Salukis’ 2005 slate poses challenges

By Gus Bode

As a mid-major in college basketball, scheduling hassles often follow success.

Last year, the Salukis’ campaign ended with a sparkling 27-8 record, an outright Missouri Valley Conference championship and a near upset against powerhouse Oklahoma State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

For the effort, the Salukis aren’t exactly being rewarded. High-major teams are reluctant to schedule a game with SIU.


Their schedule was released Monday, and head coach Chris Lowery said a successful mid-major team is bound to run into these scheduling conflicts.

“That’s a huge problem for us,” Lowery said. “We had some (teams) we felt we were going to get a home-and-home (series) with, but it didn’t work out.

“There’s a reason why we’ve won so many games in a row. There’s a reason why they don’t want to come and play in our gym.”

SIU won’t have many games at the SIU Arena as they open the season. Aside from the Nov. 18 season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, which defeated the Salukis last season, SIU will play five straight games on the road. The next home game isn’t slated until Dec. 10, against last year’s ESPN BracketBuster foe Kent State.

Included in the five-game span are trips to Anchorage, Alaska for the Carrs-Safeway Great Alaska Shootout; a game against Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. and a match-up with the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo.

A mile-logging schedule chock-full of early challenges isn’t something Lowery will complain about.

“The schedule is what it is,” Lowery said. “… We never complain about where we’re playing or how much rest we get. We have to be playing mentally tough to prepare for the season.”


Before MVC play begins, the Salukis will face non-conference foes Kent State, Central Michigan, Arkansas-Little Rock and Murray State.

According to, SIU has televised games at Creighton on Feb. 11, at home against Northern Iowa on Feb. 25 and in the MVC tournament in early March.

As was the case this year, SIU’s schedule for next season will be determined, in part, by its success on the court this year.

“There is no process for good mid-majors. They have to wait and see how good we are,” Lowery said. “If we’re good, they don’t want to play us. If we do have a good game, it reaffirms what they thought in the beginning.”

Reporter Jordan Wilson can be reached at [email protected]