’04 Saluki Sports 101

By Gus Bode

Yes, the football coach’s last name is Kill.

No, McAndrew stadium is not the remnants of the Parthenon.

Yes, students get into sporting events for free.


No, blow-up sex dolls are not allowed as escorts, especially if the game is on national television.

Yes, Creighton is the Missouri Valley Conference equivalent of Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and boy bands.

No, death threats mailed to Omaha are not encouraged.

For those of you who are freshmen, living on a campus I guarantee will grow on you, your head is probably spinning with questions about your major, where your classes are and how to solve the complex political situation in Venezuela, Sudan and Taiwan.

But more importantly, you may want to know what type of sports campus you’ve stumbled into, so I’m giving you an uncensored view of what to expect in Saluki sports for the 2004-2005 school year and some basic background on our school’s teams.

Names to know:Jerry Kill (coach), Joel Sambursky (QB), Brandon Jacobs (RB), Terry Jackson II (RB), Alexis Moreland (DB)

Normally, men’s basketball is at the top of this list, but for the first time since 1983, SIU has a legitimate shot at a national title. The Salukis are returning with just about everybody and have imported a couple of running backs who are NFL prospects in senior transfers Jacobs (Auburn) and Jackson (Minnesota.)


Mojo-laden quarterback Sambursky will be in his junior season, and what could be the best defense in Saluki history is anchored by safety Alexis Moreland.

The school is hoping for record attendance, which could be dependent on students moving from the tailgating area that is now by the SIU Arena, into the game.

The area is excited about this time more than ever as evidenced by record season ticket sales, and students who miss out on this will regret it forever.

Names to know:Chris Lowery (coach) Darren Brooks (guard), Stetson Hairston (guard), LaMar Owen (forward), Jamaal Tatum (guard)

Traditionally, this is the staple of SIU sports, and as they have the past three seasons, expect the Salukis to be back in the NCAA tournament. They’ll be in the top 25 this season, and judging by recent recruiting classes, will be for some time.

Three starters graduated, but the replacements will be more than enough if not better.

Darren Brooks will be in his final season before he is likely to be drafted, and should his legal troubles go away, Hairston is as solid as they come. Combine those two with Tatum, and SIU has an untouchable backcourt.

Owen, who will play his senior season, can be worth the price of admission at times, and is even more of a bargain for those who are getting in for free.

The high-flying, fearless forward was a fan-favorite last season and a spark off the bench.

The only question for the team, aside from Hairston and fellow guard Mike Dale’s legal problems, is new head coach Chris Lowery. A member of Bruce Weber’s staff at Illinois and an SIU alumnus, Lowery is still unproven as a head coach, but if he’s anything like his bosses, the Salukis should be fine.

Names to know:Dana Eikenberg (coach), Danette Jones (guard), Wendy Goodman (forward)

As SIU sports continues to rise, success continues to elude women’s basketball. The team has won only 11 conference games over the past four years, but new head coach Dana Eikenberg hopes to change that.

She probably can, given her dynamic personality and recruiting connections, but it’s going to take time. She just inked her first recruit last month, but her recruiting class will not play until next season.

For now, she’ll have to use what she has, and it would be considered a major accomplishment if SIU does not finish last. The season rests largely on the shoulders of Jones, a streaky senior sharpshooter who can take over a game if her shot is on.

Names to know:Dan Callahan (coach), P.J. Finigan (shortstop/pitcher), Nathan Emrick (infielder), Bryan Rueger (pitcher)

In each of the last two seasons, the baseball team has made an improbable run to the MVC tournament final, only to fall in two straight games to Wichita State. Whether they can get back there is yet to be seen, but in college baseball heroes seem to emerge out of nowhere like Eric Haberer last season.

After a stellar season, Haberer was drafted by St. Louis in the third round. A few others were lost to the majors, but Callahan has a ton of recruits to fill the holes.

And, of more interest to many, Kegs are allowed on the hill overlooking right field. You can drive trucks over the rugby field with as much alcohol as you can carry, just don’t park too close. Baseballs break windshields.

Home Venue:Charlotte West Stadium-Rochman Field) a.k.a. “The Rock”

Names to know:Kerri Blaylock (coach), Amy Harre (pitcher), Kate Louis (first base), Katie Jordan (outfielder)

Softball lost a few great players in Jenny Doehring and the Viefhaus sisters, but could make another NCAA tournament run on the arm of Harre alone.

In Harre’s senior year, the Salukis may only need one run per game. Gifted with a fastball that could pierce a tank, Harre has only gotten better in her years at SIU.

In July, Harre threw a complete-game four-hitter against the Australian national team. And yes, that is the same team that is in the thick of the gold medal hunt and may be named the best team in the world today.

Home Venue:Davies Gym (not Davie’s Gym)

Names to know:Sonya Locke (coach), Jene Pulliam (outside hitter), Haley Hann (outside hitter), Carrie Shephard (middle blocker)

Teams that are not of elite status like Northern Iowa tend to run in four-year cycles, and this is year two for SIU. The Salukis did not do anything until basically the entire starting lineup was comprised of seniors, leading to a near-conference title two years ago, and fans should expect the same from this group. Experience seems to be more important in volleyball than any other collegiate sport.

The Salukis have promise in Hann, Pulliam and others, and have a shot at making the six-team MVC tournament, but do not expect them to challenge Northern Iowa.

SIU will also be dealing with the loss of assistant Matt Affolder, whose energy and experience will be missed. He is now an assistant at Indiana.

Swimming and diving has always been talented, as has track and field. SIU also has cross-country teams, a couple talented golf teams and two tennis teams that usually finish in the middle of the conference.

Swimming and diving, anchored by quite possibly the best open-water swimmer in the world in Briley Bergen, competes at the Student Recreation Center pool, track and field calls McAndrew home, tennis plays at the courts next to the SIU Arena, cross-country races start near Abe Martin and if they have a home tournament, golf competes at Hickory Ridge golf course near the airport.