Saluki Basketball heading into conference play

December 8, 2022

This year, three schools were added to the Missouri Valley Conference: Belmont, University of Illinois Chicago, and Murray State. Not only are these teams new competition for the Salukis, but important games that can help the Dawgs accomplish their 2022 season goals.

“These teams are all great additions, so it is definitely going to be a challenge,” said junior guard Dalton Banks.

Having added three new schools that the Salukis have not competed against previously is a big change for the team. Players like senior guard Trent Brown aren’t concerned about the preparations for the new additions. Each season, the Salukis coaching staff scouts conference and non-conference teams to prepare the team to perform at the best of their abilities.

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“I believe we just have to prepare like we always do. Our coaches do a phenomenal job scouting teams in both the conference and non-conference schedule. A team motto of ours is to do everything ‘one way’ and that is what we’re going to do,” Brown said.

One day at a time and game by game is exactly how the Salukis are preparing for conference play. Nothing changes season to season when it comes to conference preparation, it’s always ‘one way’ and that one way is the Dawgs sticking to their principles.

“We’re continuing to work on our foundation everyday. For us nothing really changes, we’re just continuing to be the best we can everyday and stick to our principles,” Banks said.

The Missouri Valley creates a long season within itself which makes each game so important, and the Salukis have to attack each game with the same mentality and a renewed energy. This is one important thing for the Salukis to remember when preparing for conference play.

Another thing the Dawgs are keeping in mind is understanding how important each game is. When it comes to the final weeks of the season, no team wants to look back and wish they could have played any game a different way. So keeping the energy high and continuing to work on their principles are going to be the keys to the Salukis conference play preparation.

“The win differential between a team finishing middle of the pack to the team taking home the trophy may only be three games. So, having that in the back of our minds as we prepare for every game is highly important,” Brown said.

Not only are they working as a team to prepare, but each player on the roster has been taking into consideration what they need to work on to help their team perform the best that they can.

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“Individually, I need to continue to be aggressive and help my teammates out. I want to make sure when I get in the game I have the right mindset and do anything I can to benefit the team,” Banks said.

Brown has similar things he is working on, “I have a lot to work on. I need to continue using my voice to communicate and keep everyone on the same page. Skill-wise, I have to shoot the ball confidently and have better defensive positioning,” he said.

When it comes to the overall goal for the Salukis, they all have the same thing in mind, to hang a banner in the Bantera Center. This has been a goal for the team since the core members came in a few years ago.

“I remember coming in and shooting around with Lance (Jones) and Marcus (Domask) when we first got on campus. We were starry eyed looking up in the rafters. One way or another we are hanging a banner in those rafters, there’s no other option,” Brown said.

With high hopes and big goals for the season, Southern Illinois men’s basketball began conference play on Nov. 30 with an 80-53 win over Evansville in Indiana. The Salukis take on Indiana State Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. for a conference game at home, then start an 18-game run of MVC matches on Dec. 29 versus Murray State in an away game.

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