Monday, January 24, 2011

Hansbrough comes up big in ND's upset over Pitt

Credit Ben Hansbrough for lifting Notre Dame to one of its basketball program's biggest wins.

Hansbrough, a Poplar Bluff grad, scored a team-high 19 points, and the 15th-ranked Irish won 56-51 at No. 2 Pittsburgh on Monday. The win snapped Pitt's 20-game home win streak. The Panthers had won 51 of their previous 52 home games.

"This was the first time we committed to an all-out 'burn,' and we beat Pitt doing it two times last year," Hansbrough said in an Associated Press story. "This is probably the best win I've had ... maybe ever."

Notre Dame is 17-4 and is off until Feb. 3.

Monday, January 17, 2011

At NMSU, Tony Samuel is the coach that got away

Just days after winning the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS coach of the year, Tony Samuel was a hot topic in New Mexico.

Not as a potential coach, but as the coach who got away.

Samuel was fired after serving as New Mexico State's football coach from 1997 to 2004. His team went 5-6 in 2004, and the school decided to not renew his contract. He landed at Southeast, where his team set school records in its 9-3 season in 2010. He won the Eddie Robinson Award earlier this month.

A story last week in the Las Cruces Sun-News asks a popular question these days at NMSU: Did the Aggies let Samuel go too soon?

Consider: New Mexico State has struggled since Samuel left, even after hiring well-traveled coach Hal Mumme as Samuel's replacement. Mumme went 11-38 before he was fired after the 2008 season, and the Aggies have gone 5-20 since.

As one fan told the Sun-News: "You don't fire a coach with five wins (in his final season) at New Mexico State. You carry him off on your shoulders."

Click here to read the full article.

Samuel, by the way, is under contract for just two more weeks at Southeast. His current deal expires Jan. 31, and the school has not announced an extension.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Southeast Missouri loses one of its racing legends

One of the most well-known families in Southeast Missouri short-track racing has lost its patriarch.

Troy "Durell" Fowler, a longtime competitor at some of the region's earliest oval dirt tracks and whose sons later carried on the racing tradition, died Sunday at Pemiscot Memorial Hospital in Hayti. He was 79.

Mr. Fowler was among the region's pioneers of the sport at a grassroots level, drawing fans to once-thriving oval tracks, including those in Charleston and Cape Girardeau's Arena Park.

He passed on his passion for the sport to sons Gene, James and Paul, who introduced the Fowler name to new fans — and added dozens of wins to the family legacy — at newer tracks in Benton, Caruthersville and Sikeston.

Mr. Fowler is survived by his wife Helen, his daughter Deborah, and his sons Gene, James, Paul and Stephen, all of Portageville.

Visitation is from 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at DeLisle Funeral Home in Portageville. Services are at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Assembly of God Church.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

If you're Tony Samuel, what do you do now?

Get inside Tony Samuel's mind just for a minute.

Your football team recently set school records for its 9-3 finish. You've finally gotten the attention of a football-loving community after four seasons of frustration. Top it off with the biggest award of your career — the Eddie Robinson Award as the nation's top coach in the FCS.

And now you've got until Jan. 31 to decide whether to sign a new contract with Southeast or head back into the big leagues.

If you're Samuel, the choice could be one of the biggest in your life.

Samuel knows that as a coach, a career isn't built on the empty promises for tomorrow, but instead on what you've done lately. And if Samuel wants to land back in college's major level — he was, after all, once a head coach at New Mexico State and an assistant at Purdue — now's the time. His resume looks sharp on the heels of a 9-3 season, especially at a program that's seen more failures than successes since it moved up from Division II in 1991.

Samuel's other option: Sign a new deal with Southeast by Jan. 31, risk a return to mediocrity next season when Southeast loses much of its talent to graduation, then watch his mid-major college value all but disappear.

Publicly, Samuel has had no offers to take or accept. But head coaching vacancies abound, and at major colleges coast to coast, newly hired head coaches are advertising several very appealing assistant jobs right now.

For a coach with no ties to Southeast Missouri and whose heart has always been at the major-college level, Samuel's decision to not come back for Year No. 6 would surprise no one.

Southeast, welcome back to the coaching carousel.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

How's this for a quick rematch? It's just the start in a packed week

DeSoto and Farmington barely had time to change their calendars before they had to start thinking about a quick boys basketball rematch.

The same teams that played to a one-point finish in Friday's Central Christmas Tournament championship will play again Monday (Jan. 3), this time at DeSoto. It's one of a few high-intensity games that help kick off basketball in 2011.

After Monday's showdown, another pair of teams with big Christmas tournament runs — Bernie and Twin Rivers — face off Tuesday.

Two days later, Dexter — coming off a 3-1 run through the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament — gets its second shot this season at district opponent Notre Dame.

And on Friday, a pair of Top 25 showdowns pit Sikeston against Charleston and Kennett against Poplar Bluff.

Toss in a few local rivalries and small-school showdowns, and the unofficial start to the second half of basketball season is off to a fast start. Check back all week for the latest scores and updates.