Salukis return to the court against Western Kentucky

By Gus Bode

After 12 days between games, head coach Chris Lowery says the team is itches to get back onto the court.

“The positives obviously are more practice time and more ability to work on some things we haven’t been able to work on,” Lowery said. “The negatives are game-time experience, that’s the No. 1 thing. We haven’t played, and we need these guys to play as much as possible.”

SIU (1-3) will return today as it takes on Western Kentucky (3-6) at 7:05 p.m. at the SIU Arena. This will be the first game the Salukis played since they defeated Chicago State 73-57 on Nov. 25.

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“Mainly, we’ve been working on our shooting and our conditioning, because when you get that long layoff, your legs get kind of sore, you get kind of tired,” sophomore guard Diamond Taylor said. “We’ve also been working on our defense and our shooting and staying confident.”

The SIU men’s basketball team listens to coach Chris Lowery Tuesday during practice at the SIU Arena. SIU hosts Western Kentucky University tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the SIU arena. Jessica Tezak | Daily Egyptian na.

The Saluki defense has forced teams to commit 18 turnovers a game, which bodes well for SIU as Western Kentucky allows the eighth most turnovers in the NCAA.

“We know they’ve turned the ball over a lot. We know they’re very young, and they’re playing almost all of their seven freshmen,” Lowery said. “They’re very inexperienced just like we are. Hopefully (Western Kentucky) being on the road will be a factor with what we’re trying to do.”

The Salukis will feature the same starting five as they did against Chicago State, with freshman forward Treg Setty getting his second start in place of injured freshman Dantiel Daniels, who hasn’t practiced in two weeks due to a strained groin.

Junior guard T.J. Lindsay is back after he played limited minutes against Chicago State due to an ankle injury, but  Lowery said freshman Josh Swan has cemented the point guard position with junior Kourtney Goff coming off the bench in that role.

“They (Swan and Goff) don’t turn the ball over, and those are the things that you have to have at that position,” Lowery said.

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This will be Swan’s third start of the season for SIU, and he said he is getting more comfortable with each game.

“After getting those first two games under my belt, it definitely feels a lot … better to bring the ball down and play that point guard position,” Swan said. “The first game at Northeastern was a little shaky, but definitely now I feel more comfortable.”

Swan said he’s excited for the chance to play some familiar faces on the Western Kentucky squad, including WKU freshman Nigel Snipes, who was Swan’s former high school rival out of Marietta, Ga.

“I’ve played against him since maybe eighth grade, played him every year in high school, AAU. We’ve played on the same team before,” Swan said. “Even in high school we’d go back and forth: my team would beat his team, his team would beat my team. It’s going to be a good little reunion.”

Snipes is one of 11 players who has started a game for Western Kentucky, and it’s that uncertainty in their lineup that Lowery said makes WKU hard to plan for.

“They’ve had guys not play and not given a reason why, so it’s unusual,” Lowery said. “We don’t know who they’re going to start. We know four of them will start again, but which four, we don’t know.”

Even with the uncertainty on the other side, Swan, Taylor and Lowery said they see this game as the beginning of a small run they can make leading up to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii Dec. 22-25. SIU’s next four opponents have a combined record of 5-24.

“Now we’re at that point where it’s time for us to take off,” Swan said. “At first, everybody was new, we’re trying to get a feel of how to play, what guys work well together. Now I think we’ve found that.”

 

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