Saluki basketball ready to tip-off exhibition season

By Gus Bode

More than two months after a set of exhibition games in Canada, the SIU basketball team is ready to raise the curtain on another season of Saluki basketball at the SIU Arena.

SIU opens its exhibition season tonight against Missouri Southern in the first of two exhibition games this week. It will be the Salukis’ first game action since a facing the Windsor Lancers and Western Ontario Mustangs in late August.

Head coach Chris Lowery said SIU will approach this game as if it were a regular season game to see what the team has learned since its trip to Canada.

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‘At this point we’re ahead because we went to Canada, and that’s been very, very helpful as far as getting work offensively and just being able to have them be in the right places all the time,’ Lowery said.

Even though Lowery’s offense is missing the frontcourt firepower that was provided by departed seniors Randal Falker and Matt Shaw, the Salukis will feature a group of new guards capable of filling the basket.

Newcomers Kevin Dillard, Ryan Hare, Torres Roundtree and Justin Bocot join senior Bryan Mullins in a backcourt that now features depth and offensive capability.

Mullins, a preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference pick, has the task of equally distributing the ball in the Salukis’ motion offense while being a defensive stopper as well. He said it is a task he is ready to perform.

‘I’ve just got to lead by example and vocally a lot. We’ve got so many new young guys on this team, I’ve got to constantly talk to them, constantly tell them what to do and show them stuff,’ Mullins said.

‘They pick it up fast, so I don’t have to tell them too many times but just make sure they know what they’re doing and make sure everyone’s on the same page offensively and defensively.’

Freshman forward Anthony Booker, who averaged 12.9 points and nine rebounds as a senior at McCluer North High School in St. Louis, said the Salukis’ defensive mentality will not change as it tries to put more points on the scoreboard.

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‘We should be the same as the past few years and be solid defensively,’ Booker said. ‘But we’re trying to bring offense back to SIU, something we’re not really used to having.’

Stile T. Smith contributed to this report.

Luis C. Medina can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected]

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