Winning is my anti-drug

NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 20 2K Sports Classic - Southern Illinois v Duke
It was good to my home in Chicago on Wednesday night and learn that the SIU men's basketball team defeated Wichita State to pick up its first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season.

Even though I wish I could have listened to the game on the radio on the drive up (attn: Mario Moccia, where's my Chicago outlet for the Saluki radio network), there are just some things a stat sheet and a box score can tell me. Here are those things:

  • All five starters scored in double-figures. I've been a fan of Saluki basketball for a while and am in my second semester covering the team for the Daily Egyptian, but I cannot remember the last time all five starters reached double figures in scoring. It is just proof of not only the potential each individual on this team has, but what could happen when said individuals buys into the team concept. Much maligned senior forward Tony Boyle scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field, senior point guard Bryan Mullins scored 13 points, dished out 7 assists and hit all three of his 3-point attempts and freshman guard Ryan Hare led the team with 18 points, 10 of which came from the charity stripe.
  • Two bench points ain't gonna cut it. I understand where the departures of Torres Roundtree and Christian Cornelius have left the SIU bench short-handed, but two points is almost unacceptable. Senior guard Wesley Clemmons is supposed to thrive in the role of being a star reserve while freshmen big men Anthony Booker and Nick Evans should be licking their chops as their minutes should increase with CC out of the picture. In the bench's defense, every starter logged at least 28 minutes, which in itself will limit bench productivity. I'm just not sure if it was supposed to eliminate it.
  • Fun-n-Gun? I didn't see or listen to the game, so I couldn't tell you about the pace of the game Wednesday night. But I can tell you the 74 points scored by SIU is the most since scoring 73 against Northern Illinois. Southern shot 54 percent from the field, and even though Wichita State shot a respectable 46 pecent from the field (including a 56.5 percent showing in the second half) the box score showed me that the little defensive school that could won what could be considered a shootout by schools tandards.
  • Hot shots. I'm assuming that each Saluki starter channeled his inner-NBA Jam star and pressed the correct button combination to enable the cheat in which the player is "on fire" at all times. SIU shot a sizzling 80 percent from the 3-point line (8-for-10) and an even hotter 88.9 percent from the free-throw line (16-for-18). The only 3-point misfires came from Clemmons and sophomore forward Carlton Fay. Boyle missed two freebies from the charity stripe.
  • Magic Number: 165. SIU starters played a grand total of 165 game minutes. That's ridiculous and unheard of in college basketball. It is rare to see head coach Chris Lowery ride his starters so hard for so long. In speaking with Lowery, he likes to get his players, especially guards, as much rest as possible because fresh bodies play the team's demanding style of play the best. The win was nice, but at the cost of running the team's stars into the ground before Valentine's Day is a little much.
That's it from the City of Wind. I'll be back in Carbondale soon, where I am sure we will talk Saluki sports once again.

Until next time, it looks as if this win will silence the critics and heal what ails the Salukis, if only for one night.