Daily Egyptian

What we learned from SIU’s win over Indiana State

By Benjamin Tucker, @BenTucker_DE

Here’s what we learned from the 85-78 win against Indiana State that stopped the Dawgs’ four-game losing streak. 

1. Mike Rodriguez should shoot more mid-range jump shots.

Junior guard Mike Rodriguez started off the year shooting pretty well. In his first three games as a Saluki, Rodriguez shot 52 percent from the field, but has shot 26 percent his last three. 

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The Salukis would be more efficient on offense if Rodriguez would take high percentage shots. On the season, Rodriguez is shooting 33 percent from the 3-point arch. Rodriguez taking shots from about 15 to 18 feet would benefit the team. If he makes them, it forces defenses to close out on him, giving him more opportunities to do what he does best — drive and kick to the open shooter. 

2. Bola Olaniyan must learn to stay out of foul trouble before tournament play.

Junior center Bola Olaniyan has had foul trouble for a majority of the year. Including the game against Indiana State, Olaniyan has now fouled out of six games this year. He has ended the game with four fouls nine times.

If the Salukis want to take this win and build on it, Olaniyan must stay on the floor. The Salukis’ thin frontcourt can’t afford for Olaniyan to get in foul trouble game in and game out.

Olaniyan keeping his fouls under control is going to be something to look at when the team starts the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and faces some of the MVC’s bigger centers.   

3.  Sean O’Brien has been one of the most consistent Salukis this year.

Junior forward Sean O’Brien’s numbers won’t necessarily jump out at you, but the consistency has been there all year. He ended Wednesday night with a solid 12 points and 4 rebounds. 

O’Brien has flown under the radar with his play this season. Most of the attention has been on senior guard Anthony Beane and Olaniyan. Even when the Salukis were on the four-game skid, O’Brien was putting up good numbers, averaging 15 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

When the team loses, people focus more on how the guards play and how bad the loss was. Look for O’Brien’s numbers to increase next year with the departure of Beane.

4. Tyler Smithpeters has his shooting touch back.

The four-game losing streak was not kind to junior guard Tyler Smithpeters. In the four game stretch, Smithpeters averaged 5 points and shot 23 percent from the field. This is not the Smithpeters fans are used to or the one that led the MVC in 3-point shooting. 

Against the Sycamores, Smithpeters found what he had earlier in the season. He shot 4-6 from 3-point range and ended the game with 16 points. The Salukis’ offense is difficult to slow down when Smithpeters succeeds from behind the arc. Smithpeters spreads the floor and opens up space for fellow guards junior Leo Vincent and Beane. Rodriguez also counts on the Harrisburg native to drill open threes when the point guard drives to the rim and passes to the perimeter.

5. SIU fans must enjoy Beane’s final run in Saluki maroon. 

Saluki fans are lucky to have Beane play at SIU. Watching Beane play, it looks like scoring comes easy for the senior. Beane dropped 31 points on 27 shots Wednesday night and is second in the MVC in scoring averaging 19.6 points per game coming into Wednesday’s game. 

Beane originally committed to Illinois State, where his dad was coaching. But when his father was hired to Hinson’s staff, Beane switched to SIU and is now a top-five scorer in Saluki history. 

Beane’s step-back jumper is beautiful and his game on the court is majestic, even if it’s forced sometimes. Saluki nation needs to sit back and take in the last few games it will see Beane in an SIU uniform. Fans might not see another scorer like him for a long time. 

Ben Tucker can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3304

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