Shortened Saluki bench struggles with consistency

By Gus Bode

Depth continues to be a problem for the Salukis, as senior starter Justin Bocot sat out again because of an ongoing legal situation.

The SIU men’s basketball team has now lost two consecutive games with its 62-55 loss to Western Kentucky Wednesday and a 54-43 loss to Western Michigan Sunday.

Reserve  junior Jeff Early entered the starting lineup Wednesday for SIU’s game against Western Kentucky which left the Saluki bench only four deep. Senior forward Mamadou Seck averaged 17 points during the last two games and leads the team in assists with an average of five per game. Seck said his career-high seven assists against the Hilltoppers showed that his teammates were able to score once the defense pressured him.

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“It was making plays,” Seck said. “Every time they double teamed me, somebody was open.”

The team committed 34 turnovers during that time, with almost half of the turnovers occurring in the game’s second half.

Freshman point guard Josh Swan committed a career-high seven turnovers against WKU, but head coach Chris Lowery said those were part of the young point guard’s growing pains.

“He’s got to keep playing, this is his first high turnover game and they went after him,” Lowery said. “He knows he left some plays out there, but he got eight rebounds too. He did some good things besides turning the ball over.”

Swan was held without an assist during Wednesday’s game and only one against the Broncos. He said he knows it’s important for him to put his teammates in a position to make shots.

“A point guard has to direct traffic and distribute the ball,” Swan said. “It’s my job to get everyone else on the floor with me involved in the game offensively and defensively.”

Despite his one assist in the last two games, Swan’s teammates, freshman forward Treg Setty and sophomore guard Diamond Taylor, are shooting a combined 2 of 22 from the field for a combined seven points. Taylor said additional scoring is needed from the guard position with Bocot out. Once the team becomes more comfortable with the offense, Taylor said it will be able to create more space and opportunities to score.

The Hilltoppers outscored the Salukis’ shorted bench 27 to 10, but the Salukis outscored the Broncos’ bench 18 to one. Freshman forward Antonio Bryer and center Harry Whitt combined for two points and one rebound in 21 minutes, as both players battled to stay out of foul trouble against the Hilltoppers. Whitt’s play improved against the Broncos. He scored seven points, including a three pointer in Sunday’s game, but still committed four personal fouls.

Another bright spot from the Saluki reserves was junior guard T.J. Lindsay, who scored a combined 21 points off the bench in the last two games including five three-point baskets.

Lowery said his team will continue to improve with more experience and by continuing to play hard.

 

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