Daily Egyptian

Four Salukis honored by MVC

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU doesn’t play in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament until Friday, but four players will be going into it with all-conference distinctions.

Senior guard Anthony Beane was named first-team All-MVC on Tuesday, while junior guard Mike Rodriguez was placed on the all-newcomer team. Junior guard Leo Vincent was named to the all-bench squad and junior center Bola Olaniyan was named to the all-improved team, according to Saluki coach Barry Hinson.

“I feel as any coach would when you get that close with these guys, you feel like a proud papa,” Hinson said.

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Beane is the first SIU player since Randal Falker in 2008 to be tabbed a first-team All-MVC player. He was named second-team the previous two years and all-freshman his first season.

“This has been a four-year road for him,” Hinson said. “For him to culminate this in his senior year as one of the top-five players in the Missouri Valley Conference makes me really proud.”

Wichita State senior guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, Evansville senior guard D.J. Balentine and senior center Egidijus Mockevicius rounded out the first-team.

Beane had career highs in points (19.4 per game), rebounds (3.9) and assists (1.7) this season. He shot 43.3 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from 3-point range. Beane finished the season second in scoring and 10th in 3-point shooting percentage. 

“To be honest, its a credit to the team more than anything,” he said. “It’s really not just all on me. All the new guys came in and stepped up. It’s a good feeling.”

Rodriguez’s honor comes after averaging 8.5 points and three assists per game this season — his first against Division I competition. His 40 steals led the team and are sixth in conference, while he is eighth in the conference in assists.

He said he wanted to come in and do his part to help the team get a winning record, which he did as the team stands at 22-9 overall.

“The award is nice and all, but Arch Madness is what’ll solidify my efforts this season,” he said. “We have bigger goals in mind for our postseason and that’s the next step.”

He is the first Saluki since Desmar Jackson in 2013 to be named to the all-newcomer list.

Missouri State junior guard Dequon Miller and Indiana State junior guard Everett Clemons were the other guards on the list. Wichita State’s senior forward Anton Grady and freshman forward Markis McDuffie made up the rest of the newcomer team.

Hinson said he could not agree more with the decision to make Olaniyan a part of the most-improved team.

Olaniyan nearly doubled both his point and rebound outputs from last season. His scoring increased from 4.6 per game last season to 7.8 this season. He also improved from 4.5 rebounds per game to 8.9, the second-highest in the MVC.

“The second half of the season he’s played as well as anyone on our basketball team,” he said. “He’s been as consistent, if not more consistent, than anyone on our squad.”

Hinson said Vincent making the all-bench team was also a well-deserved honor.

Vincent served as the team’s sixth man throughout the year and was fourth on the team in scoring at 8.2 points per game. He hit a game-winning 3-pointer on Jan. 12 to win against Illinois State.

“Leo sparked us early,” he said. “He hit his mid-season slump which everyone has one of those. He came back strong Saturday night so I’m anxious to see how he plays in the Missouri Valley tournament.”

Olaniyan’s and Vincent’s awards will be officially announced Wednesday.

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