Team preview: Southeast Missouri State

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 3:11 PM ET
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Expectations were high at Southeast Missouri State at the start of last season, and for good reason. The Indians returned four starters from the 2002-03 team and had added depth and athleticism.

Coach Gary Garner expected to compete with the best teams in the OVC. Most of his counterparts in the league expected the same. But their title plans unraveled early in the conference season when they lost four of their first six games in the closing minutes -- to Austin Peay by four, to Tennessee Tech by two, at Tech by one, and at Austin Peay by two.

Sandwiched between the first two losses and the last two were victories over Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State, but the 2-4 OVC start proved too much to overcome.

"When the conference season started, our first six games, we lost four of the first six at the buzzer, two of them literally at the buzzer," Garner said. "That kind of got us off to a bad start. We were close to having a decent basketball team but we lost so many close games. If we win two or three of those early, you don't know how the season might have been."

Garner hopes a year of experience -- and last year's disappointments --will help the Indians this season.