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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 27th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Southern Illinois Salukis

 

Overall Rank: #19

Conference Rank: #1 MVC

 

2005-06: 22-11, 12-6, 2nd (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

With everybody of importance returning, a successful winning program and a second place finish last year, Southern Illinois is the favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference…at least according to some people.  Coach Chris Lowery will have more depth to work with this year, which will make an already intimidating defense even worse for the opposition.

 

Who’s Out: Mike Dale saw action in eight games before leaving the team.  While a talented player, SIU played most of the year without him and even if he did return, team chemistry could have become an issue.  Austin Brooks was forced into action as a deep option off the bench last year.  The guard filled some minutes, but the newcomers will provide more of a spark off the bench.  Kyle Smithpeters wrapped up his Saluki career appearing in just eight games.

 

Who’s In: Southern Illinois could use some more depth on the perimeter.  Christian Cornelius, Josh Bone and Tyrone Green are solid options and will provide a more dynamic group off the bench than SIU had last year.  Cornelius played power forward in high school, but should see most of his time on the wing for the Salukis.  After redshirting last year, the 6-7 Oak Park, Illinois native has gained some strength and will use it to get to the basket for some exciting finishes in Carbondale.  Bone is a solid long range shooter should contribute off the bench as a freshman.  Green regained his form after his first year at Southeastern Illinois College when he switched from shooting right handed to left handed.  Despite handling the rest of life’s little duties as a southpaw, Green shot right handed, and relatively poorly at that.  After just a little over a season later, Green has a consistent jumper and the junior is expected to contribute off the bench right away.  Redshirt freshman Jordan Armstrong and transfer Kobby Acquah will bolster the frontcourt depth.  Acquah, a 7-1, 225 pounder, played at Clark Atlanta University last year and the senior won’t have to sit out a year due to the school dropping his academic program. 

 

Who to Watch: It’s difficult to call a 15.0 point and 3.2 assist average a disappointing season, but Jamaal Tatum set higher expectations as a sophomore.  Now as a senior, the 6-2 guard will have to become a better leader and take better shots.**  His mate on the wing will be the second leading scorer of a year ago, Tony Young.  Point guard Bryan Mullins was thrown into the fire as a freshman and did a magnificent job running the show.  He’s a smart player and with a year of experience under his belt, Mullins should be even better.  Wesley Clemmons will once again be the first guard off the bench. 

 

** Tatum is suspended for the first three games of the season.

 

Final Projection: The frontcourt starters are a little undersized at 6-7.  However, that was not a problem last year when Randal Falker effectively took on the taller centers of the MVC.  Falker, along with Matt Shaw are both effective scorers under the basket.  What this team was lacking last year was consistent offense.  Most of that will fall on Tatum, who shot just 36.5 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent from long range.  If Tatum or Young struggle with the shot much of the time, SIU won’t win the MVC.  If one of them finds a little more consistency, the Salukis will win the conference for the sixth time in seven years.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Bryan Mullins, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game

Tony Young, Senior, Guard, 11.6 points per game

Jamaal Tatum, Senior, Guard, 15.0 points per game

Matt Shaw, Junior, Forward, 10.0 points per game

Randal Falker, Junior, Forward, 9.1 points per game

 

Also: Chris Lowery Preseason Interview

Also: MVC Preview & Ranking

20 Nevada » Complete List » 18 Louisville

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