Indians' start probably a sign of what's to come

Sunday, December 1, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- Southeast Missouri State University's first two games in the University Hoops Classic probably offer a pretty good assessment of the kind of team the Indians will be this season.

They're a team that has the capability of beating more talented opponents when everything is clicking, as was the case during Thursday's impressive 89-75 triumph over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

They're also a team that is not nearly talented enough to beat most squads when they are not at the top of their game, as was the case during Friday's 68-55 loss to Indiana State.

Southeast coach Gary Garner, despite what he saw Thursday when the Indians put on a virtual clinic in racing past heavily favored Wisconsin-Milwaukee, realizes the Tribe can't realistically play that well in most games. Not many teams can.

The Indians also probably won't shoot as poorly most nights as they did against Indiana State when tired legs and a stout Sycamores defense combined to stifle Southeast's offense.

Southeast's true team probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two performances. On the nights the Indians have things going their way, they can win games that on paper they maybe have no business doing so. On the nights when the Indians are struggling, things might not be all that pretty.

Garner has said many times that he really likes this team, the way it works in practice, the way it plays together, the type of chemistry it has demonstrated so far.

But Garner also knows that the Indians are probably a year away from having the kind of overall talent that will make them a truly good team night in and night out, the kind of talent that allows teams to post victories even when they're not at the top of their game.

With most of this year's key players scheduled to return next season -- although senior forward Tim Scheer's scoring won't be easy to replace -- and with the addition of touted junior-college transfers Dainmon Gonner and Norman Prather, Southeast fans are already looking ahead to their team's prospects for 2003-2004.

But, first things first before we prematurely turn the page toward next year.

Entering today's final tournament game, the 2-2 Indians have already shown considerable promise for this season, particularly if they can ever get injured forward Reggie Golson on the court. It's hoped he'll begin playing soon as his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery has taken a lot longer than anybody expected.

Southeast has a chance to put together a solid season this year and make some noise in the Ohio Valley Conference -- as long as the good Indians show up on most nights.

The heart of New Orleans -- Bourbon Street and the French Quarter in particular -- apparently is full of activity at just about any time of the year.

But things were really buzzing over the weekend because of Saturday's annual Bayou Classic football game between Grambling and Southern at the Superdome that turned Bourbon Street into a mini-Mardi Gras with literally tens of thousands of people flooding the streets for several nights.

Let me say, it's been a tough job covering the Indians in New Orleans the last few days -- but somebody has to do it, right?

You've got to love a city that allows people -- perhaps even encourages them -- to walk the streets with alcoholic beverages in their hands.

And let me say one other thing: The beads do work their magic year-round, as I had been told. But you can go through a lot of beads in the Big Easy.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian

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