Daily Egyptian

What we learned from SIU’s loss to Loyola

By Benjamin Tucker, @BenTucker_DE

Southern Illinois could not get back to its winning ways in the 73-59 loss to the Loyola Ramblers.

Here’s what the loss proves.

1. After four straight losses, SIU needs to find the mojo it had before the Evansville loss.

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The Salukis were in the mix to win the Missouri Valley Conference until they went on this losing skid. A few weeks back, SIU only had one conference loss to Wichita State. The 7-5 conference record seems to ruin the team’s 7-1 MVC start of a few weeks back.

Somehow, this team needs to channel back to where it was when it beat Illinois State. Whatever the solution is, fans want to see the Saluki team that balled out before the Evansville game. Scoring more might be a good start.

2. Bola Olaniyan could take notes from Montel James.

Loyola senior forward Montel James plays in a way that helps the Ramblers immensely. On offense, he is smooth and knows what to do from right under the rim to 18 feet from the rim. James displayed his solid mid-range jumper with post moves as well. James leads the Ramblers in scoring because he isn’t a one dimensional player.

This is the type of play Saluki junior center Bola Olaniyan needs to model his game after. Olaniyan scores almost all of his points within the paint. Once the scouting reports come out for Olaniyan, teams know how to stop him. All he does is pound it down low.

If he works on his jumper, Olanyian could possibly lead the Salukis in scoring next season.

3. The Salukis need someone to step up on offense.

All night, SIU struggled scoring. Olaniyan had two points, junior guard Tyler Smithpeters scored two, and junior guard Leo Vincent had five.

Smithpeters shooting numbers were not the best tonight. The MVC leader in 3-point shooting percentage shot 0-4 from 3-point range.

Vincent, the third-leading scorer on the team (9.9 points a game) and the leading scorer off the bench, had a poor shooting night as well (he shot 2-7). Vincent had 24 and 18 points against Illinois State and Indiana State, picking up the lack of scoring for the Salukis. The junior guard showed he can provide scoring when the Salukis need it and without it, the team has suffered.

It’s nearly impossible for the Salukis to pull out a win if their offensive numbers are this inconsistent. Other than Beane, junior forward Sean O’Brien was the only player to score in double figures.

At the half, The Salukis had 26 points. That is a laughable halftime stat and the team will struggle to win if that continues. During the losing streak, SIU is only averaging 62.5 points per game, down from their season average of 74.8.

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4. The defense is M.I.A.

The defense for the Salukis has been inconsistent all year. In their game against Indiana State, they forced 20 turnovers. This is the defense that needs to show up every game. The halfcourt defense also played a role in the game, for Indiana State only shot 27% from the field and 11.1% from behind the arc.

Since the game against Indiana State, the Salukis have not won. In losses this year, they’ve giving up an average of 76.3 points per game and 75.25 ppg during this losing streak. While winning, the Salukis are allowing 67.27 ppg.

Head coach Barry Hinson needs to find a way to put a spark in this team again. The attitude of the team needs to get back to the attitude it had when the Dawgs were winning games and dominating MVC teams.

5. Armon Fletcher could be a possible spark for the Salukis.  

SIU struggled all night from the field only shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from 3-point range. Hinson was in dire need of some kind of offense.

Redshirt freshman Armon Fletcher only played 12 minutes the whole game, but Hinson should think about playing him more. In just 12 minutes of gameplay, the Edwardsville native put up four points and made his only 3-pointer. He also contributed four rebounds and one steal.

Fletcher deserves to get more playing time for the Salukis. When players like Smithpeters and Vincent are struggling, Hinson needs to look farther down his bench. Once Fletcher gets the minutes he deserves, he can be a real contributor to the team. 

Benjamin Tucker can be reached at [email protected] and 618-536-3307

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