CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.
- Southeast Missouri's men's basketball team opens its two-game exhibition slate when it hosts Missouri S&T Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m., CT, at the Show Me Center.
Southeast's 2017-18 roster consists of 13 players, including two seniors and one returning starter. Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference guard/forward Denzel Mahoney is the lone starter back from last year's squad.
A Second-Team All-OVC selection, All-Newcomer pick and the 2016-17 OVC Freshman of the Year, Mahoney had a mammoth rookie season. He finished second on the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game and was the Redhawks leading scorer in conference play (16.6 ppg) in 33 starts. He led Southeast with 57 three-pointers made, dished out 40 assists, collected 23 steals and gathered four blocks. Mahoney scored double figures in 27 of his starts, including his final 11 of the 2016-17 campaign. He ranked 10th in the OVC in free throw percentage (.815) and 12th in scoring. Mahoney was also named OVC Freshman of the Week a league-high five times.
Guards Jonathan Dalton, Dondre Duffus and Daniel Simmons, and forward Milos Vranes also gained experience with the Redhawks in 2016-17.
Dalton played in 30 games and made one start, while Duffus averaged 6.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in five games and three starts before a groin injury ended his season. Simmons and Vranes, the two seniors on this year's team, played in 32 and 31 games off the bench, respectively. Vranes averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, while Simmons followed with 5.4 points and two boards per contest. Vranes and Simmons knocked down 28 threes apiece, as well.
Returnees Ray Kowalski and Donnie Lewis, and newcomers Khalil Cuffee, Isaiah Gable, Justin Carpenter, Skyler Hogan, Ledarrius Brewer and Mark Laros complete the 2017-18 Redhawks. Carpenter will miss both exhibiiton games due to a knee injury and Hogan will sit out the season due to NCAA Division I transfer regulations.
Southeast sets to begin its third year under head coach Rick Ray
. Ray led the Redhawks to a +10 increase in the win column and they were the 22nd Most Improved Team in NCAA Division I Basketball last season. Southeast finished at 15-18 overall and second in the OVC West Division with a 9-7 mark after going 5-24 and placing last in the OVC in 2015-16.
In 2016-17, Southeast showed dramatic improvement from the previous season. The Redhawks ranked among the top-five in the OVC in several categories, including steals (1st, 7.7), assist/turnover ratio (5th, 1.1) and 3-point field goals made (5th, 8.0). Southeast made its biggest jump from the 2015-16 season to this past season in turnover margin (8th to 1st), 3-point field goal percentage (last to 2nd) and free throw percentage (last to 2nd). Nationally, the Redhawks went from 331st to 49th in free throw percentage and 336th to 59th in total 3-point field goals made.
This year marks the third-straight where Southeast hosts Missouri S&T in exhibition play. The Redhawks won the previous two meetings by scores of 93-64 (Nov. 7, 2015) and 84-77 (Nov. 7, 2016).
After Wednesday's matchup, the Redhawks welcome Missouri Southern in a charity exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 4. Start time is 6 p.m., CT. Proceeds from that game will go to the American Red Cross to assist with hurricane relief efforts. Tickets require a minimum $5 donation at the door.