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By Gus Bode

Saluki basketball players seemed optimistic heading into a stretch of games where their next five opponents collectively won just five games.

“We have been coming together as a team a lot more, so I think our confidence will show over these next few games,” sophomore guard Diamond Taylor said Tuesday. “We should go on a win streak. The more we win, the more confident and more comfortable we’ll get as a team.”

Taylor had reason to be positive. They just won their first game of the season, he had a career-high 19 points, and at the time, it seemed like the Salukis were finally on the right track. But one loss to a bad Western Kentucky team and a police investigation has killed whatever confidence the team once had.

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Before the negativity starts to pile on, take a step back and look at Justin Bocot’s situation objectively. All we know is he is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault that occurred Saturday morning. We don’t know what actually happened, or who is even accusing Bocot, so let’s wait until all facts come out before we write him off as just another Lowery player who got in trouble with the law.

But this came at the worst possible time for Bocot and the Salukis. Bocot struggled in his last three games, only averaging 5.3 points per game, and could have righted the ship against the sub-par opponents SIU has scheduled in the next few weeks.

Lowery even said after the game Wednesday that Bocot would’ve excelled in the fast-paced game they played against Western Kentucky. But now, who knows what will happen. All we know is he probably won’t be on the court in the foreseeable future.

This means the Salukis have to rely on their other guards to score for them, like Taylor and juniors Jeff Early and T.J. Lindsay. Lowery said he wished they didn’t have such a long break before the Western Kentucky game so Taylor would stay hot, and it turned out he had reason to be concerned: Taylor only had two points Wednesday.

Early and Lindsay picked up the pace though, with a combined 23 points in the loss. But after freshman Josh Swan struggled at point guard with seven turnovers and no assists Wednesday, SIU looks thin at guard.

For that matter, SIU looks thin everywhere. Freshman Dantiel Daniels is still out with a pulled groin, and every time somebody asks Lowery about his recovery, Lowery’s reaction makes it seem as though Daniels is on life support.

“He has not progressed, just like I said, he’s still the same. He has not practiced; he‘s not available,” Lowery said Tuesday. “I can’t answer (when he will be back), I’m not a doctor, I can’t answer that. I’m giving you what I’m told everyday. I ask that same question.”

That leaves four players on the bench for SIU. It doesn’t matter how good your team is, it’s hard to win with that thin of a bench. With all of the turmoil around the program, it’s going to be hard to win anyway.

So much for being optimistic.

 

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