The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 25, 2013

Lion prepare for three games in six days

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

— Talk about extremes.

Missouri Southern’s basketball teams, thanks to last week’s wintry mix, have not played a game in eight days.

But now, the Lions will play three games during the next six days, starting with tonight’s rescheduled home games against Central Oklahoma.

Tipoff is 5:30 for the women’s game and 7:30 for the men’s contest at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions and Bronchos were supposed to play last Thursday, but treacherous roads prevented UCO from making the trip from Edmond.

“I don’t think it’s good,” Lions men’s coach Robert Corn said of the week off. “I particularly don’t think it’s good when we have three games in front of us, and after we play Saturday (at Central Oklahoma), we have to turn around and play somebody else on Monday (in the postseason tournament).

“That’s never a good sign. You don’t want to be a tired team going into the playoffs. You want your team fresh and playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence.”

“The way I look at it,” MSSU women’s coach Maryann Mitts said, “give them a couple of days off, which is rare this time of year, and hope they come back excited and focused and energized to play the last week of the regular season.

“At this point of the season, they want to be playing games. I don’t think there is a player in the country who wants to practice for four-day stretches. If I’m an 18- to 22-year-old, I’d be real excited about these next six days and how dramatically these three games could determine your season.”

One good thing for the Lions is their busy week does not include any long trips. The Lions play Wednesday night at Pittsburg State before Saturday’s regular-season finale at UCO.

The Lions’ playoff hopes haven’t been damaged during the past week. Both teams are one victory or one Nebraska-Kearney loss from assuring themselves a top-12 finish and a spot in one of the postseason tournament’s four play-in games.

And both teams have a chance to move up into the top eight teams, which would earn homecourt advantage in the play-in game.

Senior Night festivities tonight will be short as Erin Rice is the only senior on either squad. She will be honored during halftime of the men’s game.

Thanks to two injuries during the same practice last week, the women’s team is short-handed.

Johnna tenBerge, whose 3-point shooting came to life in recent games, suffered a knee injury and is done for the season. Shatara Stone has a dislocated shoulder and likely will not play before Wednesday, Mitts said.