How Dillard can dictate the Salukis season

Photo Credit: Stephen Rickerl

When SIU men's basketball head coach Chris Lowery said freshman guard Kevin Dillard had moved into the starting rotation, the wheels in my head started moving like the players in the motion offense.

Having two freshmen in the starting lineup isn't necessarily something any hoops head coach wants, but Lowery has officially made the first step to improving the Salukis' postseason chances by moving Dillard into the starting five.


Because the motion offense will run better because of it. Well, it should at least.

When SIU was giving opposing teams fits en route to all those Missouri Valley Conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids, the Saluki offense excelled because it had multiple ball handlers on the court at the same time. And I'm not knocking the ball-handling skills of Wesley Clemmons or Torres Roundtree, but Dillard causes matchup problems because of he can put on a ball-handling clinic on one possession, slash on another and pop a 3-point jumper on the third.

Bryan Mullins, Tony Young and Jamaal Tatum each shared the ball handling responsibilities in 2007 and 2006. Tatum and Young did it in 2005. Tatum, Young and Darren Brooks did it in 2004. Watch Purdue's three-guard offense and you'll see how the motion is properly run. And why is it run properly? Because the personnel employed by Matt Painter's bunch calls for at least two ball handlers.

The added ball movement should benefit forwards Carlton Fay and Tony Boyle who should excel with Dillard's court vision and ability to provide crisp entry passes into the post. And it gives defenses a third name to focus on in scouting reports. Team's can't zero in on only C-Fay or B-Mull when Illinois' Mr. Basketball also lurks on the perimeter.

We'll see how the team responds tonight in its first home game on its MVC schedule against Northern Iowa.