SIU moves on from Tatum and Young

By Gus Bode

This season’s SIU men’s basketball team will call upon some key cogs from last season to move on from graduated senior guards Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young.

It’s fitting, coach Chris Lowery said, because the Salukis have had to do the same thing in the past while the team went on to reach greater heights.

“We’re not dwelling on the fact of what we lost,” Lowery said. “We’re totally supportive of what we have here right now, and I think when you dwell on it, they see it.”


Tatum took with him a Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Player of the Year award in 2007, while Young won a school-record 107 games with the team and was named to the MVC’s all-defensive team three times at SIU.

Young also scored 9.9 points per game last season, while Tatum led the Salukis with 15.2.

Senior forward Randal Falker, who scored 12.3 points per game last season and finished third behind Tatum in the Player of the Year running, said increasing his scoring isn’t all that’s going to help SIU fill the void left by Young and Tatum.

“Scoring more points isn’t necessarily going to win you ball games, but I plan on being a little bit more aggressive and trying to do a little bit more,” said Falker, who led the conference in blocked shots with 2.08 per game last season.

Also to be filled is a void in the backcourt, as Young and Tatum were both guards.

Lowery said junior guard Bryan Mullins, the Salukis’ primary ball-handler, will now be the guy in total control of SIU’s offense.

Mullins, who averaged a team-high 3.5 assists per game last season, said it will be up to him and the other guards – senior Tyrone Green, sophomore Josh Bone and junior Wesley Clemmons – to replace Young and Tatum.


“Obviously they did everything for us, in terms of leadership and scoring, and just making all the little plays that a lot of people don’t notice or don’t show up in the stat sheets,” Mullins said.

Tatum and Young were also the Salukis’ unquestioned leaders last season, but Lowery said that role now falls to the new seniors – Green, Falker and forward Matt Shaw, as well as former walk-on guard Dion Coopwood. Mullins said Green will also play more of a role in SIU’s offense this season.

Shaw said he’s been more vocal with the team, and Falker said the little things are what he’s going to do to become a better leader, such as calling team meetings and leading by example.

Lowery said Mullins will also be taking on more of a leadership role, and each player is different in filling the role of a team leader.

“Randal’s obviously more outspoken, Matt’s more quiet and leads by example and Bryan’s really talked a lot more now than he’s ever talked, so that’s a good thing as far as that’s concerned,” Lowery said. “And Tyrone Green’s been very good as far as leadership and talking, and knowing what it takes to win a championship.”

Daily Egyptian reporter Scott Mieszala can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 256 or [email protected].