SIU @ WKU: Pregame thoughts

Just because I'm supposed to be on vacation doesn't mean I'm not in the loop on what's going down with the SIU men's basketball team.

And yes, I'm sorry I haven't posted a lot of the stuff from NYC. We've been having some problems with the videos, but they'll hopefully be up by tomorrow night.

But moving on from the debacle that was the final rounds of the 2K Sports Classic, the Salukis take to the road as they will meet the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for their first true road game of the season. Last season, SIU struggled in its road bouts and none of the losses were pretty.

There were nail-biting bitter defeats at Indiana State and Missouri State that came at the buzzer. Then there was the blowout loss at Creighton. Again, not pretty. But this is a new team with new talents and hopefully they've put the past behind them.

Here are a few things I find noteworthy about this game:
  • This will be the first game SIU plays without reserve center Nick Evans, who will be out 4-6 weeks after breaking his wrist in the loss against UCLA. While the freshman wasn't a starter, he was a legit big man who was making the most of his minutes and was one of the team's best assets against Duke and UCLA. That means more minutes for sophomore Carlton Fay, senior Tony Boyle, freshman Anthony Booker and junior Christian Cornelius and maybe...
  • The return of the four guard line-up? I know that Chris Lowery said he doesn't want to use it, I remember a time in which Lowery liked using it and used it to the point in which it was successful in spurts. The Salukis have the personnel to do so with seniors Bryan Mullins and Wesley Clemmons, sophomore Justin Bocot and freshmen Kevin Dillard, Ryan Hare. Expect Hare to get a bump in minutes as he was one of the most impressive players in New York as he took several charges and was aggressive taking the ball hard to the rim. That's the kind of play that will get you an increased roll.
  • I'll be going to keep an eye on freshman guard Torres Roundtree's minutes. Roundtree has been limited to 1+ minute since injuring his knee in the Dawgs' win against UMass. The possibility of Roundtree and Evans being held out of tonight's game is high, but nothing Chris Lowery and his staff can't handle.
  • WKU was a Sweet 16 team last year, but its Cinderella run went almost unnoticed as Stephen Curry and Davidson captivated the minds and minutes of TV time of basketball fans everywhere. However, the Hilltoppers are a totally different squad as it has lost its top scorer (Courtney Lee) to the NBA and head coach (Darrin Horn) to South Carolina. We'll see how leading scorer A.J. Slaughter and first-year head coach Ken McDonald respond.
Saluki Nation, expect a fight tonight as both squads have a lot to prove in this early season out-of-conference matchup. Maybe SIU has more to prove, seeing that it wants to shed last season's road woes and last week's shortcomings. Or the Hilltoppers, who are trying to re-establish themselves as one of the best mid-major team's in the country.