The SIU men’s basketball team is last place in the Missouri Valley Conference, but most of the team’s problems stem from its lack of size and length. Coach Barry Hinson has changed his lineup several times this season but has yet to find the most consistent unit.
Sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels scored 23 points in a Dec. 20 loss against UC Davis, but the Salukis’ top big man has been quiet statistically since conference play has begun. Daniels has scored more than 10 points only once in the last five games, and he averages
8.6 points per game this season. The sophomore’s 3.11 rebounding average has severely dipped from last season’s 4.89. Although injuries have afflicted the post forward, MVC teams appear to have a better strategy for guarding him.
Hinson said Daniels hasn’t been very explosive and athletic this year. “I’ll say this in his defense, I think the majority of it goes back to the injuries. He just has no explosiveness whatsoever. With the groin and the ankle, he just can’t explode,” Hinson said. “He’s had three shots blocked here recently where the guys blocked him and they didn’t jump in the air, so you know there’s something going on. When you get your shot blocked and you don’t jump in the air, and you’re the only big guy that we’ve got, then obviously that causes you
some problems.” Daniels’ struggles have affected
the team’s offense. The lack of post scoring allows teams to crowd the perimeter and defend jump shooters
better. Despite efforts to pass Daniels the ball early, the Salukis haven’t been able to run plays to
get attempts closer to the basket. SIU (8-12, 1-9 MVC) shoots just 30 percent from the 3-point line,
and teams have been wise enough to force the Salukis into long- range shot attempts. Without size in the front court, the team hasn’t been able to score high percentage second-chance points.
Although the Salukis miss Daniels’ scoring, Hinson said, the team really needs him to grab boards.
“The biggest stat that I’m concerned about, along with the inability for us to score inside, is right now he’s gotta get rebounds,” he said.
Hinson has searched for answers to his team’s post deficiencies. The first-year SIU coach has changed his defensive strategy, half-time pep talks, practice routines and in-game rotation all in an attempt to gain the team’s elusive ninth win. Coaches who have to resort to lineup changes multiple times in a season usually don’t win a lot of games, and this holds true for Hinson.
However, adjustments must be made because the Salukis have shown some promise in spots.
The problem with Hinson’s rotation issues isn’t that he’s not making them, but he hasn’t found one to stick with. Against a much longer Illinois State team, Hinson started an all-guard rotation. The Salukis lost the rebounding battle, were outscored in the post and subsequently lost the game 83-47.
Junior Davante Drinkard is the Salukis’ tallest player on the roster, but he hasn’t seen much play time lately and didn’t play in Wednesday’s game against Drake because of a hip- pointer injury.
The Salukis have to get some type of scoring on the low block if they look to win any of the nine games left in the MVC schedule, and it doesn’t even have to come from the team’s big men.