2008 NIT Capsule: Southern Illinois
Southern Illinois Salukis
Missouri Valley Conference (17-14, 11-7)
Big Wins: 11/23 vs Mississippi State (63-49), 12/11 St. Mary’s (71-56), 1/26 Creighton (48-44)
Bad Losses: 12/15 at St. Louis (51-56), 1/12 at Indiana State (62-64), 3/7 vs Northern Iowa (49-54)
Coach: Chris Lowery
Bryan Mullins, Junior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.1 spg
Wesley Clemmons, Junior, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Tyrone Green, Senior, Guard, 5.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Matt Shaw, Senior, Forward, 12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Randal Falker, Senior, Forward, 12.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Joshua Bone, Sophomore, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Carlton Fay, Freshman, Forward, 2.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Tony Boyle, Junior, Forward, 4.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
The Salukis play tremendous suffocating man-to-man defense. Besides giving up just 60 points per game, Southern Illinois does not do anything else exceptionally well…except win and even that is a relatively new thing as far as this season is concerned. The Salukis started the season with a 6-8 record, but have since turned things around. Luckily that slow start was against a pretty tough schedule, otherwise SIU would be nowhere near the postseason.
Randal Falker and Matt Shaw may be undersized forwards at 6-7, but they are both solid scorers. Falker has dominated the MVC in the paint. He will get on the glass and score from the post. Falker gets to the line a lot, but since he shoots just 68.3 percent from the charity stripe, that may be the best way to defend him. However, that is a drastically better free-throw percentage than last year. Falker is also a solid defender and can block shots and will even occasionally defend the opposing point guard. Shaw will bang bodies on the inside as well, but he can also step out and hit the outside shot.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Besides point guard Bryan Mullins, the rest of the eight players who see quality minutes average more turnovers than assists or are at least very close to it. As a team, the Salukis commit nearly two more turnovers per game than they have assists. For a team that averages 63 points, losing out on 14 possessions per contest is huge. In his third year as a starter, Mullins has cut down on his turnovers, but the rest of the team needs to follow. The other concern is depth in the frontcourt. Falker and Shaw often find themselves in foul trouble and Tony Boyle is the only option off the bench. However, Boyle is nowhere near the offensive threat as the starters.
Who To Watch:
Joshua Bone, Wesley Clemmons and Tyrone Green have traded starting duties at the two wing spots. Bone is the only who is a threat from long range, Clemmons is the best finisher around the rim and Green is the defensive specialist. Compared to the production the Saluki’s are used to from their wing players, Bone, Clemmons and Green are not great scorers. They will all play around the 26 minute per game mark and SIU needs to get a lot more points out of their wings than what they have been getting if they plan to make a little tournament run.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 62.7 (286th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.8 (12, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.7 (232, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (114, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (214, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (214, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (102, 7)
Rebound Margin: 1.3 (133, 5)
Assists Per Game: 11.9 (260, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.8 (125, 5)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Final Four loss to Syracuse
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