We did a good job of getting the ball inside and we shot about 50 percent from the field. I've said all along that good shooting will cure a lot of ills.
We are getting better. I thought we played well at Vanderbilt last Wednesday night. Our team battled to the end against a good Southeastern Conference team and we were within three points in the final minute before losing 76-71.
Brett Hale had his best game of the season against Vanderbilt with 22 points, including 9-for-14 from the field and 3-for-6 from three. Brett was deservedly named OVC Rookie of the Week, making three straight weeks that one of our players has received this honor, with Derek Winans winning the previous two weeks. We do have good young players who will grow into great players during their stay at Southeast.
I am really pleased with the progress of another of our freshman, big Adam Crader. He is really doing some good things in limited playing time. He has put on over 30 pounds since arriving on campus and is now about 245 pounds and getting stronger every day. I thought Adam gave us seven quality minutes in the first half Saturday night. I have told him not to shoot unless he is wide open because I want him to concentrate on kicking the ball out to the open man.
Our record is not where we want it to be, but we are continuing to improve. We gain the services of point guard Kenny Johnson prior to Saturday's St. Louis game and that will be a big addition for us.
Kenny is a true point guard who has excellent quickness. He is our best ball handler, passer and penetrator. He has excellent vision on the floor and recognizes how to get us into our offense. A good point guard always thinks about how to get the other players involved and I see that quality in Kenny during our practices. He is also a good defensive player who should be able to keep opposing guards from penetrating inside.
Kenny will have a tough baptism under fire at St. Louis because he will be going against Marque Perry, who may be the quickest guard in college basketball. It should be a good matchup.
Monte Gordon is a veteran inside player who was also ineligible during the first semester. He continues to be bothered by a racing heart and we really don't know when he will be ready for game action.
St. Louis has a good team that recently took second-ranked Missouri to the wire before losing by two points. It will be a tough game for us, but I think it is important for us to get the exposure in St. Louis. We have a lot of alumni in the St. Louis area and we have a lot of students from St. Louis.
Hopefully you will be able to drive up to the game Saturday afternoon, and remember we will be back at the Show Me Center Monday night to host Mississippi Valley State.
Gary Garner is the head basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State University.