Daily Egyptian

Salukis have habit of getting into foul trouble

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

Fans and players couldn’t go more than a minute without hearing a whistle during the Saluki men’s basketball win against Indiana State Wednesday. Fifty-six fouls were called in just 40 minutes of game action. 

SIU committed nearly six more fouls than its season average of 22.2, which ranks No. 8 in the Missouri Valley Conference and No. 318 in the nation.

That’s five more than the team averaged last season, and part of that may be attributed to several rule changes approved by the NCAA.

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Eddie Jackson, MVC head of officiating, said the majority of the rule changes were implemented to take physicality out of the sport.

Some added or adjusted rules include an attempt to take hand checking out of the game, which is using your hands to stop the progress of an offensive player.

“This is a game of finesse, not physicality,” Jackson said. “We have seen teams adjust to the rule changes and we have also seen teams who have not.”

Most of junior guard Tyler Smithpeters’ fouls are called on hand-checking fouls. The Salukis may want the Harrisburg native to improve on this because Smithpeters leads his team in 3-point shooting and is second in the conference shooting 49 percent.

He is also second on the team in fouls this season with 64. Every moment he is on the bench, SIU is missing a valuable outside shooter.

Smithpeters is one of three guards that average more 20 minutes per game. He averages nearly two more fouls per 40 minutes than the other guards who get regular playing time. 

“I try to stay off the bench as much as I can, but sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said. “Usually, I’m sitting on the bench around the 10-minute mark in the first half.”

Another adjustment to the rulebook is the cracking down on physical screen play. The thinking being less hard screens means more freedom of movement for players without the basketball.

Junior center Bola Olaniyan was benched by coach Barry Hinson after committing two fouls in the first minute of Wednesday’s game — one of which was a moving screen.

Olaniyan, who is second in the conference in rebounds per game with 8.3, leads the team in personal fouls, even after missing three games due to a suspension.

In the first three minutes of Wednesday’s game, Olaniyan sat on the bench with two fouls and did not play the rest of the first half. Olaniyan would foul out in the second half.

“I just want to be there to help my teammates,” Olaniyan said. “I need to be out there to make an impact for my team.”

For him to do that, he might have to adjust the way he plays with the new rules. 

After the game coach Barry Hinson said he “would not take the bait” and comment on the officiating.

In Sunday’s game against Missouri State, SIU committed 22 fouls, on par with their season average.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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