Disappointing week had a few bright spots

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

$$$Start

ggarner

We had a disappointing week because I really felt we could win three games and jump-start our Ohio Valley Conference season. We did get our first OVC win over Eastern Kentucky, but we had disappointing losses to Tennessee State and Morehead State.

We have been in 11 of the 12 games we lost this season, but we just haven't been able to close out games. We have leads or are in striking position late in games, but we just haven't been able to get the job done at the end. Turnovers and rebounding continue to be our main problems and we just have to continue to work hard in practice to improve in those areas.

I would like to congratulate Derek Winans on being selected as the OVC Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. In the three games last week, Derek averaged more than 18 points and four rebounds per game. He shot better than 50 percent from the floor and from three and shot over 85 percent from the line.

Derek continues to be a good player for us. He is a redshirt freshman who has the physical ability and the intangibles to be a very good basketball player. He is quick, jumps well, is strong for his size, has a nice jump shot and can create his own shot.

Derek is a tough kid and a very intelligent player who wants to win. He practices hard every day and listens. He works hard to do just what you tell him and he gets better because he listens. Derek has good court awareness and savvy and plays with great confidence. The redshirt year last season helped him.

Our other two scholarship freshmen, both true freshmen, are playing well and making great progress.

Brett Hale is playing even better than I expected this season. We had to play him out of position for the first six games when Kenny Johnson wasn't eligible, and Brett performed well under adverse conditions. Now he is playing in the two and three positions in addition to some time at the point. All year he has been a very good defensive player.

Brett is a great shooter who is tough and understands the game. He is a team player all the way.

Adam Crader is an intelligent player who continues to give us quality minutes when called on. In the Morehead State game he played seven minutes and had three points, one rebound and one steal. He was 1-for-2 from the floor and made his only free-throw attempt.

Adam works hard every day and always has a smile on his face. He has a bright future.

In Saturday's loss to Morehead State, we were plagued with 20 turnovers, but the three freshmen combined for only one turnover.

This week we go on the road for games at Tennessee-Martin Thursday night and Murray State Saturday night. Both teams are contenders in the OVC and will present tough challenges for us. We have played well on the road this season and in the past and hopefully we can have a couple of good days of practice and be ready for two good outings. The Murray State game will be televised on WPSD-TV.

I would like to thank the fans who came out to our games last week. You have been great this season and we really appreciate your support. I'm sorry we haven't given you more wins, but I know our team will continue to work hard and get better.

Gary Garner is the basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State University

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