The men’s basketball team’s resume this season includes school records for the widest margin of defeat and second-fewest points in a game.
The way the coaching staff talks makes it seem like they’re just too tired.
“We were running with bricks on our feet, and they were sprinting,” head coach Chris Lowery said after the Salukis’ 85-42 loss to Wichita State Jan. 21, the largest margin of defeat in school history. “It was pretty clear we were tired from the beginning.”
Lowery called the week that ended with the Wichita State game the “week from hell,” mostly because the team had to deal with two three-day trips to play Wichita State and Creighton, the top two teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.
But after the 60-40 loss at Illinois State Saturday, the second-fewest points for SIU in school history, travel concerns shouldn’t be an issue. The Salukis practiced Friday afternoon, left that night for Bloomington, and played a 3:05 p.m. game against a team SIU beat 86-71 earlier this season.
So what happened?
“The thing that’s hard to believe for us is how many open shots we missed,” Lowery said Saturday. “How many opportunities we didn’t take advantage of that led to a run-out for (Illinois State).”
As a team, the Salukis shoot .413, which is the worst in the MVC. They hit just 30 percent of their shots against Illinois State Saturday.
Even with the numerous off-court issues this season, on the court the problems are simple: You have to hit shots to win.
Lowery said the way they plan to improve their shooting percentage is to get the ball as close to the basket as possible with freshman forward Dantiel Daniels. In 27 minutes Saturday, Daniels took just four shots.
“That guy has to touch the ball. When you play 27 minutes and only get four touches, that’s our guys’ impatience,” Lowery said.
Senior forward Mamadou Seck didn’t help the Salukis when he only hit two of his nine shots. Seck is normally dependable and the team’s leading scorer, but his inconsistency lately has really hurt SIU.
“We’re going to ride him out because he’s a good player. We’re going to continue to go to him,” Lowery said.
To make matters worse, the Salukis went into the game Saturday with a chance to move into a tie for third place — yes, third place — in the MVC with a win. Instead, they sit in a three-way tie for seventh, and seem destined for the play-in game of the MVC Tournament March 1.
Joe Ragusa can be heard on “The Saluki Report” every Tuesday at
7 p.m. on WIDB.net The Revolution.