The SIU men’s basketball team has suffered a four-game losing streak for the second time this season after an 81-51 defeat to Creighton at home Sunday night. Although none of the team’s 6-foot-6 (or shorter) players will grow significantly overnight, there are other areas in which the Salukis can improve.
One the most overlooked Saluki stats is their low free throw percentage. During its four-game skid, SIU has made 22 of 53 free throws (41.5 percent). The team has made just 63 percent of its free throws this year, which is good for last in the Missouri Vally Conference.
Junior guard Desmar Jackson proved he can draw contact in the team’s Jan. 12 win against Indiana State, where he drained 12 points from the free throw line. Since then, no other Saluki has scored more than five free throws in a game.
And the Salukis’ perimeter defense has been just as horrid as their unimpressive free throw numbers.
SIU ranks last in 3-point field goal percentage defense, which allows teams to make 43 percent of their attempts from long range. The Salukis have also allowed opponents to make a conference-high 74 shots from beyond the arc. Drake (9-11, 3-6) is the only other MVC team to see more than 70 3-pointers made against their defense.
Although SIU is the conference’s most effective team in ball protection, they also rank last in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.8 per contest.
Through nine conference games this year, the Salukis have committed 99 turnovers (11 per game) and accounted for just 76 assists (8.4). There hasn’t been a single player to amass more than 10 assists in any one game this season, and senior guard Kendall Brown-Surles leads the team with 2.4 dimes a game.
SIU has improved its offense from last season, as the team is shooting 7 percent better from the field. However, SIU has made the least amount of 3-pointers (36) in the Valley and is ranked eighth in 3-point field goal percentage.
Brown-Surles and Jackson appear to be the team’s only long-range threats as the two guards have made a combined 51 3-pointers. The rest of the team has made 29 long-range shots for the season.
Senior guard Diamond Taylor showed flashes of perimeter scoring in the team’s 2011-12 season, when he was the squad’s third best 3-point shooter, but the senior has only seen garbage minutes late in games recently.
Coach Barry Hinson and his Salukis have responded well to injuries, suspensions and press conferences this season. However, Hinson needs to make more adjustments to his team if he hopes to win a ninth conference game.